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


Socks! How I love knitting them! I just don't have enough needles to start all the ones I want to try. I may have to finish some in order to free up some needles. Or I could go to the size ones and zeroes.

I always try to remember that other people don't know what I had planned. I'm the only one who knows how far I've succeeded in my plan. Everyone else just thinks that whatever happens is what I planned.

By Blogger Larry, at 11:04 AM  

Ahhhh... The Little House books... and I am of the generation that can watch the tv show without too much cringing, though was blessed to find books early enough in life that the book is always better than the movie... as often as I read them growing up, I haven't in years, and don't even have copies of my own... must remedy that soon, don't you think???


By Blogger Amie, at 6:16 PM  

Yes you MUST remedy that Amie...

I happened to buy myself the whole set in hardcover with the money from my first ever job in highschool... (I still kept all my old mis-matched paperbacks though)

I re-read the whole series probably at least once a year... with the exception that I don't read the beginning of "By the Shores of Silver Lake" - because thats the part where their dog Jack dies... if I read that I bawl my eyes out crying loudly for a good 30 minutes...

By Blogger Aria, at 9:42 PM  

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Wednesday, May 31, 2006  

Thank you, Mary, for the compliments. Aren’t words fun?

Yesterday I was soooo gloomy and anxious about this week. I feel the thrumming drumbeat of Summer Reading Club with 2 New Programs, mocking me, telling me I will fail at these new things - because I am much better at coming up with ideas than I am at carrying them out. I do not say I am a failure at carrying them out - just that - in the end, many of my projects have an amateurish touch rather than that slick professional touch that Other People’s Projects have.

Now, lest you think I am just spiraling into a diss-Bess loop - I assure you that I am not. I know that other people’s gardens are not any nicer than mine, or their library programs, or their stints as PTA president. Or they are nicer than mine. Or not as nice! I ought not care! Because life is not an Olympic contest. It’s life. And we do what we can. And sometimes we do stunningly well. And sometimes we do horrificly terrible. And most of the time we do somewhere between good enough and just fine.

It’s the imagining that trips us up. We can worry ourselves (read here, I can worry myself) into panic attacks or we can, as the famous shoe advertisement says, Just Do It. And so I shall.

And, to stroke my ruffled feathers I can remind myself that I, who have cast myself upon the mercy of strange geeks for the past 6 years of Internet service for the library, was able, in a week and a half, come up with an entirely new Internet connection for the library, complete with bids, prices, and an equipment list for far less money than I had feared. This, after ignoring all technological progress for 6 years, is a pretty durn good job. The paperwork gets submitted to the county administrator today. Thank you May Horoscope.

Yesterday was one of those fruitful productive days where I can tick off all sorts of HadToDo activities. What a difference a day like that makes in ones attitude. Since I’ll be out of the office on Friday and today is Wednesday, which means kiddies, and I didn’t work on Monday - a lot has to happen on the T days. Let us hope T-omorrow is as productive as yesterday.

I’ve not quite finished up spinning the singles of the mystery fiber in TheQueen’s favorite colors but I should do so tonight. 8 oz of what is probably corriedale in a fine, tight, sock-weight yarn. I am getting a very strong urge to knit socks - or at least, to start socks. I’m still working on the cuff of the purple Fixation second sock. I had a black brain hole attack when I started knitting the second sock and couldn’t remember how to knit the pattern NOR remember where the pattern was, even though I knew it was in the Barbara Walker Red book. The brain just refused to believe what it knew. So I ripped out what I’d started, back to the K2P2 rib, and began anew on Knitters Faith - that blind trust in what the brain ought to believe. It’s going fine now. I’ll hustle along on it because I want to knit a pair of socks from some gorgeous Spirit Trail sock yarn and, of course, the above mentioned handspun sock yarn. Socks! Socks! Socks. I want More Socks!

But mostly - I’m off to begin my day. Ta.

posted by Bess | 7:30 AM


I am inspired and may have to go read (or re-read? did I read this?) The Long Winter, since you made it so attractive with in your sidebar review.

I will DEFINITELY rent A DANGEROUS BEAUTY, thanks to your sidebar review. I can't even remember if I ever saw a commercial for that, but it's a period costume drama. 'Nuf said. Since it's a GOOD one - all the better!

I think you should retire RIGHT NOW and start writing your Great American Novel (or Autobiography, or Whatever Genre You Feel Led to Write). We'd all be better off for it! And when you hit a period of writer's block, you get up from your desk and spin on Bella.

By Blogger Mary, at 7:46 PM  

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006  

Teach me to talk about glorious (borrowed) New England weather. Today the mercury is supposed to slop over the 90 mark. Of course, it may have gotten that hot yesterday. I never checked, but I did go swimming, briefly, as there’s still a hint of winter in the river. This was the first swim of the season and Jack’s first since last summer. He leapt out of the boat and with the other two, headed for groundhog heaven, in the fields beyond the shoreline, sandy and saltbush fringed. He also didn’t come when we called and only remembered us when the engine kicked over. He couldn’t believe we’d leave without him and had forgotten the routine from last summer. He yelped and barked all the way home. We don’t really abandon them on the opposite shore, merely putter across about half way and let them swim to us. For all that my dogs will go in the water, they don’t always stay in long enough to wash out shedding fur. They’re far more interested in pawing up the fields and sniffing out secrets in the hedgerows. The oldsters have figured out just what intonation our voice needs to have to mean business and come running before we’re 3 yards off shore, but Jack has forgotten everything he learned in swimming school last year. He’ll learn again.

I took the past two days off from blogging. Not that I didn’t log on and read how the rest of knitting-blog-land is doing, but I just felt like saying “On Vacation” by writing nothing. Besides, I had no momentous news nor any lovely pictures to share. Besides #2, there’s a little hint of anxiety that seeps into my psyche each Memorial Day. It’s compounded of End of Fiscal Year Budget issues, Beginning of Fiscal Year Budget Issues, Geometric Increase in Demands from Patrons, Wildly Grandiose Ideas that We’ll Take Care of That This Summer and a certain YouthEnvy that, 55 years after I am no longer in school, is still asking why I, too, am not getting the summer off. Not that I ever got the summer off. My folk were the sort who had chores and duties and responsibilities and expectations for their children, waiting for that pretty morning in June when no yellow school busses rolled down suburban streets. If I ever slept late in the morning, which I doubt I ever did, it was till 7 o’clock. No little girls on Westover Hills Blvd. lay about till lunch time, only to grope their way to the kitchen looking for sugar frosted lunches. That may be why I still feel guilty if I’m reading in bed at 9 a.m. with BD, who did spend his summers in unending, unsupervised play. I keep telling myself that when I am retired (?!?) I will have leisurely summers off. I bet I don’t. I bet I am still up at 5 and Doing Things.

And so I shall just put one foot in front of the next for a few weeks and once summer gets creaking along I’ll remember that I’m glad to be in air-conditioned quiet, with bare legs and sandals because I Live In The Country and nobody expects the Library Director to have on pantyhose. An aside here - I’m nodding my head vigorously at C’s lament - What's with all the strapless sandals?!? What could be more juvenile than 50% of the population clack-clacking around in shoes that won’t stay on their feet? Some sort of occidental version of Chinese foot binding? Hobble those women with thong sandals that slap against the floor so you can what - hide the porn sites you’re viewing? stop telling dirty jokes by the snack machine? feel warned of impending feminine threats?

Hmm. I sound particularly grumpy this morning - that is fear, I am sure, or at best, anxiety. Rats. I really want to post about the lovely singles I’ve almost finished spinning. Maybe, I ought to just go spin it all up instead of trying to sound erudite - or at least interesting - on a Tuesday when I don’t want to Be In Charge. Why am I not a clerk at Wal-mart?


posted by Bess | 6:37 AM


I've had my "new" haircut for almost a year, and people are still coming up to me and telling me how much they like it! Hmm, does that mean my other do was hideous? Or that I had it for so long that it was nothing to write home about? Enjoy your celebrity, and mirrors aren't just for Windexing, you know!

By Blogger Jane, at 10:06 AM  

I think I want to learn crochet, so I think I'm going to buy Debbie Stohler's book next time I'm in a bookstore. And I guess a big fat crochet needle and some fat yarn. Next hobby here I come! :-)

Oh, and on a completely different topic, my word verification for this comment is "sxypm". Does that mean there's a romantic evening in store?

By Blogger Mary, at 11:24 PM  

Perhaps we *were* separated at birth! Shawls - check! Lots of WIPs - check! New spring haircut - well, not yet for me.

I'm still looking for something that 1) isn't too short (for DH, I'd shave my head otherwise) 2) doesn't take a much fussing and 3) uses my natural curl and waves rather than fighting them. Fortunately I still have time to look 'cause my hairdresser of choice can't get to me until 6-24!

(signed: knitswithcats)

By Blogger Diann, at 11:59 AM  

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Saturday, May 27, 2006  

I still like the short hair - even after sleeping on it and waking up with stuff that sticks up instead of slicks down. Everyone who’s seen the new 'do approves, most of all TheQueenHerself, who can’t stop peeking in mirrors or windows or other reflecting surfaces. Now and then I forget my hair is cut and the old non-preening me starts talking to someone and then I realize they are staring at me and I’m reminded that I am Glamorous now and get all tingly about it.

Because I tend to wear the same hairstyle for a decade or more at a time, people begin to think I am as static as oh, say, Mount Rushmore. They identify me with how I look and assume any changes that take place are merely things that were there all along, only they just hadn’t noticed. The last time I had a hairstyle change, not counting a failed blip in 1996 that lasted only a month or so, was 1992, the year I turned 40. The basic change was from long in the back and shorter on the sides, to short in the back and longer on the sides. The transition took place via a “body wave” induced Afro of transcendent ugliness which prompted me to swear my husband and friends to an oath to lock me up as the next decade approached if I even said the word permanent in a sentence that included any references to my hair. I, too, clung hard and fast to my sanity and made it through the dangerous birthday without succumbing to the false promise of chemical curls. It took 50 frozen eclares to do it, but I think I may have broken the spell.

But just because I didn’t make a Grave Error with my Hair doesn’t mean I wasn’t bored silly and longing to be different and fetching and FullOfSurprises. So for a while I shall enjoy the stares and the smiles and the compliments and then, as the months turn into years people will begin to think I always looked like this and when I show them photo albums with the Old Look splashed across the pages they’ll say “No way! I don’t believe it. Is that really you?”

Ahh yes. Well. Aren’t girls lucky? We get to play with tools and drive cars and all that, and we get make-up and nail salons and New Haircuts.

D&P are expected for lunch so I may only get in a teetiny bit of fiber play today. Also, I didn't buy the IK Crochet magazine because I never went by a book store at all. Instead, I spent a long afternoon visiting with my sister who lives closer to interstate ramps that promise speedy journeys home on the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend. One peek in the Ben Franklin in Mechanicsville was a dissapointment - they didn't even have the newest IK Knits - just the spring issue - so I am patternless. But the more I think about it, the more I think I could crochet a lacy skirt like that cover poncho sans pattern. I know how to crochet that sort of fabric and I'd alter a pattern anyway, to make it fit me. I believe I shall paw through the stash this weekend. There just may be something I could use.

posted by Bess | 7:39 AM


I bet your summer hair is wonderful. I've been thinking of going shorter,too! You've inspired me. Have a good weekend, Jane

By Blogger jane, at 7:22 AM  

Can't wait to see photos!

By Blogger Amie, at 8:56 AM  

Love the drawing! Enjoy the new do!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:17 PM  

I agree about the hairstyle magazine for the over 40 - those magazines are full of 15 year old models, except for the occasional token with silver hair. How about those of us who are fighting the good fight against old age and want to look good, but not silly, and aren't old enough to be silver?

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:33 PM  

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Friday, May 26, 2006  

Our New England Spring went home, but do not think we are lonely. Florida Spring unpacked her bags sometime yesterday and we are now moistly 86 degrees with nary a breezy cool day in sight. The best thing about a sudden warm spell is that, for the first few days at least, I can leave the front door open. The house is still cooler than the outside so bugs are not tempted, but I don’t have to keep getting up and down to let dogs in ... and out.

Lorinda - You lucky lucky thing you! I would love to take Theresa Schabes' class knitting the Pink Mimosa. Not that it looks that hard, but the discipline and schedule of a class would probably mean I’d knit it in time to wear it for the summer. It really is a gorgeous garment.

I woke at an ungodly hour this morning. I’m blaming it on the weather even though I am sure the moist breeze dancing outside my window is not really to blame. I have a long, though happy, day ahead of me, so it’s a good thing I have all weekend to recover, for I suspect I’ll need one of those 20 hour sleeps after last night.

I dabbled a bit yesterday on the scarf and the sock yarn spinning but the big fleece info for May 25 is shearing job done on TheQueen herself. I’ve been bored silly with the decade+ hairstyle I’ve had and this winter I began to plot with my hairdresser for Something New. After pouring over magazines filled with photos of 20 year old models with 40 lbs of hair cut in varying stages of spikedness, layers, and bi-color dye jobs I found something I could work with. I’d prepared BD, who voiced the mildest of objections in a sort of X chromosome knee jerk dedication to Long Long Hair, but of course he’d forgotten by the time I got home yesterday. There was a very long tease about the new look assuring me that he likes it too. It’s short layers that still tuck behind my ears and I am at the maximum body fat for this style. Let us hope it spurs me on to greater glory with WW. It’s also an ab-fab hair style for earrings. So much so I had to stop by M’s store after the haircut and buy a pair for my ears were naked yesterday.

When there is a photo I will share.

If you wanted to get rich, though - you could start a magazine of haircuts for the 40+ woman. Stylish, flattering, double chin hiding, eye crinkle diminshing hairstyles for women with character in their faces. It would be a runaway best seller, because we Baby Boomers will cling hard and we have Disposable Income - at least for another 15 years or so before nursing homes suck it all up.

My idea fee is $1,000 in cash or bluefaced leicester roving.

posted by Bess | 6:24 AM


"Unimportant is the question 'Will I ever wear a lace shawl if I knit one?' Who cares? It’s lace!"

My sentiments exactly! I love knitting lace, and though I wear my efforts only occasionally, I long to knit more. It's the process!

By Blogger Jane, at 8:19 AM  

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Thursday, May 25, 2006  

Guess what is in my stash? Enough laceweight mohair yarn to knit the Icarus Shawl in IK’s summer ‘06.

I buy tons of yarn and fiber. I buy what I like and buy enough to make something even if it ends up having to be a hat. What there never seems to be enough of is yarn to make something someone else designed. I know I can make a hat with 200 yards of any worsted weight yarn. I can make socks from 400 yds or sock yarn or a sweater from 1000 yards of sweater yarn ... I am short-waisted remember - you get from my hips to my ribs way sooner than most patterns think you should. But you get the idea - I don’t have tons of odd balls picked up from sale bins that will make nothing nor refuse to play well with other yarns. That was why, when I tried to winnow my stash I couldn’t get rid of anything. I love it all and can use it all somehow.

But seldom does it turn out that I can use what I bought on a hot summer afternoon because it was lace weight mohair at 250 yds. for less than $5!! to make up a pattern in a book or magazine.

So - I am one step closer to knitting a lace shawl. I have all supplies and equipment. Will I ever have the time? More important - will I ever use that time to knit one?

Unimportant is the question “Will I ever wear a lace shawl if I knit one?” Who cares? It’s lace!

And speaking of lace - Interweave is a little stingy with photos of their magazine contents but here is that crocheted poncho (ugh) that would make such a fabulous skirt (yum!) to wear over a silk (en) tiered under-skirt.

Crocheted in rayon or glittery stuff or Euroflax or even cotton - you would be the center of attention at any dress-up occasion. The younglings would think you were way-cool and your contemporaries would be envious and you would feel princessfairylike. I think I feel a magazine purchase coming on - for who is going to be driving to the city tomorrow? Yes yes! B&N - here I come!

On the dining room table are 8 heaps of color and softness - a lovely purchase from Linda Dyak 2 summers ago. 8 oz of carded wool. 4 colors - rich brown, warm red, M&M tan and golden yellow. The 8 heaps, two of each, will be further divided into an equal number of handfuls of color which I plan to spin in sequence into sock yarn. When plied they will match part of the time and blend part of the time. Their destination - socks - on my feet.

I even had the idle thought yesterday, that perhaps I ought to knit socks all summer long - to empty out all the sock stash.

But I am too flighty for something that dedicated. It is is ehough to keep to my no fiber vow. While that is not turning out to be so difficult, it is as much strictness as I want to inflict upon myself. And flighty thoughts are alright just so long as I leave the check book at home and don’t pull out the Visa card.

Today is my Friday, for tomorrow I head off to the city. A family morning and a friend evening is a grand way to begin a holiday weekend. Feeling pretty soft about life today.

posted by Bess | 6:52 AM


So that's what this is -- a Maine Spring! No wonder I'm still sleeping under the winter down.

You don't always need to write about knitting or spinning, because we're all pretty sure that you are at least thinking about it!

By Blogger Jane, at 1:50 PM  

I woke up yesterday morning in my Columbia, MD hotel room and the alarm clock radio station told me it was a mere 44ºF. Loving it!!! Too soon it will be twice that or more, so I will cling to Maine Mays with all my strength.

The only downside is that we're 7 inches short of rain, so far. What else will croak in my garden this summer? Sigh....

By Blogger Mary, at 10:55 PM  

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006  

We are having a New England spring. Perhaps even a Maine spring - for the days are cool and crisp and blue and gold and emerald and breezy and the nights are cozy for snuggling, pleasant for letting dogs hop up on the big bed to tell you about their day - or snooze till the last human turns out the light. I have waxed eloquent about the grandness that is May in Virginia often enough, but I am well aware that May is a rather splendid time of year most anyplace in the northern half of the globe. Why else all these springtime rituals woven throughout folk cultures of vastly different continental origins? Thus, May ought to be the heaviest travel month in the year. It isn’t, I am sure, because none of us can bear to leave our own special glorious May to wander through someone else’s. We once tore ourself away from MayInVirginia to visit EnglandInMay - and it was worth it, I promise you. But I don’t know if I’d do that again for many a year. So I am doubly grateful to Maine for sending us its May so that I don’t have to leave home to enjoy someplace else.

Last night my WW come-upance might have been disappointing, for the scales moved not a jot, in spite of my successful efforts to follow the plan. I am aware that a fall - with scraped knee and shredded shin and sprained ankle means lots of body fluids lingering to create protective and healing cushions. At least, that’s the story I’m clinging to. We shall just have to see how next week goes.

The onerous job at work suddenly blossomed into an accomplishable, if enormous, task, so I don’t dread the rest of the week - which will be blessedly short anyway because I have family business to attend to in the city on Friday. Happily there is a government holiday waiting for me on Monday - watch me dance! There are still heap big efforts sprinkled about the library for the next 12 weeks: end of year budgets, next year budgets, tonsOpublicity for the summer reading programs, 600 children to ferry through the library during the DaysOfDumbness that spread out after the standardized testing has been accomplished.

I shan’t rant on about schools today - I sound too much like old disgruntled geezer-type rocking chair critics - but I can’t for the life of me figure out why the state requires everyone to take standardized throughout May, and then expects the schools to stay open afterwards. At least “back when I was in school” you had May to review & study for exams and took them in June. That left perhaps a week of wasted days spent in useless school rooms fulfilling the 180 days open mandate. Our schools finish up testing on Friday and will then fritter away 3 weeks of adult minds and frustrated childish bodies with StayIndoorsActivities that MeanNothing.

If the state is going to mandate, write, grade and evaluate the exams, why bother expecting the teachers to come up with anything more? Make them happen the last day of school or last week or last 10 days - and then let everyone go home for vacation.

There. I’ve managed to fill up this post and say nothing of fiber stuff. I’m knitting on a scarf. I am not spinning because the ankle is still tender. Besides - I’m not home to spin. But I am sure I’ll be able to do so on the weekend. Dear P is visiting from the west coast. Mayhap she will be able to get down here for a few days. Good things are up ahead. Heck. Good things are going on now. Good things like Breakfast and Dogs in the Big Bed!

May your day be filled with good things too.

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


Bess, I thought for sure I commented yesterday but apparently in my absent-mindness (very common since returning from Maryland) that I did not. As far as ending a sentence in a preposition, I'm so guilty of it because I didn't even know I was doing it until someone pointed it out to me. I never understood them in school and it wasn't until the husband explained it all to me that it made any sense.

I'm glad your ankle is better today. There seem to be a lot of falls lately, just be glad it wasn't your wrist that would prevent you from knitting.

And the whole comment thing. It baffles me too, you know I've talked about it on my blog. In the last month I've just decided that even one comment is good enough. A little ego boost is always nice though.

By Blogger erica, at 8:54 PM  

Sometimes ending a sentence with a preposition just sounds more normal than bending over backwards to reword it so that it's somewhere in the middle, ya know?

That being said, it's late and I see my bed that I will now go lay down on.


By Blogger Mary, at 10:41 PM  

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006  

Thank you, all who had something to say yesterday and shared it with me. I knew there was just that slight sound of whine in my comment about comments and I beg pardon for it. But I do sometimes wonder about you folk who create those statscounter statistics. I also know that it’s not often that I rant on about a sensitive topic, the sort of thing that people would have strong, and even opposing viewpoints about. Important things like cropped pants. Or canned peas! And I’m afraid I shan’t ever offer that sort of thing because I not only dislike conflict but also share with Miss Scarlet that propensity to Think About It Tomorrow - at Tara. Most of the bad news will come out here as history, not opportunity for discussion.

The biggest question is caused when I see that someone from some far off place has stopped by I wonder if we could ever chat face 2 face - would we like each other - would we become friends? And when someone from just across my river stops by, well, that person doesn’t get a chance to evade an answer. Glen - please turn right at the stop light and check out the ab-fab knitting books at the library! Ask for me at the desk. Congratulations, too, on your coming expansion of knitting time!

I am back at that desk today. Though I would love to fritter away another day in front of the television watching old movies and knitting, my ankle is way better and the scrapes down my other leg have air-dried enough to cover with long pants. There is not enough reason to stay home and far too big a reason to go to work. I have a new project that must be budgeted by the end of the week. Happily, these are supposed to be good days for career homework. Although I had hoped to use them to further an alternative career along its path, I don’t mind putting auspicious days to work on the bread and butter career. “Forward is forward,” I like to say.

And though there are a number of other things that keep floating near the surface of my mind, they don’t quite break through to clarity, so I shy away from rambling on about them. Instead I leave you with the important question: At what time does one stop feeling guilty about writing a sentence that ends in a preposition?

posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


So sorry about your ankle, Bess! Ouch! Only good thing about it is the guilt-free knitting time, huh?

Re: comments -- not that I get 100 per day either, but I now get more than I used to, and I think it's because I also read and comment regularly on others' blogs, and not just the "famous" bloggers. But, I'm not sure I'd want 100/day, either, because that usually means more work for me, which I'm not interested in. Many of the 100-comment-per-day blogs seem to be hosted by people who host popular knit-alongs (Lolly's Project Spectrum, for example) or who regularly have contests (Cara's "January One"), and as fun as those might be, I just don't have the time for all that. I'll also never be as cute and witty as Crazy Aunt Purl or the Yarn Harlot, and I'll never have mad knitting, spinning, dyeing or design skillz like many of the more popular bloggers out there, and I'm okay with that, too.

I do know that my hit counter started to go way up after I was added to the knitbloggers webring. On peak days I'll get 100 hits, but still only a handful of comments. Again - I don't mind. It's nice that anyone reads it, ya know?

It also helps to do like you and post regularly to Knitter's Review forums with the blog in your email signature. I try to do that on the Knitty board, but definitely don't write as frequently as you do on KR.

I will always try to "keep it real" by reminding myself of my original purpose for my knitting blog, which is to be an electronic documentation of my knitting projects, which is really just for my benefit. Any readers are pure bonus, in my opinion, but a lovely perk, all the same. I've made some great friends through this form of communication!

By Blogger Mary, at 8:45 AM  

Hello, Bess

I'm one of your "silent readers" - I look for you every day, but almost never comment. I'm not a blogger myself and I guess I'm "blog shy". And I am the opposite of ENFP - is that ISTJ? Anyway, I think your blog is just lovely - you have a wonderful way of expressing yourself that almost always has me nodding in affirmation. Wish I could visit you in person, but I'm

Carol in Southern Oregon

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:31 AM  

Hello, Injured One. Hope your ankle mends quickly -- but not so quickly you can't get in some good knitting/reading time. Up here it's Victoria Day. Canada, apparently, is the only country in the world that still celebrates Her Majesty's birthday -- on the Monday closest to May 24th each year. It is a holiday you'd love, full of fireworks and barbeques and laid-back reading on loungers, and gardening, and toasting the Late Great Queen with whatever, and listening to great music, and of course, knitting. May you have a happy one, and be regally treated, as befits your injury!


Elizabeth Bennet Too

By Blogger Margaret, at 3:09 PM  

Hi Bess! This is Glenn of Warsaw, so....a Riverknitter who happened across your blog via a Google of 'Virginia knitting blog'. Imagine my delight when I saw something familiar. I know you have an active knitting group over there. As my last day of full time work is Friday - going into private practice social work - I hope to drop in to your group sometime. I, too knit, spin three times a year, hook, bead, jewel, dye, sew, etc. I first came upon blogs through Yarn Harlot - now I'm hooked. However, I wished for more familiar landscape - voila! My earlier post is my first time ever! Though slow by nature, I hope to stay in touch. P.S. I'm an ENFJ - can you tell?! I loved the Greer Garson version of P & P - okay anything black in white in fact. Always love Greer's characters - so does that make me Elizabeth - God only knows that I speak too freely! Will eventually see the 'code' - all the college girls want to see 'Amelie' in another feature film; all us mothers want to see Tom...
Feel better soon,
P.S. nothing hurts worse than a sprain - knitting needles fit nicely inside an aircast for an itch!

By Anonymous Glenn across the river, at 6:30 PM  

Oh, you and those ankles!

My first thought was that you'd gone so crazy on Bella you'd really worn yourself out... but either way I hope you're up and spinning again soon!

By Blogger Amie, at 6:34 PM  

Hi, Bess! Sorry to hear that you have had yet another mishap with your ankle. Nice to have a long weekend, though! :)
Yes, I do score over on the "I" side of the scale. Perhaps that is why you don't often get to hear from me.
I agree with your comments on the Summer IK - overall a very nice issue. I would really like to spin and knit the Icarus shawl. A few of the other things, too.
KathyR (from NZ)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:08 PM  

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Monday, May 22, 2006  

Hello Glen across the river. I’m delighted you commented. I’m utterly fascinated with your signature - are you across my river or across some other river? Are you a guy or a gal or just a lovely sweeping valley nestled between tree covered mountains? Anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed that lengthy review. Alas - I don’t get t.v. where I live so I have never seen any of the knitting episodes of any of those good craft shows.

And it is that I don’t choose to get t.v., mind now. My neighbors all pay for the antennas and satellite dishes. I get sucked into the media vortex enough with just videos and DVDs, so I’ve chosen to pass on the immediate-media of television.

And speaking of comments - I will confess here that I suffer from the worst case of CommentEnvy. My mind boggles when folk have 10 or 20 or 30 comments as a regular thing. I can’t imagine what it must be like to get 135 comments in a day - I wonder what sort of person attracts that sort of attention. And I know it doesn’t mean that I am not that 1950’s goal of all southern belles - Popular - but my statscounter will say that all these folk visit each day and ... a busy comment day at ThePalace will be - what - 4 comments. So either all my readers score way over on the I column of the Myers Briggs personality test or those satcounter hits are generated by spam programs and when they can’t post a comment because they can’t parse the code they just leave those silent footprints.

I shouldn’t care about not getting dozens of comments, and mostly I don’t. But I always welcome new ones.

And Miss Mary - howdy to you too. That movie will do just fine on a DVD. It doesn't really need the big screen. I didn't think Silas, the killer, was scary enough, either.

Here’s something a good (and frequently commenting) friend has come up with:

This blog-along comes courtesy of E. My first thought was “Hey Cool!” and I signed up right away but on further reflection - well, this blog is pretty much a “day in my life” sort of thing. I wonder if it’s just utterly too egotistical of me to spread Me-Talk about like that. I still think it’s a cute idea and it provides an outlet for the non-blogging population. I’m going to leave the button up on my sidebar at least through June 15.

And as for the days in the life of this knitter - well - yesterday was spent with another sprained ankle, propped on a pillow and wrapped with ice packs. Yep. Hit the ground again - when will I ever learn to walk instead of flop down the road. This time I had on shorts, so the other leg got pretty skinned up. I will spend today in the same position - not because I’m so badly injured - it’s a minor - a truly minor - sprain. I could go to work and hobble about. But why? I’m way past any false sense of essentiality. I can do all that I really needed to do from home via phone. There is staff enough to cover a quiet Monday, which I am sure today will be and I have fortylevendyhundred hours of sick leave.


I shall knit today. Perhaps something lusciously silky. And watch Elizabeth Bennet laugh her way into love.

posted by Bess | 7:40 AM


Pardon the first time posting - Read with appreciation your analysis of IK - made me buy it! Did you see "Stitchcraft" on Oxygen channel yesterday? It's on again today at 2 p.m....'sweater and a scarf is the new twinset'...

By Anonymous Glenn across the river, at 11:23 AM  

I plan on watching the movie -- would like to see it in the theater but will probably end up watching it on DVD. Don't like Hanks' hair, though.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:31 PM  

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Saturday, May 20, 2006  

Thanks to Kim for this week's Quiz. I am such an Austen fan that it may be Quiz '0 the Rest of May!

And after thinking about it a bit - well - I bet I answered some questions the way I would like to be, rather than the way I am. When I am happy I'm very up front and out there, but when I take a blow - it all goes inside - and frequently makes me quite ill. So I am probably a little more Elinore Dashwood than I'd like to be. But I ain't changin' my answer. I want to be Elizabeth Bennet.

I saw the Da Vinci Code last night. I have redubbed it the Da Capo code - because it just keeps on giving you a conclusion, and then another conclusion, and then another and another and another. I wrote my opinions - one hopes without any spoiling comments - and posted them here, on the KFForums.

Spent the day yesterday cleaning house beause 10 days in the country, in spring time, with 3 dogs you let get up in the big bed when you go back to bed with your coffee and newspaper, can create dust of a magnitude that makes the mind boggle - and the rest of your head sneeze. Today belongs to fiber! Bella - here I come.

posted by Bess | 7:05 AM


I poured myself another cup of coffee, grabbed my copy of IK, and read along with your review. I agree that it's chock-full of inspiration and interesting bits.

Now it's time to get to work, but I sure have enjoyed my little visit with you this morning!

By Blogger Jane, at 6:47 AM  

I think I'm going to B&N today, on my way back from my haircut!

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:59 AM  

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Friday, May 19, 2006  

The Short Version

I really really really really liked the summer issue of Interweave Knits. I don't usually like summer issues but this one had so many nice things in it I thought I'd write a long review of the magazine. The bold and intrepid reader can get it all in the next post.

posted by Bess | 3:58 PM


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My impressions of Interweave Knits Summer issue

Continuing with yesterday’s theme of what floats my boat when it comes to fashion, and in particular, patterns, I offer here my review of the summer issue of Interweave Knits.

I’ve been meaning to write a review of it for a few weeks because this issue really wowed me. The summer issue of a knitting magazine has to be the hardest thing to produce. For 70% of the world the word association match to “knitting” comes from a list that includes sweater, hat, mitten, scarf plus wool, snuggle, cozy, kitty in your lap and fire in the fire place. None of those are words I want to even see from mid-June through Labor Day.

I know subscribers expect year round offerings and I even understand how much knitters need inspiration fixes. I cut the publishers a lot of slack with their summer issues. My expectations are low and I’m slow to give up my entrenched opinions. But this issue kicked me out of that trench – it actually whisked me out. I think this is the best summer issue of a knitting magazine I’ve ever seen. I thought I’d give it an itemized review since, this is my forum and I can talk here as much as I want.

So let’s start with the cover. This issue is focusing on lace – good pick for summer knitting. The cover garment is a lacy tank with raglan shaping in a medium blue. It has wide shoulder straps that would cover any bra – a must for women of a traditional build (what a jewel of a metaphor). Cover model is one of the familiar IK models – quite pretty and the top fits her. It looks like silk yarn was used, but I’ll have to look inside to find out. Happily, I’m tempted to because this is a garment that is pretty, not too outré, neither impossibly difficult looking, nor boringly easy.

Time to probe a little deeper. Whoa! On the contents page are 3 photos. A top with short sleeves knit with a very interesting looking paisley cable. I’ve never seen that before. I wouldn’t wear it where the garment has it placed, but I am tempted to try it somewhere. Then a camisole that I immediately dismiss because I couldn’t wear it – though it’s put together in an architectural way that appeals to the mathematician in me. I don’t do spaghetti straps. But I am not the only customer for IK either. I give them points for a design for the young and the slender. The third garment is a tank top that makes my eyes pop. It shares that architectural quality in the camisole but it’s far more versatile with its wide straps. It’s shapely, it looks like it’s knit with thick yarn so it would even be a quick knit, but it’s that careful shaping detail rising from the v-neck that really grabs me. Some kinda clever woman came up with this so I check out her name: Katy Ryan. You go girl! And I’m ready to go on myself.

I always read the editorials, book reviews and commentaries in knitting magazines. At least, I always start them and this issue Pam walks us through the process of putting out a knitting magazine. If you’re already media savvy this may be old stuff for you, but her point is that at every step of the way individual creativity and imagination are added to a garment and she welcomes the consumer’s addition to each garment offered. You, the knitter, are going to put your stamp on anything you chose to make. You become part of the whole design team. Sort of like the 6 steps away from Kevin Bacon, hmmm?

I love the fitted Tank in the Blue Sky alpaca add on the facing page. Another classic.
In the New & Views section I have to give a grin because though the article is about Gina Pinnock, who knits for British film and theater productions, it’s the photo of Toby Cockerel that made me stop and read. I’ve saw him on stage at the Globe Theater a few years ago. He looks a little like Julia Roberts – proving that some are closer than 6 steps away from ….

The librarian in me always has to pour over the book reviews and I particularly appreciated Clara Parkes’ review of all the good stuff. She didn’t limit herself to the latest thing on the bookshelves, even including an OOP title Knitting Lace by Susanna Lewis.
Miss C knows that you can borrow out of print books via inter-library loan. That’s how I got to read Principles of Knitting. Just because you can’t own it doesn’t mean you can’t glean from it. Yea Clara!

The featured garments start on the following page. The first one is okay – neither a wower nor a dud. The criticism I have of it is that there is a very fancy detail at the neckline but the photograph doesn’t bring it off. I know I know – photographers love to show you the feel, the aura, the soul of fashion. Big booboo. Heads up editors – I promise you. Nobody buys a knitting magazine looking only for auras, feelings or souls. First and foremost we are looking for close up photo of that special detail.

Theresa Schabes’ Pink Mimosa sleeveless knitted top is a wower. It’s a wowziewower. Best of all she offers it in sizes small (34”) to pretty big (49”). It’s a sleeveless shirt with a fabulous lace band that goes up the front, around the neck and down the other side. It closes like a shirt front. There is a pretty edging around the armholes. It’s reeeeealy gorgeous and it looks intermediate on the difficulty scale. It’s a knock-out. I will make it.

The Marseilles Pullover by Kathy Zimmerman is very nice. It’s a classic boatneck cabled sweater. It’s knit in alpaca and you can tell that in the photo when you look at the garter filling in the wide diamonds of the large central cable. There are not too many cables in this sweater – but the look of texture is carried throughout by wide ribbed sides and sleeves. Again – a challenge, but not a headache of a sweater. And Thank you Kathy – for offering it in size 34 through 50.

Norah Gaughan designed the t-shirt with the interesting cabled paisleys. Wedgwood Blouse she calls it. Lots of sizes. Not something I would make because I don’t add texture around the shoulders like that – not and then go out in public. But that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. The wide scooped neckline of this seamless circular sweater design would make it cool for summer but appropriate for the office.

The man’s sweater jacket by Ann Budd is something BD would wear. Only – he already has a sweater knit by me. Yep. He sees no point in owning two sweaters. One is enough. I can but shrug. But now that I think about it, LD would look fabulous in this. A little ribbing on the shoulders, a lot of stockinet, a front zipper. Yep. This is a very manly sweater.

The next item is a knitted bag. I’m not much of a knitted bag person. I don’t make ‘em. I don’t carry ‘em. In fact, I try to find someone else to carry things for me. I flip past that quickly. If you’re looking for a boxy tote or a first intarsia project, it’s here.

Another page over and there are some darling socks by Priscilla Gibson-Roberts that look like they’d use up all the leftover balls of sock yarn in your stash. The baby sweater is cute. There’s a toy and some crowns – all the patterns are available either on-line or via snail mail. Quick gifts you might call them, but quick is on the needles of the knitter.

The only thing in this issue I really didn’t’ like was the Brooklyn Cap by Laura Irwin. It’s a felted knitted helmet and I think it’s butt-ugly – even if it is in olive green. There is a weird needle felted stripe across the front that serves no purpose I can see. I’m confused about why this even made it into the magazine.

Joan Forgione’s Thorn and Thistle Twinset is a conjoined outfit that should be separated. Each piece is lovely by itself, but it makes the model, and we know they are the thinnest upright ambulatory bi-peds on earth, look like a linebacker for the home team. Do NOT put nubby cotton and silk blend knitted lace jackets over nubby cotton and silk blend knitted tank tops. Unless you want to look like a member of the defense. Other than that, I think both pieces are lovely and if they had been knit from drapey rayon they’d be just fine.

One page over is a Skacel add with a poncho that is so been-there – and the ad says “for a new generation!” It ought to read “For those old baby boomer farts.” Then again, I guess you can’t put farts in a magazine ad.

The Mommy Snug sweater by Kate Gilbert is too tight for the model. She’s pregnant, so I’m not talking about the wide spread over the tummy. It’s the sleeves. They are too tight on the model. The buttoned sides are very clever, though and make for a maternity sweater with lots of wear to it.

Evening Star Top by Esther Yun-Mancini is another good classic summertime garment I could at least see myself wearing. The yarn – Tahki Select Yarns Star – 60% nylon, 40% polyester – might keep me from trying. The gauge is 5.5 st. to the inch. Probably don’t have anything in my stash that would knit up at that gauge. Still. It’s a nice garment.

Then there is Annie Modesitt’s Bias Corset. This is so teen and twenty something that, other than to admire the architecture, I pass it over. Annie has the most brilliant knitter’s math mind and I love to see what she does with shaping. This camisole is a worthy addition to her cleverly structured pieces. It’s just that I will never wear spaghetti straps – I am too big and too old. Too bad.

Another garment whose technical structure I can admire even if the end result leaves me flat is the Fairy Net Blouse by Robin Melanson. There’s something wrong with the photo – Again, I suspect the sweater is too small for the model. Perhaps the next size up was so much more too big that the snug fit was selected. But it’s not flattering to the girl wearing it and I can tell by looking that the surplice across the top would not land in a good place for me. What’s worthy of note is the clever lacing at the side. It’s a pretty detail and you could use it somewhere else in your knitting.

The primer on knitted lace by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer is sandwiched between the previous garment and a lovely lace shawl. I confess. I haven’t read it yet – but I see in a quick glance that there is a section on reading charts and some tips on how to get back on track when you flub up – including the famous life line technique. I’m getting so close to knitting my first fine lace shawl. Will it be the Icarus Shawl by Miriam Felton? Who knows? Maybe. That back view, with the lovely silhouette of the model showing through, is high temptation.

The next item up is that ab-fab tank by Katy Ryan: Brioche Bodice. Yummy. And yes. It’s knit at 3 stitches to the inch and it’s just about the first bulky yarn garment I’ve ever seen that tempted me. I don’t like knitting on needles above size 8 so getting me to handle double digit needles takes something special in either yarn or pattern. She used a Colinette yarn, “wigwam” 100% cotton. It doesn’t look too heavy for summertime. The ribbed tank hugs the model and the way the ribs on the sides tuck into the ribbed v neckline is truly graceful. Again, it’s in lots of sizes from 30” to 51.5” Yea Katy!

High fashion gets a nod with an article about Wenlan Chia whose clothing line Twinkle offers lots-0-knits. The wide scooped necked cabled sweater has a very runway look to it as do all the other sauntering poses. Her pattern for the Seaberry Shell doesn’t do much for me – it’s knit up at 2.5 stitches to the inch. That sort of bulkiness leaves me cold. Blue is pretty. The textured front is lacy enough but I’ll pass on this. It’s too bulky for any but the tiniest of people and too much of anything is bad design in my book.

I must confess here – my reading schedule for magazines almost always follows the same steps. First I skim the featured garments. Then I read the editorial and book reviews. Then I go back over the patterns I liked and really study them. Last of all – often weeks after the magazine arrived, I go read the technical articles. I always do read them and in some cases, they are the most important part of the magazine for me, but those articles are what keep me enthused during the drought period between issues. Hey – I’m never said I was any different from your average eye candy knitting magazine consumer.

All that is to say I haven’t read the article about the knitted bathing suits.

But that Bonita Shirt by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark that’s next in the lineup is pure loveliness. It’s also something I would wear. It’s something I might make. It’s dainty too. There are cap sleeves, lace panels and delicate but easy embroidery adding color to a soft cream top. The more I look at this the more tempted I am to give it a try. Not that there is any cotton in my stash – but this is a bulls eye hit for some alpaca I have. I can skip the embroidery and I’ll end up with a perfect under a suit jacket kitted top – for 3 seasons of wearing. Pretty Pretty Pretty. If only it will make gauge – of 6 st. to the inch. Cross your fingers for me.

The cover garment at last has its chance for perusal. Lotus Blossom Tank by Sharon Shoji is a bamboo lace piece with interesting raglan shaping. It’s interesting because one doesn’t usually bother with raglan in a sleeveless garment. It works here, flaring a bit at the shoulder line to hint at a cap sleeve, without actually requiring that you make one. That slight flare balances out a similar line of the lace below a rather high bustline. It’s that high division that might stop a fuller figured woman – I’d probably add another inch of stockinet bodice if I were making it for me. But I can think of a good dozen of my friends who would look stunning in it – from the willowy thin ones to the more rounded gals. The pattern is sized in 4 steps from 33.5 to 48 inches.

There are a smattering of lace examples knit by IK staff, all following the same pattern, but each free to use it in a garment of choice. Fun to look at and a fun idea to try with my knitting group. Hmmm. In fact – I think I’ll suggest it at our June meeting.

The last garment in this issue is a pretty little eyelet thing – Eyelet Chemise, designer Therese Chynoweth calls it – too young for me, too high waisted, and all that, but very very pretty. And you could add a few more inches to the body if bare midriffs are not your particular fashion statement. I love that 3 hole eyelet stitch, lace without being see through. It’s a youthful design with a little room to grow.

So – 18 patterns, 4 of which I can see myself knitting, 2 more I might knit. Nine more garments had knit-worthy features valuable for studying and only one that I flat out rejected. In a summer issue of a knitting magazine! In addition, 3 Good Ideas popped into my head as I turned the pages over. My goodness! Interweave – you have outdone yourself.

As I continue to leaf through the magazine, just in case any ad leaps out at me, I find Lorna’s Hand-dyed Yarns puffing out of ice cream cones – yummy – and sitting right beside the Blue Moon Fiber Arts socks that I know I must make for myself. At least, I must make something like them. I’m always tempted by the white Lies Designs – the Krista Tee is very pretty, very lacy, yep yep – another good’un.

I see a promo code IKSMO6 for – worth checking out the website to see what the deal is. Interweave has two ads for itself – Knitscene’s fall issue – coming in June (?) and Interweave Crochet … puhleaze – stop with the ponchos. Have that cover girl pull that thing off her shoulders and down to her waist and you’d have one helluva great skirt – put a little silk tiered thing underneath as a petty coat and you’ve got Princess! I also like the hairpin lace skirt in Stitch Diva Studio’s ad. and what do you know! Another knitted skirt – from It’s just a sketch but hey, a knit skirt is just a tube. I see a knit skirt in my future.

I am getting an idea for a fun afternoon on-line. I think one rainy Sunday I’ll just start going through all the websites in the marketplace pages to see what’s out there. What I know is at the very end is Ravelings; the last thoughts about knitting in each issue. This one is Amy Swenson’s account of a trans-Siberian stash enhancement. I will leave you with only that title to prick your curiosity. Who knows what sort of stash enhancing journey you might find yourself on?

posted by Bess | 3:53 PM


Bess, I must send you one of our favorite new recipes, heck I might even send you more than one. One in particular is a winner and not too weird, I promise. I'm not even sure I would have liked the tofu with peanut sauce and buckwheat and I've been told I eat some pretty weird stuff.

By Blogger erica, at 8:55 AM  

Read your comment on Theresa Schabes' Pink Mimosa. She teaches classes at my LYS, and I can report that she is just as lovely as her design. You will enjoy wearing it. I plan to take the class to make it the next time she teaches it. Just found your site; I'm a huge Jane Austen fan, too. It's impossible to read any of her books too many times. I'm also a HUGE fan of the Persuasion movie with Amanda Root. I think I have it memorized I've seen it so many times.

By Blogger lorinda, at 8:33 PM  

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Thursday, May 18, 2006  


Not to worry, dear hearts - about my moaning and groaning re: weight issues. If I’m complaining, I’m already over the pity party and doing something about it. My Virgo brain thinks it ought always to be brisk decisions and tidy lists, but the InnerQueen knows that first comes the resolve within, then comes all the outer trappings of Just Doing It.

Part of the grousing comes from a little pressure from BD, who wants to shift over to the Edgar Cacey diet - basically a South Beach diet with tweaks - and this means learning a new way of approaching food por moi. In fact, I’ve laid down two ultimatums (ultimatii?) about such a drastic food shift. One is that he must assume some of the cooking and two is that there are to be no complaints when dinner sucks. Constructive criticism about how to make a dish better is fine - important - but “I can’t eat this _____!” has been banned from TheCastle.

We tried a curried tofu with peanut sauce over buckwheat last night and it was .... okay. Different. But okay.

And I am sure that anyone who ever knew BD in the pre-heart attack days must be howling with laughter now because this is a man whose 4 food groups included grease, grease, meat and salt.

So. I’m far more thrilled to find that I’m married to an adventurer than that I’m no longer being asked “Is that some of that fat lady food?” Because one of the things I notice about aging folk is that when they refuse to adapt to time’s demand for changes, but insist upon struggling on down the same old path that isn’t taking them where they want to go, life becomes hell for them and those who live with them. Far better to be a successful 63 year old than a failing 53 year old. BD’s wholehearted willingness to try something new has made the past year interesting, fun and beneficial to us both.

But talking about weight and body and image brings to mind a discussion about being turned off of knitting patterns when they’re modeled by “ugly” models, begun on the KRForums. The discussion has strayed from the topic so far now that I’m not inclined to comment there, though it certainly prompted me to muse - and expound here. Thank goodness I have my own forum!

I am a maker and I make mostly for myself. Once I get over my color prejudices and am really studying a design, the first thing I look at is the area between shoulders and waist. I’m examining the model and the garment at the same time, comparing her body to mine and deciding if the lines of the garment are flattering to that area. I’m short waisted and top heavy with broad shoulders. Not exageratedly so (BD’s hideous photos notwithstanding) but on the far side of the middle. Lines that lengthen and narrow that part of the body are what I’m looking for.

I confess, when I look at other women, that’s the first thing I notice as well. I think it’s pretty common, actually. We are always most sensitive about the parts of ourselves we think are not up to snuff and we always want to be sure we don’t compare too badly with those around us. All women with delicate and well proportioned upper halves are beautiful in my eye. I’d swap with them in a New York minute. Ditto those with curly hair. Especially bushy curly hair. And yet, my dear college friend R, who has wide hips in comparison to her shoulder area, always used to greet me after a long absence with a swift look at my hips and the comment, “Bess! You’ve lost so much weight!”.

It was never true. It’s just that she never looked at the top half of my body and my bottom half, no matter how big the whole, is always smaller than the top. She never looked at that part of my body because she didn't really care how I looked. She'd long since decided I was her beautiful friend. She was only worried about how her hips compared to mine. A little deviation is okay - too much makes puts you in the FAT category and we all know that Fat means all sorts of Other Derogatives.

Thank you Madison Avenue for giving us a 40 billion dollar diet industry and super-sized fast foods.

So - do ugly models distract me? Hmmm. No. If they are very odd looking I’ll examine the odd bit a while, but only ugly patterns distract me - just long enough to dismiss them.

For my Virgo pals, today promises to be good one. Mr. Horoscope’s stand in offers this - especially the part about creativity:

Virgos have a reputation for being prim and reliable types (with kinky underbellies). Whether or not you agree with your stereotyping, another of your 'typical' Virgo qualities is that many of you are also incredibly creative. This is a lot to do with the fact that your ruler Mercury governs thinking, writing and talking. Today, you have the perfect window of opportunity to exercise your creativity. If you've got a project on the boil which you've ignored for too long, work out a schedule for getting back into it. Lovewise, if things in the bedroom have gone quiet, that could start to change.

As for the kinky underbelly - well. I’m not talkin’.

And are you going to watch the da Vinci code?

Thanks to Crazy Aunt Purl - I've already ordered this!

posted by Bess | 7:40 AM


Oh Bess, I am sorry to hear about the dresses no longer fitting. What's funny is that I've lost weight while working at the library. I guess it's pushing all those carts around.

I am making all attempts to quell any jealously in my house now. Guenevere arrived yesterday.

The garland would be perfect for you, especially when you're storytelling.

By Blogger erica, at 11:32 AM  

Loved seeing pictures of all your wheels -- Bella is truly Belle of the Ball, though!

The garland would be perfect for your storytelling, no?

I've got to go browse the Carolina Homespun website -- somehow I missed that booth at MS&W?

By Blogger Mary, at 1:46 PM  

I totally feel your pain re: WW. I'm having much the same problem, especially now that I really do need to wear actual business appropriate cloths during the day. ugh.

If I figure out how to cultivate the right kind of determination, I'll let you know, right now I'm in the whiney place too.

By Blogger Heidi, at 4:04 PM  

I, too, feel your pain... I finally managed to pull myself out of the whiney place and have been OP with WW for 2 weeks now (even tho I have not started meetings again - will be waaay too busy until after "THE WEDDING"), so if you need someone to cheer you on, listen to your whining, etc. Just know that you are not alone.
(Gack - cameras - they really do not lie, do they?)

Oh, and Bella certainly lives up to her name. I get happy every time I think of you getting your fondest fiber-related dream! And, you certainly deserve her.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:50 PM  

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006  

I don’t think either HeyBaby or KittyBoy are jealous of Bella. I hope not, anyway, because I expect I’ll need to use them both often enough and if either is resentful my spinning may suffer. And do forgive the anthropomorphizing, ye doubters. It’s okay with me for you to say “Oh you can’t spin on the other wheels because you’re out of practice on them.”

I really want KB to be my traveling wheel because he is just the right size to fit in my little Japanese car. And HB has pride of place as the first spinning wheel, so she never has to worry about being supplanted. All you second children out there will know of what I speak - for no matter how successful you are, you’re never as big as a big brother or a big sister. It just ain’t gonna happen. I expect my little birdies to all agree. What I expect to suffer will be my knitting - certainly during the hot summer months. Wool in your lap is a real turn-off when you live in a swamp. Ahh well. I will just spread myself as thinly as I can and shrug my shoulders at any complaints. I don’t knit for a living, nor do any other fiber craft. It’s fun or I shan’t do it at all.

I have no personal fiber news today because yesterday started with early library meetings and ended with late WW ones. The good news is that after 2 weeks of Fried Festival Food, Birthday, Mother’s Day and Party eating I hadn’t gained any weight. The bad news is that over the past 2 years I have gained weight and photographic evidence of it is in my purse. It will be seen by no one but me unless digitally remastered to eliminate the most embarrassing evidence. I would like to say the relief of not getting even fluffier inspired me to recommit to Healthy Living but I can’t. Inside is only a whiny plea for good luck, and that doesn’t usually bring the desired results. Let us all hope that I can find determination and inspiration somewhere in the stars, the gym, the kitchen or who knows - around some obscure and non-food related corner in the days ahead. Not a single one of my favorite summer dresses buttons at the moment and I am too broke to buy new ones even if I were inclined to backslide into a size ___een.

But there is fiber news - thanks to
Absintheknits. I simply must make one of these!

posted by Bess | 7:21 AM


Well! I certainly see why 'Bella' is 'Bella'. She lives up to her name. Are the other 2 jealous?!

P.S. thanks for the note. The Guild is now knitting little pink cancer ribbon pins (from pink ribbon yarn) and selling 'em at $1 apiece for the Cdn Breast Cancer Foundation...


By Blogger Margaret, at 1:50 PM  

I just caught on reading and congrats on Bella! What a wonderful piece of working art to bring home. I hope you enjoy her for years to come. A Goldings is pretty much last on my list; next to a Magnus Drudik ;-), which is a long shot at best. My Wyatt Wheel just might be a little green with envy right now...


By Blogger Mari, at 10:59 PM  

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006  

Scanned photos from a disposable camera are always such a disappointment and I get terrible camera envy when I look at the photos on other people’s blogs. If you could see the flatness of my bank account you would take pity on me - and of course, I haven’t a clue what camera to buy, even though I’ve read dozens of reviews about how to pick one. Everyone I know whose photographs I admire, bought her camera last year so that model isn’t made any more and each month, when I think “this month I’ll buy one” something else clamors for my $. Ahh well. There you have it. Camera envy and camera buying fear means TheQueen’s word is still that - mostly words.

To quote every teacher I ever had “If only she wouldn’t talk so much.”

Happily, it is no longer Monday. We may breathe a collective sigh of relief. Seems like 100% of the rest of the world didn’t want to go to work yesterday either. Now it is Tuesday so there are only 4 more days till the weekend and the weekend after that is a 3 day one for us government dole types. I will have 5 days of fiber pleasure in addition to all the bits and seconds of time I can squeeze out of the week. I’m still captured by the charms of Bella the Beautiful but I have released her from silk duty. I was frustrated with the silk spinning. Why? oh - because silk top gets so static filled, even during a humidity bringing rain shower, that after you’ve drawn a few inches from the end, all the other ends begin to cross electron swords and blossom out against each other. When I try to gather them in, a clump forms - and then I have thick’n’thin silk when I wanted nice’n’even. Also I was having that take-up issue with the flyer, the one I described yesterday, and I thought - I want to learn the wheel going from easy stuff to tricky - so ... Off With Thee - oh silk fiber. HeyBaby wound it up on one of her spare bobbins - a good thing, since I had the chance to look at what I’d spun again and it’s not as bad as I’d remembered.

Still and all - I’m in the mood for woooool, simply because I have so much. So I’ve begun to open up another one of J’s Superwash with Attitude braids - a bright red one - that will make dancing socks for memememe. Bella will spin such thin fine smooth singles when I use a worsted draft I’m still mesmerized by how good it makes my spinning skill look, still lured by the possibility of being able to puff myself off as a good spinner! I wonder, though, how hard is it going to be when I want to turn around and do soft puffy woolen spinning ... with something like my corriedale. Yes. That’s what I want to know. That’s what I’ll find out before I tackle that mean old static-ey silk.

That's one of my stash heaps in the corner, behind the 3 three spinning wheels.

Off to early morning meetings now. Spin on, dear hearts.

posted by Bess | 6:45 AM


Great pictures! I love looking at evdrything that Morgain(sp?) has at Carolina Homespun. I could look through her booth for hours! Next year! jane

By Blogger jane, at 5:41 PM  

Hey you gorgeous thing! (that's you, Bess - Bella's not the only beauty at your house!!!) What a weekend. Oy.

You were missed, but I'm ready for a warm (dry) weekend on thuh rivuh, when we can play with Bella together (and you're like a little tease - I'm DYING to do those fast ratios she's got!!!)

By Blogger Amie, at 10:17 PM  

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Monday, May 15, 2006  

There are booth babes and there are booth beauties. I need one of those T-shirts that says "I'm with her".

A great place to shop. Lots of books, lots of tools. Bryspun circular needles. woo woo!

Here are my 3 wheels, KittyBoy to the left, HeyBaby to the right and Bella in the center.

I really needed to see this photo - because - ugh. But the wheel is beautiful and the day gorgeous. 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

posted by Bess | 3:32 PM


I hate working in April and May, too. Just not fair. I usually try to take some time off during these months as well.

Part of your "case of the Mondays" must have to do with your new baby Bella, I'm guessing. Momma wants to stay home and play with her newborn instead of going to the big bad job!


By Blogger Mary, at 9:58 AM  

I think I have a bad case of the Bess today too. :) I don't want to go to work, I don't even want to volunteer. I want to stay at home in my sweat pants and knit all day. If I had my new wheel, I think it would be even worse. It doesn't even feel like May here it's been more like March, but I know exactly what you mean. Maybe we should just give everyone the month of May off. Sounds like a good plan to me.

By Blogger erica, at 12:16 PM  

ugh.. it was a bad monday everywhere...

I spent most of the day working on our lovely inventory (that despite the "all library materials are due back on May 11th" signs and emails and everything else, still required us to count the cards that are out (and then subtract them later if they aren't returned...)

So I get the whole thing finished and added up, and neatly done into a summary both of the totals, and the amounts by subject classification and send it off to to the director... and one of the assistants calls from the front desk to say "oops I forgot to count the overdue cards when I counted the faculty checkouts" sigh...

monday was a monday and I'm just glad its over... I wish there was a good way to combine work and knitting (it would help me stay sane) but even if I figured out a way that it wouldn't hinder my work, no one would believe me... (how sad is it that the one job that people would THINK you could knit at, you can't!)

By Blogger Aria, at 6:57 PM  

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Lawsee. It’s Monday already and 5 whole days of uninterrupted work lie ahead of me. How did the world get this way? C? I’m so where you are. I’m so sure, too, that it’s not just you - can’t be - it is some astral alignment - it must be.

Funny how you can know a job and do a job well and even like a job, and yet, not want to go to that job. I always suffer from that disorder the worst in May, when Virginia becomes the most beautiful place this side of heaven. Crystal blue skies, a pulsing green to the forest that makes your head swim, fragrances so sweet and intoxicating you feel like you’re breathing in nourishment - or at least, desert. Even rainy May days in Virginia are a treat - soft grey skies are a magnificent foil to the vivid greenery all about. Abandoned gardens can still impress a casual viewer in Virginia in May. Walks down the lane in May afford vistas that shimmer in your eyes. Violets bloom in the swamp islands in May - in Virginia. Dogs come home with their fur grey with wheat seeds, from running through Virginia’s May fields. They leap above the barley, exploding out of the yellow tops with forelegs tucked under and ears pricked high. If Paradise were anything we could know or sense, it would be Virginia in May.

If I were in charge of the world I would make May come around about 6 times a year. I like other seasons, and October in Virginia runs a very close second to May, so we could have 4 of them. And then we need September, since that is my birthday month. A couple of weeks in July for swimming and a couple more in January for a little snow fun, and then December for all the festivities would round out a perfect year. At least, perfect for me.

But we have only one May and it lasts just a tad more than 4 weeks and then it’s gone. Mayflies bite. Heat attacks. Flowers droop. Drought conditions prevail. Humidity soars. It’s summer and I’m not 10, so I don’t get a long vacation. Having to work in May always feels like a sour practical joke. I usually manage to get some time off in May, but one of these days I’m going to take the whole month off.

Oh. Well. Where did that come from? Oh. Yes. Well. I don’t want to go to work today either. I’ll be happy enough once I get there, for I do have an interesting job. Just that I’ve done it for years and now is the last hiccup of time before the Summer Rush sets in.

Hmmm. and this isn’t what I wanted to write about. I wanted to comment on how strange it feels to have Zero e-mail on a Monday morning. I am not surprised that my nearest and dearest haven’t written - for I happen to know that each one of them is wildly busy this weekend. And it’s Mother’s Day. And weekends include Sundays. And I am not surprised that they are all busy. But I was surprised that TifFUNie and DontBBALD and Inve$mentsRUs didn’t send me any tender missives. It is a strange thing when there is no junque, junk nor junx in an e-mail box.

As for Life with a Golding Wheel, I just want to say that I am still climbing the learning curve with Bella. A 24/1 ratio is definitely tricky to spin. You spin at that ratio with the central flyer. It takes two drive bands, operating your simple spinning wheel like a gear driven complex machine. That means two flyers spin at the same time. That means that if your take-up is not just right, and you’re spinning very thin silk, it can leap from one flyer’s set of hooks onto the adjacent one and stop your wheel like a spanner thrown into the works. I believe I'll just remove the left flyer when using the 24/1 ratio. I’ve got some green silk wound onto the bobbin but it’s not anything close to the consistent spinning I wanted. Silk is tricky you know. I’m seriously thinking of winding it onto a storage bobbin and going back to nice, springy, flexible, cooperative, non-static wool.

The other thing I learned yesterday was that, just because a BD has watched you spin with delicacy and sensitivity, and bare feet, for 4 years doesn’t mean he won’t ask to sit down at your New Wheel and Not take off his shoes and Treadle Hard just to see how fast all those gears spin, and slip the tension cord so that the spring gets wound around the bobbin and stretched beyond use! Evidently this is not an uncommon situation, because there was a spare tension spring in the kit that came with Bella. We will know better, next time.

Pictures late in the day. I promise. Really I do.

posted by Bess | 6:36 AM


I've been dying to go to that Hay-on-Wye book festival ever since I first heard about it. Part of me knows I should never go, though -- I have WAY too many books as it is! But doesn't it sound heavenly? One of these years, if I can find a fellow book lover to go with me....


By Blogger Mary, at 10:17 AM  

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Sunday, May 14, 2006  

Hello Meredith! I remember you. I remember you asking if I were Jennifer. Thank you for the compliments. If J ever wants to fire me I’ll use you as a reference! (insert laughing smiley face here) I’ll be delighted to see you at the next fiber festival. She is off at the New Hampshire one this weekend but I’ll be with her in the fall at the Fall Fiber Festival in Montpelier.

And for you pictofiles - I promise, I swear it - P R O M I S E. When I have both a car and the disposable camera on Monday I’ll go to the 1-hour guys and then post pictures late in the afternoon. Promise. Cross my heart and spit.

So. How about some fiber stuff?

I took Bella outdoors yesterday into the emerald green blue sky world and finished up that blue superwash. It spun up to 236 yards. boo hoo. I’d been spinning on a spindle with it and I’m not even sure where that first hank is. This skein is not enough for a pair of socks. Maybe a hat? I do have plenty of other rough superwash braids by J - she gave me 4!!! and I'd be tempted to begin right away on another colorway only some silk top she dyed over a year ago that I either bought or earned as a booth babe sang out to me and ooo la la --- it is on the 24/1 bobbin right now. Goodness that is one fast spinning wheel. And it's solidity makes it possible for the high speed to feel like I'm spinning at 11/1. Nice nice nice. I will become the lace-weight queen.

And making 2-ply on a Golding is different from plying off bobbins on a separate lazy kate. It is, I believe, better, but I'm not yet sure. I haven’t mastered it yet. It seems to be better due to the way the singles travel through the brass roller at the base of the wheel. You have lots of control and can swap off right hand or left for the forward hand. It's a little like using circular knitting needles: Everything is centered in front of you.

Of course, this just may be how it is with double treadle castle wheels. But it's a new and rewarding adventure for me.

BD and I went to see Poseidon last night. I saw the first one waaaaay back in the dark ages when I played in the Richmond Symphony. The timpani player asked me to join him one Christmas when I was lonely and blue and feeling very sorry for myself. And I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, went home alone to my apartment and felt lonely and blue and sorry for myself and scared out of my wits. After all, this is the gal who invented the game Shipwreck!

This one is about as good or bad as the first. You pick. If you never want anything to ever ever change, even the slightest micro-nano-bit you won’t like the movie. If you are secretly ashamed that you loved the first one, you’ll love this one too. My only complaint was that all three of the women in the movie were ... bitches.

Really. This is a misogynists portrait. The snot-faced twenty-something daughter of Kurt Russell with her “You can’t tell me what to do anymore I’m All Grown Up and by the way take me and my doormat boyfriend on a New Years Eve cruise and I don’t have to take this any more” lines - am I supposed to feel sympathetic to this twerp? And the throwaway stowaway who is hurrying back to New York to see her brother in the hospital but is BoredBoredBored and starts walking around the galley looking for SomethingToDo? Even the somewhat slightly better maternal role, who doesn’t overdo it when all disaster hits, has a Cut You Down To Size flirting technique in spite of her gussied up like a New Year’s Eve pick-up outfit.

What is it with nasty women? For that matter, what is it with anybody who’d like to be associated with the term stitch and bitch? Knitting and complaining? I thought knitting was supposed to make you happy? I can see being a stitchey bitch in some garment sweatshop in a New York tenement, but in your living room? Huh?

Major disconnect going on here.

Something really sad has happened when all the motion picture men are too pretty and all the women are bitches. Something extraordinarily juvenile too, when the only lines are put-down lines. I am sure this is aimed at the 14 year old audience, but it wouldn’t be a remake if they didn’t hope to lure in us old guys too, and we have all calcified enough to expect at least one woman to be both courteous and reasonable and to display integrity at least up to the moment when everyone is about to die.

So - to travel to a Better Place, I suggest you plan your next May vacation - just after your jaunt through West Friendship MD - so that it can take in this.

It looks like the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for Books - in Wales!

I bid you all a happy Mother’s Day, be you spouse, mother or child.

posted by Bess | 8:48 AM


Bess, I've been hanging my head in regret and shame since last Sunday. I stopped by Spirit Trail at the festival, I was so excited to meet Jennifer and see her products. She wasn't there at that moment, but I got to talk to such a nice lady, such a nice Booth Babe. I thought "what a nice, friendly person". I think I even asked her if she was Jennifer. The answer was no, but I sure enjoyed talking to her, she even looked a little familiar. And then....late Sunday night....OHMIGAWD, that nice lady I talked to was THE QUEEN, that was BESS! Man, I wish I had realized that while I was there. Would have LOVED to talk to you more. I read your website daily and LOVE IT, and both Jennifer and YOU are such inspirations to me. I'll look forward to seeing you at the next fiber fest!

By Anonymous Meredith, at 9:35 AM  

Must. See. Bella. Picture. ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 9:55 AM  

Waiting patiently - okay, impatiently - for pictures!

By Blogger Catherine, at 1:10 PM  

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Saturday, May 13, 2006  

A very full moon woke me at an ungodly hour this morning and I’ve been indulging in some blog trolling via some of the webrings. Not that I need to find more websites to add to my daily round - I already spend hours a day doing that - but sometimes it’s fun to just see what’s out there. And sometimes you get lucky and find that photo you regret not taking at MSW.

This gal has a picture of the green scarf I was so crazy about!

It's her May 12 post.

While I loved looking at the other silk felted projects, was delighted with the use of color, technique, etc., I’d never actually wear them. Not my colors. Not my body shape either. But those green ruffles cascading down a V neckline - well now. That is something else indeed.

Yesterday was very weird - having to go to work, having to remember all the things I didn’t do before I left, working through the pile of notes that accumulated while I was gone, holding a staff meeting when I could barely remember what it was we do there. At the last minute I remembered I’d wanted to go over our circulation policy with the staff. I know it’s up at the desk and they also each have copies of it, but I would also bet that none of them have read it since they were brand new employees all full of enthusiasm to be TheBestUCanB.

Routine work days soon wipe out that first giddy promise to soar, but that doesn’t mean we can’t all scale some heights now and then - with a little guidance, a little boost. Good thing we went over that policy too, since a few things have changed since it was written and there was one inconsistency in the wording. I’ve fixed the errors now and changed the circulation database to include a new patron category. That was a real Duh item and accomplishing those few changes at least assured there was some production from TheQueen, who also hopes that Friday’s sojourn back into the office will jump-start next week.

Bella’s bobbins have almost all my blue superwash merino wound upon them. I tried to divide up the fiber before I spun it, in what looks now like a vain attempt to have similar lengths on each bobbin. I draft with my left hand when I wheel spin so I was immediately comfortable with spinning at the left flyer. The right flyer wasn’t as easy to spin onto unless I shifted my chair to place her just to the left of center. She spun easily with only the left foot working right treadle, but I can tell that I will need to do a bit more experimenting with chair positions and angles before I am proficient with this right flyer. Also - I am interested in learning to draft with my right hand. I do this when I spindle spin so it ought not be too difficult. I’d like to be ambidextrous and I’m a new enough spinner - yes yes - 4 years is a new spinner in my book - that I don’t feel calcified and frozen into any specific technique. Those fine muscles can still learn new tricks.

I really love how rock solid this wheel is. The Goldings told me what it weighed; something under 30 lbs. But it feels much heavier than that. One of the things I’ve not liked about some of the smaller castle wheels is how lightly they stood their ground. A lead foot makes the whole wheel dance around on the floor. When I tried out the smaller Kromski wheels they would tilt off the ground towards my lap. It’s the reason I didn’t buy one. Even HeyBaby, my Ashford Elizabeth, has a bit of play in her. This is more apparent in winter, when dry heat tends to shrink her up a bit.

Bella is of a different substance altogether. She’s no traveling wheel. She is an enthroned wheel. She is where she is and it is up to me to adapt to her. I don’t move her to the right or left, I move my chair. I suspect that she will give me anything I ask of her, just so long as I remember that she is The Queen while I am merely Like the queen.

Her other constantly enjoyed virtue is her sheer beauty. I love to walk into the living room and just gaze at her; her dark wood, softly gleaming; the intricate carving that lets light through from any angle; the golden glow of her brass ringed drive wheel; her massive substance that whispers of vast quantities of production; her tight construction that promises to make thread any time I want it.

I have been so fortunate in my life to have been surrounded by Beauty that makes my eyes dance with joy. Beauty is another kind of nourishment, feeding the soul so that it can care for the body. When I lie on the forest floor and look up at blue sky and golden sun rays slanting through ancient trees; when I take a walk and see sleek-furred dogs explode above greeny blue barley, like dolphins leaping out of the sea; when a scarlet tanager flits through emerald leaves to light on a branch and sing his song, my soul expands with all the confidence of a ship’s captain, ready to sail forth into new and uncharted waters. Beauty gives life impetus. Bella gives me beauty and that is riches indeed, even if she never spins another ounce of fiber.

posted by Bess | 6:49 AM


I still so week from last weekend that your birthday boy has made me tear up all over again. Congratulation and Happy Mother's Day! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 7:57 AM  

Congratulations, Mama! I remember 1976 and all the bicentennial festivities. Weren't you living in a Yurt back then? Such a granola girl! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 3:06 PM  

Bess, what a sweet post. He's very lucky to have you as a mother.

By Blogger erica, at 3:07 PM  

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Friday, May 12, 2006  

30 years and 1 hour ago, one perfect baby boy came out to greet the world. While I am sure there have been many babies who were as welcome as he, I know there have never been, nor will there ever be, any babies who were more welcomed. Some mamas get lucky and I was such a one. A colleague once asked me if I had any children and I answered, without even thinking, that I had One, Perfect, Angel-Baby, Darling, Only Son. She looked a little taken aback, but as the words rolled off my tongue, I realized they were absolutely true.

When he was a wee chap, part of his birthday celebration was to hear The Story of William - a retelling of the eventful three day process of his birth. I am sure he got a soppy weepy version the year he turned 18 because I was so soppy and weepy about his impending departure for college, but it’s been many a year now since we got all maudlin about that powerful week in 1976. My Bicentennial Baby I would say, proudly, throughout the summer.

He’s all grown up now and out there making his place in the world. But all those years when he was Our Little Boy are a rich store of memories for me, housed in the cupboard of my mind, ready to be picked up, fondled, sighed over and then replaced, secure in the knowledge that they are there forever, those precious memories.

Happy Birthday, William.

posted by Bess | 7:28 AM


Okay, well, then I wanted Bella to play with qiviut, and I'll be down Tuesday, leave the door open...


Okay, maybe not. But I am thrilled silly for you, and cross-eyed with excitement at the thought of coming to play this summer....

By Blogger Amie, at 8:07 AM  

I'm sure in no time you'll be spinning amazing yarn on Bella. And lucky you, another day off from work.

By Blogger erica, at 10:28 AM  

I saw your comment over there about your new spinning book and wanting a spinning class. Is it time to take one down at the John C. Campbell Folk School? Or perhaps find the closest spinning guild?

There was a vendor at MSW advertising qiviut, but by the time I saw their booth on Sunday, there was no qiviut to be had -- scarfed up early Saturday, no doubt.

By Blogger Mary, at 10:37 AM  

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Thursday, May 11, 2006  

Ahh Amie. I will be spinning that quiviut - but not till I’m more confident with those jet propelled whorls. At 24/1 I couldn’t hold onto the leader yarn, much less attach fiber to it. I’ll learn. But till I do, I’ll stick with the less $$ fibers.

And Isobel, I am at least taking one more day of family leave to play with Bella. I pulled all the odd bits and samples off the bobbins yesterday and began on a real spinning project - using superwash merino top that had been agitated slightly so that it wasn’t as slippery as it usually is. I’m amazed at the consistency I’m able to get with this speed demon wheel. The fiber’s twisted into yarn and wound onto the bobbin before I can get a lump in it. There is still some gradual variation of diameter but that’s partly because I haven’t committed to a specific thickness. When I absolutely know what I’m trying to make it’s much easier for me to actually make it. Odd that, for the most part, when I shop for yarn I just buy what I like, with no specific idea of the end product in my mind. I’m completely comfortable, and even successful, with that serendipitous approach to yarn acquisition. But when it comes to yarn production, I am finding that I need to be pretty specific about what I want to make before I can spin with true consistency. I’m sure that’s because I have years of shopping skill beneath my belt, but only a little bit of spinning skill beneath my fingers.

Still - good tools make even my meager skills look better.

posted by Bess | 7:14 AM


qiviut. You wanted Bella to play with qiviut.

I'm off to look at my summer calendar to see when I get to come see Bella -- I mean YOU again!!!


By Blogger Amie, at 10:22 AM  

Oh yes, I second Amie's comment. Quiviut would be lovely on that magical wheel of yours. I can't wait to see what you spin up with Bella.

I tried to comment yesterday but I think you gave a perfect account of the weekend. You captured the essence of the weekend perfectly.

By Blogger erica, at 5:58 PM  

Some employees get maternity leave when they have a new arrival. I think you need at least a week off to become aquainted with Bella!

By Anonymous Isobel, at 6:43 AM  

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006  

Thank you all for your kind words about my ocean of words. I won’t be able to post any photos till late Friday or even next week. My computer can’t handle them, I won’t be back at work till late in the week and the PA machines there will all be down till late in the day due to a shared T1 line that has been subsumed in school-wide testing.

I’m still getting to know that new wheel. I am sure she is a girl and I am thinking of naming her Bella - short for an operatic pun on Verde, from the aria Rigoletto, when the duke sings "Bella figlia dell’amore" - Beautiful daughter of love. She certainly is a bella wheel-ia.

Yeah - I am defective like that. I adore puns.

Today is my last day off this week and yet another thing is going to gobble up the central portion of the day. Monday it was husband TLC and grocery shopping. Tuesday it was clean a suddenly filthy house in preparation for 15 girlfriends coming for dinner (what was I thinking?), and now today there’s this luncheon honoring BD’s volunteer efforts with the Salvation Army.

I think I need to take tomorrow off too.

Bella is full of sample scrap yarns that I’ve experimented with. I’ve taken her up to the 24/1 ratio, just to see - you know. She was so fast the thread broke - for I never could get the tension right. Nothing on the bobbin is anything I really want but I think I’ll spin up something smooth and plain colored and ply it with all the junk filling the other bobbin. I have yet to ply on her. But after that I plan to spin up some angora I found in my stash. I’ve always heard that angora can felt in storage and this stuff does feel less fluffy and cloud like than I remember. Can’t waste good angora, now, can I?

There was one other fiber I had decided I wanted to spin up right away but I forget what it was. Something that came to me just as Hypnos was departing this morning. I’m sure it will come back to me. My little Virgo imp soul is already prompting me to set goals and make lists about using up ___% of my fiber stash by next year. And who knows - spinning is such a grand summertime fiber activity. I might actually do it with this speed demon wheel.

Time to go play.

posted by Bess | 6:45 AM


Ahhhh...It's as if I was there, too! Thank you, dear Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 12:49 PM  

I almost said "ditto" to what Jane said, but then I was there, and I got to be part of the swooning over your Bella Wheela and sharing the hugs and many many laughs, and I think technically I had the last of the Mohitos, though it was a close race Saturday... And now I'm playing with my budget to see when the soonest I can get my new guy home, and wishing it was May 2007 already...


By Blogger Amie, at 1:06 PM  

Oh my. It was long -- your post, I mean. I haven't read it all -- yet. Just dipped in. The part about your new wheel reminded me that mine is still young (certainly use-wise, as I haven't used it much)...and I must remedy that. I'm procrastinating. Nervous. Hmmm...

How loverly, too, to work in a booth -- esp. Spirit Trail. Particularly loverly stuff.

Will return when I have time to revel some more in the details. :-)


By Blogger Margaret, at 1:33 PM  

Who needs pictures with such brilliant words that flow from your computer? I am so glad you had a marvelous time and equally glad you got your dream wheel. (Now... hmm... I would have liked a picture of THAT - with THE QUEEN spinning on it - guess I will just have to be patient).

By Blogger Carolyn, at 9:04 PM  

A wonderful description, Bess -- you paint a lovely picture with your words, and I just re-lived the weekend all over again reading your telling of it. What fun! I'm hooked! Is it next May yet? ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 10:30 AM  

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006  


This is one LOOOOOOOOOOONG post and there are

NO PHOTOS. and hardly any links.

Just thought I'd prepare you - I'll post photos on Friday.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am back from the grand event that is Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I’m exhausted. I am sated. I am now on short rations for just about everything of a discretionary nature in the budget. Best of all - I have 3 days off before I must have feet firmly planted on the ground.

I also have some pictures on the disposable camera and am wondering if I ought to wait till they are developed before I actually post this. I could just put a little message in the blog with “Had a great time. Wish you had been there.” sorts of messages. That may be how I go - since that would give me several days to find the best words to express all that is a weekend at the mother of all fiber festivals. I will just start writing and see about the posting as the morning ... the wee early hours of the morning ... wear on.

So first good news - my ManWithTools, angel that he is, got that car running again by 9:00 and I was packed and on the road by 11:00. Thank the lord for MWTs because they really do make the world move. But also many thank-yous go to M and A, who both offered to come get me and take me to the fair. You are darlings, the both of you.

I’d pulled out the DeLorme’s atlas of Maryland on Friday morning. Last year was the first year I’d ever driven myself. I am an indifferent driver at best and never actively enjoy driving. I like riding, but that particular responsibility involving second guessing thousands of other people moving 2 ton blocks of metal beside, behind and in front of me; people nattering on cell phones; people who think that the best way to get from here to there is in a straight line and woe betide any one/thing in their way; instant gratification people who don’t know that yellow lights mean slow down, not speed up, who think that right lanes are for passing and left lanes are for getting a better view. Hey! I better stop or I’ll quit driving altogether. The point I wanted to make was that I’d forgotten how I got to the fair grounds last year and stupidly also forgot that you start at your destination and work backwards when plotting out an itinerary. Instead, I just put my finger on 301 and moved it north to the fattest road I could see that went west. Wrong. I got there alright - it didn’t even take much longer since those were faster roads - but I felt lost all the time I was driving. Gladly, the drive home was better and gladdest of all was when I was hugging all the booth babes and laughing and, yes, I suspect I may have actually squealed a bit. A tiny discrete squeal, but I am sure it qualified as a real one.

J’s trailer was parked inside the main building when I arrived, with M & S unloading with obvious practiced skill. C, A and E were also present, so that left me as the caboose. The heavy pieces were in place and what was left to do was the slow but careful hanging of each and every skein, the opening of the individual bags of fiber, the eye-catching arranging of color and texture so as to lure in the shoppers. In addition to being glad to lend a hand at that, there was the exciting pleasure - akin to opening Christmas packages - of lifting the lid from each tub and discovering what new and gorgeous thing J had made this time.

I’ve been spinning now since ‘02. The adventures I’ve had with HeyBaby and KittyBoy and my clutch of drop spindles has been oh so rewarding. For a long time, though, I’ve felt the limits of my two wheels, both of which have ratios on the low end. My envy has been aroused when folk with production wheels start talking. I’ve taken advantage of previous MSWs to get to know other wheels and found many a lovely one, but for 3 years I’ve been yearning for a Golding Wheel.

Yeah, well, sure. Who hasn’t, right? But I have not just been longing. I’ve been saving $ for it and selling things to more deserving owners to earn more $. I’ve also doing the familial preparation needed to bring such a luxury into such a functional house - things like explaining my heart, and not saying the word Boat ... twice. At last, the time came. This was the year to take the plunge. Tom Golding and I have been in negotiation for several months, discussing woods and ratios and high speed flyers. On Friday, at 4 o’clock, I met with him and his wife and picked up my - gulp - brand new walnut Floral Splendor triple flyer wheel. I am unable to describe the welter of emotions that ran through me, that are still running through me, as I contemplated owning the Rolls Royce spinning wheel of my fantasy life. I’m not quite yet sure that my real life is capable of having something so special in it - but I am sure that in time I will become causal about it and sit with ease and familiarity as my fingers gush with high speed production.

Great care was used in stowing my new baby in the car - which is a compact car, but Japanese, so, cleverly engineered to have lots of space in a little shell. Then it was back to the Spirit Trail booth to help with the last of the hanging/opening/setting-up. The 7 of us caravaned back to Ellicot City in 4 cars and checked into our motel, a chain hostelry on a commercial strip. Not quite as pretty as the big square place we’ve occupied in Frederick on previous MSW weekends, but a good $20 a night cheaper and much closer to the fairgrounds. There were many more dining options too, in this Baltimore suburb, all of them with tables for 7 and no wait. Last year we had been unable to find any restaurant priced within fiber shoppers budgets that would feed us at one table, nor give us a reservation. Eventually it was strung out, starving babes with cold pizza and unopened beer at 11:30 p.m. This time around we had a native guide in A, who took us to a Thai restaurant where we were rowdy, giggly, ravenous, and completely satisfied with delicious food. This was E’s first trip to MSW and her first introduction to the goofy booth babes of Spirit Trail. Fortunately, she turned out (as we’d suspected she would) to be one of us - another goofball who laughed at all the idiocy 6 good friends are capable of producing on an MSW eve.

Saturday morning we rolled out to the fairgrounds in shifts. In a tiny booth space, there isn’t room for all 6 booth babes, so we worked in relays, which gave everyone time to stroll, shop, look, and take chill-out breaks. Fair booth work is exciting, it’s fun, it’s hectic, it’s rewarding, but don’t you doubt it - it’s also exhausting. This year’s fair had a different feel to it from last year. I suppose it does so every year, as I attend each with different personal agendas and different budgets. My first year was such a timid foray, such a “just looking” sort of year. There was one year when my shopping behavior closely resembled the table manners of a shark at a shipwreck. Last year, my first year working in the Spirit Trial booth, I got to see more familiar and friendly faces, because I stayed put and they came to me. But they came in huge waves, bulging into a crush then subsiding to a trickle. This year the shoppers came in steady streams, seldom making the booth so crowded something got knocked over, but never giving you a chance to sit and take a breath. At least, this was so on Saturday. Sunday shoppers are a different crowd - gentler, less wired, often repeat customers who looked on Saturday, slept on their choices, and selected on Sunday.

The weather was splendid - warm and sunny on Saturday, cooler and sunny on Sunday morning, fading to overcast by closing time. Never did it get so hot we yearned for the Maryland Cotton and Silk Festival - although there was plenty of both to purchase. Nor did it rain, as the weather dot com guys had promised for days preceding, so we need not wish for the Maryland Rubber and Nylon festival. This was fair weather that allowed for carefree browsing and dining on the lawn.

I was glad to see the deep fat fried twinkie booth was back and this year I had, though never took, the opportunity for deep fat fried Oreos. Since I think the only store bought cookie worth buying is an Oreo, they were a strong temptation, but C ambled by and murmured Funnel Cake and who am I to resist such a lure? Besides, even here the lines were only long-ish, never futile. A steady stream of purchasers, but nothing in the nature of a traffic jam.

I made sure to stop by the competition building. In fact, I went through it three times. The first time I went alone, swiftly taking in the things that excited me the most. At the front door was the table displaying the grand poobah prize winner, a stunning piece of spinning, dyeing and knitting - a shawl made of hexagons, all of which were knit of spindle spun lace weight dyed in floating colors of a purple theme. The miles of such perfect spinning was staggering. The eveness, the quality of the dyeing, all of it was enough to make a fiber gal’s mouth water. It was covered with Best Of ribbons and it deserved every one. There's a photo here, in this collection of fair mementos.

But there were other fine entries, notably some excellent garment sewing by 9 year old girls and some silk felting that was both colorful and alluring. Of all the pieces in the show, the felted silk chiffon scarf in shades of green, pinned with a lovely enameled brooch was the one I’d have snuck out of the building if I’d been able to distract the very pleasant but eagle eyed woman in charge. Needless to say there is silk felting information coming to a library near me in the very near future.

Saturday night we were considerably calmer at the restaurant, which turned out to be the same one we’d graced on Friday. C shooed us on our way to dine without her calming influence. She had no appetite and was exhausted enough that not even the promise of the last of the Mohitas tempted her. She was for bed. The rest of us had much smaller appetites as well, for we’d been sampling the fair food throughout the day. I don’t believe any of us had desert, even though they offered deep fat fried cheesecake.

Lawsee! Is there anything that hasn’t been deep fat fried in Maryland?

Sunday morning I took my own car in since I would be leaving for home straight from the fair. That’s the way it is on Sunday. We all try to arrive at the same day and time, but departures are always dependent on airlines and car rentals or even how soon darkness falls. E had a class and went in with the early birds while A and C and I had way too much coffee and even more too much breakfast.

The first hour or so at MSW on Sundays is often quiet and I took the opportunity to do what shopping I could do. For, another reason the fair felt so different for me this year was that I was not supposed to be buying any yarn, fiber or fleece. Remember that vow of mine from January 13? Yeah. Well, that being the case, I stayed away from booths that offered too much temptation. No stroking angora fluff dyed in shades of autumn sunset. No plunging fingers into puffs of merino/tencel blends in olive green. Not even a peek at tall bags of swirling color or fat round balls of natural colored Bluefaced Leicester. And when I did succumb, I had strong women with commanding voices to say “NO” and “Down Girl!” When the urge grew too strong, I’d go back to the Spirit Trial booth and drop spin little sample skeins for the new fibers J had. But you may applaud now, for I am pleased to tell you that I bought No Fleece, Fiber Nor Yarn at the 2006 MSW.

So - what was there for me to do when I couldn’t buy any fiber? Ahh. This year I was looking for accessories, tools and books - and even in those cases, I wasn’t looking too hard. I had, on my list, only two things I intended to be sure about. The first was a new drive band for KittyBoy, my little California castle wheel. He has languished for almost a year because the drive band on it is so terrible - made of kitchen cotton with a nasty big knot in it. Stony Mountain Fibers had what I wanted along with a felting DVD I picked up for the library.

The other thing that I was determined to see were the glass buttons by Sheila and Michael Ernst. She’d posted on the KRForums that The Fold would be selling them and I did not want to miss them. Happily I didn’t do my shopping till Sunday morning, because The Fold was also the place to get Socks that Rock yarn and I heard the place was mobbed on Saturday - and sold out too. Fortunately, on Sunday a.m. it was easy to visit favorite booths, pleasant to linger in the relatively thin crowd, and those buttons.

Oh. My.

Those Buttons.

They look like tiny glass paperweights with layered flower petals nestled on colored beds. I wanted to be a tiny fairy and live down inside one of those buttons. They have some heft to them. They’re glass. But I could see one on the shoulder of an asymmetrical knitted shawl or sweater, knit specifically for the button, with a nice garter stitch patch where the button hole went. And if you are a seamstress - well - there’s no end to the places such a button could be shown off with éclat and glamour. For that matter, you could slide it onto a pin and wear it as jewelry. They are stunning pieces and I can’t wait to explore my stash for just the right yarn to show it off.

I picked a green flower on a red bed that looked a little like this

Woodchuck Products had lovely wooden accessories for fiber people and though I wasn’t in the market for anything, there was the prettiest little spindle sitting alone in a beautifully turned wooden cup. It’s named Laurel. It sat in my palm and spun. And spun. And spun and spun and spun. And then it sat in my pocket while my money sat in it’s maker’s cash box.

I picked up some more glass buttons at Button Pie. These were much more rustic, and quite beautiful; little green glass triangles; a large brown square with some flecks of bright yellow and red.

I also purchased books -The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliff and the Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning. I’d met MR at the Sedalia festival but was too zonked out to actually spend any $. Besides, when I teach or tell stories at a fair I don’t like to buy things there. It’s just a little quirk I have about work and play and besides, I spend $ enough already. But I’d regretted not getting the book because I found MR such a delight to talk to and be around.

In the days before I learned to spin I’d borrowed AA’s book via inter-library loan. It’s a tough book to look at if you don’t have a clue about spinning. It’s very full, very detailed, very technical. I’ve always been glad it was out there in the fiber library. It made me feel that if I ever really got totally stumped on a spinning issue I could always look it up in the Big Book. But with a new and more versatile wheel, I think it’s time for me to move the safety net up a little closer. I’m ready to do some fine spinning. Maybe not superior spinning yet, but fine or even grand spinning. I’m ready, now, to join the Spinning Olympics and challenge myself to meet a higher standard with my spinning.

Missing from the shopping experience this year was The Woolery - where I bought my first spinning videos. I’d thought to look for more of those this year but all I saw was familiar videos transferred onto DVD. This is nice. There may be some new information in the DVD format. But I wasn’t tempted to buy them. I still have a VCR player and I shan’t upgrade till I have to. As for The Woolery - I haven’t a clue why they weren’t here. Nor were the folk who sell Babe wheels - unless that was The Woolery folk.

Added to the entire fair experience this year were


Finally they wised up to this long unanswered need. In years past, unless you happened to know where the secret hidden P-A-P was, you were in for an uncomfortable wait. This year, only if you insisted upon using a flush toilet would you have to wait in line. At the huge banks of green outhouses I never had to wait behind more than one person. Also dotted around were those little green plastic sinks with foot pumps. The chance to wipe away the sweat, sugar, grease and dirt was a real treat.

We all ought to write the fair folk letters of thanks.

Another thing fun to watch at this year’s fair - since I dared not touch much in the way of bunny fur, llama hair, or sheepy softness - was the people. I watched a family melt down in mesmerizing fascination. I was not alone, for a good dozen kids lurked behind trash cans and light poles, horrified, but glad it wasn’t their mom shrieking at their grandma about their behavior in that embarrassing way. There were a couple of useless men attached to the party but I had to make myself stop gawking at the women and walk on. No blows, fortunately, but quite a spectacle.

In stark contrast was a set of grandparents, a dad and pregnant mom, and 2 under-5’s in a double stroller. Such bold little girls, ready to explore, to look, to touch when allowed, to refrain when told “no”. The exact opposite on the family spectrum, I’d say.

Usually I don’t have time to stop and listen to the musicians or watch any demonstrations. I’m either buying or selling and there is so much fiber to see and touch. I always knew there was other interesting stuff going on at the fair. I’ve even made time to take a class or watch some animal husbandry. But I’ve never had the chance to sit and listen to the music or watch the dancing. One fellow, a fiddler who called square dance steps had brought tubs of fun instruments for folk to play in his band. I forget the exact name of his band but Sunshine was in the name. The band was truly a pick-up band. He was the lone tune maker. Everyone else was little children with washboards and washtub bass and spoons, drums or tambourines. It was one of the cutest acts I’ve ever seen. He had the rest of the audience, young and old, dancing to his calls and you can bet those camcorders and digital cameras were humming away.

There was a lot of wheel lust among us, even if none was quite so extravagant as my purchase. S fell victim to a Great Wheel. A was caught in the drive band of a Norm Hall. J picked up her long awaited Wee Robin. E realized that her back ache might be caused by twisting her body as she accommodated herself to a double treadle wheel and maybe she ought to have a single treadle. I can’t wait to hear what she decided, but at closing time, the Ashford Traveler was in first place.

But eventually even MSW comes to a close. I didn’t want to be crossing the Potomac in the dark - it’s got one of those high humped bridges over it and I suffer from a bridge phobia. I drive on them but I always get a stomach ache when I do. So, though I hated to tear myself away from the booth babes I knew there were plenty of willing hands to help knock down the booth. The drive home was uneventful. Traffic was heavier than it had been last year, but it was evening, not mid-afternoon on a Sunday. Something to think about for next year. Maybe I’ll stay over an extra night next year. I shan’t have a new baby sleeping in the back seat of my car.

It began to sprinkle a bit at Waldorf and it was raining full out by LaPlata. The worst visibility was driving across the Northern Neck, which, fortunately, was only about 18 miles. By the time I turned left onto 17 the rain had eased up a bit so the last half hour was the most pleasant - the kind of driving I like best - empty but familiar roads.

Gigantic hugs and wagging tails greeted me. I was so tired that other than bringing in my Golding I didn’t even unpack the car till Monday. (obviously I’m finishing this up on Tuesday) I spent half of yesterday exploring my new wheel and the other half napping.

And so it goes. MSW2006 is over. There won’t be another till next year. It will be some time before the bank book recovers but I can spend that time using up my stash. And dreaming. About MSW2007.

posted by Bess | 8:20 AM


Details, woman! I want details! (You can email me the news that's NOT fit to print!) :-)

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:18 AM  

I know exactly what you mean. Where to begin? Which pictures to post. What details to include?

Bottom line for me -- I had a fabulous time. I'm so glad I got to see you when I did -- every time I was in building 6 you were away from the booth and I never saw you again!

Still floating on a fiber festival high....

By Blogger Mary, at 12:47 PM  

Great post!

I loved the band you mentioned. My 7yo knitting son loved playing the washboard--and while he was playing, there was a BELLYDANCER dancing with them! She was not in full costume and had clearly just walked up. Very tribal, not Las Vegas style or anything. It was great.

I placed an order from the Woolery yesterday (a spinning wheel!) and told them I had missed them at MDSW. The woman on the phone told me the fair asked them not to come this year. Their booth stuck out a little too much last year or something. I'm not sure what the whole story is, but there are definitely some hurt feelings there.

By Blogger The Purloined Letter, at 7:33 AM  

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Monday, May 08, 2006  


I made it.

I'm back.

I'm exhausted.

But I have some days off and before too many have passed I'll post all about it. Or at least, all the news that's fit to print when 7 girlfriends gather at the fiber ShangriLa that is MSW.

Lawsee - where's the coffee pot?

posted by Bess | 6:28 AM


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Friday, May 05, 2006  

Eventually, even the most anticipated day finally arrives and that day is today. While not every opportunity for frustration has been eliminated, as there is no car parked in front of my house, most of the preparation for which I could take responsibility has been accomplished and now it is up to the travel gods to unfold the rest of my day like a smooth carpet.

It was not the alternator but the starter. Evidently that is three times more expensive and it is not considered a standard part at the local NAPA store. But my ManWithTools promised me that he would strip the car down yesterday, that he’d ordered two starters from two different supply warehouses, and that one of them ought to be delivered by 8 a.m. today. He would install it first thing and call me as soon as it is done.

And so - my fate is in the hands of the starter warehouse in Richmond. One candle lit to Hera - who might as well be goddess of storage warehouses as well as the home - sort of a goddess of the garage, hmm? And if the goddess or god is kind I’ll be leaving points south before lunch.

As for the TTDbMSW, which I am sure is paramount in the hearts and minds of all, here is that final list:

Select and order DVD projector
Grocery shop for abandoned husband - including disposable camera
Plan party dinner
Manicure & pedicure (what’s a vacation without luxury?)
Go to Bank
Dig out some fiber to spin on at night
Photocopy twisted stitch pattern for Fixation sock cuff - mindless knitting project
Finish Continue working on look at folder containing Disaster Plan
Get Car Repaired
Get car washed & gassed up

Abandoned Project:

Newspaper article to paper

Gotta say - I’m feeling pretty smug for doing so well while stumbling through the universe on half-brain for the past week. I wonder why I can’t get that much done in a normal week. Now there is nothing to do but wait. Wait for the phone call that says my chariot is active again. Wait and think and dream. Not too bad a state to be in when the reward at the end of the wait is a weekend with friends at MS&W.

Be back on Monday.

posted by Bess | 6:38 AM