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


Oh boy, I can't wait to see you with your newly-sewn dress and head-dress. I will be taking pictures for sure! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 9:51 PM  

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Thursday, March 30, 2006  

Oh that costume. Sigh.

I can find all sorts of excuses for not doing something I think I want to do. Oh! I suddenly remembered the quintessential image of TheQueen as APrincess - the one the whole family drags out of the past to both ridicule (in the way families do, not tortuously) and exemplify the InnerQueen.

Swimming lakes were the thing when I was a girl. Swimming pools fell into the realm of the Country Club Set, not struggling civil servants with 4 kids. There were at least 2 and maybe more, around Richmond back in the 1950’s. The one we went to was Overhill Lake and the promise of going to Overhill lake was enough to ensure juvenile good behavior for long stretches of summer afternoons. In my memory it was a vast watery playground with a sandy bottom, water shallow enough to be safe, sliding boards in graduated sizes and a huge hillside beach house with changing rooms and a refreshment stand.

I am second in the line-up of kids, with an older sister who was so big and so grand and so smart and so brave and so much more it was a job even thinking about keeping up with her, much less trying to. To top it off, she is a Leo, boldly plunging ahead with regal disdain for the minions around her, so long as they didn’t touch her stuff. (I did, you may be sure, all the time, in secret and in the open.) It was she who could climb the Mt. Everest of a sliding board and whisk like a meteor into the murky depths of the grown-up section of that lake - where surely whales and sharks and sea chests full of treasure lay. How I watched with pride and envy as her pink suit flashed down the silver path into the sparkling water.

There was a smaller sliding board in the kiddy pool, not a lot taller than the ordinary backyard sliding boards, although much sturdier. It had the grey sheen of school yard equipment and as such, carried with it a certain big kid’s cachet. Little me, timid me, careful, foreseeing, thoughtful me, the girl with both imagination and intuition, longed to emulate TheGreatOne on the dangerous Chute of Silver, but there was something very scary about those sliding boards that threw you into lakey depths. I spent many days tiptoeing around those stout pillars supporting the flat metal tray, angling down from on high, but I never did succumb deeply enough to envy to give it a try.

The summer I was 4, though, one of Daddy’s sisters visited with her husband. AuntE was a very strange lady - I suspect she told me once that she was a witch, for I was sure that she not only knew the dark arts, but that if she ever got me alone she would pop me in the oven and cook me. Her husband, a big band trumpet player, was the most loving and cuddling man and it was many and many years before I could reconcile the anomaly of such a sweet loving man marrying a witch. There is a family home movie of me and TheGreatOne visiting them - first we are playing outside, then I am running away from AuntE. It looks like a cute little girl, maybe kindergarten age, playing tag with a grownup. It’s not. It’s stark terror fleeing certain doom. The next scene cuts to me snuggled in UncleB’s arms, safe at last. Later I developed some real affection for that woman, but the summer I was 4 I steered clear of her as much as possible.

She also teased me about being afraid of the sliding board and, in the way people who grew up in very big, very aggressive and very competitive families are, her teasing was pretty brutal. Just think of those Little Rascals movies and you’ll understand the milieu from which she drew her skills. Irish Catholic immigrants scrounging around urban alleyways and scrapping on black top school yards. In the end my pride was stung and step by step, as if walking to my execution, I climbed up the ladder and prepared to zoom into death by drowning. White knuckled, I gripped the edges of the sliding board and inch by inch I not so much slid down, but progressed down to the bottom of the sliding board.

Safe at last I hopped off the end into water that came up to a 4 year old’s waist. How was I to know that engineers had designed, brawny men and constructed, and insurance companies had confirmed so that the odds of death by drowning off the end of a sliding board were small enough to open that lake to the public? Grown-ups don’t tell you things like that. They just call you a sissy and a chicken and shame you into doing what you wanted to do all along.

They also capture it on 8 mm film, to be hauled out periodically and laughed at. When I see those films now my heart fills with softness and tenderness for that little girl. I don’t resent the stupid aunt either, since I had truly made that sliding board into a terror for me. Mostly I still feel the triumph of conquering fears and achieving heart’s desire.

I never did go down that big sliding board. My mother did not swim and was seldom in the mood to go somewhere that involved deep water. She also forbade me, at that age, to go into the deep water and we moved away from that neighborhood a year or so later. I went on to have other scary water experiences as well as to learn to swim well enough to not drown. I am still fascinated and lured and repelled by deep water. I also still have enough imagination to picture many worst case scenarios long before I embark upon a project, journey or task. It’s as if once I can come to terms with the worst that can happen, I can move forward, but while they linger on the fringes of my imagination, they can effectively stop me from doing the things I want to do.
So. What is all this about?

Ha! MEMEMEMEMEME, of course. TheQueen who was flabbergasted, last night, as she tied the large soft fringy shawly scarf thing that BH gave her for her birthday last fall into the perfect headdress to cover up a thoroughly 21st century hairstyle in a most 15th century way, so that when she does make that costume she won’t look an anomaly but she doesn’t either have to grow long long hair! Who knew that had been giving me such a hard time, from deep within my subconscious, effectively stopping me from making that costume?

As kind M said in the comments section a day or so ago - I really could knock this costume out in a few hours. Even the pattern says so - "The 2 hour dress" - it called itself. And so, there is every expectation that I shall be in costume when I go to Bedford next weekend, first to perform for CousinC’s class and the following day to do the same at the Spring Fiber Festival.

posted by Bess | 6:50 AM


Happy Happy Upcoming Anniversary to you! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am sure that you will have your costume ready for the Spring Fiber Festival! I hope to get to meet you.and see what you have created. I so enjoyed reading about...and then seeing the exquisite wedding dress that you designed and made last year.

By Blogger emmy, at 12:33 AM  

No, what does Wednesday mean? ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 9:46 PM  

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006  

Still no costume progress though I thank you all for your votes of confidence. There is a little bit of second sock progress and last night was WW, where, happily, there was a tee tiny bit of progress in that area of my life too. Not much for 12 weeks of effort but down is down - that’s my motto. Besides, for the squishy, body issues are ever with us.

I did some calculations yesterday and realized I shan’t have a 5 days in the office week till May 19th! What a thought. 3 and 4 day weeks for 6 weeks. About half of these days out of the building are work related and half are for fun’n’play, but no matter the reason for dragging me from the desk, there is still much work that must be done by mid-June and woe be me if it isn’t. So the days in the office are much fuller, more demanding than they were the first two leisurely months of 2006. Some days I can live up to their demands and yesterday was one of them. Everything was productivity, accomplishment and completion! Imagine that!

The biggest project I have up ahead is planning our summer reading activities. They’re always a fairly substantial part of the year’s work for us anyway but this year we’ve become ambitious and are targeting a second age group and attempting a bigger task. The state library picks a theme each year and funds some supplies that support it. For the most part we’ve always followed their lead because we’re not stupid - nor rich - and free stuff is free. Some years, the theme is so difficult to incorporate we might as well spent our $ on something we could really use, but we love this year’s theme: Once Upon A Time. We’re going heavily into fairy tales and folk lore. It’s no sad thing that that genre was my favorite as a child and still strums my heart strings now I’m past the half way mark.

Most of our kiddy programs are aimed at the elementary school child. They’re still biddable and ready to be pleased. We’ve dabbled in programs for middle schoolers but haven’t had much success. This year we are trying again, with a writing project where children will write and illustrate their own version of a fairytale or folk tale. Those who actually complete their book will receive a bound copy to keep and we will bind and catalog a copy for the library. Nobody has to finish the project, of course, but those who do will get a little prestige. We may even have a book signing ceremony at the library - or better yet - at the school library in September. hmmmm.

If this is successful we are considering doing a similar program in the fall for adults. A sort of "make your [grand]child his own book" activity - luring in stampers and scrapbook makers and other crafty sorts. Of course, the truth is, we are taking on this project because we all want to do it too and, why of course, staff must have a prototype for demonstration purposes. Oh the joys of being a multi-purpose librarian. As Fillyjonk says - you get paid to play with craft materials.

Planning is at about the 50% stage. Over the next 2 months we’ll have to scramble, since staff will also be taking some vacation time, prior to the big June’n’July push. And of course, I am part of that vacationing staff - for MSW is waiting up ahead for me, with all the frenzy and excitement caused by thousands of fiberistas all gathering in one place. So what days I am in the office, over the next few weeks, must be efficient, productive and carefully planned. Even today. Which is Wednesday. And we all know what Wednesday means.

posted by Bess | 6:59 AM


My daffys haven't even bloomed yet. Mostly we're still at green stalks, though a few have buds. It's their first year and I think they're rightfully ticked off at the weather we had this winter. Poor things... hope they wake up soon!

By Blogger Amie, at 7:33 AM  

Yes, everything hinges on something else...sometimes that's a very zen thing; sometimes it's just distracting. I saw a daffodil with a bud this morning. Finally!

By Blogger Jane, at 8:22 AM  

Nothin' much happening in my flower beds either. At least I finally got the leaves out of them.

I'll bet you'll get that dress done in one night, once the inspiration hits.

By Blogger Mary, at 10:00 AM  

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006  

It’s not so much that I’m busy - which I am, but no more than usual - but that I have dithered and procrastinated and not started on the costume - which makes me embarrassed to post. Stupid of me, since I already know I’m not a product oriented person. Right now my creativity is like one of those folk tales where - in order for the girl to get the pig to go over the style she has to go to the haystack to feed the cow to get the saucer of milk to give to the cat so he would chase the rat so he would gnaw the rope so it would begin to hang the butcher so he would begin to butcher the cow so it would drink the water so it would quench the fire so it would stop burning the stick so it would beat the dog so it would bite the pig so it would go over the style so she could get home before dark.

I am still working on the story part of the program, of course, trying to make it plus perfect. And till it is I can’t consider costumes.

And, like being one who is always cooking something new for guests, I am also a great one for improvements on programs I already know how to give. I do this at the library all the time, even though I already have tried and true routines worked out.

Must be a glutton for punishment.

It’s cold and dreary today and so dry now it would have to rain for 10 days to make a difference in the springtime. As a result, things aren’t coming out much. Daffodils, of course, are nigh on to finished, except the late varieties. Weeds, of course are flourishing, but not grass. My garden looks worse than ever and on Saturday, BD took down the old gum tree in the back yard and miscalculated the wedge cut so it came crashing down smack onto the arbor. That was a mother’s day gift he made me several years ago and truth to be told, it has always been a little too narrow. When we repair it I would like something more substantial, wider, and maybe with benches. And it’s a good excuse to whack the heck out of that climbing white dawn which was trying to eat the world.

The sock is moving forward nicely. And the pretty blue sock yarn on the spindle is - well - at least it’s the same color as S’s already spun and ready to knit sock yarn. And I am thinking of trying socks knit with Fixation next.

Early morning meetings are dragging me away. No complaints though. It’s a short week for me. Happy thought.

posted by Bess | 7:20 AM


Oh, how touching, and very humbling...

By Blogger Amie, at 10:18 AM  

Amen. We are blessed.

By Blogger Mary, at 10:49 AM  

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Sunday, March 26, 2006  

Well - I didn’t get even the hint of a fiber stitch done in anything at all, other than the dust cloth. That fiber had plenty to do on, not just table top and shelf, but drawer fronts and furniture legs. God my house was filthy and the spring fur coat season has begun. Dog fur - on everything. Vacuuming takes 3 times as long because the poor machine has to suck up the top layer of dog fur, then the middle layer, then the deep down ground-in layer. Nobody would believe this place is vacuumed faithfully at least once a week. Or rather - only a pet owner would believe it.

Ahhh. But I did get a sweet delicious sparkly house out of all my efforts and at 5 o’clock we went on down to the library where the English as a Second Language teacher hosted a pot luck supper for families and library staff. Real Mexican food and real Egyptian! And Pepsi, of course. It was such a sweet gathering. BD went with me, and two other library staff were there and several families and a bevy of beautiful children. In a discussion with one papa, he told me with the most serious straight face and such pride that all over the world people have The American Dream, but he wanted it to come true for his family. Another daddy told me proudly that of all his children, the two youngest were the luckiest, because they were born in America.
I am humbled.

But I am proud as well.

posted by Bess | 7:36 AM


Ahh.... I shall borrow this one from you, I think. I love vintage clothes as well, particularly the earlier part of the 20th century, but as I don't crochet it would be silly to spend $ on a book that has a lot... but when I saw it on your blog yesterday (was it yesterday?) I knew I wanted a closer look....

And I am apple green, much like my wardrobe. :P

By Blogger Amie, at 8:54 AM  

Thanks for the play-by-play on that book -- how fun! If you were like me with my "One Skein" purchase, you were reading your book at the stoplights on your way home Thursday!

Okay, the knit-blogger who has a Vintage Knitting blog and database can be found here: She also has a lot of vintage knitting images on her Flickr account here: I sent her a bunch of .jpg's of vintage knitting postcards that I collect, so a lot of the illustrated images, (as opposed to the photographs), are from me.

Finally, here's another website devoted to Vintage Knitting:

Enjoy! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 2:05 PM  

Oh, and I'm TEAL green, too! Whoo hoo! So glad! My favorite color matches my personality! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 3:23 PM  

Ooh, thanks for the book review, I was thinking of that one but hadn't had time to really look through it. That cover sweater caught my eye too.

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:39 PM  

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Saturday, March 25, 2006  

I want to tell you about Vintage Styles for Today which I purchased in Richmond. But true to TheQueen’s penchant for having to give the back story - you must understand that I am a time wrenched evacuee from Another Century (you pick, 1299, 1745, 1870, 1903 ...) who spent her childhood in her room, draped in bed sheets over a purloined crinoline snuck out of a sister’s closet or else drawing endless bell skirted dresses for paper dolls. The word Vintage is a sure fire lure for me. That these patterns were from the archives of a 100 year old yarn company is enough to assure my interest. Finally, the cover piece was a winner right off the bat. It’s a crocheted bed jacket that hints of the same curve enhancing flattery those White Lies Designs promise. A quick flip through the pages promised enough interesting designs to warrant a purchase and the book rode home in the car with me.

I have had a day or two to look it over more closely and, while I’m quite glad I purchased the book, I do have some unfulfilled desires about it and happily - I realized there was probably something I could do about them. First the good stuff - for, you must understand, that there is far more good than gripe in my reaction to this collection.

Nancy Thomas and Charlotte Quiggle did a superb job of selecting patterns that would transpose themselves into stylish, contemporary garments. Fashion is so time sensitive, so trendy, so fickle, that what looks good to your eye at one moment can be the source for snide laughter a moment later. Think "Joan Collins Shoulder Pads". Yep. Thought that would get a reaction. And yet - I loved wearing those tight skirt suits with the aircraft carrier shoulders and would do so again if they didn’t look so ... goofy! Goofy now, not goofy forever. I would venture to say that locked away in the Lion Brand archives are many patterns for things that would make me gag today, but that I will be drooling over in 2008. Just takes a little time for a silhouette to come around again.

So Kudos for those wise eyed ladies for picking the patterns they picked.

I was delighted at how much good quality crochet was offered up. The cover design that so won my heart (and that I will make, btw) is crochet. It’s down right sexy, frilly, girly but not either more frilly than I want nor so fussy it wouldn’t be fun to make. Just right, I’d say.

Not only did I like the selections - which includes several shrugs, rib warmers, bolero type tops, I thought their integration of the novelty yarns into these antique designs was very clever. I am a modest fan of novelty yarn. An unabashed magpie, I can’t resist glitter and even fluff has its appeal, though I have had enough hairy yarn for a while. But I am an old hand at fiber crafts. I know that it’s the curling fronds of eyelash yarn that, like some sea anemone beckoning to fishy prey, lures in the new knitter, the teen knitter, the folks who will keep our wonderful craft rich and alive. No new knitters and all those wonderful yarn shops will fold up their tents and fade away. I’d hate to see the landscape as dry as the desert years of the 90’s.

I very much liked the way they chose classic styles for the men and children and left the odd or strange garments to enhance the woman’s designs. This is a singular virtue, not a universal recommendation, for my men are sober and conservative and would not wear Fashion or Style if you held them at gunpoint. The patterns for the guys are classic and elegant, but absolutely not trendy. The ones for children are pretty much the same.

I absolutely loved the hat designs. I am a hat girl anyway. In any crowd, if there is only one hat, it is on my head. I adore them. Buy them. Own them. Wear them. Feel like TheQueen in them. I would rather have a new hat than ... yes. I admit it. Than new shoes - that fit!
There are basket hats, cloche hats, toques, and berets. Hats with draped over peaks, hats with knitted "feathers" (I’ll make that one, but skip the embellishment). Hats with matching gloves. Hats with matching scarves. Hats with matching muffs. Cute cute hats. Hats I would consider "real" knitted objects.

I really do like this book.

But nothing is perfect and there are a few things I would wish for.

First off - why, oh why didn’t the tell us the dates for these designs? I have enough fashion history to be able to approximate the dates of each item, going largely on the hairstyles of the models, but how easy it would have been to just put the year beside each photo. I’d have relished even more historical background, but I also understand how much work goes into a book. I’m married to a writer, after all. I see how knit-picky the publishing business is. But a date? That would have been so fun, so easy, and so true to the meaning of the word Vintage.

Second. I thought some of the original designs were better than the updated ones. Several collars and necklines were lowered, in the opinions of the editors, I suppose, to "update" the look. Wrong. A knitted coat is pretty much useless if the neckline is so low you can see the bust button on the blouse beneath. Coat = cold weather. Plunging coat neckline = misery. The original version, buttoned up to the neck, is quite pretty enough. A little boxy, mind, but lowering the neckline didn’t make it any less boxy.

One photographic fashion decision made me blink twice - on page 73 - the girl in the beautiful stole, the 3/4 length coat and silver glitter shoes - and faded grey jeans. Huh? Silver shoes and faded jeans?

The modern patterns all had a looser fit than the originals, promised up front in the introduction, to go with today’s more casual attitude about clothing and style. I could see the editors’ point and didn’t mind the adaptations, although I rather like that close fitted look of days gone by. In many cases, I thought the antique original was prettier than the modern version, but that is only a personal reaction, not something I would care to argue in a fashion debate.

Altogether, I think this is a good and worthy addition to my knitting library, and I am becoming more and more selective about adding to the titles on my shelves. I even suspect I may make one or two (or three or four, if they are hats) garments from the book. But the nicest thing this book did for me was to click on a switch in my brain. If I am so fond of vintage clothing - vintage designs, updated or not, why - I can research them and add them to my repertoire. M mentioned a knit-blogger who is compiling a database of vintage patterns. (M, dearest - please remind me of the name). But I’m a librarian, anyway. I am a researcher by profession! I can ... I can look it up!

And I shall. And a whole new room in the Aladdin’s Cave of Knitting Magic opens before me. All I had to do was open my eyes. What fun!

posted by Bess | 8:11 AM


Thanks for such a fabulous day, Bess. I had a blast!


By Blogger Mary, at 9:42 AM  

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Friday, March 24, 2006  

Yesterday was such a sweet day with M. We met at the gardens, took a stroll around the place - which is mostly blooming with daffodils, but a few species tulips and some daphnes also. There was one forsythia, well leaved by this time, who fooled us both into thinking it was an exotic. Though most of the day was spent in talk and I tried hard to remember that I don’t have to do all the talking, we got in a first lesson in spinning while sitting in the huge glass conservatory - in the room where the electric train exhibit was set up - because everywhere else was humid enough to fog up glasses.

Lunch, btw, was very delicious and very elegant, at the garden’s own tea house - and if you ever get a chance to dine there do avail yourself. It was delicious. Except for the green tea gelato which I bought because of the ginger snap that came with it. I should have remembered that I don’t like green tea.

There was time after lunch for us both to go out to the fabric store, where I purchased some medium-light fabric to make a "costume" for my story program. I hadn’t toured a fabric shop in a long time and even then it was in the autumn, not the spring. The fabrics for springtime, even at a Hancocks Fabrics shop, are simply beautiful. Bit pricey, but no more so than the prices in yarn shops.

There just happened to be a big chain book store on the same strip so of course we had to check out the knitting books. Several I’ve been wanting to look at were on the shelves: Mason Dixon Knitting, One Skein, and a very good crochet book, but guess what popped into a shopping bag to come home with me?

A dear friend of BD’s had come down to do some historical research stuff with him and stayed for dinner. Just the other day BD had suggested we go somewhere and have chicken and dumplings - he couldn’t remember ever having them. He had, of course, but it had been years - decades, perhaps. So I surprised him with that for supper and the joke was, after he tasted them - which was after he had exclaimed "You have never made that before!", thus terrifying our guest, he remembered that I had - decades ago.

And now it’s very late for I didn’t sleep well last night. Time to get on the go. A sewing weekend up ahead? We shall see.

posted by Bess | 7:40 AM


Love, there are far worse things to be searched out for... and maybe he learned a little something about bust darts or ruffles and pinafores?


By Blogger Amie, at 11:35 AM  

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Thursday, March 23, 2006  

Oh. The world is so .. . so crazy!!

I have Statcounter on my blog and I can see what question people asked on a search engine that then offered them TheQueen as an answer. Most of the folk who get to LikeTheQueen via a search engine are looking for information about Queen Elizabeth I and if only they were to peek into the archives to read my first month of posts they would find out that - in the most roundabout way - the allusion is accurate. But last night, some poor soul typed in "Pictures of very flat chested women" on yahoo search and was tempted to click on this blog, just to see, you know. I imagine some ... well, some poor guy (nice euphemism, no?) and his disappointment when he clicked and found a blog devoted to ramblings about knitting! And the grandma image that must have flashed across the poor fellow’s brain.

Of course, that might not have been how it was at all - really - no no - not at all that sort of thing .... But it makes me chuckle just the same.

Enough. After what has turned out to be a much more challenging week than I thought it was going to be, I am treating myself to a sweet playdate in Richmond with M, spent, or at least, begun here. She and I share an Alma Mater, a home town, gardens and a love of fiber, but I have 10 years on her so I plan to lead her down the 'garden' path and into the spider’s web of drop spinning. We are both knitting socks right now as well, so it will be a fun twinsy sort of meet-up.

Later I have to slip by a fabric shop and see if I can find cloth I can use to make a costume - something approximating a gown worn by a 15th century spinner. The more I’ve contemplated my story telling, the more sure I want it to have the feel of time travel, the flavor of living history. I’d like to have it ready by April 8 and I ought to be able to meet that date. It doesn’t have to be a perfect, historicaly accurate costume - not this time around. In fact, I can still do a good story telling program without the time travel effect - but I believe it’ll be more entertainment and less lecture-ish if I make it a little more dramatic.

And that is all I have time for this morning. Gotta be on the highway soon if I’m to make a comfortable drive into the City.

posted by Bess | 6:47 AM


Oooooo! I love that merino -- so pretty! Impressive sock you've knit -- will it get a mate?

By Blogger Mary, at 1:24 PM  

Well, Dear Bess, the Corriedale may look "squashed", but I'm thinkin' toque! (Esp. as it's still -5C here and snowy.)

You rock!

By Blogger Margaret, at 3:36 PM  

You're right, Margaret - that is - it would be a fabulous toque. Just knit on bigger needles. I've knit up the finer yarn swatch on #6's and it came out in St.St. at a perfect 5 spi - just what I'd hoped for. The big difference was how much more fun it was to knit the yarn with the needles it wanted me to use.

If there is enough left over after a sweater, though - absolutely - some kind of hat.

By Blogger Bess, at 4:49 PM  

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006  

I thought you might like to see some of the projects I've been working on. Here is the ab-fab superwash merino top I spoke of in the previous post. Wouldn't you like socks made of this lovely stuff?

This is the corriedale fleece spun thick (and rather poorly - thick wooolen is still hard for me to spin) but worst of all - knit on the wrong needles. It looks squashed. The plan is, now that I've recorded it's status as a failure, to rip it and re-knit it on 9's or even 10's. Not that I want a bulky sweater but just to see what it would look like knit at the right gauge. This is about 4.75 spi - counting the cable. I suspect it would be a straight 4 spi if it were in stockinette.

And here is the Orange Opal Sample Sock - or ooss for short. My 'ooss' sock. The scrunchy texture doesn't show up all that well in a scan and in part I am only displaying it to prove that I do actually knit garments now and then - not just swatches.

There is another almost-swatch of the corriedale but spun better and finer and knit on size 6 needles. But would you believe it!?! I couldn't find a single circular 5 or 6 needle this morning. I haven't a clue where they are hidden and will have to turn out my entire stash to find them. I know I have 2 lengths of #6's and I'm sure I have them in #5's as well. But it's not that the needles are lost that worries me. It's the question, "What UFO's lurk in dark corners, secreting my knitting needles from productive activity?"

Spring Clean time must be up ahead.

posted by Bess | 10:30 AM


Yeah, it's just spittin' "sleeze" here in Richmond, but it's 32 degrees, so the roads are "iffy", no doubt.

I'm also excited for Sedalia -- I'll be staying w/ my sister's family in Lynchburg, although not sure if any are interested in coming with me to the SFF. Here's hoping the weather is good! I'll look for you in costume, holding your drop spindle!


By Blogger Mary, at 1:20 PM  

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So the weather dot com geeks have screwed up my Tuesday and it hasn't even started to rain yet, much less tangle the highways with sleet'n'snow! And I changed all my happyday plans into do-my-taxes plans, so what? Will it all be for naught! No! It will all be for drought.

Last year it rained so much 25% of the corn never germinated. Evidently this year we are to be over-compensated for that. rats.

But other than messin' with my day ThePalace is doing just fine and so is TheQueen.

I've been very industrious in fiberland. (less so in the world of Important $ Numbers) I started a sock on Friday afternoon - a stitch sampler sock, since it's knit in Opal, which I think tends to look pretty dull when it's knit up in plain stitch. Every time the color changes I changed my stitch pattern. I cast on 56 stitches and so far, all the patterns are repeats of 8 stitches. I suspect I could have knit this in 48 and have it fit my foot just fine, but then when I was working my way down the cuff I put in a quilted stitch and man I'm glad I had those extra stitches. Quilted stitches look so pretty and textured but they are a little tighter than many other stitches. I'm motoring down to the toe right now - maybe 5 more rounds of actual foot left to do . Happily, the decreases will come at a color change. Nice, huh?

I also am still experimenting with that corriedale fleece - at this rate I will soon have swatched the whole thing away. I am still trying to find exactly the perfect yarn I want this fiber to become. I didn't like the tight worsted yarn I got when I spun it up on the drop spindle. It wasn't a horrible yarn, but it didn't give the fiber a chance to show off it's delicious springiness. I thought I'd try to spin a thicker yarn in a woolen long draw and I've knit up a swatch (photo to come later today) but I used #8 needles and think it looks cramped. I've blocked the swatch and after I scan it up here, I'm going to rip it out and try knitting it on #9's. But I've also spun up a finer woolen, about 10 yards. I'll knit that - thinking #6 needles - and we shall see if this is better.

The fleece was so delicately soft and springy it's the absolute nicest corriedale I've ever felt - among many nice corriedales. La - I hope I dont use it all up on swatches and samples before I ever get to wear it.

Dear J gave me some superwash merino top she'd handpainted - but accidently agitated in the washing machine a brief moment, ending up with a very ... delinquent looking top. Well, it may look a little rough around the edges, but my goodness - it's been taught to behave by the treatement. Normally superwash merino top is just way too slippery for me. I end up with tight worsted thick 'n' thin, mean 'n' nasty yarn - that is - when I'm not grabbing for the escaping end that slipped apart and back up through the wheel's oriface, burrying its fuzzy ends into the yarn on the bobbin. Not this stuff. It spins evenly, tidily, nicely, prettily and stays where I put it. I'm using my gussied up Louet spindle , which is every bit of 2 oz, but still getting a lovely single that will ply into sock weight yarn.

I would call this superwash merino top that has been tough loved and is all the better for it.

I finally really counted up the days till the Sedalia Spring Fiber Festival - and realized that it is less than 3 weeks away! (the picture on the sidebar is just a capture, not an active image) I'm so looking forwad to this event, and not just beacuse it means teaching new spinners. I have Cousins in Bedford - not just any old cousins, either, but Hoskins Reunion Favorite Cousins from the August archives. I'll be staying with them and there will be so much hugging going on you wouldn't believe there could be so much hugging in the world.

And after that - it's Maryland and everything that means. Whew. Spring really does come upon us with a rush.

Now - since I've changed all my plans - let us Think Snow.

posted by Bess | 7:33 AM


hmm... see I still can't bring myself to watch the new P&P... Though I surely agree with you, your post did make me think of one of the things I noticed the first time I watched P&P2 (aka 1995, A&E/BBC or Colin Firth version, whichever your prefered method of refering to it... or how about just "the good version" or how I hear it refered to "the long version") ANYWAY I was quite amazed at the um... yeah... how big the ladies were up top... I don't remember a whole lot about that from my pathfinder on regency period culture - but I guess somehow the thought of not having the tightly corseted look then always made me assume they didn't exagerate anything, and those actresses still to this day look to me like they're wearing wonderbras to get that much cleavage... (well especially Lizzie and Lydia...)

I'm not sure which is worse to tell the truth though... (and perhaps I am completely off on the P&P2 thing and the wonder-bra look of it would be completely in line with the regency period. Should that be the case I apologize and only blame my own experience (because despite not being too small up top there is NO WAY I could wear any of those dresses and look like that - none at all!)

By Blogger Aria, at 7:42 PM  

A yes, well - my big issue isn't a single anomaly in costume - one woman of reed like proportions - but a whole cast of 'em. No actress has to be some ideal for me but when 100% are ... um, well, ... looking more like strollers on the boulevard in fin de siecle Paris, the whole overwhelms any single actress’ particular skill.

It’s a lot like the ubiquitous silicone lips Hollywood spews across 30 feet of theatrical screens. One might not be so horrible. One Hundred Percent is gag-ifying.

By Blogger Bess, at 7:27 AM  

Saw the new P&P this weekend. Wondered WHAT was up with this flat chested thing, too. Ridiculous! And the pig in the house?!?! And laundry hanging all over the place outside?!?! Oh, Come On.

If it wasn't supposed to be P&P, but simply a Cinderella movie, it would not have been so bad. On the moments that I forgot it was supposed to be P&P I didn't mind it horribly. But then a snippet of dialogue would come directly out of the book, and the whole thing would tick me off all over again.

Ah well. There were alot of people in our little country theater who seemed to enjoy it ... I'm wondering if they ever read the book or saw the A&E version.

Hugs xxoo ~ Jen

By Blogger Jennifer, at 12:59 PM  

I don't know much about the authenticity of period costumes, although I do loves me a costume drama. I have the new P&P DVD from Netflix sitting next to the TV waiting to be watched -- I'll have to keep an eye out for the costumes. But nothing can hold a candle to the A&E/BBC Colin Firth version - that will always be my gold standard P&P flick.

By Blogger Mary, at 1:16 PM  

but of course - only some crazy young fangirl (ok maybe not a fangirl - but the whole idea gives me echoes of the fangirls for Gerard Butler in the new Phantom movie when... um yeah I'm not going there) anyway - only a crazy person who has never read the book or seen the A&E version would not consider it the best...

for goodness sakes I met a GUY at church who happened to like that P&P version! (And when do you find guys admitting they've watched it - much less bringing it up before you do - for that matter one who also lets you borrow his copy of the movie version of Persuasion when he finds out you've never seen it?)

By Blogger Aria, at 12:35 AM  

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Sunday, March 19, 2006  

Warning - long rant about images. Very long.

Oleg Cassinni has died. The king of American fashion designers, according to the NYT obit. Creator of the Dorothy Lamour sarong. The designer of the Kennedy White House wardrobe that swept away Dior’s Paris Look to replace it with crisp American silhouettes.

Like all things fashion, the Jackie look waned, only to reappear in a modified version. For the past few years I’ve been seeing little hints of it coming back in the catalogs - those princess seamed shift dresses, some of which are sprouting waistline seams adorned with flat bows. The swing coat that hints of Grace Kelly was also featured in at least one knock-off catalog arriving in my mailbox last fall - Chadwicks, I believe.

Of course, revivals never quite have the impact of the original look - thank goodness, since now I am seeing cheesy nylon tops in turquoise paisley - and bell bottoms - even worse - cropped bell bottoms! God spare me from the reinterpretation of revivals!

Ah. But I am straying too far from the real reason I began this post - which was not particularly to mourn Mr. C, who had a great 92-year run where he stayed at the top a good bit of the time, but to gripe about something ominous I am seeing in my beloved BBC period dramas. To segue gracefully from a NYT obit into a fashion rant I give you this quote from Mr. C:

"My philosophy is this: Do not tamper with the anatomy of a woman's body; do not camouflage it," he told The New York Post in 1961. "I don't want every woman to look like a little boy."

That is what is paramount about Mr. C’s designs. They always begin with a female shape. Of course, exaggeration of the woman’s body is as old as fashion and it gave us Scarlet’s 18 inch waist which threw her into dismay, as well as the crushed livers and collapsed lungs of all those 19th century invalids. There is much that can be said about the evils of fashion trying to exaggerate a woman’s figure into an extreme, but equally, if not more upsetting to me is when fashion, the film industry and the press tries to eradicate any hint of a woman’s body by glamorizing breastlessness.

I’ve recently been awash in BBC’s Trollope Collection - three productions including Barchester Chronicles, The Way We Live Now and He Knew He Was Right. The first was filmed in the 1980’s and the other two were filmed within the past few years. Trollope is a lot of fun to watch because he doesn’t ever write too much plot but always fills his novels with colorful characters - the sort of people who translate into really juicy parts in which actors can display their talent and skill.

Now - Of course I understand that much leeway must be given to actresses to remain fashionable according to whatever standards a given era demands. Slender women have been the idol for most of the past century, now and then sliding over either edge go give a Jane Russell or a Twiggy center stage for a little while. And the film industry is aware that to the viewer’s eye, only what is accepted, what is in style in any given era, can be considered beautiful. The excellent book Hollywood and History, by Edward Maeder, explains that, even the very best of historical dramas must pay obeisance to The Current. This is especially so when it comes to hairstyles, thus all the women except Elizabeth Taylor wore those ever so popular fake braided chignons in the movie Cleopatra. In the fifties movie Shane, even though Mitzi Gaynor was depicting a Colorado rancher’s wife of the 1870’s she still had a Doris Day blonde bubble hair-do.

So be it. I have a lot of tolerance for making an attempt at depicting history while clinging to the day.

What has me upset is the extreme breastless silhouette that I first witnessed in the new (and deplorably repulsive) version of Pride & Prejudice and now have witnessed in the later of these Trollop productions. In fact, I have yet to watch He Knew He Was Right but I have sat through both of the others. The 1980’s Barchester Towers certainly has the requisite slender pretty women in fairly accurate historical costume. None of these women are particularly Jane Russell-ish, by any means. They look like pretty tea-fed English women. But in The Way We Live Now - which, in fact, is a story far more concerned with fashion and the fashionable - the women are not only breastless, their costumes seem designed to accentuate that teen boy look of the narrow hairless chest.

After a while, I began to have difficulty following the story line as I obsessed about these incongruous costumes. Every effort was made to create elaborate and accurate costumes from the neck up and the waist down. All that could be done to put into hair-do’s and bustles, the puffs, braids, loops and frills of 1875, was so done. And everything that could be done to accentuate the flat, straight slender line of upper torso, with no supporting undergarments, was likewise given full force, condeming these women to a subtle freakishness that eventually ruined the viewing for me.

Mind, now. A single actress who happens to be very slim and without any visible curve could easily go unnoticed by Me the All Important Viewer, even though the thought would cross my mind that in 1875 a very very flat chested woman would have pinned starched ruffles beneath her (un-needed) corset to fill out the top half of her dress. She, too, would want to keep up with the current standards of beauty. But when 100% of the women in a period film have this ... what else can I call it ... wrong interpretation of the period - I just can’t stop fidgeting and twisting and daydreaming and ... either slipping into ridicule or walking out in boredom.

Similarly - had the story not been about fashion and image I probably wouldn’t have cared that the fashion and images were so bizarre. Had Barchester Chronicles been costumed to accentuate the boyishness of the girl, it’s likely I would have not minded so much. The story line is all about the minutiae of small - and in this case, cathedral - towns. Dialogue and bickering was the pivot round which this story was written, not image and spin.

The point of a period piece is to transport you to another time. Not to wrench your brain around an anomaly that never was.

But more disturbing than the mind bending is the echo of Mr. Maeder saying that Hollywood always interprets history in the present day’s image of the past and according to present day’s standards of beauty. If that is so, I am appalled that the present day standard of feminine beauty is the most extreme gaunt jawed thinness of adolescent boys to date. I admit, each year I am slipping further away from the age of consideration and closer to the settled spread of the senior citizen when it comes to opining about fashion. I, too, like my mother did 25 years ago, have quit buying fashion magazines. They are not for me, but for GD. I accept that, although I doubt I will ever stop caring about how fashionably I am dressed - or at least, how well I am dressed. Neither do I choose to have television reception way out here in the boonies, so I don’t see what is being presented on the nightly peek into our culture’s living room set. I glean my information from movies and from People magazine (of which I am an unabashed and sloven-brained fan).

The de-womanizing of that gross P&P was a single instance and I was able to gag, but then shrug it off. Seeing it crop up again, in that most venerable of places, the BBC period drama - with Sue Birtwhistle at the helm - is ominous. The one thing I have always been able to count on has been the assurance that the costumes would be fabulous even if the story wasn’t so interesting. If I can no longer count on balance and at least a nod to realizm in the BBC - what can I count on?

Such a blow. Such a loss. I’m not even sure I will bother to watch He Knew He Was Right. I believe - I believe I shall just read the book.

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


Wish my Saturday was like your Saturday. Here's me -- killing myself doing yardwork while waiting for my yard guy who hasn't shown; meanwhile I have a dead car battery and am wondering how I'll get to the auto parts store for a new one....

Oh well, at least I'm not working! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 2:02 PM  

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Saturday, March 18, 2006  

Hooray for Saturday!

Especially Saturdays that come in the springtime. Days of light and ease and soft new color. Days with unfolding time ahead of them because Someone Else cleaned my house for me. Days with a new sock cast onto the needles; the first sock of 2006, at that.

Days when the postman leaves a card in your box saying you have a package waiting for you - and you know it’s all the pretty new bathroom accessories you finally found in a catalog - On Sale!!

Days when you have 2 movies from Netflix you want to watch - and no parents to tell you you can’t watch television during the day.

Days when you are going to the grocery store and realize you don’t have to spend that much $$$ - and that BD has to go to town too so he will drive and you can knit on your socks!

Days when you know you don’t have any more gross invasive health tests left - that you have been a Good Girl and Acted Responsibly for once in your life.

Days when you have the time to write about the things you thought were important - but in the end, don’t get around to it.

Yeah - Saturdays are good.

posted by Bess | 7:14 AM


I guess I'm not the typical INTJ because neatness is NOT one of my virtues! I do like things organized, but my home is organized chaos. Wonder what that says about me? Probably just that I'm a slob! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 2:00 PM  

Same here Mary - I'm an INTJ all the way, and while I LOVE neat tidy organized spaces, I can't seem to ever manage to live in one for long. I do have to stop and clean big time every once in a while because I literally can not think or function or feel well in a messy space - yet I still can't achieve it. Oh well - I guess INTJs at least have the URGE for organization? (or in my case the NEED for it, but not the ability to achieve it?)

By Blogger Aria, at 7:22 PM  

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Thursday, March 16, 2006  

I’m back from the big city, shopping bagless: surprise. Usually one of the reasons I don’t mind going to workshops or conferences or board meetings is because on the way home I can shop - girl shop, mind, which doesn’t mean actually buying anything, but you know - just looking. When you live 50 miles from anything except a Wal-mart, browsing at a mall can actually be entertainment. Not something I’d do on a regular basis, but every month or so it’s kinda fun.

But downtown Richmond is so dug up and so convoluted and, I confess, so sad to me, with all it’s construction and high rise medical park university complex and convention center - it’s not interesting at all to be in and the very devil to get out of. I know, I know. Progress. Time marches. Yeah, yeah, yeah. My home town - really a big friendly small town - is now just ugly concrete.

So as I passed any of the turn-offs for shopping mystery I just kept those wheels parallel. Too bad, in some ways - I have to find a fabric shop sometime in the next week, unless the craft center of Wal-mart turns up something that roughly approximates homespun. I want to make a costume for the story telling part of the Spring Fiber Festival. I don’t have to have it - but the more I work on the program - a never ending project in itself - the more convinced I am that it ought to be done in costume. I shan’t beat myself up about this if I miss the deadline - I have fortylevendyhundred Other Things to do between now and then - but there is a weekend open on the 25-26 when I could whip something up on the sewing machine. (That’s for you, my dear Florence King fans.)

On the long drive over, and during lulls during the workshop I came up with a list of the things I would like to have behind me by January 1, 2007. Three things are sweaters knit up to a math problem - all of which are around the shoulders and neck. A 4th is the BSHP sweater that I set aside while I worked on some drop spindle ideas. If I were to finish them all up I would have a productive (for TheQueen) year indeed. Nothing like my INTJ friends who like things stacked neatly in their rows all finished and tidy, mind, but for an ENFP slacker, 4 garments would be high productivity. I would also like to spin up all the grey corriedale for the sweater I want to make of it. I’d rather do that than the Wall-0-Color spinning because that garment is not gelling into a shape for me. I know what I want, but I can’t see it yet. Besides, J&I decided we didn’t want to spin enough of anything to knit Ragnar, but would love spinning enough to knit Flidas II. That’s actually an easy sweater to knit - mostly it’s an EZ seamless circular sweater - just with the knitted in set-in sleeves.

I also need to knit socks. 4 pair are absolutes, though they aren’t needed till December, when I’m likely to attempt to knit garments for the entire world. But I believe I will devote the first week of every month to sock knitting and just see what happens. There were some other things on the list - it’s out in the car with all the rest of the paperwork from the workshop. I do so love making lists. The organizational exercise is so refreshing. The wild ego that conceives these images of TheQueen with production flowing off her fingertips is just so silly - but having ideas and plans, schedules and itineraries is valuable even for the completion challenged. In the end, we do get some things done and all in all - that is enough.

Tomorrow is another Crack - 0 - Dawn day for me so there isn’t likely to be a post - but then - one never knows. I may not sleep at all tonight and then I can come down and natter on about things.

Thank you for the compliments on the yarns, Erica. Those fluffs of novelty yarns really are fun to make and would you believe those poor quilters spend $5.00 on little cards with only a few yards of fluffy yarn wrapped around them? Spinning enough yarn for a sweater might not be timely for many knitters but whoee, it’s a bargain making skill for a quilter.

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


Ooh, I love your yarn. Very cool. Once I finish the yarn I'm working on and take my novelty yarns class, I'll be all set to make some really crazy but cool yarns.

By Blogger erica, at 12:47 AM  

That is so cool to see spindle-spun yarn knitted up and plied like that. I agree that the seed stitch makes it look quite nice. I'm gettin' psyched for my lesson! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 1:55 PM  

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006  

There won't be time tomorrow to post anything. I have to be on the road by 7. So here are a few shots of some of the spindle spun yarn I took to the class last Saturday.

Here is blue merino 2ply. The yarn ended up pretty bumpy and uneven - top is tricky for me using a drop spindle. Heck. It's tricky for me all the time. But in a bumpy stitch like seed stitch - it is very pretty.

Here you see the same yarn, spindle spun thick and thin, then plied with a commercial effect yarn - a thin multi-colored rayon cord. I only made a tiny bit of this but I think it's very pretty.

This is a green mohair lock, spun as roughly as I could on the drop spindle, then lightly plied with that same rayon cord. Similar, but different look.

posted by Bess | 6:24 PM


Detritus - that is a good description for my current environment. I need to clean and it's so nice when it's done, but alas, inertia is stronger than any current motivator....

By Blogger Mary, at 1:54 PM  

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Dear Virgo kith & kin,

Is there something in your life you wish would take a permanent vacation? Some issue you wish were settled? Some habit you want to break? Something you want gone?

Then my dears, tonight, at 6:47 p.m. EST, as the shadow of the earth darkens the moon, write it down on a piece of paper and burn it up. Lunar eclipses are just the thing for ridding oneself of imps who trip your feet on the road to happiness. A lunar eclipse in your very own Mercury is just the thing for a Clean Sweep Virgo in this wonderful year of Life Clutter Removal. Think of this as just another lucky opportunity you can ignore - but why would you?

I have no fiber news today. I have no other news today either. Our Tuesday night knitting group meets tonight - we skipped last month because it fell on Valentine’s Day. This work week is packed because I will be out of the building 2 days - once for a conference and once for a long dr. visit. But life in the Clutterless Workroom is so much more efficient, we can do in 3 days what we used to do in a week. Everyone is happier with the broad sweep of tabletop, the toe room beneath desks, the elbow room as one passes from back door to front desk. A stern word about one spot which is (but has not been) maintained by someone else has elicited results of tidiness that soften my spirit as I step into my office. That spot, right by my office door, seemed to attract a particular sort of junkiness that crushed the beginning of every day. No More. Others know now that The Queen was Not Pleased.

But they are all happier too, now that there are blank spaces between projects, instead of continuous chaos. Most people like to feel like they have done a good day’s work. But the chances of even knowing if you’ve done a good day’s work in the midst of the detritus of the last dozen projects are mighty close to zero. Cleaning up your room is something your parents are supposed to make you do - when you’re a kid. Now I see that, at times, the Queen has to be mommy - which is fine by me. As I said - we are all happier at work now.

Hmmm - Rather a lot of words for someone with nothing to say. And if I am going to knitting tonight I better go gather up all my show and tell. Wishing you all Good Knitting.

posted by Bess | 7:32 AM


Socks it is! heh heh

My braid has been sitting here staring at me, as well as the yummy little fiber nests. Think the spinning wheel may need to come into the camper and take up all the space for a while so I can spin these!

Hugs, Jen

By Blogger Jennifer, at 11:43 AM  

Yes, if the flower buds and blooms didn't announce that Spring has sprung, the temperatures sure have! It got to 83-ish here yesterday! Too hot for March!

Here's hoping you'll post a picture of your newly spun sock yarn!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:57 PM  

*sigh* Oh, daffodils -- they're just poking out of the grey ground here. I loved living in Washington at this time of year, when Spring happened so early, and so all of a sudden.

By Blogger Jane, at 6:05 AM  

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Monday, March 13, 2006  

BD always says that in Virginia, spring begins on March 1. He’s probably right, even if the vernal division of the sun’s orbit is still a few weeks off. Dawn now comes before 6 a.m. with rosy nudges through the bare branches of the trees in the east woods. Open windows give tuneful evidence of avian travelers, staking out territory for their vacation homes or heading further north to escape the heat. Sweetest of all, I can open the door when I come downstairs to make coffee, and leave it open. The dogs are free to wander in and out at will, nosing into the office to see if there are any biscuits in my pockets, tiptoeing upstairs to hop up in the big bed or defying gravity and melting upwards onto the couch in the den. That one is Sock’s particular sneaky trick. Her hearing is so acute she is always curled in a ball on the floor when I walk into the room, but she hasn’t figured out yet that the warm circular depression on the cushion betrays her guilt.

Last Thursday the Bradford pears in town burst into bloom - the first of the real spring blossoms, unless one counts those red tassels on the maples or the odd looking clusters on the boxwoods. The rest of the forest still has the grey cast of winter but brushed across its surface is the pink of swollen buds, waiting only for a rain shower. And my own precious east woods is bejeweled with golden cups turning their faces towards the sun, for this is the spring of the daffodil. They didn’t open that early, though they’d popped their tips out of the ground well before January passed. But they are prolific with their blossoms this spring. As you walk down my lane, from the big bend towards the forest, you can see an almost solid foam of golden, yellow, and pale cream, frilling the toes of the trees. Happily, there are still two spots along the forest edge where I can put in New Bulbs - an annual autumn activity which I missed this past fall due to ill health. I shall paint the last stroke come September.

I was still on something of a high after all the fun of Saturday’s class and was unable to settle down to any tasks yesterday. I did all the laundry, all the way up to putting everything away before bedtime and I picked up some, but not all, of the clutter before an unexpected (by me) visit from our insurance man changed any plans I may have had to work on bills yesterday. I’ll have to hustle to get things straight today since there is some Peter robbing needed at the Banco de Paul. How does everything in the Haile family get so scattered?

Throughout the day, though, in true ENFP fashion, I spun on a gorgeous braid of handpainted merino given to me by the talented fiber artist J, The Booth Babe Boss from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. When she gave it she suggested socks, which I was reluctant to commit to, but as I’ve spun on it, it keeps reminding me that it was intended to be socks and I had better spin sock yarn with it. So smooth tight singles are filling up the bobbin on HeyBaby - and J - go ahead and laugh at me.

So now it is Monday. The week is crowded with things that will take me here and there - as are all the weeks between now and mid-April. Spring is here. Yep yep. Pay no attention to the date on the calendar. Spring is here.

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


It sounds wonderful! I hope I'll be a good student for you, and not get easily defeated! I have watched the woman on Knitty Gritty's spinning episode use a drop spindle (made from a dowel, a cuphook and some CD's), so I'm hoping that visual lesson has sunk in. But I've no doubt my excellent instructor will ensure my success!

By Blogger Mary, at 10:05 AM  

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Sunday, March 12, 2006  

Yesterday was as perfect a teaching experience as I could ask for. It was pure utter bliss. This was not my first big class of first-time drop spinners but it had many unique aspects that will help me shape my future large group classes. There were only 10 students, one called in sick, but all of them were skilled needlewomen. I had three hours to teach them how to spin but since this was a gathering of quilters, I wanted to aim the information at their primary passion, so I wanted to do more than help them create a balanced wool yarn. Happily, 3 hours is enough time to cover a lot of ground.

The kits, made up for me by Barbara at Stony Mt. Farms, were generously full of both a white and a colored roving of colonial top, springy grabby fiber that feels soft unless you compare it to merino. This is often when hopeful spinners at fiber shows frequently make their first mistake and reject what suddenly feels scratchy for something silkier. I added a small handful of colored mohair locks I bought several years ago at MS&W . I spread the kits out on a table in all their colorful splendor and invited students to take their pick. Chairs were set in a semi-circle so that the spinners could park their spindles in their lap. I sat too, so they could see what I was talking about but was ready to hop up as often as needed to give individual help to any struggling student. Just before the end of the hour all 10 of them had spindles nicely filled with singles, all of which looked heaps better than my precious ugly babies.

The second hour we spent plying and fondling my show-and-tell stuff: fibers, tools, and books. Hour # 3 was spent spinning over the fold with the mohair locks and making textured yarns my quilting students might want to use for embellishments on their quilt blocks. B had made a darling quilt block based on the Sunbonnet Sue appliqué design, but she gave Sue a drop spindle made from a toothpick and a button. It’s adorable and she gave it to me to take home.

So. What did I learn from this teaching experience? What can I take with me to make my next class even better ? I don’t think anything could make it more fun, since that depends as much on the attitude of the students walking in as it does on the teacher. My students were (almost) all cheerful and happy and ready to give it a go. Good sports with the needlewoman’s deft fingers to speed them along.

1. Make a packing list of things I need to have. Put it with the handouts and syllabus in a sturdy zip-lock bag. Keep a copy on the computer too, of course.

2. Explain that what I mean by "clockwise" is that when they look down upon the face of their spindle as it spins, it will be turning clockwise. That little bit of confusion wasted 2 or 3 precious minutes.

3. Spend more time talking about moving the fibers along - about why you have to have your hands slightly more than, but not too much more than a fiber’s length apart. I notice that beginners claw at the fiber supply right up at the twist trying to make that lump smaller. That’s impossible, since even with a tight pinch holding back the twist, some energy escapes into the fiber supply, gathering in a thick wad of fibers and making drafting impossible. A relaxed back hand pulling from a few inches back will always get the drafting started again, even though it does leave that slub up against the twist.

4. Spend more time with pre-drafting altogether. Consider using pencil roving next time. At least, consider having some pencil roving in the kit.

5. Have a spindle full of singles already loaded when we begin plying. I had several spindles, but, alas, none of them were loaded so when my students were ready to begin plying I wasn’t ready to demonstrate!

6. Do not take it personally if I get one student who insists that she can’t learn and can’t do it and absolutely refuses to do what you tell her to do next, but insists on doing what she thinks she ought to do next. There is always a maverick in the fold. It has nothing to do with me. At least yesterday’s maverick was merely defeated, not aggressive and antagonistic - like one I had last fall. Although almost everyone once learned to spin because she had to, that doesn’t mean everyone now is going to learn to spin.

I also noticed that about half the students didn’t want to spin their spindles, they wanted to hold them and slowly twist them. You can spin a few inches that way - with patience, you can spin all your wool that way - if you have the rest of your life to do nothing but spin. I had to urge them to take advantage of gravity and centrifugal force and hang it all if the spindle falls to the floor. That’s why it’s called a drop spindle, I’m sure.

The 3 hours disappeared like mist over the river. I could happily have continued teaching all afternoon. Instead, though, we had a boxed lunch and listened to a lecture about a book of documented Virginia quilts coming out this year and published by the Virginia Consortium of Quilters - who, btw, were sponsoring this gathering. The whole day was a big high with lots of strokes and compliments from my students, (B let me read the evalutions and they were such an ego boost.) and the added pleasure of seeing delight on faces of women who were learning something they’d always been curious about. A splendid lovely day.

And today - fat with the warmth of an early spring - I can savor the pleasure of a job well done and look forward to April’s class with pumped up eagerness.

Please, though, if you are in one of those lovely moist locations, blow some of your weather our way. We’re going into drought conditions already - a scary thought. Please. Think

posted by Bess | 7:56 AM


What lucky students those will be to have you to draw them further in! Have a wonderful day, dear!

By Blogger Amie, at 6:51 AM  

By the time you see this, your class will be over, so I am hoping it was a marvelous one. It had to be a winner with a teacher such as you ;) And congratulations on being top billing for the upcoming spring fiber festival!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:42 AM  

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Friday, March 10, 2006  

I'm was up and out early this morning so I could finish the handouts - which are nicely finished, thank you - and I'm going to be up and out even earlier tomorrow to teach my class. Though B said I didn't have to be there at crack-0-dawn I'm going to go in anyway just to get my juices flowing, my heart pumping. I'm ready for some high energy excitement. Of the fiber sort, of course.

The boxes are packed, the handouts are done, I have a little syllabus in one of those tilted acrylic picture frames. The kits are bursting with goodies. I'm as ready as I can get.

So - with nothing more to do but get a good night's sleep and a good breakfast, but knowing there won't be time to blog tomorrow I offer you this view from Mossy Point - the north tip of the east woods, looking across Paynes Island to where the rest of the bald eagles like to live.

And as I was cleaning out the huge drawer full of photos in my office today - part of the Great Clutter Clearing Project - I stumbled upon my all time favorite Weekly World News headline. You know these folks as the ones who brought you such great captions as Baby Born Pregnant!, Batboy found in Cave! and Clinton shakes hands with Alien!

There are a bunch of sweet memories tied up with this bit of yellowed newspaper but the warmest one was when I had snuck back into the grocery store to actually purchase Weekly World News and heard my favorite county supervisor comment from behind me that he was glad to see the caliber of reading material the county librarian was drawn to. Of course, once he saw this headline, he too agreed, it was a keeper.

He's long gone now, but he was one of the great men I have known. One of the gifts I've received over the years.

Be back on Sunday.

posted by Bess | 5:00 PM


"Spring" is 81F?! Around here, that's summer!

I do like the idea of doing things right..."and with grace". Made my day, Bess!


By Blogger Margaret, at 8:45 AM  

How could you call our high school uniform UNfashionable??? I'm shocked!!! You mean, you didn't save your kilt after high school and wear it during college to impress all your friends? Hmmmmmm... Maybe that's why I didn't have any friends to impress! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 8:00 PM  

You got to wear the kilt - I was stuck in that ugly box pleated thing - and no knee socks - and Sister Anita still made you kneel and if your skirt didn't touch the floor you had to rip the hem out of your skirt and wear it that way.

I think, though, it was the uniform aspect, not the style of the uniform, that got to me. The same old same old wearied this little fashionista's heart.

By Blogger Bess, at 7:48 AM  

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Thursday, March 09, 2006  

Ho! It’s supposed to be 81 degrees on Monday. Oh I am ready for spring! Alas, all the promised (and needed) rain is now just going to hang about up in the clouds. Margaret? Best hurry on down here. But warm weather, when the light begins to brighten and the days grow longer, is just what I am ready for.

Each year around March and then again come September, I become completely weary of my clothes. I’ve grown to hate all of them except a very few sure fire hits, which I still hate but can just tolerate wearing. There are never 5 outfits in this limp group so I must resort to wearing something twice in a week. This may not be an issue if you are a man in a navy blue suit but for a woman who cares about fashion - even if she is not always fashionable - this is painful. Everyone ought to own 5 outfits that she can swap out often enough to feel stylish. She, if she is me, probably ought not own more than 8 ensembles and they should all be made of separate pieces that can migrate from skirt to blouse to trousers, like some sartorial deck of cards, dealing out seemingly endless variations.

Geoffrey Beane, one of my favorite American fashion designers, once said that Of Course he went into fashion - he’s a Virgo and they care the most about fashion, even when they profess not to. That is because they care so much about doing it right, doing it efficiently, doing it with grace. You can’t do that with unfashionable clothing. It just ... doesn’t look right! (insert smiley)

Although - that’s not entirely a joke. If you don’t look right you (I) will worry all day about how you look or be shy or embarrassed or hide because you know you don’t look right. If you are well and fashionably dressed, you can just forget about how you look and concentrate on Other Things. You won’t worry that a sudden demand, an unexpected client, some shift in the schedule will leave you looking like Cinderella, after midnight. You won’t get caught. Fashionable clothing is like oil in a thirsty spinning wheel. It makes all the other things smoother and easier to do.

When I was in high school my parents sent me to a Catholic girls school that had the world’s most unfashionable uniform. Of course, fashion is a cyclical morphing thing, shifting from image to image as the years roll past. This is so that fashion producers can earn a living, because if clothing didn’t go out of style, people would replace them like they do cars or tooth paste tubes - when they wear out. Thus, somewhere in the cycle, those uniforms were stylish - perhaps 1957 would have smiled upon those box stitched pleated skirts, green cardigan sweaters and little white blouses with SGHS embroidered on the pocket. Saddle shoes with bobby socks, though, were definitely vintage ‘50’s. Alas. I went there between 1966 and 1969 and if any of you have your mother’s old school yearbooks, you know that Papagalo flats were The Footwear and fashion swung between Mama’s&Papa’s MooMoos and teensyweensy mini-skirts with striped Poor Boy Sweaters.

That was the era of the jeans movement which changed a farm work garment called dungarees into the uniform of the Pepsi Generation; for those who think young. How I hated to wear that school uniform. How absurd it was for those teachers, caught in their own fashion time warp, to tell us to "be proud of our uniforms." Proud of something that made you look like you were dressing up in castoffs from some charity shop? Ee Gad. It was dreadful. But wouldn’t you know it - that uniform has come back into style twice since I slunk down Broad Street to window shop at Miller & Rhoads.

I pride myself on having a rather well functioning wardrobe, but each March, with the sweaters and wools, and each September, with the cottons and linens, I grow weary of everything in it. Everything looks brown. (well, everything is brown). Everything looks tired, limp, itchy, sweaty, rumpled and boring. I grow dissatisfied with my clothing, my body and my image. I feel like it’s chrysalis shedding time. I think about changing my hairstyle. (dangerous ground, there) I berate myself for letting wonderful diet opportunities slip past my lips smothered in cheese or sugar. March and September are difficult months for one so aware of what could be - what ought to be.

March and September don’t care how I feel about clothing. They think I should be living in a tree, naked, in some equatorial latitude. If humans are stupid enough to migrate to what the ironic insist upon calling a "temperate zone" then they can just solve their own wardrobe problems. Alas. I must try to solve mine too. What in the dickens will I wear today that won’t make me gag as I zip it up or pull it over my head. I can’t take the chance of pulling my spring clothes out of the attic because I am sure the temperature will plummet should I do so. Alas, I must sweat, in brown, in order to keep this sweet spring weather around, caressing the daffodils and coaxing the Burkwood viburnum into bloom.

Yikes! Whatever I decide - I had better hurry - it’s after 8 and the outside world beckons. Be glad I haven’t a camera, now. You might have to gaze at MarchBrownBess.

posted by Bess | 7:41 AM


The Rain Girl here...does your forecast mean I'm coming to visit for over a week?! ;-)

It's been said that we Canucks are defined by our weather; certainly the Inuit are -- with their plethora of words for snow! We've had a dry winter here -- till about 10 days ago. Since then, it's been snowsnowsnow. The skiers are rejoicing and the farmers (in anticipation of spring run-off) are too.

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:12 AM  

Hey -- looks like your Wednesday post posted twice. I've done that before! Easy enough to delete one. (Keep the one with the comments!) ;-)

I LURRRVE (!) the spindle with the little sheepies on it! Is that what I'll be using? I'm getting so excited!


By Blogger Mary, at 6:56 PM  

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006  

Thank you weather gods, for listening in on my phone conversation with P. But do we need to have 8 straight days of rain?

Weather dot com says that beginning on Saturday - that’s what we can expect. We are very dry around here and can use the wet. I shan’t complain. Yet. Especially if it is going to hit the 70’s over the next few days and some of those are not going to be rainy.

Weather is so much more important in the country than it was when I lived in the city. I can only remember a few snow storms and one very windy day in all the years I lived in suburban or urban America. Once we moved to the country each day’s weather mattered. If it rained too much the road washed away. If it froze hard for a few days and then warmed up, the road turned into mud. Either way I had to carry baby-in-snowsuit or laundry baskets half a mile through the woods from the safe parking spot to the house. If when the summer drought hit hard enough, we lost our corn crop, or bean crop, or both. If it rained too much, like last spring, we never made the corn crop at all - or made only 70% of it.

Like most folk, if an ice/snow storm was bad enough, the power went out, but since work crews target maximum population roads first - you guessed it. There are 22 houses on 3 miles of road. We aren’t last, but we aren’t first either.

. . .

Well - all that nattering was just to comment on the weather - which is not dull and stupid if you live among farmers at the end of half a mile of country lane. So when weather is sweet - it is especially sweet and today, 77 degrees sounds especially sweet.

The truly exciting news is that my spindle kits arrived yesterday. Whoopeee! and Thank You Barbara for getting them to me so quickly. They contain one sheepy Louet spindle: and almost 5 oz. of colonial wool - half white, half a color. I ordered one extra one for me to use while teaching and chose the one with orange wool, since that is not a really popular color among adults. The spindles are a little heavy - I suspect they’re about 2 oz. This is good, since their weight will support the thicker yarn a new spinner is likely to draft. My first spindle was even heavier - a big chunk of wood and a thick dowel for a shaft. I’m so used to spinning on the lighter models now that it’s good I have a few days to practice on this spindle. Besides - I’ve been wanting to spin some heavier weight yarn. Now I have the right tool too. Two right tools.

I’ll add my handouts to the kits tonight or tomorrow. They’re just about finished but I wanted to get some heavier paper to print them on so I can print front and back without all that dark toner showing through.

As for anything else? Well - today is Wednesday and we all know what that means.

posted by Bess | 7:18 AM


Speaking of gifts, something is on it's way ... it screamed out your name. Well, actually, it screamed out Priss's name. Might be a few weeks....


By Blogger Amie, at 8:18 AM  

Okay, I want to see pictures of:

a) your new Golding drop spindle

b) your new rovings!

Your handout for your spinning class sounds great -- I can't wait to see it! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:32 PM  

Bess Dear, would you consider a Canadian Rockies vacation so you could teach me to spin? There spinners 'round here, grant it, but it would be so much more fun to learn from you!


By Blogger Margaret, at 2:44 PM  

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Tuesday, March 07, 2006  

This page is actually blank. No words appear on it. You are imagining everything you see. If you don't believe me, ask someone else to take a look. Get them to read it out to you. If they seem to say the same words that you think you have just read, it only proves that you are hearing things as well as seeing things! Well of course, really, it proves no such thing. But it does help me to make an important point. You sorely need to stop doubting yourself. You know what's real and right and why. Trust that today. Jupiter and Mercury have now changed direction. You can change direction too.

I’m not sure what I am supposed to be doubting, unless it is that I doubt I’ll ever get back to my goal weight - but I know that’s not true - that’s sulking.

I am certainly not doubting how happy I am with the spinning class handouts. The photos that GD took are just right. I wish we’d taken one or two more - and I may try to arrange more, if there is time, before April. But then, the April class is shorter so there would be less time to demonstrate anything. Then AGAIN the March class is longer so I can demonstrate and they may not need handouts, whereas the short class might need bulked up information.

It’s moot anyway. I am not trying to write the book on how to spin. I’m sure Alden Amos has already done it and so has ... hmmm... Lee Ravin? with SpinIt. What I am trying to do is to send my students home with just enough information to prompt their memories when they are alone and trying to remember what I said in class. That was what I missed the most when I first took up drop spindle and wool. The nice lady at MS&W gave me a one moment demonstration - but her real job there was to sell her goods & wares. I didn’t buy a book. I didn’t buy a video. I was still recuperating from the allergy attack from hell. I was on the phone to TheWoolery by Monday afternoon.

So I want my students to have me by their side while we walk through the baby steps of spinning and to have just enough reminders - with photos - to help them go through those steps again when they get home and stand, lonely, fuzzy-headed and wondering why they ever threw away $ on a stupid drop spindle anyway. I will have included a solid bibliography in the little booklet so they can get more information when they are ready for it - when their hands have begun to learn the movements and when they begin to drool at the thought of: What about merino and angora blends? What about silk? What about glittery stuff?

I’ll also encourage them to pester their public libraries for good collections and broad selections.

You all know about my No Fiber for 2006 vow. It’s March and I’ve been very good about keeping it. In fact, there’s nothing to brag about, because I’ve had only the smallest of shopping urges in the past 2 months. No virtue in not wanting what you don’t want. But I did leave the small loophole called Gifts open last January. Nothing in the vow about not accepting gifts of fiber. And this weekend, some precious girlfriends gave me fiber. I have a shopping bag full of handpainted rovings, carded blends, interesting fibers. Their colors spill out of the bag like so much laughter. I am saving one braid of handpainted fiber for a special moment, but I have already begun playing with the rest. Using my Golding spindle I’ve got the most interesting red and blue and white yarn growing into what might be some sock yarn. We shall see. But I am enjoying new stuff.

I have decided to skip WW tonight. I already know I’ve sinned. The scale has pointed it’s cruel finger at my guilt. I just don’t feel like admitting it to anyone else tonight. I will, instead, go to the gym, go to the grocery store and restock the larder, and begin again - which is the fate of the weight challenged and always has been. Resignation is never so easy as when it is your only alternative. Besides - if the planets can change direction - well - so can I.

posted by Bess | 7:28 AM


How do I love the postings of our Virgo readings? Let me count the ways.
And doesn't this one hit the mark? Glad you shared it.
Yes, our time w/close pals is a soothing balm for the spirit, an encouraging time for the soul & a loving time for our hearts. Thank you all.

By Blogger Martha, at 9:40 AM  

Chocolate? There was chocolate? I don't remember chocolate! (see how good I am at denial? In my world, the weekend isn't over, I'm still surrounded by you and fiber and fun and yes, chocolate...)

By Blogger Amie, at 4:13 PM  

Well, your weekend sounds wonderful -- I'm envious! Fiber AND chocolate? Are you sure you weren't in heaven? ;-)

Eagerly anticipating my drop-spindle lesson!

Oh, and I need a recommendation on ball-winder and swift, if you have any....

By Blogger Mary, at 11:41 PM  

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Monday, March 06, 2006  

You have lived through easier times. Have you ever, though, been in such a potentially rewarding situation before? You may think so. You may even think that there's nothing very satisfying about your current set of circumstances and it is unlikely they will lead to anything worth celebrating. You only feel that way, though, because you are fed up with a frustrating process. It seems as though this will never come to an acceptable conclusion. Ah, but it will. If you stick with it stoically and can manage to be gracefully good-humoured about a matter that secretly infuriates you, you may yet find that you start getting somewhere constructive - this very week

Now - when I first read this I thought -what? I’m just back from a fabulously relaxing, reaffirming, loving weekend with special fiber pals. I was welcomed home with open happy arms and squeezy hugs. Large dogs crawled into my lap and kissed my face. Best of all, I get to teach 11 people how to spin beautiful yarn with drop spindles this coming Saturday. Is there any reason I ought to feel frustrated with something?

Then I open up my email and there is the reminder from WW dot com that there is a scale upstairs I could get on and find out how much damage the beautiful loving fabulous relaxing weekend did to my efforts at - not just weight loss - but returning to that long lost weight. The one that allowed me to fit into that pretty red dress of mine. The one I wore for only a summer - the one that says "Bess" every time I look at it. The one that did not button last summer and would not do so today either.

Well. Hmm. Welcome back with the bump of reality I suppose. Happily, there was this trenchant message which I intend to use to help me follow Mr.Horrosocpe’s advice:

Rankin suggests putting things in perspective. Wherever you are, from this point forward it can become better or worse.

La de da. You are probably not interested in dark shadows over my horizon anyway, but rather on the warm sunset glow cast upon my fabulous, relaxing, reaffirming fiberish weekend - right?

The answer is yes. It was everything that is good. I got over my homesickness before I left - as I usually do. The drive was easy, traffic light, directions accurate and of course, the conversation never really stopped. When friends who see each other only rarely can get together face to face, the stream of conversation becomes decidedly like a spring freshet.

At S’s house, a beautiful place to be even if it were not a fiber weekend, we played the time away with her toys, interspersing that with live aid for J, helping her prepare stock for her booth at MS&W. Some of us did not even get out of pajamas all day on Saturday. Alas, entirely too much chocolate and pizza was consumed (by me, at least) and wine and more chocolate and a bit more wine so that all of Mr.Horroscope’s advice and all of WW dot com’s encouragement were more pointed, as their sharp tips penetrated the bulls-eye of my heart - or perhaps, my tummy. Ahh well. It is today at last and that can be the New Beginning with the possibility that I will still get to wear that wonderful red dress this summer.

Our host was a darling, quite stealable if we were not all already connected to Big Darlings. Our hostess knew what would make us happy (chocolate and wine and pizza and chocolate). It's really just too bad that words are so flat when it comes to saying thank-you. It is really wonderful that with good friends, flat words are enough.

I completed the handspun brim of the Aurora8 hat I wanted to display at this weekend’s spinning class. I’ve just about finished one of the fingerless gloves too - knit on #3’s, of the corriedale spindlespun. I will put them both up on the blog this week - either by scan or photo - but after I block them - not right now.

So. Let us hope the week ahead has frustrations only in the flab arena but is full of ease, comfort and pleasure in every other zone of my life. And for you non-Virgos - may it bring no frustrations at all!

posted by Bess | 7:14 AM


I saw a needle book (and a small purse and the big bag) up close and personal at TNK Tuesday night -- Jane received them from Lawre for her birthday -- and they were just lovely, and such a brilliant idea, especially the needle book. Lawre will no doubt sell out of these things at any fiber festival or other event she attends. Methinks she may need to hire some labor!

Have fun at your weekend event -- looking forward to hearing about it!

By Blogger Mary, at 7:25 PM  

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Friday, March 03, 2006  

You are a darling Mary - I can't wait till the 21st.

I am off on a weekend jaunt - as mentioned earlier this week. Only time to wish all well and brag on the Bee You Tee Ful set of knitting accessories that came via UPS yesterday.

Lawre, of Lawre's Laine - and sister to Jane - made these glorious bags. One is a large tapestry project bag - large enough to use as a lovely overnight bag too - lined in gorgeous raw silk with a ring of pockets around the top. It has luxurious braided leather handles that end in beaded tassels. The tapestry fabric is so plush it is soft enough to wear.

The other item is The NeedleBook by LawresLaine. Lawre has covered a 2 ring notebook with matching tapestry fabric and filled it with plastic pockets to hold my circular needles. It too has the same luxurious silk lining and leather handles. It's the size of those fisherman's lure notebooks, but is decidedly more fiber-worthy.

And I see that naughty gal has not updated her website - but I also know she's busy getting ready for the Spring Fiber Festival in April. So - I promise, next week there will be photos, but you can see pictures of the NeedleBook on Jane's blog - just scroll back about 10 days.

Okay - I'm off. See y'all on Ttuesday.

posted by Bess | 6:13 AM


Even normal haired people without tons of hairspray would be good in some of those magazines. I'm of the limp-ultra-straight-haired too and nothing in a magazine looks good on me because I hate styling products. If I wanted my hair to be crispy, I would have asked for crispy hair. Okay, it's fine for some occasions but other times I want my hair to move.
Good luck with the haircut.

By Blogger erica, at 9:28 AM  

Bess, you will look delightful in any cut that highlights those sparkling eyes...


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 PM  

Regarding a list for the blog -- I keep one. I have a Notepad .txt file open at all times named "BlogFodder", and whenever I deem something blog-worthy, I add it to the list so that on days when I have blogger's block, I can look at it and pull something from there. It doesn't always work though - I don't always feel like blogging even about the topics on the list. But it helps more often than not.

I, too, have thin stick-straight hair. I combat it with the ever-so-UN-stylish perm, which allows me to leave the house with wet hair.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:03 PM  

Oh, and there's a good tutorial on modifying your blog template here:

By Blogger Mary, at 11:13 PM  

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Thursday, March 02, 2006  

Oh La - Blogland just sits out there like a giant vacuum, ready to suck me up. There are so many things I’d like to do to my dreadfully boring and error sprinkled template. There are photographs I would be glad to share in spite of the fact that Hello lured me on like a bad date, leaving me unsatisfied and slightly tainted, in the car parked by the fountain at Byrd Park. There are several things I want to write about and it just looks like there will never be enough time. Perhaps a list might be helpful to me. Perhaps I can tick off one each week or so and be sure I really get all my thoughts out there - (where are those smilies when you need them?) for your delectation and erudition.

Diary as literature

I really want to write a post about why I blog
With the corollary about why I read other blogs

Diary as psychological delving
And something about trying - and failing - to reward myself - and why
Living with fear - or not - with a sideline about comment envy

Diary as history
I do intend to write the pioneer girl saga - really I do.

Oh La - and this morning I go in way early for a hair-cut - and manicure - and yes, yes, yes it’s decadently indulgent and you have just seen an ENFP in action as I shift gears with only a moderate squeal of tires, leaving just a short rubber track curving behind me.

Speaking of short - I am thinking of getting a very short hair cut. I have been talking it over with Brenda for a long time and I have one of those Short Haircut magazines to take with me to show her styles I like. B says don’t buy those things - they’re unreal - but look, instead, at a Penny’s catalog - where done-up models aren’t trying to be outré - but to sell Penny’s clothing. But I found a number of hairstyles for fine limp haired women with wide cheeks - even if they are all 18. Think what the magazine industry could do if they’d only put out one single magazine with hairstyles on 40 - 60 year old faces that are still stylish. Imagine those headlines.

Hide Those Jowl with Layers.

The Gel that gives you a crown for your crowning glory.

Wispy Bangs That Don’t Point To Your Eye Bags!

Do the style pundits think fortylevendyhundredthousand women don’t want to look good or something? Sheesh. Who would lose out on all the $ to be made selling dreams to those of us who are no longer paying orthodontist bills!

man - I’m even later now. Got to run!

posted by Bess | 6:44 AM


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Wednesday, March 01, 2006  

Who could resist an Inner Dragon Quiz? Courtesy of Dragonhame, via C and M I give you:

and your inner dragon is a ....

Adamantite Dragon

In the war between good and evil, Adamantite Dragons take the side of the noble and good.
When it comes to the powers of Chaos vs. those of Law and Order, your inner dragon is a risk taker and answers to no one.
As far as magical tendancies, Your inner dragon has the ability to conquer the world of magic, but it will not be easy.
During combat situations, a true Adamantite Dragon prefers to defeat opponents by the use of spells and other tactics.

Dragon Description:
Adamantite Dragons make their homes in the highest of mountain ranges. They prefer rugged territory, and are not affected by the biting cold of high peaks. They have a huge wing span to accommodate flight in the thin air found at high altitude.

An adamantite dragon's scales are dark black. Once the mature adult stage is reached, the dragon develops silver flecks throughout its scales. These flecks grow more abundant as the dragon ages until the dragon appears silver.

Even though it is considered to be one of the good dragons, an Adamantine Dragon can be very volatile. It will not attack a fellow good creature, but will not hesitate to engage with even the mightiest creatures of evil alignment.Adamantines are generally solitary in nature, although they do communicate with each other regularly over long distances by magical means. These dragons are kind in nature, but bow down before nobody.

This Dragons favorite elements are: Adamantite, High Places, and Courage

posted by Bess | 2:26 PM


I have never observed Lent but it always seems like a good idea. Although sometimes I think it might be more interesting to try and give up something for a year - more like making a lifestyle change. My New Year's goal was to complain less about life in general and be more positive. I tried to reaffirm it with the Chinese New Year and just because I felt like it last week. Maybe I'll use Lent as my reason this week. :)

And I understand the weepiness about leaving home for a weekend. I miss my husband on a normal day when he's at class or even work. In the year and a half that we've been married we've only spent one night apart.

By Blogger erica, at 11:27 PM  

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The Full Moon eclipse takes place in your sign, promising you a March to remember. At the very least, now’s the time to do something radical to your image. At best, this is the time to take a giant leap of faith into the unknown as you head far, far away from a situation which has been slowing you down for too long. Be brave - go for it!

The Full Moon eclipse in Virgo also means this is a powerful time of turning points for you. These energies are not always easy to handle. What is happening now could lead to a fabulous future, even if it doesn’t feel like it (yet). Certainly there’s a sense that what’s changing now, has to alter, in order for you to end up headed towards what you’re really destined for. Try to trust God/the Universe/the Stars, even if it’s confusing.

Okay - this is for my special Virgo pal who I will see in a day or two - so just you remember - all the stuff you’ve been going through is going to put you where you want to be.

As for me - I have been extraordinarily unharnessed from the stars so far this year - or else I have been doing everything in miniature - because as I look back on the first 2 months of 2006 it has seemed like I’ve mostly taken it easy. The real Virgos I know have been awash in busy and change and mind stretching and adjusting. I, otoh, merely cleaned out my office - and I have not finished it yet - hence no photos yet - and a New Pile appeared on my desk yesterday while an Empty Shelf got books put on it. Both justifiable offenses to Clean Office Space but both with Removal Deadlines on them. One will be gone by tomorrow - one by March 16th. And the New Piles is merely one of the products of Work Room Clean Out. There is still energy left in my little Virgo heart to continue the reorganization efforts on into the workroom. I still have visions of a model of clerical efficiency churning out information magic for the citizens of Essex County with swift productivity.

What I know is that even the 25% we’ve accomplished in the work room so far has made a difference in the attitude of my staff. They didn’t like working in a pigsty either. There’s a sharper step, a brighter gleam in the eye, and prouder looking shoulders among everyone these days. Hooray for the Virgo Vision!

Alrighty tighty - now - what’s on the agenda for today. Well, of course, today is Wednesday, and Wednesday means story hour. Then, there is the weekend trip I am planning, with friends, to visit one of the group in the far away northlands. The trip has already got me weeping with pre-departure homesickness. Thank goodness I know I’ll have fun with these women and forget about my broken heart till I’m home again and wondering what was all the fuss about?

And then - it is Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. Like C, who is limiting recreational computer time,I think of it as that last fling of renovation before the long spring evenings beckon me outside to walk with the wheat dolphins. Mind now, Lent is not just for making (or trying to make) me betterrrrrrrrr. It is also to remind me that Another was asked to make a greater sacrifice and did. This is why I do the negative thing of giving up, often a bad habit, like C does, but sometimes a specific thing, rather than add a good thing to my life. Each time I feel the pinch of Lent I’m reminded that my complaints and suffering are pretty small compared to Another. Of course, there is the flip side to giving up a Bad Thing - which is adding the not-doing-bad-thing-ishness to my life. Hmmm. perhaps I ought to give up making up words for lent!

But to put you out of your anxiety about what my Lenten sacrifice will be - I am giving up all forms of complaint about bad drivers. And believe me, here in Virginia - there is a very special type of Bad Driver flooding the highways and byways. In Virginia, a red light means hurry hurry - butt your way on through before the moron on the intersecting street presses on the gas. In Virginia, passing in the right lane is the norm - because all the rest of the drivers want to drive just below the speed limit in the passing lane. In Virginia, if you are in front of me, you better just get off the highway because I do not intend to let you into my lane, no siree bob. No siree bob Junior! I am sure there are other places with bad drivers but they are not southern, where politeness used to be common currency.

Alas - I am sure the rudeness has come from outside, [insert smirky smiley face here] but it’s a strong force and I intend to combat it by not letting it suck me in. So. No more scowls. No more expletive deleteds. No more hidden nasty gestures. I intend to give up - with luck, forever - taking other people’s bad driving personally. I hope to gain two things from this. First is an inner calm and a Buddha like serenity as I resist the urge to speed up when I see the light turn red. Second, though, is to become a more careful driver myself. If I refuse to let the challenge of a bad driver spur ire within me, I am not going to do something just as stupid because I reacted like ... someone who is not from the south.

And each time I fail - which I am bound to do, no matter how hard I try to act Zen - I put $ into the charity box.

Woops. Almost 8 and no fiber content yet. Knitting news - the handspun yarn brim on the charcoal brown hat is almost done.

posted by Bess | 7:49 AM