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


How about that? I'm 85% Southern and I don't even like Coke. I drink that DietPepsi! You know, that stuff's not from round cheer.

By Blogger Bess, at 10:18 AM  

Well! I couldn't get the link to work, so I guess that's a sign...that I may have grown up in Southwestern Quebec and live in Southern Alberta, but I'm not Southern! ;-)

Ah well...and as for cooking, the dang thing said I was a beginner -- yeah, right! However, I admit, I'm more fond of baking than cooking...and if given a choice, I'd rather be knitting!


By Blogger Margaret, at 12:06 PM  

I will take heed of your warning. I found a group to go with, finally, and we're considering driving up Friday night so that we can get to the festival early and avoid the crazy parking and traffic issues. That way we can leave early, too, perhaps, and re-energize at the hotel.

By Blogger Mary, at 3:57 PM  

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Sunday, April 30, 2006  

Well. I've been truncated. Evil Blogger lost half my post. Assuredly it will have been the most interestng part. Rats.

And I didn't save it.

But what it contained was a warning to Mary that she will be overwhelmed - and to plan on crashing in her hotel room each night but it will be well worth it.

And the absorbing news that I've crossed 1 thing off my TTDBMSW list.

bummer that.


Thanks to Fillyjonk - I present you with my so-far favorite quiz:

Dixie Royal
You are 85% true Southern!
You are pure belle or gentleman! You know your Jones Soda, Nehi and RC colas, your Moon Pies and sweet potato pie; you'd absolutely die without air conditioners in the summer, and you've seen Steel Magnolias and Fried Green Tomatoes (or read the book!). Your grandmother lives in an antebellum home and has a cook who makes the best fried chicken and asparagus casserole and summer squash and everything else in the world. And you know the taste of honeysuckle and the feel of grass between your toes. You are blessed.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 62% on Southerliness
Link: The Southern-ness Test written by gwennykate on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

posted by Bess | 9:18 AM


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Your Week Ahead
A "Trine" is not just something that runs on an Australian railway line! To an astrologer, it's an angle of 120 degrees between two planets. We call it a 'Trine' because it 'TRIsects' (or spans one third) of the zodiac. Such alignments are considered very auspicious. You can't always, though, actually see them taking place. This week is special. It allows us to see both Mars (at its most visible on Tuesday evening near the moon) and Jupiter (much higher and brighter). The two planets are forming a trine will culminate next weekend. If you've got a sincere, heartfelt wish, now is a good time to tell the cosmos about it!

This is a gift from MrHorroscope to us all! It’s appropriate since next weekend is the Mother of All Fiber Festivals in lovely Howard County Md. You, gentle readers, will hear me natter on about it for the next 6 days (counting today) and then silence will fall as I load up my car and head Nawth. Once arrived I expect to go into automatic frenzy overload and buzz through the next 2 and a half days with my heart pounding, my nose twitching, my mouth watering and my ears ringing. Exhausted, I’ll s-l-o-w-l-y drag myself home late on Sunday and collapse into bed. So it shan’t be until Monday or Tuesday that I am at the semi-normal state that is your usualQueen, blogging in the morning. You can be sure, I’m staying home both those days to savor the thrill of all my fair shopping and friend-shipping. Since this year MS&W takes place just before my Tuesday knitter’s group I’ve invited them all to my house for dinner and to see the loot. (see list)


posted by Bess | 8:09 AM


I prescribe lots of Vitamin C and Echinacea for The Queen. And chicken soup. And hot tea. And take two aspirin and blog me in the mornin'.


Feel better!

I'm excited and a little scared at the same time - don't want to be overwhelmed!

By Blogger Mary, at 6:04 PM  

(Excited and scared at the same time about MS&W, that is. That sounded sorta weird, if read out of context!) ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 6:05 PM  

(If two comments are good, three are better, right?)
I just saw that you're reading/reviewing Big Girl Knits -- I've been dying to get my hands on that and look at the patterns. Can't wait to hear what you think. I'm going to go read Clara's review right now!

That is all. ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 6:08 PM  

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Saturday, April 29, 2006  

Things To Do Before Maryland Sheep & Wool List
Finish inputting all bills for library
Host book club
Teach one spinning class
Invitations to party made/sent
FOL dinner
Hair cut
Defeat Cold that is trying to invade body
Oh God - Call P - P? I’m sorry! I’ve just been stupid busy!
Personal bookkeeping, banking & bill paying
Pet licenses - Or Else
Car repair (Monday)
Select and order DVD projector (shouldn’t be hard but is)
Do other library banking
Finish SRC brochure and get to printer
Finish Disaster Plan
One storyhour
Get story and storyboard to Mama
Get LD’s birthday gift
Plan (& shop for) party dinner
Laundry (ubiquitous)
Stash inventory + set $pending limit for festival

I may as well succumb to my absurd love of lists and just keep one running till I feel another of those sweet wide open times when nothing really has to get done. Of course, I am no brain surgeon so nothing ever has to be done – though, if I did nothing I might lose my job. Then I might find out what really doing nothing is like. So – bear with me a while, as I try to stay on task with my list obsessions and the ordinary, but mounting excitement that is the week before the BIGGEST FIBER FESTIVAL IN AMERICA!!

So. I didn’t get a short haircut this month but I’ve scheduled a long appointment next month so we can try short and then if we need to, go shorter. And I got just enough of a trim to tidy up – but long hair is the pits on a 50 year old face. Also – I forgot that I really do need to prepare Himself about the New Look. He’ll advise against it anyway and he’ll complain afterwards. He would if I came home looking like Angelina Jolie, but that’s not the point. Usually I never say a thing when I change my hairstyle – just present him with the fait accompli and both of us grit our teeth till it grows out. I’m trying to manage change better this time. There is always room for hope – no matter what your age or situation.

I had two lovely ladies come for a spinning lesson yesterday afternoon. I was pleased that the house was so sparkling clean but alas, it reeked. I’d forgotten to get in a supply of household cleaner and all the Mb+$S could find was a small bottle of Lysol, bought to fight blackspot on the roses. Eeegads. I thought I’d never get the smell out of the house. But they were nice, the wind blew through the chilly, but less-reeking house, and we all had some nice 2ply yarn to show for our efforts.

And now I have to go in to work – for I take one Saturday every other month. It’s a short day but I’m really dragging and would far rather spend it sleeping in my still sparkling but now non-reeking house. At least I can go to bed early tonight.

We will all chant a “No Colds” mantra for TheQueen. She is too busy to get sick now.

posted by Bess | 11:54 AM


I also have a crazy list like that to get done before next weekend. It's all still in my head though -- I really need to write it down. Here's hoping for perfect weather and no pollen!

By Blogger Mary, at 5:15 PM  

How am I in such denial about when MDS&W is? I have two projects that I need to have done by then, and yet it still feels like a million years away....

Maybe because I've been waiting so long....

By Blogger Amie, at 9:31 AM  

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Thursday, April 27, 2006  

Well - I am following the weather for Frederick MD as offered by weather dot com guys. Sometimes they are very dead wrong but they do give you a 10 day out forecast. For Friday, May 5, set-up day, they are promising showers and for Saturday - scattered showers. The first time I went to MS&W it was a chilly gloomy-ish day with sprinkles of rain and they were full-up with attendees. The next year started out cold and grey but warmed as the day went on. The following 2 years it was warm growing to hot, and last year it was also dry and windy so that huge clouds of yellow pollen flew in all directions, but most especially up my nose, rendering me swollen, croaking and achy. I actually had to skip out at lunch-time, leaving J’s booth in the capable hands of S and M. So I’m not sure what I think about the weather forecast except that at least there shan’t be any pollen stuffing our heads.

What I know is that it’s less than 10 days to MSW and I am getting that clamp down the excitement feeling as I try to accomplish tasks I can barely remember I’m supposed to do. In the hopes of trying to get my act together for the next 8.5 days I’ve made/am making a list of ThingsToDo - not prioritized.

Finish inputting all bills for library
Do other library banking
Finish SRC brochure and get to printer
Finish Disaster Plan
Select and order DVD projector (shouldn’t be hard but is)
One storyhour
Host book club
Teach one spinning class
Invitations to party made/sent
Personal bookkeeping & bill paying
Car repair (Monday)
FOL dinner
Get LD’s birthday gift
Pet licenses - Or Else
Get story and storyboard to Mama
Oh God - Call P - P? I’m sorry! I’ve just been stupid busy!
Hair cut - this was supposed to be the month I went Short and Different but I’m getting cold feet now. Where did this old face come from?
And it’s after 8 so I can’t even take time to remember the rest. But this is a start and we shall just see A. how much I can get done and B. how much more there is that will remind me of its importance in the next few days.

La! I’m gone.

posted by Bess | 8:12 AM


I feel your pain, dear, having had a 300,000+ mile Jeep that recently went through extensive rehab that lasted about 2 months long. (Seemed even longer though). (The engine is a real trooper, but everything else...well that is another story). Still, it is much better than having to cough up money for a new one.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:12 AM  

Cars - never can trust 'em. Speakin' of which, I'm still NOT legal, and still need to get mine inspected, and the oil changed, and the interior lightbulb replaced.

Next week, I think, when I can break away from the desk and play hookie for a day, and before the drive to Howard County, MD....

By Blogger Mary, at 1:10 PM  

Sorry to hear that your little Bess-mobile is under the weather.
The Forester has been in for work four times since 1/20 & that's four times too many.
Good luck w/the repairs & we know you'll make it to MD safe & sound.

By Blogger Martha, at 7:02 PM  

I think I am going to go hug my car now...So sorry to hear of your woes, but you know the planets will align in time for you to heave a big sigh and get on the road to MDSW. It's meant to be.

By Blogger Jane, at 8:18 AM  

It sure is, Jane - last night I was coming home late from taking a friend to the airport in Richmond when an idiot pulled out in front of me and when I moved over into the passing lane he pulled in front of me again! Only a road-hugging set of tires prevented a sad accident. Whew!

By Blogger Bess, at 9:58 AM  

I hope the weather is nice! Even if it is a little gloomy, it will still be a fun day, however!

By Blogger Lolly, at 10:39 AM  

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006  

I hate it that things wear out. I’m from the school of "If you take care of things, they last forever." I’ve always owned things that last forever. In 35 years together, we have bought only 2 pieces of furniture because everything we have was bought new 100 years ago by Aunt T and her husband, or came from cousin Kate Pitts, of Linden, or belonged to B.J.Saunders or came from Greenway, with Uncle Edward’s signature and the year 1822 scrawled on it. Not that I’m an antique hound, but if I already have a table, why should I buy another one. And since Grandma was the only member of her family to marry and have children, as each ancestor passed on to that greater beyond, she had a house of furniture to get rid of. Most of ours came from Judge Blakey’s house, but there were bits and pieces from them all.

I don’t mind using up makeup or tooth paste or soap. I expect to eat my food, but if I spend $$$$$ on a car and I take care of it, I expect it to last forever. Yesterday I had a sharp lesson in the futility of expecting machines to meet my expectations. My car needs it’s annual inspection and first off, the garage within walking distance from work is going out of business on Saturday (?!) so I had to drive to an away garage and leave my car. Then it turns out the brake cylinder is leaking and the little plastic shield on the headlight is cracked (I cracked it against the truck - but we need not dwell on that slight moment of not taking care of things.) Who knew cracks in headlight shields will flunk a car’s inspection? I’d have fixed it months ago if I’d known that. Now we have 4 days to find a new one or order one from a dealer because in Tappahannock, a Nissan Sentra is still a foreign car!

So. Rats. And so, I need a ride back to the garage after work. I stop by my friend M’s shop and sure she’ll take me. She had to stop by the library anyway. And while there her son who is my grass cutting darling (What will I do when he goes off to college next year?) calls and asks that if she sees me would she tell me that his mower is broken and he needs to make a part and he swears he’ll be by tomorrow. That’s two machines that let the world down. But we are not done with disappointment. Oh no. There is more proof of the transiency of life ahead, for when M comes to get me, and we start up her truck, the brake pedal goes all the way to the floor in a soft whoosh.

So now there are more opportunities to be frustrated with our limited, but hubris filled, technology as all the cell phones refuse to talk to each other and of course, nothing disappoints more than expectations dashed by promised-filled engineering. Eventually sons with tools show up and drive well taken care of, but still not lasting forever, machines to the garage where they are swapped around. I take M home, instead of her taking me, and at her house, the safe, plugged in, hard wired telephone allows me to warn BD that dinner will be a trifle late.

The lassitude with which BD absorbed the news that our only reliable mode of cheap-ish transportation will require at least 2 days of ferreting about for parts would soothe a victim of a major weather disaster, but bode ill for fretful me, who needs a car that is legal 10 days from now. Of course, I need a legal vehicle all the time, but I can drive the truck around town. I don’t want to take it to Maryland the weekend after next. Besides the abysmal mileage it gets, I don’t want to bring home any loot in an open vehicle and there’s not much room in the cab.

And here is where 35 years of marriage stand one in good stead. I want to nag about this. BD is just waiting for the first nag so he can unleash all his own frustration about Cars That Wear Out even if You Take Care Of Them. Instead, he’s put his frustration into the If I Don’t Think About It, It’s Not Real zone. And I am tapping my toe, aching to say "So, look, what are you going to do about the car?" And I know better. But the words keep trying to leak out of my mouth. And sooner or later April 30 will come around and if one of us hasn’t puked up the magic words by then, a different sort of dialogue will ensue.

And all this would be eliminated if only that maxim about things lasting forever were true - or maybe, if cars were really things, instead of the devil in disguise.


posted by Bess | 7:22 AM


Oh my goodness!! Your swatch is beautiful. I watched some "spinning" friends for the first time last week & was enthralled with process. What a wonderful craft. I am in awe.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:08 AM  

Kudos on the lace, Bess, both the spinnin' and the knittin'! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 1:07 PM  

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006  

By gum, this time it is laceweight. Only 10 yards, but that was enough to see if my original reaction to this fiber was correct - (it was) - that it would make pretty lace. The last time I tried to spin a lot of lace weight was about 2 years ago and while I was pleased with it as I spun it, once wet set I thought it was too lumpy. That fiber was 100% merino, though, and this fiber has some mohair in it. Those long strands of mohair make a much smoother fine yarn.

So now I’m smugly pleased with myself because not only was I able to spin fine, but I was able to spin correctly, drafting the fibers out of the drafting zone, not pulling the drafting zone away from the fibers. A little spinning minutiae, that, but from what I’ve observed and what I’ve read, it’s probably an important detail. I am a great one for developing my own technique - after all, I’ve had to be my own teacher with both knitting and spinning. But I try to learn more than one way to approach a task so that the muscle memory in my hands doesn’t limit my ability to explore other new techniques.

When I learned to type, I found hitting the "c" key with the middle finger of my left hand simply impossible. I learned to hit it with my index finger and for many years that was just fine. But when keyboard activity took over a greater part of my life and I became concerned about repetitive stress injuries I sought out some of the ergonomic keyboards. The split keyboard was the most comfortable thing I’d ever tried, except that ... you guessed it. I couldn’t hit the "c" key with my index finger and I couldn’t seem to learn to hit it with the correct one.

Object lesson? Try to build flexibility into my manual skills.

So - guess who hasn’t done the bill paying bank statement checking paperwork yet. Un. Yeah. Guess I ought to go DoMyDooty.

posted by Bess | 7:09 AM


Of course, you could always spin the dog hair into yarn and knit something with that, but then we might need to lock you up afterwards! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 2:53 PM  

In fact, I have spun Priss' fur and plan to spin them all - but just ... not this year. I have enough fiber already.

By Blogger Bess, at 3:10 PM  

Honey bun,
Like you, I spent time this past week-end in a cleaning mode. Cleaned a goodly part of the kitchen, vacuumed the 1st floor, clean rugs down, laundry.
Am glad for you that you all have some 2X per month cleaning help - momma mia, house cleaning is hard work.
And usually not my 1st choice for how to spend some down time either ^..^

By Blogger Martha, at 5:42 PM  

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Monday, April 24, 2006  

I got the house sparkling and it was such a monumental task, it being 3-dog shedding time, that I was too tired to do the paperwork. That can be done tonight - or tomorrow - at Tara. But the treat of moving from one room to another, full of gleaming surfaces, slicked off baseboards, laundry room sans overflowing baskets, white counter tops, and flung open windows is one of such surpassing joy I have been happy for hours. I’m sure I even slept better for knowing that the drifts of fur/dust beneath my bed had been sucked deep into the disposable cavern of the vacuum cleaner bag.

I am not particularly fond of housecleaning. I gladly pay The+$MS to put things to rights twice a month. I am fully capable of not seeing clutter, dirt or crud if I don’t have time to do anything about it. But neither do I hate housework and in spite of the drudgery of it, I a deeply aware of how valuable both the task and the results are. She who cleans does not lose things. She who cleans has power over the rest of the occupants of the dwelling. She who cleans stokes her memory so that she forgets not the precious moments that fostered all those souvenirs, photos, trinkets, books, maps, and other paraphernalia of Days Gone By.

So I count Sunday a successful day. And after all the work, I spent a sweet half hour combing thick undercoats from squirming dogs. At least, two of them squirmed or shuddered with stoic misery. Jack simply adores being fondled in any fashion, including de-furring. Socks is almost finished with her spring shed and Priss has yet to begin, but I am being systematic about dog combing this spring. Usually I wait till they begin to litter the house with tufts but by then they also smell bad. This year I determined to begin early, comb a little each day and see if the
Tortoise&Hair approach isn’t a little sweeter. Although - as I typed that I suddenly realized that I have also yet to have a spring allergy attack - so I haven’t minded working with fuzzy, not yet smelly dogs. So in part, this is the first spring since 2002 that I’ve been able to attempt a slow and steady approach.

So - Fiber news:

It constantly amazes me how thin one has to spin the singles if one wants lace weight. The beautiful mohair/merino/stuff blend I spun up for J; thin, worsted, and drapey - something that surely had to be lace weight - turned out to be somewhere between sport and dk once it was dry. It knitted up beautifully into a soft lace pattern - looks very shawlish to me - but it is not "laceweight". I have half of it left and I am wondering if I want to spin it thicker or try yet again to hit "laceweight". No big hurry on it. I can’t begin till AD (After that Danged paperwork). But I really do want to spin it more of a woolen spin so ... well ... we shall just see.

Here's a picture of the so-called laceweight lace.

That is the sum total of all fiber work done this weekend. Fur fiber removal took up most of my free time, sample knitting took up the rest.

And now it’s Monday. Good Monday to you all.

posted by Bess | 7:25 AM


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Sunday, April 23, 2006  

This site is certified 64% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Man, I couldn't resist that one. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I like good better than evil. Anyway, this was courtesy of Liss so blame thank her.

posted by Bess | 12:17 PM


quote:"GenX’ers just want a casual point in the direction and GenY’ers will whine that you didn’t tell them the letter K followed the letter J in an encyclopedia."

Wow, that is profound and makes sense! I see exactly the same thing as a consultant.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 12:18 PM  

You know, that comment (the Gen X vs. Gen Y thing) explains some of the frustrations that I feel dealing with people younger than myself.

Not ALL Generation Y people are that way, but enough are for the stereotype to exist. (I will say though that I remember enough people from MY generation who couldn't find their proverbial rumps with both their proverbial hands. And they usually whined about having to go find the reserve reading in the library.)

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 8:38 AM  

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It seems there is only one long writing project a day in me and if it goes out as a private e-mail, I haven’t much left to put into a blog post. I’ll just play catch-up with today’s post and see if I can do better tomorrow.

I’m back from Graves Mt. - where it was nice to see the other library directors and there was an interesting little talk about developing staff comprised of folk from different generations; baby boomers, GenX’ers and GenY’ers. All my staff is my age or older, but it was still interesting to see that the same issues that you have to deal with as a boss are going to be there when you are a librarianish host. GenX’ers just want a casual point in the direction and GenY’ers will whine that you didn’t tell them the letter K followed the letter J in an encyclopedia. They’ve never used one that wasn’t on-line.

Who’da thought?

The real highlights of those 2 days away were the visits with R and J. Nothing like being with women who love you and approve of you to make your heart soar. Besides, I got to play with all of J’s new fibers and to help her get ready for MS&W at the same time. Forget about multi-tasking - let’s talk about multi-pleasuring. She gave me a small handful of a new fiber she’s selling and I’ve spun half of it into 30 yards of the prettiest lace weight. It’s a mohair merino blend. I’m spinning half for the mohair characteristics - fine laceweight with sheen and drape, and half trying to bring out the merino spring and cushion in a sweater weight yarn. I’ll knit up two little samples she can display with the fiber.

We’ve had torrential rain since I got home so BD and I have been ultra-lazy, spending hours in bed reading to each other. He’s reading more Edgar Cacey and I’m still plowing the North Atlantic in various life rafts and breeches buoys.

I’m motoring down the foot of the first of the Fixation socks. Nearing the toe, actually - but I wish I’d knit this on fewer stitches. I had never used Fixation before and wasn’t sure how tight I needed to make the sock. Evidently it could have been made tighter, but I’m not about to rip now. I’ll just make these socks extra long and, maybe, give them to a dear cousin who’s feet are bigger than mine, both in length and width.

Beyond that - there is only housework and paperwork to do today but I will attempt them both. This week is a full one, I have to go in 6 days, though I don’t have to stay all day on Friday. And the following week is MarylandSheep&Wool which is beginning to thrum my heart with excitement and energy.

posted by Bess | 8:44 AM


When my yarn stash is feeling neglected I always remind it and myself that it's fine just the way it is. It's purpose in life may be just to let me admire it and fondle it and imagine what I might knit with it one day. It really doesn't have to ever grow up and be anything else but beautiful yarn. Also, it's good for sharing with friends. Jane

By Blogger jane, at 9:30 AM  

My "throw-the-book-across-the-room" moment with Da Vinci Code was the ridiculous scene in Mr. Hip's friend's library where the friend reveals the "true" (in my opinion, total B.S.) meaning of the "Holy Grail" to BeautifulBlonde. (Was she really blonde in the book? I always pictured her as a brunette, perhaps because I already knew who the actress playing her would be).

I agree - it's all quite farfetched (fiction, after all), but will make for a fun movie.

His prequel, "Angels and Demons", is even more outrageously farfetched.

I have to agree with you about having Core Stash just for admiration and fondling purposes. My hank of Prism "Wild Stuff" is in that category, although I do want to knit it up one day, perhaps into a Möbius, if I have enough yardage.

By Blogger Mary, at 10:07 AM  

And speaking of sea disaster stories, (were we? no, I just saw the book you're reading in your sidebar), have you read "Perfect Storm"? That's a real page-turner. I read that before the movie came out and was so happy when they cast George Clooney (yum!) in it.

By Blogger Mary, at 10:50 AM  

I read that book while I was at Graves Mountain a couple of years ago. You remember, that time when we got to meet in person. I don't recall ever having read anything more atrocious but it's all I had with me. Deus ex machina is one thing but so many in one book? Totally preposterous and a phenomenal waste of time. Next time I'm just going to bring some knitting books.

By Blogger Larry, at 1:02 PM  

I found it far more paletable by simply skipping the scenes with the albino. I remember halfway through his first chapter saying "yeah, I get it, he's bad. Bad. I'm clear on that." Blech.

By Blogger Amie, at 9:45 PM  

Yes, but the point is - he's supposed to be a visual threat in the movie - who cares in the book? The whole book had screen play scrawled -- in blood -- all over it.

Gotta have a reeeealy scary killer.
Gotta have a reeeealy hip hero - but brainy.
Gotta have a reeeealy BeautifulBlonde - even if she wasn't a blonde.
Gotta have stupid policemen who don't just arrest someone but play cat with mouse games then run off after red herrings.
Gotta have everything that looks good on the BigScreen.
Don't gotta have anything that makes sense in real life. It's a Moooooovie, daaahling.

And of course, other point is that nobody on earth but me cared about the incongruity of a man whose life is threatened being sidetracked by invisible ink messages. go figure.

Good thing the flip side is equally true - it's also the little details that count when I like a book.

By Blogger Bess, at 8:58 AM  

I'm probably the only person left on the planet who has yet to read either book!!! So maybe I'll save time and go see the movie? Or better yat save time & money & wait for it to come on HBO!

By Anonymous Isobel, at 9:29 AM  

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Thursday, April 20, 2006  

When I read a book, since it’s me, it’s mine, my time, my mind, and my private little world of complete honesty, I indulge in every freak of fancy, every whim of emotion, each prejudice, each stubborn expectation, every little breeze that blows me hither or yon. It is the great proof of intellectual freedom, that one can read and decide for one’s self - as many times as one wants. One no longer need parrot back only the answer you know the teacher wants to hear. Thus - when, in the Da Vinci Code, Mr. HipCoolPopular-with-the-Youngsters, but OhSoSmartToo hero is wakened in the night by a GrimPoliceInspector, taken out to the Louvre, where he’s shown a murdered man who has scrawled Mr.HCPw/tYbOSST’s name in blood, who’s interview with said GPI is growing steadily grimmer, but who is interrupted by BeautifulBlondOtherPoliceWoman, who tricks GPI out of the room, then tells Mr.HCPw/tYbOSST that he’s about to be arrested for murder, proves it to him by pulling a tracking device off his coat lapel, even though he’s hip and cool and all that, and street smart too boot, and throws it out a window and golleee it lands on a truck at the red light, and as soon as the truck pulls out the whole museum empties of police men, like ants fleeing a spray of Raid, and then she says “ you’ve got 35 seconds to get to the American Embassy and Oh Lookee Here, Gran’pa left me a secret message in invisible ink written on the Mona Lisa”

And Mr.HCPw/tYbOSST says “Hey, cool, I think I’ll take a look before I save myself”


That is when I throw such a book across the room in disgust, because you can’t be hip and cool and street smart and by the way, we haven’t been told he’s got a hero complex in addition to being hip and cool, and also turn out to be an absent minded professor, which is the only other explanation I can find for doing something that stupid. It just don’t happen that way.

It’ll make a good movie because what could be scarier than an albino weight lifting murderer stalking BeautifulBlondes? But it’s not going to suck up the hours of my life it would take to read it.

Likewise, I can just as easily be captured by a single moment in a book that I’ve been considering setting aside by something so insignificant, but so deeply personal that I’m utterly captured by the mind that could so move me.

In answer to Mary’s question, I haven’t yet rated Yarn Harlot, but I did get to the chapter where she divides her stash into categories and her words pricked a rich vein of speculation and inspiration flowing into my yarnish heart. I, too, want to go look at my stash in light of the concept of Core Stash - something I keep because it is beautiful enough in and of itself, something I keep for inspiration, for comfort, to please my eyes. That is where I am right now anyway. That’s what I am trying to do with the No New Fiber oath. And while I have made several inventories and done some considering about things, I have never looked at any of my yarn with the idea that it may already be a Finished Object.


When an author can make me different in some way, she’s a success and worthy of note. I’ll finish the book and give it my final rating, but I’m taking my time and reading several other books at the same time - and I like to swap out the sidebar pretty regularly, since I have so few photos and scans of my own work.

Ahh well. I’ve always been a better talker than anything else.

posted by Bess | 8:11 AM


Bess, my name is Mary, we met at the SFF on the 8th - my best friend and I were the ones who missed your drop spindle class (I was there with my new baby?) I would like to email you, but I can't seem to find an email address for you on your blog. Can you contact me at My friend is planning to visit me from MD next week, and we'd like to plan a trip to come down and visit you if possible. Please let us know if you are potentially available, and how to find you! Thank you!

To your reading community: I stayed for the Storytelling, and I can tell you first-hand that the new 20-minute fairy tale of the "Spinster Who was Worthy to Marry a Prince" is wonderful, very satisfying and well worth the length. Also, my 2.5 yr old loved the bracelet project, though of course she needed help with it. I thought it was a lovely day at the festival, despite the drizzle.

I've really enjoyed your blog.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:56 PM  

Glad you've resurfaced, Bess -- I missed you! Sounds like you had an absolutely Royal Weekend, as befitting a Queen! ;-)

Are you able to garden yet?

By Blogger Margaret, at 6:53 PM  

I was riding the train home today and thought to myself -- I need to email Bess and make sure she's okay - she hasn't blogged in a few days. Now I can sleep tonight, knowing you're alive! ;-)

Thanks for the warning on the short row heel. I think my sock pattern has a heel flap. I need to get that done this weekend so I can move on to the next thing and have Sherri help me at TNK.

By Blogger Mary, at 12:21 AM  

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006  

My. I didn’t mean to drop into silence so unexpectedly. Sometimes, though, life subsumes blogging as has been the case the past few days. Our trip down to the ARE was (dare I say it?) Enlightening. It was also quite good fun, very interesting and afforded us vast opportunities for conversation; then, now and on into the future. The library there is the second largest metaphysical library in the world, behind only the Vatican library.

My darling BD has a far different approach to life than I. He’s a Haile and all of them, even the poets among them, are engineers. And I venture to say that all the Scot Adams jokes about engineers are only funny because they so true. His approach to questions is always analytical, supported by a vast vocabulary, itself supplemented by the knowledge of half a dozen languages. It’s also stoked by a memory for all the sorts of details, numerical, especially, that my own famed memory releases the moment it comes into contact with a column, a number or a date.

I, in complimentary but contrasting step, feel my way through life with my intuition wide open and my antennae flickering in every direction. There is so much that I know which is unsupported by either mathematics or vocabulary, yet which empirical evidence eventually proves to be true. Happily, each of us admires the gifts of the other so that when I once explained to BD that the reason I hadn’t bought any steak lately was that it felt like the prices had gone up, he didn’t say “Why not just look at the price tag?” but instead said, with emphatic certainty “well, if you feel they have gone up, they have”.

I suppose that is what 3+ decades together will create.

So - Our Saturday was a delight. Our Sunday was spent lolling in bed and then ambling through the springtime fairyland of upper tidewater Virginia. I took my first walk out to Robert’s Landing in almost a year - for last August I had a bad fall and I’m only just now recovering the strength and energy to walk 3 miles. This is why you haven’t heard me say anything about T the PT - because I have not been able to Train Physically or Personally or in any other way for months and months. But I can now and that is one of the blessings of Spring 2006. We went on a cypress tree hunt and I discovered two new ones. Cypress are magical trees which grow to enormous heights and have the most distinctive color in spring and fall. BD planted hundreds of them over the years in successive sowings. They are little wips of twigs when they go in and they are tasty juicy treats for deer and other chewing wildlife. So each spring we like to scour the edges of the marsh to see if any undiscovered saplings have made it through the winter.

Monday, the weather gods gave us the most welcome anniversary gift of all - real rain. Pouring down, filling up, drenching soaking rain. Rain to make the trees leaf out. Rain to make the corn pop out of the ground. Rain to wash away pollen and enrich the soil. Rain all day long. Rain to keep you in bed with good books and fun knitting.



This is supposed to be a fiber blog. You probably are looking for the knitting content. Well then....

I will never ever ever again try to knit the short row heel. I hate it. It is evil. It is a wicked technique intended to wring tears from my frustrated eyes. Its purpose is to cause my fingers to cramp. It is a fierce bad bunny of a technique.

Which means that I could not, no matter how many times I ripped out that fragile sport weight woolease and tried again, successfully knit it without creating wide eyelet holes along the join. Woolease’s worst characteristic is that it frays as you fiddle with it. Finally I ripped it out for the last time, as well as the 10 rows of upper ankle stockinette. The yarn has been soaked to release the kinks and is dripping dry from the shower head in the downstairs bathroom. A heel flap will be inserted next weekend - after I finish the Cascade Fixation socks I’m knitting - with heel flaps, thank you.

I’ve never knit with Fixation before. I’m using a rather strong purple and it begged for texture. If I’d had more than one color I’d have done some fun knit and purl rows in different colors. I truly enjoy knitting with this springy yarn - about the only cotton yarn I would actively seek out. Mostly I don’t care for the lack of elasticity in cotton yarn that is not compensated for by silk’s delicious and sensuous texture. But this stuff is fun. Eventually I settled on a twisted lattice design for the cuff. The stitches rather disappear into the pull of the lycra, but the raised effect is still evident. And who knows? Maybe these will be the 2006th sock and I can corner all the goodies!

I will, though, try S’s toe up with short row heel instructions next time I start a new pair of socks - because I know her. I can corner her at MS&W or some other likely place and insist that she show me how to knit those stupid heels.

And today is Wednesday - and not only do we all know that Wednesday means Story Hour, but the 3rd Wednesday of April means a library board meeting. And tomorrow is not just Thursday, but off to the Library Director’s meeting at Graves Mt. - yep - of KRRetreat fame. I’m not staying there this time, though, because I want to see my old college roommate R, who lives only 5 miles from Graves Mt. And tomorrow I go by J’s to help her prepare for MS&W and whisper secrets in her ear.

posted by Bess | 7:48 AM


I'm happy to see so many knitting books out there. My take is I don't need to buy them, I check them out from the library. Some of them are getting a bit excessive but no one is forcing me to buy them, so I don't.

It's so fascinating to read about your yarn diet. Mine is out of pure financial necessity but also I've come to have a comfortable familiarity with the yarn that I have. Some of it I've rediscovered in my recent inventory and I remember why I loved it so when I first bought it. It seems strange to say but I feel less frantic about my stash now than when I was constantly enhancing it. I appreciate what I have more now. Of course, there are small enhancements here and there for "urgent" projects, and there will be for an upcoming visit to a certain fiber fest. We seem to be so obsessed with stuff in our culture be it yarn or the biggest screen tv known to man. I think a self-imposed or financially imposed yarn diet or stuff diet is in store for our culture. Just my opinion

By Blogger erica, at 5:23 PM  

I have to agree with both of you. I'm trying to be good about yarn stash as well as knitting books. I will allow myself a few yarn purchases at MS&W, but I'd really like that to be IT until the fall, if possible. And I would like to resist the purchase of yarn unless I have a specific project to knit for. What has recently helped me get a grip on the stash acquisition mania was the April 1st "Flash Your Stash" day, which made me realize how much I had, (which is much less than that of others, but much more than I need at a given time).

I also have a propensity to buy tons of books whenever I discover a new hobby -- the worst abuse of this was for my gardening obsession. I have BOOKCASES full of gardening books - way more than any one person needs. I truly don't want that for my knitting hobby, and so I'd like to stick with just the very best reference books and the classics.

Here's hoping! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:22 PM  

Bess, my lovely to read your thoughts once again. I know exactly what you mean about finally reaching the place in our lives where I can finally not "need" to buy a lucious yarn to begin a "futuristic" project that never quite makes it to my needles.

I have way too much already, at least 8 UFO's, and have been on a quest to finish those, one at a time, until I begin something new, socks not included, naturally.

By Blogger Laura, at 11:38 AM  

Bess...go check my blog for today's post it will make you feel better about about someone needing to have a yarn diet ;-)

I won't be attending MD or MA S&W this year and the only reason I'm going to NH is to drop off fleece that I've purchased for processing otherwise I'd honestly skip that one too.

I have learned/realized recently through moving and having to look at everything multiple times that I have a lot of good yarns/fiber just waiting to be worked with, played with and just generally appreciated...the more I buy, the less chance of some of those wonderful yummy yarns getting that chance anytime in the near future.

By Blogger Mari, at 4:53 PM  

Did you finish the Yarn Harlot book? If so, what was your final rating?

By Blogger Mary, at 12:25 AM  

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Saturday, April 15, 2006  

The light floating through my window is tickling the edges of my eyes, for it is the soft grey light of a real live spring shower. Not a thunderstorm, not a dreary February rain, not the strange windblown storm of hurricane season. It’s a watery light that comes only when it’s filtered through the pale green lace of a springtime forest. This time of year the sun rises in the southeast corner of the office window, tucked deeply behind the fringe of trees that stands sentinel along the high bank overlooking flat tidal marshes.

We have had a somewhat cool and very dry spring. It would be better if we could swap those adjectives about but alas, Mother Nature does not have to follow rules of grammar or syntax. We must take what she offers and be grateful or woeful to her supreme disdintrest. Last year we had a very cool and very wet spring and the corn rotted in the fields before it could sprout. This year, many farmers are postponing corn planting in the hopes that the clouds will be merciful. Perhaps this is the week when the tractors will roll at last.

Living in a community that still has a bit of the agricultural economy it once boasted makes one supremely sensitive to weather. Even when one is not gardening, one cares, one notices. I think it helps make us more connected, grounded to the place that supports us, even if we spend most of our time in virtual communities or walled off wombs with climate control.

My. I didn’t mean to slip into melancholy. I’m actually thrilled to have a soft grey wet day; a day that makes the sparse grass in my front yard look lush, against the soft chocolate brown of wet earth. I’m especially pleased because I have a 3 day weekend lying before me like the treasure in Aladdin’s cave. I’ve had lots of time out of the library this spring, some for pleasure, some for library work. This weekend is pure pleasure because Monday is my wedding anniversary. Perhaps I ought to only call it my marriage anniversary, since we did not have a wedding. I had seen few of them when I got married, and none were any fun. They all looked like expensive staged family quarrels to me, so I chose to go the courthouse route. It wasn’t till my dear friends P&T got married that I realized that weddings could be fun!

But anniversaries. Well now. They are the reward for all that went before. They are the fun nostalgia days, the laughing shared memories days, the eat dinner at a restaurant days. Often, for us, they are going on a ramble days. We have years of photos of interesting large trees or redbud dotted pastures or small rural intersections that look like the set for The Waltons, that record anniversaries of the past. This year we are considering a jaunt down to VA Beach for a peek into the Edgar Cayce library. But that is a brief one day trip and the rest of the time I hope we can spend cuddled in bed, walking down the lane, watching movies and ... for me, at least, knitting a short row heel that doesn’t have holes in the seam.

I love to knit socks and I have memorized the heel flap construction, but I am ready now to venture into other structures. I want to have at least 3 sock patterns memorized - owned by my brain so I can always have something to knit without having to think about things. I would have started a toe up sock using S’s instructions, only I found this half knit cuff in my stash and wasn’t about to rip it out. BD is the only one in the family with NO handknit socks any more. I knit them, but I’m not likely to repair them and he put holes in his last pair some months ago. This is because, given a choice, he will always put on his hand knit socks. I, otoh, wear cheap cotton socks as often as I wear the product of my needles. I also don’t trek about the farm for miles at a time, as he does. So his wardrobe of socks ought to be the bigger. It's not. Mine is. Alas. His feet also take the most stitches and somehow a 60 stitch sock is never as tempting as a 48 stitcher.

Happily, this is sport weight yarn and knit with fewer stitches. The socks may turn out to be too thick and too heavy for summer wear, but at least the color and design is not girlie - which all the rest of my sock yarn stash is. I just feel too guilty to knit socks for me when poor BD is going barefoot. But there is a huge pile of Interlacements yarn in bright bold colors whispering to me from the fireplace where I keep th bags of sock and novelty yarn.

Which should let you know that I too, like the Yarn Harlot, am a wanton stash builder. So, Margaret, don’t think I can’t appreciate her dilemma with yarn. And I am at the part where she’s assessing all her UFO’s and I too understand her yearning to be one of Those kinds of knitters - who knit a project till it’s done and then start another. In my case, it’s a size issue, not a behavior problem. Or perhaps I ought to say it was a threshold issue. My threshold for Repulsion At Self comes waaaaay sooner than hers does. I could do a lot of bizarre things on my quest for knitting nirvana, but buying 70 skeins of anything is not one of them.

Timing, too, is a component of pleasure no matter what the activity. I am deep into my self imposed love affair with what I already own. Like the words of the song, I intend to love the one I’m with and I’m finding it deeply rewarding. That frenzied anxiety to see more, shop more, buy more, drive a further to hit one yarn shop more, has subsided and I feel so much better for it. I can visit a yarn shop and look at luscious hand dyed merino in the rich autumnal colors that make my eyes go soft, and then just walk away. Oh. I touch, of course and admire and praise. But I don’t covet. The lust to possess is subsiding and that’s what I wanted to achieve. And when I think about starting a knitting project, my mind has the chance to cast back over the beauties I already own and get that same sighing soft feeling, that melty sort of limpness that lets you really feel the force of gravity. And I never have to hunt for my wallet. I just go downstairs and fondle the pretties in my very own house. Unless I’m fondling the stash beneath the bed. So - even clever stoires about stash building are out of tempo to the song my heart is singing these days.

In a way, the very urge that prompts me to make it myself, when I could buy it so much cheaper at the store, is what is driving me to use yarn from my stash instead of buying it fresh at the yarn shop.

As for the plethora of yarn/knitting/crafty books - ahh well. I say there is always room for the good book. There’s always room for the one I want. There is still, out there in craft book land, the as yet unwritten book with information I really ought to have. I would be offended by the excess of shallow, silly, trivial, almost insulting, literature out there in fiberland, only . . . what is dross to me is dress-up to another. The harlequin romance knitting books might not be to my taste, seeking more of a Hemmingway or Austen quality for my next purchase, but for that new knitter, or that HYUKster (remember that dreadful acronym?) or whatever - well - maybe stitch ‘n’ bitch mach IV is just what it takes to release her from fur scarf knitting bondage.

I buy a lot of trash for the library - but people really love it and it circulates till the bindings disintegrate. And many’s the time I’ve weepingly removed a book from the shelves that only I ever read, for no matter how enthusiastically I gushed over its contents, I could interest no one in the treasure within. Who am I to say what people ought to like? I only know, I’d rather paw through the excess for the one jewel than to have nothing to paw through at all.

Ahh - and here comes the sun. How Easter like - to get a resurrection of life giving light after the rainy tears.

posted by Bess | 8:58 AM


Wait until you read Yarn Harlot's story about counting up all her UFO's around the house. I found that disconcerting, and pray I never get to that state.

Does the no-fiber-diet mean you can't spin any yarn from roving you already have? At least that way you might get some sock-weight yarn which your hubby might like?

By Blogger Mary, at 8:52 AM  

Hmmm. I have a lot - they almost sicken me - I may skip her chapter on excess.

The oath is a No Purchases of Yarn, Fiber or Fleece - so yes, I can spin him - how about that pretty blue stuff I was working on before Sedalia?

By Blogger Bess, at 9:57 AM  

I'm also a heretic - I read excerpts from the Harlot's epistles and was not inclined to read on. I'm hoping she exaggerates for effect. Can I say here, among friends, that I am generally sick to death of all the books cashing in on the trendiness of knitting, whether they are "humor" or "spiritual" or whatever, and think this is a fad that needs to die?

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:33 AM  

Dare I post? I'm a "Harlot" fan. Try her blog. She's a prodigious knitter, a skilled one, and humble, too. She's still a bit star-struck from being a 'hit' in the Big Time (read: 'Modest Canadian Knitter Writes Funny Books and Tours in USA). I work for a cross-stitch designer in the same boat -- her patterns have 'taken off' in the US cross-stitch world, and she's still pinching herself.

Yes, I think there is some exaggeration as humour. But in Stephanie I see a loving mom and spouse, a busy one, who loves to knit and has developed a talent for writing funny stories about the craft and her experiences with it. Hers are quite different from those who write about spiritual connections to knitting, or lovely 'Chicken Soup'-type stories, or specialize in patterns and techniques.

So...*this* (also) modest Canadian knitter salutes another who has become celebrated for her writing on the subject!

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:42 AM  

I was happy for the Harlot and her first book. The second - okay, the first sold well, come back for an encore. But a third? I think the thing that pushed me over the edge was the shilling for yet another book by yet another knitblogger who shall remain nameless - it's a trend and people are cashing in, and I don't find their blogs that interesting so I'm not jumping to buy their books. But I'm okay with being a minority opinion on this. :-)

By Blogger Catherine, at 2:51 PM  

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006  

Thank you all for your warm comments. It surely was a wonderful weekend. I’m only now beginning to feel I have my feet back on the ground. A long, interesting, work related meeting in TheCity yesterday helped drag me back to the real world. I wonder if I can turn my mind back to Things Library now. There are a good dozen of those TL on my desk, not the least onerous being the phone call to the art organization who sponsored the art show we held last week - and who sent us the judge - who decided to award only a few ribbons in only some categories - for a home grown local arts show whose mission statement - posted on their enormous banner - is Art Is For Everybody. Not a single ribbon was awarded for the entire category of Youth 12-18!!!! What? Did that pompous self aggrandizing judge think she was in New York?

Anyway - reality beckons and since I am finished with teaching drop spinning to large groups and telling stories to strangers for a while, I can turn my mind back to knitting and wonder - what am I going to do now? I finished my first pair of socks for 2006 - alas, not the 2006th pair so no prize for me. I gave them to one of the Bedford Cousins. I am knitting on a long ribbed sock cuff for BD - but the yarn is woolease sport - probably going to be too thick’n’hot for summer wear. But all the rest of my sock yarn is girlie yarn and I am still keeping to my No New Fiber For 2006 oath.

It hasn’t been that hard, either. Slowly I’m beginning to get to that place I hoped I’d find in my relationship with yarn. I wanted to love beautiful yarn - the yarn I have first, and then the yarn I buy when I haven’t so much in storage. I wanted to value the things I once valued enough to purchase. Value them enough to actually use them. I wanted to be a knitter - not a hoarder. I have to laugh at this, since I’m reading Yarn Harlot and .... can I confess it without being burned as a heretic? Her second story, about knitting the wedding sweaters - and on the way to buying the needed yarn to finish one she stopped and bought 70 more balls of yarn at an outlet .... I have to confess. It sort of turned my stomach. 70?!? I don’t know about this. I may not be able to read the whole book. Sort of like reading the confessions of a drug addict - not pretty, not really funny and not anything I aspire to being, either. Well - I shall work to be fair and think of Literary Image and Color and continue a while longer and have every hope that I’ll enjoy the book as a whole.

But as to what I will do next - finish any of the UFO’s tucked here and there in the house - start something new - do nothing at all - I’m still a little fuzzy about all that. And it’s at that point that a pair of woolease socks for someone else are just the thing. Maybe this will be the pair that wins the prize, hmmm?

And yes - I do have thoughts on turning the story into a book - and for that reason, it’s only available in the oral version at the moment.

posted by Bess | 7:02 AM


What a beautiful story about your weekend. I loved your description of your drive to Bedford. You see. I grew up on Rt.15 just south of Sprouses Corner and went to Maysville Presbyterian Church right there in Buckingham Courthouse. It is a lovely drive.
I am sorry that I did not get to meet you. I was in the classroom during the very latter part of your class. I was trying to be very quiet and not disrupt what you were doing but I did have intentions of slipping back in to introduce myself. But the yarn called and I did not make it back into the school.

I have updated my blog with some pictures of the festival.I will add more during the week.Thanks for showing interest in seeing them.

By Blogger emmy, at 12:45 AM  

I loved your weekend tale. Can "grownups" hear your new story, too?

By Blogger Jane, at 6:44 AM  

I wish I had been able to go to Sedalia, but I know I will next year. And I am glad your ARE real!
The gift of storytelling is wonderful.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:21 AM  

Oh, Bess you would have loved the Storytelling Festival that my husband and I went to on Saturday. It was at the library school (that one) with students telling stories. It was great, there was even one that referred to a woman carding her wool. I loved that one the most and the girl who told it even had the movement down quite well.

It sounds like you had a fantabulous weekend. I can't wait to hear your story!

By Blogger erica, at 9:56 PM  

What a perfect description of the drive west -- all those thoughts were going through my head as well during my drive, but certainly not expressed so eloquently. What a gift you have!

You may have to turn your spinster story into a children's book. And I know an illustrator! :-)

I had such fun at the festival. I'll be blogging about it later this week, as soon as I get my camera back from my brother (left it at their house on Sunday). Jane tells me that you drew my name for one of the raffle prizes -- how cool is that??? :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:12 PM  

What a lovely weekend!

And yes, if I ever get enough roses I might try peonies, although there aren't many types that do well out here. Some of the tree peonies do, but we don't get cold enough.

Honeysuckle might be next. I really miss honeysuckle and heliotrope, while lovely, just isn't the same!

By Blogger Diann, at 11:13 PM  

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Monday, April 10, 2006  

I know there won’t be time tomorrow to write a post about the festival and I’m so afraid if I don’t write it down now, some of the freshness will be lost and surely some of the details. So I will try now, to capture the excitement of this past weekend.

I left home around noon on Thursday, for the drive is pretty much due west and I didn’t want to be on the road and staring at a setting sun. I had two Modern Scholar lectures to wile away the time - one of them on signature cases in American history and one on fantasy literature. I also had Bette Hochberg‘s little book Spin Span Spun, with the few lines of reference she made to spinning in fairy tales. One in particular, The Golden Spinning Wheel, had been pricking at my creative root and as I pulled onto 295, heading for the new James River Bridge and the intersection at Rt. 60 I began writing a better version of it. Or rather, I began telling a story out loud and as I worked on the plot details I’d retell the passage, and then the story again. By the time I was in Bedford I had something that satisfied me almost completely - though, I suspected the story would be a long tale.

I have 50 years of fairy tales and folk tales and jack tales stored up in my memory and the formulas and clichés of the genre are almost second nature to me. I have always loved best the stories where the magic was either a reward or only offered the slightest bit of help to the clever and the good. I have a lot of plans for story telling in the coming months and years and I want a much richer store of spinning and weaving and knitting stories than I’ve got at the moment. I’d never tried to write a story by just starting to talk. I wasn’t exactly sure it would work, but it was completely satisfying, it beguiled me so that I was in Bedford before I realized it and it was successful enough to entertain a classroom full of [decidedly well behaved] 3rd graders and an audience of about 25 children and some assorted adults.

I’ve got to do more of this.

Virginia is just waking up from it’s winter nap. Spring is coming very late this year. Branches are bare, grass is spotty in fields and yards, days are cool as often as they are warm. The redbud is in full force though, it’s purple blossom skirting forests and edging lawns. As you drive west, the rolling landscape gets fatter and rounder and the views seemto hold more secrets, down little valleys, across rills that wend through thin copses of trees where cattle can sip cool water and butterflies can spiral in their mating dances. It’s always a thrill for me to drive up and up and up from my flat marshes with their tooteling blackbirds and cooing doves and silvery carp and mud shad splashing in the tide pools left behind twice each day. Everything is gradual till all of a sudden you see it - a mountain! That first one, just past Buckingham Courthouse on Rt. 60. Then it’s a tree tunneled cut across the landscape to 460 just outside of Appomattox and you are on the wide road west to Lynchburg, Bedford and Roanoke. I’ve never been to Roanoke and Lynchburg just looks sort of like a city to me, but Bedford is the small town you always dreamed of - the one you would move to in a flash if you could only figure out how to make a living. It’s full of Victorian homes and child sprinkled yards, sidewalks that actually take you somewhere and a downtown with a shop in every building. I’m proud that some of my very own cousins have been a part of keeping that beautiful little town alive. If I couldn’t live on my beloved flats, that is where I would move.

I got to the cousins’ around 4, when I’d thought to be lucky if I got there before 6. There are two teens still at home and everybody was busy with after school activities. Mama is the teacher and had lesson plans and meetings. Papa was on his way home from work and in cell contact with the two soccer victors - both teams won! Dinner was venison steak and fantastic baked potatoes, red wine and house guest candy.

I plotted with Cousin C about when best to visit her class and we decided that I should arrive at 12:30, while the students were at lunch. I would be the reward for a week of hard work and good behavior. She went to get them from the playground and I sat in the room spinning. As the other classes came back I heard little voices whisper awe filled comments and saw some come back for a second look. And then CC’s kids were filing into the room and taking seats in a semi-circle around the wheel.

I began with a little introduction to the wheel - what the parts were called, asking them if they could see any simple machines in action. They quickly identified the inclined plane, the wheel and axle, the pulley. I asked them if they knew any stories with spinning wheels in them and they all knew Rumplestiltskin. One little girl told the class the whole plot - perfectly. That let me ask them some of the questions about that story I always had - like ... would you have married that nasty king who threatened to cut off your head? Ever? And I also asked them - what would the queen do if he ever decided he wanted more gold? It was a great segue into the story of the 3 aunts and from there we went to Sleeping Beauty and then to my new story which I call The Spinster who was worthy to be the Bride of a Prince. A long story deserves a long title.

After story telling we did the spinning craft I brought them - Friendship bracelets made from yarn and spun with a stick rolled down the thigh. I've used a rock on a string in the past, but lately, the idea of a dozen unknown children with rocks on stirngs has given me some nightmares. The whole program took an hour and a half and afterwards the children wrote in their journals or drew pictures or listed the steps to making bracelets. It was a super experience, put me in serene confidence for the story telling I was going to be doing in Sedalia the next day and altogether felt just perfect.

My favorite comment by any of the children that day was "She’s good! Is she real?"

I left CC doing up lesson plans for next week, making a detour past the new yarn shop in Bedford, Yarn Theory. I am still successfully keeping to my January No Fiber Oath but I managed to snap up a copy of Yarn Harlot’s 2nd book.

Huge storms blew in that night, which was Delicious Pizza Night at the cousins'. The next morning it was damp and cool and drizzly, and the drive north towards Big Island was just wet enough to require windshield wipers. I got to Sedalia by 9:30 and had plenty of time to set up and with wonderful help from Sherry who was friendly, helpful and oh so useful. I could not have taught the class without her cheerful assistance. There were 13 students registered and 2 more asked if they could join at the last moment. It’s soooo hard to say no to a future spinner and in the end I said yes, though fortunately for me, 1 student didn’t make it. I know now - for a 1 hour class - a very rudimentary introduction to drop spinning (and plying) the maximum must be 12. More than that, some folk get sort of missed. With 14 students I really lingered on another 30 minutes - and really - I’d rather stick with 12 students and an hour and a half of class.

Fortunately, all but one student made yarn - 2 ply, wet set. Some had a good sized little skein. Some had only enough to make a necklace. I suspect for the most part all were very happy. I know one succumbed to the lure of a wheel! Very very exciting for me, since teaching is as much fun for me as actually spinning! Each time I teach a class, I learn as much as the students. One thing I learned for sure is to remind people at the beginning to SHOUT OUT! if they are having trouble. Some folk are too soft spoken and shy to do so and it’s very easy for the teacher to be captured by the more vocal. Fortunately, I noticed in time and was at least able to get one-on-one with the spinners who needed it. Even more fortunately - several only wanted for the slightest instruction. They were natural spinners who just had to see the steps first. I was pleased and enough folk said they were too to make me feel successful.

There was less than an hour between the morning and afternoon session so I just got an apple from my car for lunch. I was very strict about keeping to the time table because I didn’t know how may wee ones would need help with their craft. In the end - almost none did, since the smallest ones had parents with them. There were so many beautiful mothers and handsome papas and lovely nanas and precious children I just floated on the high of doing my mostest favoritest thing - talking to other people. I did the same program with these children as I did in CC’s class, with fewer "instructional moments", but with the same ideas and thoughts. The Spinster story went over just as well as it did with the more contained audience - and I had a chance to time it - it’s fully 20 minutes long. But there was no lack of interest, it’s a good story even if it is long.

It was hard to gauge much about the fair as a whole, because I was indoors so much of the time, but I saw plenty of people walking away with bulging bags of fiber - that oh so familiar sight at fiber festivals. There were lots of vendors for a first year fair, alpaca, llama, some of the long standing favorites of mine like Stony Mt. Fibers and Misty Mountain Alpaca’s. Laurie’s Lane was there with her gorgeous NeedleBooks and yummy bags. The truth is though, after doing three "shows" in 25 hours - I was pretty fuzzyheaded. I’m still a little tired and it’s now Monday evening - but it’s good tired. Rich, surfeited, self satisfied tired. Tired after running the whole race. Tired knowing that you’ve grown from your efforts. Happy tired. But oh oh yes. Tired.
I didn’t try to buy anything except ice cream. I patted some gorgeous llamas. I helped the most bold and serene lost 6 year old I’ve ever met find her nana and poppop. I met lovely lovely people, I saw gorgeous fiberwork, heard a great all girl music group, and helped with the raffle drawing.

Going to a fair as a vendor or as a teacher is so different from going as a shopper or student. Both ways are fun. I can’t decide which I like better, but I know which one is more true to my soul - the teacher/story teller. For sure I came to discover how deep the yearning is to be back on the stage and to be telling stories instead of playing a violin. My dear friends are always so kind to me when I begin one of my lengthy stories, but it’s much better if I do it from the dais, not from the back seat of the car.

Over the next few months I plan to develop this program in several directions and as at least two different types of presentation - story telling and living history. Yes. I still will make that costume. And when I’m done, why - who knows, I just might be telling stories at a fair, or a library or a yarn shop near you!

posted by Bess | 6:18 PM


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What a weekend. What a perfect happy joyous exciting energy pumping laughter filled creative mind-making-up weekend.

I am so tired I can hardly blink - and I am somehow supposed to go to work today. I will be a zombie all day. But a happy one, so there - it can’t be so bad after all. I had an ab-fabulous time at the Spring Fiber Festival with 14 delightful students, lots of happy children paying attention - even though one of my stories is more than 20 minutes long!!!! and I’ll write all about it later this week. Whew is about all I have left to say now. Whew and wow and oh man MS&W is only 4 weeks away.

posted by Bess | 8:04 AM


You will "wow" them, as usual!! Have a great and restful weekend.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:43 AM  

You'll see me on Saturday before you see this comment, but I send good juju your way. Here's hoping I can eavesdrop in on your drop spindle class and get a refresher course from. I'm psyched! And I will place money on the fact that weather-dot-com is wrong and we won't get rain during the day. (I'll also send a prayer or two heaven-ward for that result, as well).

Have fun with the cousins! See ya at Sedalia! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 3:58 PM  

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Thursday, April 06, 2006  

Studding the long trek from child to adolescent, that approximately 3 years which equal roughly a quarter of a young girl’s life up to then, are a number of pivotal moments: That first bra, other body changes brought on by chemistry, the shift from socks to stockings, that first spritz of hairspray - the first time your mother lets you wash your own hair because she knows you care enough to get all the soap out. For this aurally motivated person, a supreme moment came for me the summer before I turned 12 - when I got my first (and perhaps only) transistor radio. I’m not sure it really was a Japanese Transistor Radio with one end that you stick into your ear and one end that you don’t stick anywhere because it’s broken - but it certainly fit the description, with it’s genuine leatherette case. On the cusp of pure teenagehood, what moved the most, leaving me weeping into my pillow at night, were the tear-jerker songs, the farewell songs, the she doesn’t love me any more. Who out there can fail to be moved by that poor fellow in 24 Hours from Tulsa, who can never, never, never, go home again? Never mind it’s because he picked up some floozy at a truck stop and then, I suppose, either knocked her up or got drunk and married her. That reedy tenor voice, piercing the night with pathos, begging to be forgiven had a guaranteed pardon from at least one teary eyed almost teen.

Farewell, Gene Pitney - thank you for years of happy heartbreak.

There is much that TheQueen finds useful out there in Internet-land today. Mr.Horoscope reminds me that if one learns from experience one becomes wise, but if one does not - one becomes bitter. I know this, but it’s worth remembering these days. I have lots of experience going on in my life.

The inaccurate predictions of weather dot com are additional experiences I ought to learn from as I head into a fiberfilled weekend. After how many weeks of drought? we are predicted to get rain on Saturday. Bah! I say to the weather dot com guys. Bah! and Pish! and Ha! They have promised so much unfallen rain this spring, I have no faith in their Saturday forecast.

I have not made the costume for my story telling portion of Saturday’s events. After more research and more dithering and more thought, I am not ready yet to make the shift from story telling to living [fictionalized] history. That will come. I think it will be a more fun way to present the stories, but the background history has to be accurate even if the character I’m playing is made up. This caused me to rearrange the story sequence, but not to have to actually change the program any. And I always had something appropriate to wear, just not a costume. So, this summer I will put in more research, more design and more sewing and come next autumn, I’ll have both options available.

I am skipping out of town today leaving one of the biggest library events of the year in the capable hands of my staff and volunteers. Each year we sponsor a county wide art show as the precursor to a regional art show held 2 counties away. We fill the library with paintings, photography, drawings, and crafts. 2 judges come in on Friday afternoon and select the winners, and at 5 on Friday we host a Grand Opening Reception. This year the Junior Women’s Club is co-hosting the reception with us, bringing and serving refreshments. I’m particularly excited about this since they’re so young and enthusiastic and fresh. They make all of the library staff - of which I am the youngest!!! - feel enthusiastic and fresh too.

But I shan’t be there and I see a secret gleeful happiness in my assistant since this means she gets to be head hostess. Kinda cute and she will do a capable, if different job.

I, happily, get to spend 3 nights with the Bedford Cousins of The August Family Reunion - hands down the favorite away cousins in my life. And on the way home I can stop by for a short visit with Mom and Dad. Not bad for one queen with several crowns to wear. I am not sure if I’ll have a chance to post again before Monday, though, but I gratefully accept all good vibes, good juju, good white light and friendly good wishes for a successful weekend.

Ta now.

posted by Bess | 8:03 AM


No, it cannot rain on Saturday! No! No! No!

By Blogger Mary, at 5:44 PM  

Hi Bess...
Glad to hear your trip was wonderful. Don't worry about the "forecast" remember where you live.....
"if you don't like the weather, wait a minute"! Tee Hee!I've yet to see the weather forecast be right on for the state of Virginia!I will pray that it is beautiful!!
Miss you ton's!!!

By Anonymous Patti, at 10:42 PM  


By Blogger jane, at 5:35 PM  

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006  

Thank you all for the warm comments. I love you more!

And I'm still not sewing that @*%#&^$*&() costume. What is going on? Why don't I want to sew? I have a back-up costume which rearranges the sequence of th stories a bit but oh oh oh how I'd love the original plan so much more.

Stuff waited for me at work. Ugh stuff. Stuff that I always knew was going to walk into my office, but crumbs. I wish it had waited till 2009. No reason it couldn't have. bah!

But then - Eh. It was on its way. Not really a surprise. Just a shift of the focus for the next few weeks.

We actually got rain last night. Not much. Much more wind, but a drop or two of the wet stuff fell - so I will enjoy watching how all the green that had been holding back bursts forth today. Sunshine promised for the rest of the week and, of course, rain on Saturday. But I am not daunted. 2006 rain is obviously going to be minimalist rain - neuveau weather - nothing to worry about. Besides, I teach indoors.

Okay - off to pretend to get started on my day.

I am sooooo glad to hear from you all.

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


You were missed! And there's a picture up on my blog just for you, and there might be another one later if I can get my camera to cooperate, but it doesn't sound like you needed it!

By Blogger Amie, at 10:15 AM  

Sounds like a perfect weekend -- I love those kind -- roaming around, stopping on a whim, wherever looks interesting. Too bad you couldn't sew in the car, huh? Here's hoping you got to knit a little! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:23 PM  

Very nice weekend - and you have ensured that you will do it again soon, to see Charleston! Hope the sewing goes painlessly and quickly this week.

By Blogger Shelia, at 2:50 PM  

Your trip sounds wonderful. And so glad that you had a great time. My husband and I haven't ventured out like that yet, but I look forward to the day when we can take off like that.

By Blogger erica, at 8:35 PM  

Oh, I am so glad you had such a marvelous trip! Those spur of the moment trips are usually the sweetest. I've always wanted to go to Beaufort (not all THAT far from here), and you certainly made it seem more enticing. I can't wait to see your pictures.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 7:38 AM  

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Monday, April 03, 2006  

Sheeeeeee’s Baaaaack!

Yes. TheQueen returned, with her king, from a birthday celebration weekend down south. BD’s anniversary rolled around on Friday and somewhat on a whim we decided to go to Charleston, SC. We’re always saying "Oh, it’s just an 8 hour drive - we could leave late in the afternoon and get there in time for a day and a half of play." We have always said it and we’d never done it so we just up and did it this weekend. Actually we left Thursday and got home Sunday and never got to Charleston at all!

We didn’t go straight to Charleston. Instead, we drove on past the turn off at Florence to Walterboro - where we spent the night. In the morning we headed to Beaufort - where I wish we had planned to go and stay all along. In fact - it is a destination in the queue for a future vacation. It’s full of come-here’s, I’m sure, but it’s drop dead gorgeous, historical, full of lovely buildings and neat shops. Small enough to walk around yet close enough to other interesting things that you could use it as a home base for side trips - even a shoot up to Charleston trip. In the bookstore we met a woman who grew up in Richmond (a come-here, but a southern come-here) and picked up a DeLorme’s South Carolina. BD wanted to see the Spanish settlement at St. Elena on Parris Island - yes, that one, the marine corps base. Historian that he is, he’s always curious about early sites - history lover that I am I am always willing to go along. The live oak shaded site along the Port Royal Sound is so worth the visit and the shy courtesy of any marine you run across on the base is so charming that they alone make the visit worth while.
We spent a long time on the base, and yes - there are photographs, though they are on film and will need to be developed before I can share them. One tree so huge I couldn’t photograph it all, unless I was willing to go swimming - which, warm as it was, still did not tempt.

Of course, I couldn’t be that close to the ocean without putting my feet in the water so we drove on up to Edisto Beach where - had I been wearing my swimsuit I would have jumped into the ocean. As it was, I rolled up my jeans to look just like fashionable cropped pants, and got my feet wet. How I love the ocean.

Late in the day on Friday we headed up to Charleston where we found that all the motel rooms were taken - well, it was quite late - because of one of those civic events that generates bonne homme and tourism - the Cooper River Bridge Run. I am sure fun was had by all - but not by TheRoyals - who went back to Walterboro, spent the night and headed north to Pawley’s Island. We toured Georgetown, SC the next day, walking along the waterfront, peeking into little shops. It wasn’t quite as tony as Beaufort, but it was certainly lively. We also indulged ourselves with shrimp for lunch.

Back in the car, BD found Brookgreen Gardens on the map and we spent the rest of Saturday there - throughly entranced by the beauty, walking till we’d explored every garden, probed every path and viewed at least 500 of the 500+ scupltures . More photos to come here, but in a few days.

We spent the night in Myrtle Beach and had a good morning’s walk along the fine grained sand followed by pancakes in the cutest restaurant, all full of parrot motives and real parrots as well! The intention had been to tour Wilmington, NC, but homesickness had sprouted and the memory of pleading doggy eyes was too great a spur. We got on the interstate and, in BD’s favorite term - blasted on up the highway.

We were glad to be home - well, who wouldn’t, with three sweet pups waiting to leap up our bodies, when we got there. Let out of the pen, all of them dashed out into the fields and reclaimed their property.

And so. Another birthday. A happy one. And home again jiggity jig.

But now you see why I was in such a snit about finishing that costume last weekend. Bah on me. This week, my evenings are spoken for.

posted by Bess | 7:47 AM