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


Yeah, the mice have to go. Maybe you could just rent a cat for a month or so???

Love the pictures of your taxpayer-financed driveway! ;-)

And big or small, loving the pictures!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:27 PM  

It's kind of a horrible thing - and if they die in the walls you may have, um, issues with scents - but poison works really well.

It was what finally got rid of the mice (and the RATS. I even had RATS for a while) after my horrible trashy former neighbors who left food out in their yard moved out and the rats and mice that had been feasting on their leftovers moved out to the rest of the neighborhood.

(That, and sealing everything that might even remotely be food, up in plastic. That includes soap and candles.)

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 3:44 PM  

Mice are cute! Yes, and horrible too. I put put a tiny bit of chocolate on my traps, wedging it well under the little hook thingy and letting it melt slightly from the warmth of my fingers. Makes it more difficult for the little darlings to pry off. I have found they can't resist chocolate (ever since I found they had been nibbling on MY stash!!).

I just love your house, by the way!

By Blogger KathyR, at 6:22 PM  

I nearly forgot - your winterberry seems to be what we call spindleberry here!

By Blogger KathyR, at 7:05 PM  

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006  

There is a little mouse in the office. I hear it rustling papers that BD hasn’t filed - and has even let tumble to the floor. They can’t be important papers. (ha!) There may be more than one mouse in the office since the sounds are coming from several directions. Now and then a little body scurries across my peripheral vision.

I dug through the cabinet beneath the kitchen sink, where so many gritty, greasy, soapy, yucky bottles and tubes and flat tin cans reside in their dank darkness. 3 traps from last year had rusted away during the summer, but there is one that still sets - and snaps your finger off if you aren’t careful. It’s set with butter on the little flange ... but it’s not tempting my rodent enemy. He (they) keep fluttering and chewing and rustling and dashing away.

Mice invade my house every autumn and I spend many months coming to a compromise with them. Some little mouse lives have to be sacrificed in the course of this societal adjustment. This is sad for me and, of course, quite sad for the victims. If they would just not pee on everything, I’d share my house with them. They’re awfully cute, with their soft bodies and bright eyes. It’s no wonder to me there are so many cartoon mouse characters.

Alas. They do pee on everything and poop on whatever they didn’t pee on. So. Mice must die.

Evidently not this mouse, though, who just crawled up into the bookshelves. Well. BD can be on mouse patrol today.

No. Cats do not do well at this house so we haven’t a cat. Too bad, humm? He’d be nice and fat from all the dinners that come calling every fall.

Which is a good lead-in to my autumnal photography. I’m learning how to make these pictures smaller.

This is a view of the yard coming up from the marshes and pier and boats. That big tree to the left of the door will have to go this fall. It's branches are trying to pry the roof off. I ought to get some grass there after it's gone.

Thank you Virginia taxpayers, for this beautiful drive home. This is the stretch between Highway 17 and my mailbox. I call this part The Tar Road. Not that Highway 17 isn't also paved but to distinguish it from our lane, which is not paved.

This is a winterberry - a deciduous holly - growing at the entrance to the woods path. It's deep red berries will linger past Christmas and if you crush them between your fingers they give off a faint sweet scent.

Huh. That little mouse has eaten the butter in the trap which did not go off. I guess the only thing I can do is leave the office. Very French of me, don’t you think?

posted by Bess | 6:24 AM


I love that sweater!

By Blogger Ruth, at 9:57 PM  

Oh Bess, it is stunning, really stunning! It is going to look so good on you!

By Anonymous Patti, at 10:04 PM  

What a treat to see sweater pics and color swatch and dogs and house and yard! See, I'm reaping the benefits of that camera every single day! Ha!

Love the sleeve colors. This sweater is such a treat to watch progress. I can't wait until you finish!

Hey, maybe you could teach a fair isle class at your retreat??? "Fair Isling Bess' Way", where we all learn to pick both colors via continental method?

By Blogger Mary, at 12:25 PM  

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Monday, October 30, 2006  

The fun thing about this Digital Camera is that I can immediately look at the pictures I’ve taken. The big advantage to this is not that I can delete the bad ones, though that is a nice feature. It’s that during these quite morning hours, the only big chunk of time I have during the day to write these posts, I can see what it is I wanted to share and not have to wait to see if the pictures turned out all right after the one hour guys had time alone with them.

Of course, you already knew this. You’re even cool enough to have a machine at home that can load your photos and don’t have to wait till you get to work and can use real computers instead of fly wheel driven ones. But progress is progress and I’m pleased as I can be with how far I’ve come.

Thank you once again, M!

So. Here is progress of another sort.

Here is Sleeve #2 as of about mid-day Sunday. I’m a little further along now, but not much. Long about the time I took these photos BD suggested we go enjoy the Be You Tee Ful autumn day and grocery shop at the same time (Hi Martha!!) so I stopped playing with the Digital Camera and the KipFee sweater. But not till I got this action shot of Sleeve Upon Arm.

It’s a bit snug around the forearm but I can still get a t-shirt underneath it. Don’t think I could get one of those big white shirts - like the gal in the pattern photo did - inside, though.
Also, I’m sending out good vibes for enough Brown Yarn to do the bottom ribbing and the button band.

Here are some progress shots of the silk/merino sock I’m knitting for J to put in her booth.

It was so WINDY yesterday I had a hard time with this outside and inside it got way too flash-washed. Eh. So be it. Even Digital Photography requires a skilled photographer.

But the thing I am Most Proud of is this! TA DAAAAAA!

Yep. I did it. I made my own color swatch card. Aren’t I the KnitRuleTeacher'sPetGoodyTwoShoes? As you can see, there are a couple of colors that really do look the same. Tan and Twig are so close you almost have to take them outdoors to tell the difference. And you can tell the difference between Nutmeg and Wood, but I couldn’t memorize which one was which. Now it’s all there in Color and White for me. Who is feeling smug about this?

I’d wanted to take a walk with the new Digital Camera (still excited you see) and photograph my beautiful world but it was just too windy. But here’s a look at the yard anyway, and the house, and some dogs.

posted by Bess | 7:05 AM


Sorry for all the drama of your weekend. Glad your folks are out of the woods for now. Here's hoping you have a lovely, quiet week at home.

By Blogger Mary, at 1:06 PM  

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Sunday, October 29, 2006  

Hello my dear hearts. Thank you all for your warm support and love. It is all so welcome.

I am back from Richmond - got home yesterday, actually. Mama is going in the "getting better" direction rather than the getting worse. She had skirted awfully close to the end by delaying medical intervention. I don’t think either parent realized just exactly what are emergency symptoms and had diddled around in abject misery for 2 weeks, so that a fairly lethal bacterial infection had set in. Prednizone and anti-biotics is the cocktail for mom. For the next 4 weeks. Whew. And insulin - because prednizone is tough on diabetes.

No. My parents are not set up in a safe environment and they are making few adjustments to ease them through this phase of life. They have always felt more alive in crisis mode so this sort of emergency has a familiar feel to it. Interesting the difference between some folks and others. Some are glad to set themselves up in a situation where the burdens of life are handled by others and they can invest in the pleasures. Others feel that only burdens are real so the more burdensome life is the more real they are. Eh. I hope I am the pleasure type, myself.

I did get in some good knitting - as to be expected while loitering around hospitals. Photos tomorrow. I am also seriously thinking of making up that color chart I talked about last time. I had the dickens of a time finding the right ball of yarn last night. Besides, I'm at a good stopping place. I’m on the second chart for sleeve #2 (remember, sleeve #1 is still in it’s flat dull brownness, on stitchholders). 6 patterns in this chart should get me to the underarms. Of course, the stitch count increases on each pattern so it takes longer to knit it than the pattern before. Still and all. A happy place to be in my knitting.

The weather is gloriously beautiful this weekend. After a rainy beginning yesterday, a breeze that became a WIND blew away the clouds and left us with clear bright skies and magical sun-shadows slanting through the woods. I’ll take my New Camera out today and see what I’d like to share with you from my little neck o’the woods.

Enjoy that extra hour of play time weekend.

posted by Bess | 7:41 AM


Travelling mercies, Dear Bess. I know this road too; my H used to have his crises in the fall, right around his November birthday...except for the last one, of course.

Many many hugs -- and a prayer for energy, strength and peace for you and your beloved parents.

By Anonymous Margaret, at 11:47 AM  

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family today as you're back in town. Holler if I can do anything for you!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:10 PM  

Take me if you need can call at school, Jane

By Blogger jane, at 7:26 PM  

Hi Bess,
I, too, have been in your company with "things" happening in the Fall. Just had may own episode with my 91 year old mother. Last year it was something else very upsetting. I think, too, that the next year will be difficult. But keep your chin up and know many people love you. I'm still wanting to get together with you for my one-on-one lesson in the drop spindle. Be safe and I'm sending out prayer for you.

By Anonymous Patsy, at 7:35 PM  

Thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Travel safe. Have peace. Healing for your mom.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 10:48 AM  

Oh Bess, I am thinking about you and will be praying. Please hug your Mother for me and your Dad too. I know what you are facing from our disscussion when I was home. Just know I love you and think about you daily! My prayers are with you Honey!
Love ,Patt

By Anonymous Patti, at 11:14 AM  

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Thursday, October 26, 2006  

My parents are old. My mother is very ill. I can’t get any clear information from either of them over the phone. My beloved sister is on her honeymoon. I am off to Richmond today to be at mama’s bedside when the dr. makes his rounds. I'll stay as long as I'm needed.

This sounds very ominous and dramatic - well I am sorry for that, since for the most part I don’t feel dramatic and I’m not apprehensive either. Mama’s in the absolutely best place she can be in her present condition. Daddy is handling things in exactly the way I expected him to do. I knew in July that this situation was in my near future and since it’s autumn, I’m not surprised about the timing either. Big Issues seem to love Virginia autumns as much as I do. Looking back over the past few years I see - Brain Tumor, SoulSister’s Bad Divorce, Heart Attacks, sheesh! You’d think I’d hate fall. But I don’t. I love it, in fact and I’m prepared to put all the worry aside, to place myself where I can do the most good, and also to admit that ...

I have a tee tiny bit of drama queen in my soul. Not enough to court disasters. I like good things to happen and would rather skirt TheBigOnes. But I do see the plot and theme and story line in much of life and most particularly in mine, so it’s hard for me to keep a diary or catch my friends up with things down here without storifying it. ( ooo. what a word!) I’ve always been able to see myself in both the first person and the third. I have my own weird, convoluted (but perfectly logical to me, thank you) explanation for this so I’m entirely comfortable with it. But I’ll do my best to put a lid on it here.

Thank you dear hearts, for the encouragement re: photos. Alas - I shan’t be near a real computer for a while so photos will be absent. But here is a knitting update. The second sweater cuff is just right. Bright, blending and brown. Well, brown with red, yellow and black, but nicely brown, which will not, when I wear this beautiful sweater, make my face look like cheese. Knitting the sleeve is deeply satisfying. I’m going over patterns I’ve already knit into the body and it’s like meeting up with old friends. But the rounds are quite short so, again with the party metaphor, you can move around and speak to everybody. Knitting from cuff up I’m in the middle of the forearm and knitting 80 stitches around. At each solid band dividing each color pattern I’ll increase 6 stitches till I’m at 128. Then I’ll knit evenly till the sleeve measures 17 inches, when I hope I’ll be at the Pool/Petal color band in chart #2.

Then, of course, I’ll go knit the other sleeve. :D

Then it’s Sleeve Joining Time. That will be my moment of truth. That will be when we learn the answer to the question .... Can The Queen Remember How to Knit Circular Set-in Sleeves?

What do you think?

But here’s a tip if you’re considering making this sweater. When your amazing box of yarn comes and you open it up and stare in wonder at all those balls of yarn in neat rows

Don’t Start Knitting Your Gauge Swatch. (gauge swatch? Yeah, right.)

Get a nice piece of cardboard and punch holes down one side. One hole for each ball of yarn. Tie a piece of each yarn to the cardboard and write the color name beside it. There are too many beiges and tans and creams to remember which one is which. The color chart in the pattern is not accurate enough to help you distinguish them. The ball bands pop out as you knit and then you can only drag out your sweater and try to decide which yarn is Willow and which is Twig.

If you don’t do this right from the start ... and you are like me ... which you might be ... you won’t want to bother with this once you get into the sweater. You’ll want to spend your time knitting, not fiddling or prepping and you’re likely to tell yourself “Well, I have the sweater as a color chart. I can do the real charting after I’m finished” It’s true. But it’s a pain to use and not nearly as swift and easy to use as a color chart.

This is not as important as a gauge swatch but it’s the same sort of “Take Time to Save Time” advice. If you are really wise and good and smart and measured and dependable and superior, you will actually make a little crochet chains to tie into those labeled holes. Then when you want to decide what colors you’d like to use in a future garment you will have a thick enough bit of color to play around with. But that is probably a project for after you’re finished knitting. That, in fact, is the only good reason I can think of for making your color card after knitting your sweater. I can think of no good reason for doing a gauge swatch after the fact.


I wonder who would actually take my advice.


So, dear hearts. I am off. I’ll be back when I can. With words sooner than with pictures.

posted by Bess | 7:13 AM


So sorry about all the health issues that have cropped up in the family this week. May they all clear up completely.

And hey, I may see you at the Celtic games, although I think I'm going on Sunday. (I'd rather go on Saturday -- that's when the big burly men are throwing trees while wearing kilts).

Love the pictures! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:21 PM  

Did I mention that I have a thing for big burly men? I think I'll be in heaven this weekend....

By Blogger Mary, at 3:04 PM  

Don't worry about the huge photos. I am just reveling that you are using your glorious new camera and we are reaping the benefits!!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 4:39 PM  

I LOVE the big photos!!! Don't change...hope all is well with your mom. I do know a great local gastro if you need one, Jane

By Blogger jane, at 6:45 AM  

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006  

Happy hump day. It’s truly a hump of a day for me too. I had the great pleasure of Tuesday, when M visited and I got to be a digital camera acolyte and a tour guide in the same day, and found exactly what to spend that $30 gift certificate on (oh really such a necklace and it’s begging for a turtle neck or an absolutely fabulous date dress with plunging neckline). I got to show off the absolutely fabulous knitting book collection in our public library and we had a fun lunch across the river in Warsaw. We took some 1980's knitting books from the collection and poured over them while we ate. It's such fun to share time with knitterly friends.

Later on, though, I took a call from my Dad, to hear that Mama is in the hospital. Something in the nature of Krohn’s Disease or maybe the real thing, they’re going to be testing away on her this week. She’s been pretty sick for a while so I’m glad she’s under a more eagle eye than home health. It’s a physical relief for Dad too, although I think he’s dreadfully lonely.

La de da. I don’t mean to drop into gloom and doom. Just a bit of a cataloging of stuff in the middle of the week. Like another funeral. And I need to call the dentist. My jaw is humming bad news into my ear. And BD has to see another dr. - about his kidneys. Hmm. Slip sliding downhill again.

So. Hmmm. I could wallow here if I kept at it so I think instead I’ll just think of today’s post as the trash can. Dump. There. Gone.

Because I think there are a whole lotta good things to suck into our orbit - like an invitation to a land conservation meeting tonight - where I’ll get to see L, who is visiting this month and whose schedule is about as wacky as mine. I might not have seen her at all - till after Christmas - but she’s coming to the meeting tonight too. And an invitation to join friends in Richmond for a combo of Celtic Games and Oktoberfest. We’ll hit to European countries in the same day! I’ve always wanted to go to those big CG’s in Richmond and just never gotten around to it.

Course, wouldn’t you know it? That is the same day that an incredible auction is taking place - where there will be hats and hat boxes to bid on - but which I will ask a friend to bid on for me, because I can’t find hat boxes anywhere and my poor hats sit on top of the wardrobe in white plastic garbage bags. Besides, who knows? I may even want some of the

And Saturday is when a writer’s group is hosting guest authors in exactly the opposite direction as the auction and the festivals and probably at exactly the same time.

This just goes to show you that our weeks are set up wrong. All these interesting things to do and only 2 days to do them in ... when our work load sits around forever and surely could be put off a little longer, no? So we can go play say, 3 or 4 days a week and deal with this OtherStuff (that pays for the play days, I know, I know) that isn’t going anywhere anyway?

Well, there. As you can see, I can find wry laughter pretty much anywhere. And I don’t mind real work either. Mine is pretty nice.

And one of the nicest things of all are the autumn colors. This is what I see every autumn evening when I come home.

And this is the sweet gum putting on it's regal cloak. Not much brilliant orangey yellow this year - but still richly pretty.

Sorry about the huge photos. I'll try to shrink them from now on.

posted by Bess | 11:30 AM


Love the glimpse of your spinning wheel. And love those chairs in the picture. And of course, that stunning sweater. May I suggest that when you're doing the finishing that you sew in a little GPS device so that it'll never get misplaced, because that would be a tragedy!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:17 PM  

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006  

Here I am playinig with the NewDigitalCamera - a gift from M who spent the morning with me showing me fine points and tips. Poor you guys! I promise - sooner or later I'll get cavalier about this but right now I'm going photo wild! And that weird optical illusion going down the center is the steek. Sorta makes you dizzy doesn't it?

So - this is what's going on with the KipFee sweater. I've stopped working on the body.

Instead, I'm working on cuffs. Sigh. This poor thing looks so dull and flat - on such a vivid sweater. I've put it on a holder and am working on the other cuff, experimenting with some brighter colors within that brown band. I've decided to go with red and gold (see photo below) and have actually knit some more of that cuff. Alas - the battery went dead before I could snap that photo but I'll put up More Pictures as progress occurs.

posted by Bess | 4:13 PM


I have the perfect answer for you ....get the Laptop and a wireless keyboard. That was my solution and it is the best thing I ever did. My goodness you can purchase a very nice Laptop from Dell for a little more than the 500.00 repair cost for a PC that is going to finally go to it's grave. Bess, get the Laptop!!

By Anonymous Patti, at 2:33 PM  

Ooo! I love that solution! It tops the list so far! Thanks

By Blogger Bess, at 4:42 PM  

Mwah ha haaaaah! My evil plan is working! (That is, give her a camera so we get to see more pictures!) So sorry that I ruint you, though! But not really! I love being the catalyst for nudging you into the 21st century! :-)

On a serious note - is BD backing up his stuff from the old one? If not, that's playing Russian roullette.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:43 AM  

Backing up his stuff on the old computer, that is.... :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:23 PM  

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Man - you would not believe how bad dial-up’s gotten.

How bad? you ask

I’d say - bottom of the vegetable drawer after the power’s been off 3 days. Yeah. Corrupted potato bad. Conspiracy bad. Tri-lateral commission bad. (you gotta be a certain age to laugh at that one!)

Of course, an ancient PC, rebuilt in 1995 and upgrated - giggle er, upgraded to windows 98 in 1999 ... well ... that doesn’t help matters much. I feel like I’m trying to get on line with a quill pen.

So yesterday I went on down to our local computer recycler place and talked to them about an upgrade. My attitude about computers is a little like my attitude about cars. Why pay that extra $ just to drive it off the lot ... or get the box to ship it back in? Especially when there is a perfectly good used computer shop in town that can meet my needs for half the price of new.

There are several issues at stake here.

#1 is that BD is a writer and he’s mastered Word6 so that it exactly does what he wants it to do in formatting his work for publishers. He does not want to transfer all his files to a new machine that will slightly alter things. His sensitivity is a vast deal beyond mine but this is his profession and you don’t mess with somebody’s horn. So this clunker ... er computer stays.

#2. This is a rather smallish house. It’s plenty big enough for us - though a studio would be just the thing to make it perfect. Alas. I don’t have a desk and I haven’t carved out a space for myself to have one yet because I think TheQueen's desk belongs in a studio. There is the glimmer of an idea of a place to put a desk if a studio isn’t in my near future - but I haven’t given up the idea of a studio yet. In short - where the heck would we put another computer?

#3. If I’m lucky, our house is within the radius of the new wireless broadband tower at Newlands - across the wide Rappahannock.

#4. I’ve been ruint. Dear M passed her old digital camera on to me a few weeks ago and now that I can click-click-click away, I want to be able to load photos swiftly, up and down, here, from home. I want to be able to hear music - maybe even download e-audio books from the library’s web site - when we offer downloadable e-books. Lots depends on high(er) speed access - but it’s coming to a neighborhood near us one of these days. I want a machine that is fast fast fast handling graphical files and has a nice fat Office type program on it too.

#5. Alas - I hate using laptops because they’re so tiny and my fingers are nice and crafty and big. But I can learn a new trick or two. It certainly can’t be any worse than typing away with my hands up under my chin on this keyboard on a desk built for a guy.

#6. BD also uses the Internet to handle some of his business and I don’t know if his (even bigger) fingers could maneuver around a lap top keyboard either.

The local shop can fix me up for $500 but it has shareware Office on it. I’m not sure that would be enough for me. And I’d need some sort of photo shop type program on it. Now that I have a Digital Camera.

It’s a trade off either way. A machine that is physically uncomfortable but does the things I want it to do, but sorta pricey VS a machine that is less uncomfortable but does the things I want it to do at a way low price, but that crowds us out of the house.

No doubt about it - I need a studio.

Today Mistress M is coming for lunch and a camera tutorial. I wanted to spend as much time playing yarn with her as I could so I gotupoffit and downloaded the camera drivers onto my work machine. The camera is going to do double duty taking pictures of library functions so this is kosher. I’m so excited about inching myself down the digital highway a little. Proof that I’m crusting over into the next generation is that I have been so slow to go digital with the cameras. Time was I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the newest hardwired toy. Eh. Stodginess comes to us all.

The play I want to do with our M, though, is more softwire - or soft yarn. I can’t wait to show off the KipFee sweater in person, to a real live knitter. I am reminded of something J told me last fall - that the folk at work all just nod and say “Oh, J’s knit another sweater.” I don’t get quite that light a response from my staff but when you show your knitting to a real knitter you know true pride-filled delight.

As for That Sweater - thank you all for the kind comments. It is truly a joy to knit. I put the first cuff - all brown and black stripes - onto a spare needle and cast on a second cuff. I thought the first one was a little dull so I’m going to experiment with some more colors in this second cuff. And lucky you - there will be Pictures of it all later today! Yes. Now you will have all TheQueen’s many Words and then all her Photos!

(She’s a nice girl ... if only she wouldn’t talk so much.)

posted by Bess | 6:44 AM


Wow, you're sweater is turning out beautifully. Congrats on the new camera.

By Blogger erica, at 4:16 PM  

Oooooooh!! I don't know if I am more excited seeing that marvelous sweater or seeing that you are using your new camera. Awesome sweater, awesome camera!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 7:14 PM  

In a word -- spectacular!


By Anonymous Margaret, at 11:01 PM  

I know I'm redundant, saying this again, but I just love that sweater, and am especially excited to get to see progress shots from now on! See, it really was a selfish gesture, giving you the camera!

By Blogger Mary, at 3:09 PM  

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Monday, October 23, 2006  

Lookie! Lookie!

The First Photos using the Digital Camera adopted from darling M. I clicked the shutter last week, so this is where I was on the sweater long about Wednesday. I'm so tickled about this.

posted by Bess | 12:12 PM


I am very impressed with how you fixed your tension issue. Isn't it funny how you carried all your tension in your unassuming pinky!

So sorry for the loss of your loved one -- it sounds like you were a big help to his family. Here's hoping you guys stay in touch.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:32 PM  

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Saturday, October 21, 2006  

There is much that I can praise about this'> KipFee sweater. The yarn has a nice hand to it and knits into a very cushy crushy squeezey fabric with a soft enough surface to please me. The yarn comes in a very bright palette. I can see that some folk wouldn’t like it while other’s would. Think of Classic Craola Colors. I imagine this being exactly the garment you’d choose on any of those bleak grey days that fall between Christmas and the blowing of the Chinook. The color changes are frequent enough that the knitting stays interesting and the patterns are simple enough that, for all but the set-up rows, you can instantly tell if you’ve miscounted. I accepted from the outset that there would be many ends to fiddle with. Happily, they are all in the steek and will only need to be tightened. If you do your color changes half way through the steek - you’ll be cutting there anyway so you don’t have to weave those ends in.

I knit continental/combination, tensioning both colors over my left index finger. The color I want to pop out sits to the left of the color that I want to recede, which is furthered tensioned by slipping it between index and middle finger. That yarn becomes the yarn “brought up from behind”. I push a bunch of stitches to be knit up into my left palm and then just pick pick pick the colors off my left index finger with the tip of my right needle. Every so many stitches, I slide my right hand down the knitting on that needle, stretching the knitting to make sure neither yarn has been pulled or knit too tightly. It’s a pleasant swift process and produces a very good knitted fabric - loose enough to stretch but not sloppy looking, with no long floats across the back and no puckers in the front. With fine gauge yarn this goes swiftly, for I can usually push about 20 or 30 stitches into my left palm.

I have avoided doing much fine gauge knitting in the past because there are just so durn many stitches going around even the smaller adult bodies - which I do not have anyway! 330 stitches is a whole lotta knitting and it’s not just the number of stitches ... what about all those many rows!!! Still - I wanted to give this sweater a try and in 3 weeks I have covered a lot of ground. 111 rounds. 36,630 stitches! Man. That is a LOT of knitting. I am about 1/2 way done - maybe a little further. I’ve 2 sleeves and the shoulder area to go. Not bad, actually.

Though I’ve made the odd error here and there - things which required tinking back a goodly number of stitches, I’ve had to rip out only once - and then, only 2 rows, back to a solid color band - not too difficult to pick up accurately. Last night I was knitting away while we listened to some Beethoven (the Tower Record store in Richmond is closing and BD has been filling some gaps in our collection at 15-20% off). For some reason, the ring finger on my right hand was cramping on me. It does this now and then and though you might think it ought not to matter - who uses her ring finger to knit with?!? - in my contortioning attempts to ease the cramp I evidently lost all control over the tension. There is a big patch of purple stitches that are just huge - loose enough to see through! They look like they were knit with a size 7 needle! This morning, looking at them, I knew I was going to have to fix those loose stitches.


Ripping out is not my method of choice - this is smack in the middle of a color strand pattern. The chances of dropping a stitch are too great. So I am using my least favorite method of fixing loose stitches. Stitch by stitch, using a soft Bryspun needle with a gentle tip, I’m snugging up all that excess yarn. Pulling thin yarn through knitted fabric 240 times is not just tedious - it puts a lot of wear and tear on the yarn. But I am being very gentle. I am on dial up anyway so I have a lot of waiting to do as my friends’ graphically packed blog sites S -O-W-L-Y load onto the screen.

Although there were only maybe 20 or 30 stitches that were too loose - seriously too loose - I must tighten up all the way around, for each snugging of one stitch increases the yarn in the next stitch. As the loop of yarn that needs to be drawn around my needle increases, it also twists back onto itself, kinking and curling.

And now, an interrupted hour later, I have snugged up every purple stitch on my needles. The excess yarn forms a 34 inch loop. Whew. It’s good to be done.

This is the sort of repair that can turn a project into a UFO. It’s the type of thing you think about before casting on 40 inches of knitting on size 3 needles. If the error had occurred further down the sweater- around my hips, say - I probably wouldn’t have bothered to fix it. But I’m almost 14 inches up the sweater body - a very visible place. So I have dutifully adjusted the tension and am ready now to start knitting away. I’ll knit another inch or so and the set it aside to begin the sleeves. I’m thinking of starting the sleeves with 2 inches of ribbing then doing that first checkerboard pattern of red and blue in straight stockinette. It’s bad enough to have the hem curling the way it does. I’m going to have to knit a facing/hem for this sweater as it is. And the ribbing will give me just the extra inches I’ll need to make the sleeve stripes and the body stripes line up nicely.

Ooooo. This means I’ll be starting the sleeves this weekend! Oooo. Fun!

I had ment to write a tender post about the funeral of Joe Pollard. He was the last of the grandchildren, born between 1883 and 1913, of the Hoskins sisters. It was a very emotional day, so awash with love and memory and sweetness. There were wonderful photographs of him as a young navy captain. Photos of his children as toddlers and school kids. A great grandson was present - how I love a baby at a funeral. There were poignant stories and so many hugs and snuggles and sighs and tears. There was a little wobble at the thought of this last link in TheReunionChain breaking and certainly a secret prayer, on my part, that this far away branch of the family doesn’t drift away. I have email addresses, though. I can keep in touch.

Instead, I tossed all night, woke up late, and met up with BH for a long overdue jaunt to the city to do our make-up thing. I work today, my bi-monthly Saturday stint. Next week will be my first full week in the office. I wonder just how far behind I really am. Ahh well. Monday will be soon enough to find out.

In the mean time - good knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 7:25 AM


Hi Bess--Is there any chance that I might finally get to meet you at this year's Virginia Library Association meeting in W'burg? Please say you'll be attending...please!!!!?? (With sugar on top?)

By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 8:56 PM  

Hmmm...lace...Well, Bess, dear, you might try one of the lace inserts (there are variations) for a jacket (front/cuffs) in the new fall Knitters -- if you can find a copy! It took me ages to find one here, but it was worth it. :-)


By Anonymous Margaret, at 9:01 AM  

Your sweater is looking gorgeous - so impressive! I may have to make a little movie of you knitting on it when I come visit! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:29 PM  

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006  

Such a lot of ideas and thoughts are swirling around in my head this morning, none of them connected, but all of them belonging to my life. There is this afternoon’s quarterly library board meeting, when I must bid adieu to the board president, with whom I’ve worked in a splendid partnership for 15+ years. If I am the mother of this library, he is the father and I hate thinking that he’s not at the helm of the ship any more. And though he said he would be glad to serve on the board again - I know how things happen - and coming back onto the board a second time is not the same...

Jostling among my nostalgic farewells today is another good-bye that the whole family will be saying to the last of the Hoskins grandchildren - of the famous August reunion. I came back from lunch yesterday and found a cluster of cousins at the circ desk, all looking tender and gentle and my heart swelled like some Wagnerian crescendo. Cousins! Favorite Cousins! when I suddenly stopped and realized that these far away cousins wouldn’t be here unless it was Bad News - which it was. Joe Pollard, 93 years old, had taken ill on Saturday and died on Sunday. How like him. To take the first opportunity to slip through the door, leaving everything behind tidy, organized and ship shape - like the old-time navy man he was. You can see him on the History Channel’s autumn show Battle Station: Sick Bay in a few weeks.

He is to be buried at the other old home church, beside his family, on Thursday. Not a one of his children or grandchildren live around here, and they were really feeling the weight of making arrangements - especially gathering up family contact info - and - how do we feed all these people coming at noon to bid their papa good-bye? Then they thought of the library ... where the keeper of the Reunion Database worked - across the street from the funeral home. That’s me. And while I was helping them, in walked BH, the best organizer and best contact person in a family noted for .... for keeping a reunion going for 152 years! So we were able to love our dear cousins in the way that would make the most difference, by setting up the phone tree and getting the caterer and spreading the cell phone numbers around. There is great satisfaction in being Martha sometimes. And the chance to love these cousins by helping them is one of the greatest joys I could have - at any time.

There are also knitterly ideas and thoughts nudging for attention. My Winter 2006 issue of Vogue Knitting arrived yesterday. I subscribed last January, having found the previous 4 issues both creative and inspiring enough to purchase at the news stand. VK had languished for a long time on my You Knit What? list, with way too many ugly sweaters knit at 1 stitch to the inch. I don’t mind an example of Knit Lite in a magazine, but I don’t want to look at pages of them.

I expect fall and winter issues of knitting magazines to be good, but I was absolutely floored when I turned to the contents page of this issue and saw that simply drop dead gorgeous blue cabled coat, designed by Vladimir Teriokhin (p72). (Boo hoo - no picture on their website) I’m still gasping a little at it, this morning. It’s stunning. It’s way more knitting than I can imagine myself doing, but oh man - I sure think it’s fabulous. There are so many beautiful designs in this issue - as many in the ads as are in the featured patterns - I could do another long review of it - much like the one I did on IK’s spring issue. That blue coat takes first place, but a heckuva second place is the knitted jumper, a few pages on; #28, by Norah Gaughan.

There’s a lot of architecture in knitting these days: asymmetric, modular, short rows. So much knitted shaping, so many ways to make a string mold itself into three dimensions. In spite of my lazy brain and pre-liberation math education, I adore the usefulness of math; its building block nature, like crayons for shape instead of hue. Lately, when I’ve picked up a new knitting book or magazine, I’ve wanted to just down all other tools and start knitting a shape. I’m not sure if I’d really want to be a knitting designer. I am always reluctant to turn a hobby into a dooty. But I am lured by the desire - or pushed by the urge, even - to design my own. And when I knit someone else’s design, I am probably going to alter it somewhere. But these new shaped knits tempt and I can imagine following a design closely just to learn how the designer came up with them.

I am wondering a little about all the asymmetry. There’s an awful lot of it tossed about in a gratuitous abandon that feels a little desperate. Why have a jagged hem or weird sleeve just to look different? At my ripe stage of life, with the soft round little Austrian baker figure bequeathed me by my mama, I’m unlikely to flirt with too many random angles, but I certainly was charmed by the graceful slope on the hem of Tierra, the blue cabled sweater in Berroco’s ad.

So - how is my own knitting going? Colorfully! Beautifully, as well. Brightly. I’m on color band #9 right now - about 11.5 inches up. At 14 inches I will set the body aside and begin on the sleeves, after measuring my underarm length to see if I can start with the same color sequence or if I must change it. I’ll leave off the red and blue cuff round - or make it a different color - if I have to jump up too high on the pattern chart. I forget how long my arms are and I can’t ever seem to find a tape measure when I want one. They must all have gone off to live with the missing socks and other long lost household items.

I continue to delight in knitting this sweater. There was a bit of a struggle with the set-up row in color band #8 but all is smooth knitting now. There will be a lot of yarn left over, though - enough for several stranded colorwork items - I think some hats and some socks and who knows what else. I also plan to make up a color card with these yarns, in case I want to order more sometime. The putty and pink colored yarns lit a fire of desire to create my own colorwork design - some kind of all over arabesque sort of thing ..

I finally settled on a stitch for the merino/silk yarn I offered to knit into sample socks for J’s booth: a 5 stitch lace-rib that doesn’t hide the beauty of the handpainted colors in the yarn. But I am thinking I will knit only one sock - and then make another small item out of the other skein. Silk always speaks to me when I knit it and complains if I try to force it into something it doesn’t want to be. While my feet beg for the luxury of this soft silky wool to fit itself around them, the silk in this blend, says it deserves to be something more visible and more luxurious. It wants to ruffle. It wants to be knit into detachable ruffled cuffs that slip up underneath a plain sweater or t-shirt sleeve. It wants to be lacy ruffles! It will not let me be. It whines and complains and stamps it’s little silken feet every time I knit those sock cuff ribs.

I will obey. I will make a second, small, one-skein sample for J’s booth and it shall be ruffled silk lace.

posted by Bess | 1:33 PM


Bess, I completely feel for you. Since first getting broadband two months ago, I don't think I could ever go back. It's so sad that in this country it can't just be part of your land-line. Don't even get me started on the politics of the whole thing.

Visited another library recently for my library school app and loved their fiction room. It was gorgeous (
and so inviting, it felt like a personal library. Oh the magical things that libraries can do.

By Blogger erica, at 1:22 PM  

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My dear friends.

You would not believe just how bad dial-up internet in rural Virginia can be - but you could imagine something Tolkeinesque Mount Doomish and then, maybe double it and then you'd begin to glimpse the horribleness of it. I've been online for an hour and still haven't been able to upload my hotmail.

There is a real post today but I want to put in links and maybe even a progress image of the KipFee sweater. Look for it in the afternoon.

Good knitting to you till then!

posted by Bess | 7:06 AM


Happy Anniversary!

By Blogger Mary, at 9:42 PM  

Have another very, very happy one, dear!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 7:49 AM  

A very happy anniversary to you. The coincidences just don't stop between us. That's also my best friend's wedding anniversary.

By Blogger erica, at 1:31 PM  

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Sunday, October 15, 2006  

Happy Birthday Penny dear - and Happy Anniversary to TheQueen and her King.

We'll be off on another ramble in the morning, but I always like to make mention of this special happy day here on the blog. In honor of October 16 I am reposting from the October ‘04 archives, this favorite story of mine.

* * * * * * * * *

Long long ago there was a cheeky teenager, just past her 19th birthday, who was studying music at a big city university. One Friday, as she walked into the orchestra room, the flute player spun around in his chair, looked her straight in the face and asked her if she wanted to drive to North Carolina with him the next day.

“Sure” she said, desperate for anything to do on a weekend, when most of her friends split for home, leaving her to rattle all alone in a monolithical dormitory. Besides, he was one of the really good looking guys she and Robyn had decided were “cute enough to take us out”. And he had such a voice - deep sonorous basso profundo with the most delicious country southern drawl - not hick, in fact, very cultured, but oh so Southern. And startlingly blue eyes. Blue like autumn skies. And he was big - not fat or anything - just big with a big aura, a big presence. Nothing hesitant or shy or effacing. This was a man, not a boy, and he was inviting her to spend all day with him.

“Right.” he said. "Meet me at my house tomorrow at 10 a.m." and he gave directions to a row house in the Fan district, a few blocks from school.

Poor thing. Little did he know that he’d just arranged a date with his exact opposite in the GreatClockUniverse. She was no ditherer. No lingerer. No procrastinating late comer. She was an EarlyBird - always 15 minutes before hand, sometimes more. For this important assignation she was a full 30 minutes early, knocking on the dark and silent door of his first floor apartment.

“Stood up!” she thought. “Impossible” Nobody stood up this girl, no siree. And she stomped the four blocks back to school, snatched her fiddle out of her locker, slammed the practice room door shut and began to saw away, muttering imprecations, curses, indignant affronted descriptions of what is expected in this world, and other dark and damning words. But ...

She was also innately fair and as she scraped away at Kreutzer, she had to admit that the man had said come at 10. Perhaps he was out filling up the gas tank. Or perhaps he was renting a trailer. After all, the purpose of the trip was to retrieve his piano, waiting for him in his old place in Chapel Hill, NC. And so, at 10 o’clock for sure, she rounded the corner of Lombardy and Floyd and there he was, waving an arm, smiling happily and calling out “Hey Baby!”

She crossed the street and he invited her into his apartment. He offered her a beer, and though she hated the stuff - still does, in fact - she was also aware of what is cool and for a still-teenage girl at college, drinking beer at 10 a.m. was truly cool, so she said yes. He was back in a flash with a mason jar full of the most delicate, most mellow drink she’d ever tasted. His own home brew. There were gallons of it in his little bachelor kitchen. Now, be it gallons or pints, this stuff was potent and it was only moments before she was definitely in the mood to be entertained. And entertained she was, with music, books, ideas, and talk talk talk, tumbling out of this delightful man with his shelves full of books, boxes full of sheet music, head full of poetry in three different languages and kitchen full of nectar. Best of all, he was happy. Neither cynical, sarcastic nor jealous of another’s musical ability or progress, he was ready to share, to learn, to listen and to admire. In the highly competitive world of performing arts, here was someone with a blend of such innocence and courage there was nothing to do but laugh with pure pleasure and maybe fall in love a bit.

After a while the two of them tooled off in search of a U-haul place. Across the Lee Bridge at an Esso Station on Cowardan Ave., where Caravatti’s Junk Yard used to be, he stopped and went in to arrange a rental. Minutes passed and when he returned he stoood right in front of the car and grinned at her through the windshield; one of those beaming, sunshiny “Ain’t this Grand?” grins. And as she stared up at him, suddenly he turned into an old man, still standing there, still grinning. She blinked; gawped; stared again. She looked down at her own hands and they had turned into an old lady's hands, the skin papery and spotted with large brown freckles, sunk down between the tendons. They were her grandmother’s hands. And she thought “My god. I’m going to be riding around in a car with this man when I’m an old lady.”

For some reason he had decided to rent the trailer in NC. Probably the Richmond outfit didn’t have what he was looking for. They motored on down I95, past the tobacco plant and warehouse district of south Richmond, past Petersburg, through Emporia. They talked the whole time, chattering, discovering, opening, sharing. At one point he said “well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me” and she thought “oh boy, there’s a lot you don’t know either”. And at that, there were some surprising points of contact. He had graduated from the same high school her dad had gone to. She had played a concert in Chapel Hill that he had gone to hear. He had taken lessons in Winston Salem while she had been a student at the School of the Arts. At Herndon, NC they stopped for lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. She had never been to one. In fact, fast food then consisted almost entirely of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes and fries. Fried chicken was a real treat and, of course, to a 19-year old, it didn’t fortell the diet doom it was to present later on.

The October skies had been gray all day but they grew heavier and more threatening as evening approached. Rain began to fall. At a Carolina gas station he picked up a small box trailer and two ice cream sandwiches. “How did you know ice cream is my all time favorite treat?” she cried and to his question of “Then don’t I deserve a reward” she answered with a resounding kiss. Of course, this was in the days when, first off, girls worried about being thought forward or even worse; fast! It was also at a time when she was very wary of anything that would cause boys to sidle away from a touchy feely woman. Of course, this was no boy. 28, he’d told her. But when it’s the right guy, with the right gift, only a kiss will do.

It was harder to be chatty on the long dark wet drive home. Especially when the passenger was one of those Superior Morning Persons. For an SMP, darkness means it’s time to close one’s eyes. She still didn’t realize she was dealing with one of those Stubborn Night Owls. SNO’s think SMP’s are silly, especially the types who creep out of cozy warm beds before the sun is actually above the roof tops of the houses across the street. All those delightful discoveries were waiting up ahead for them. On that day, in the hypnotic glare of headlights on raindrops, she grew pretty drowsy. “I like to drive. Go to sleep” he told her and eventually she did.

It was too late to get back into the dorm when they reached Richmond. She’d known it would be and had signed out for the weekend. He gallantly put her up for the night. She was there the next day when other friends came around to help shove the piano down the narrow hallway and into the apartment. It was well into the afternoon before she made her way back to her place, to pace the dormitory halls till her girlfriend should show up and she could tell her the exciting news about the upcoming nuptials.

There have been many more rambles, in half a dozen different cars, since that October 16, thirty three years ago. In 1991 the two of them took the trip to North Carolina all over again, even to starting at 1617 Floyd and to looking for some sort of U-haul place on the south side. They found the KFC in Herndon had moved a block but it was still serving up the original 11 herbs and spices recipe. They even went off on a ramble today, the two of them, getting older, but not yet quite as old as the geezers in her vision.

But that is the story of my anniversary. We also celebrate a lovely wedding anniversary in April. It’s important, but not more important than October 16, when my favorite cute couple started out on life’s journey. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I even had a life before that day, although I can tell stories from that Mesozoic Era. It’s as if 10/16 were my real birthday; the day I began living my grown up life. BD, who had a head start on me, says he feels the same way.

There are a lot of stories in my bag of tales, but this one is my favorite.

posted by Bess | 7:50 PM


I must admit I love back-less shoes, otherwise known as clogs or slip-ons or whatever. My favorites right now, until it gets too cold to wear them, are Crocs, (or faux Crocs -- Gators), and they fit my foot perfectly and do not require toe-clenching to keep them on. If toe-clenching is necessary, then they're too big.

By Blogger Mary, at 5:24 PM  

Hi Bess,
Miss you, luv ya. I just had to respond to your post from saturday...
I have to agree with Mary, I love the look of a backless nice fitting shoe (Mule). I just purchased the most comfortable pair of shoes that have ever been on my feet, seriously!! They are made by Softt and are like walking on warm cloud's, no toe clenching whatsoever and I have had more compliments on them then I can count. As to Capri's or cropped sis wears them and looks fabulous. But then she is tall and has great leg's! I myself am short, have big legs and ankles and look terrible in them. Now the returning fashion trend that I really dislike are the Leggings...who woulda thought they would ever come back.

By Anonymous Patti, at 12:30 PM  

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Saturday, October 14, 2006  

Goodness! I never intended to just drop out of blogland. But Thursday my home connection to the internet was so slow I couldn’t even open up hotmail and then I was off to the 2-day library directors meeting in Richmond. It was good to get back in touch with the Virginia library world after such a steeping, last weekend, into my fiber world. Most of these folk haven’t seen me since April, at the last directors meeting in Graves Mt. I am far less visible in the statewide community in the 00’s than I was in the 90’s. I’ll admit, there was a quirky kind of fun in mystifying everyone, for only a few nearby library folk have seen me since The New Haircut. I don’t mind drawing attention to myself, and I don’t mind it if I look good and I’m complimented - I’m delighted, actually. But it’s a little daunting when 20 or 30 people comment in a 24 hour time frame, on how great you look, then back track and say, “not that you looked bad before....”

I do understand, though. First off - like Nancy Reagan, I like to pick a haircut that looks great on me and keep it for years. Unlike Nancy Reagan, I have the capacity to grow bored with a haircut I’ve had since 1992. This change was so completely transforming, though, that many people only recognize me by my laugh - or my wit - charm - grace ... ? And in fact, I not only look different with The New Haircut - I look better, not that I looked bad before. I look rested and I look like I lost weight, a welcome subterfuge that is not true at all.

While the meeting was valuable for touching base - and I got a few good tips I will try out in my own library - and there was a fascinating speaker from OCLC (hope I still have his contact info ...) and I ate entirely too many deserts, the powerful thrust for me was to visit my old home town again. This weekend is my anniversary weekend - 35 years since the first time I rode off from 1617 Floyd Ave, Richmond, Vee Aie, on a long ramble with my very own BD. I am all awash with nostalgia and tenderness and sighing and sweet gentle memories. A small group of us went out to dinner in The Fan on Thursday and we drove past my old apartment. We drove through the campus of VCU - where my real life began. I stood at the hotel window and gazed out across the city, with a glinting sunset shooting rays off of The Carillon at Dogwood Dell - where I played The Spirit Of The Woods back in 1962. I stared at the gaping hole and new construction taking place over the footprint of the old Thalheimer’s Department Store building - where I took Charm Lessons one summer and learned how to put on makeup and walk with my hips tucked under and my shoulders pressed back and down.

Ahh well. Time. It is a rich trunk, filled with living and memories and all the little building blocks of the soul.

The meeting wound up at lunch yesterday and the drive home was simply glorious through the rich autumnal palette of turning leaves and blue sky. My companion, R, was willing to putter a bit and we did a tad of shopping - mostly picking up Halloween supplies for our libraries, though I also looked for some shoes. I’m having the dickens of a time finding closed heel loafers this year. Backless shoes are such a mystery to me - they rank right down there with cropped pants. They’re ugly, clumsy, ungainly, and hearken back to other fashions intended to hobble women. The last thing I want to do is clack clack down linoleum covered hallways, or even worse, make a sudden move and have my shoe fly off. With cold weather coming on I’m completely stumped... not just by the fact that anyone would produce such a stupid garment - open shoes in wintertime?!? - but also, like buying peaches that are as hard as rocks, why would anybody ever buy a shoe that flaps against her foot and requires intense toe pressure to keep on at all? They aren’t even particularly attractive on your foot. Sheesh!

And yes yes yes. I’ve found some loafers in catalogs - but then there is the issue of fit - and does this brand run large or tight or small and shipping them back when they don’t fit - so now they’re another $5 more expensive because you have to pay shipping again. I suppose I’ll settle for that in the end, but I resent it nonetheless.

Enough grousing, though. I have, spread before me, another 3 day weekend. I never work on October 16th - the actual anniversary day and this year that falls on a Monday! As I unpacked my suitcase last night, I gazed around my room with sweeping gratitude and delight. There were the two new knitting books I want to really examine - and the two books on spiritual growth that I am excited to delve into - they look like candy boxes for my soul. There is this month’s selection for our library book club. And the KPFair Isle sweater, ready for me to knit the next pattern - there it sits on the dresser top, the colorful balls spilling all over the place. There is the merino/silk blend yarn I’m going to knit into socks for J’s booth display, already wound. There is the digital camera - complete with manual -that M gave me - that I get to learn all about, sitting on the chair by the window! There will be pictures on this blog one day. Real ones, not scans. It’s as if I stood at the gate of a giant playroom at the beginning of summer vacation. Where do I start? Which toy do I pick up first.

My bedroom faces west and the sun was dropping down towards the west woods on a perfect sparkle of an autumn day. I threw open the window to get that apple crisp scent to flow into the room. I felt like all the Fridays in the world - with No Homework to do! It really doesn’t get any better than that.

More good news is that I finished the first of Mama’s Christmas socks. When I was visiting her last weekend she admired the beautiful Spirit Trail sock yarn I was knitting and she tried on the little bit of cuff I’d already knit. It fit nicely over her ankle. Mama’s feet are rather swollen from a combination of arthritis and ankle surgeries, so though her feet are shorter than mine, they’re thicker round. The ring just fit, the cuff will be snug without being tight. I knit the cuff a little longer than I make them for me so that stretching it wide won’t make the cuff too short. All that’s left is to Kitchener stitch the toe - for I didn’t have a tapestry needle with me. This was Business Meeting Knitting and I didn’t want a lot of paraphernalia, just waiting to get lost.

I think I’ll set the Christmas socks aside for a bit, though, and cast on those merino/silk socks. In part, I’m just chomping at the bit to try knitting with such soft slippery yarn, and in part I’d love to have them done in time for the retreat next month. They’re for J’s booth you see - and that is the other part of why I’m wanting to knit them. I feel a tad bit guilty to be knitting with contraband yarn - yarn that almost feels like it is No Fiber Vow Violation yarn. It’s okay for me to knit with this yarn so long as I get right down to it. This yarn is definitely not supposed to end up as part of my stash. I may buy my own fabulous silk/wool blend sock yarn ... in January.

Man - I have so many purchases planned for January - I better buy a lottery ticket.

But that is where I have been and where I shall be this mid-October. Home. Cozy. Happy. Celebratory. I have a short week next week - off on Monday and Friday but working Saturday. With a library board meeting in smack in the middle of the week. The following week will be the first time I’ll have been in the office 5 days in a row since August!! And 3 and a half weeks from now I head north for the K. R. Retreat!! What an autumn.

Good knitting to you all and thank you for stopping by.

posted by Bess | 7:46 AM


I was tempted by some of Jennifer's sock yarn and am now regretting I didn't buy that colorway I liked. I don't know why I wasn't in more of a "spendy" mood that day. It's not like there's a fiber festival every weekend! Maybe I'm talking myself into going to Stitches!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:02 PM  

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006  

All my literary zeal for writing about the Fall Fiber Festival is at neutral now. I certainly had a fabulous time in spite of rain and mud and cold. I was still riding high on the pleasure of sharing the magic of spinning with all those darling children at J’s school. I spent the whole weekend with wonderful friends. I stayed true to my No New Fiber vow - at least, in fact, if not in spirit, for I did not purchase any new fiber. We won’t count the merino and silk yarn that J handed me to knit a pair of luxury socks for her to display with her yarns ...

[insert evil smiley here]

But I did NOT buy anything, even the Dale of Norway kit that I’ve been yearning for and lusting over for what? what? 4 years? 5? Of course, that just might be my first purchase in January of 2007.

But I must put in a brief report about the Fall Mud Fiber Festival at Montpelier Station, because I don’t know when I had such fun in spite of everything. I’m still feeling that high of joy from it. I got there about 8:30 - having stopped at WalMart in Short Pump, blessedly open at 6:30 a.m., to purchase a pair of rubber boots and a fur collared vest. I was thinking cold and wet. I had not imagined the real reason I needed those boots. A pretty teenage girl was standing in the parking lot when I arrived at the fair and I asked her if she was a worker bee At her nod I asked about the Spirit Trail Booth and her blank look turned to relief as J walked up and pointed to a parking spot. The pretty teen was S - J’s neighbor - and this was her first fiber fair.

They went on ahead while I put on my rubber boots, packed up my fair knitting, (a pair of socks in ST sock yarn), and locked up my car - although I forgot to roll up the window - wasn’t I lucky that the rain began to let up right then? That sort of scatterbrainededness haunted me all weekend, but no real disasters occurred. I even found my glasses that dropped out of my pocket Saturday night. Some kind soul found them and turned them into the museum shop!

The sight that met me as I trudged on up the hill, though - of liquid mud - like ceramic slip - churning and slopping around 4-wheel drive chassis - it was a horror. I once went to a “Mud Bog” out where the new fire hall was being built. It was a pit filled with water that guys drove their trucks through, the winner being the one who could get his truck through the muck fastest. It was a stupid sort of game, but harmless, since they were going to dig a basement and foundation anyway. But that is the only time I’ve ever seen mud like I saw on the beautiful sloping field skirting Jimmy Madison’s piedmont Virginia home. Whew. and Oh. And MY.

Jen’s booth was already set up and we had only to scatter a bale of straw in front of it to soak up the churning soup. That proved to be just effective enough to protect the contents. Before I’d had enough time to wonder if anybody at all would even come out to the fair, customers began showing up. Real fiber enthusiasts, who’ve had to wait since last May or even since last fall, do not let a little weather interfere with their mission. They are after yarn and nothing’s going to stop them. There was a steady trickle of sales, swollen now and then by a pleasant crush, all day long. Wonderful old friends stopped by the booth and happy new ones did too. With 3 of us working the booth we could slip away for a drink or a stretch or a look-see. Alas, there was no one selling anything hot to drink and only one food vendor at all. Happily, the very cute and patient son of the woman at the booth across the tent from us came back in the afternoon with a Coleman burner, a tea kettle and hot tea and cocoa and coffee! We lent the table space and he passed out the heat - the only heat on a very wet and cold day.

We closed up at 5 and went to dinner, a quite good Mexican restaurant, where I had fish fajitas for the first time in my life. Wow. Whoda’ thought? They were delicious. We thawed out there so that by the time we checked into the very cozy bed and breakfast in Orange, we were only tired, not cold and tired. The B&B was just the ticket after a day of Weather, with hot coffee and tea, and brownies, and lemon bread, and hmmm oh yes. Chocolate Chip Cookies, and “do please help yourself” waiting in the dining room. It was so comfy, in fact, that we were asleep by 9:30 and awake at 6:30, ready to fortify ourselves with breakfast and start the day.

It was a day worth starting too, for blue skies joined us well before noon and we were changing into t-shirts not long afterwards. Some more vendors set up on Sunday and a good crowd of Sunday Strollers came out. More friends appeared, more hugs exchanged. But the Sunday crowd is not nearly the shopping crowd the Saturday folk are. Sales were made, but lots more talking and visiting went on. J says that Sunday is usually half the sales of Saturday, even at MS&W. I suppose it makes sense, since when I go to a fiber festival to buy, I want to have Sunday at home to play with my purchases.

We worked right up to 4 o’clock because there was a woman who was having a hard time choosing between 2 of J’s magnificent colorways. She spent a long time making up her mind, but when she did, she bought the entire colorway - enough for a large adult sweater. J’s DH had showed up around 3:30 to help takedown - and man oh man - did that make a difference. With his strong support, we could carefully pack things up and the moment a rack came free - it disappeared into the truck! Praises to all Big Guys Who Help!

Take down took so little time that I was on the road back to Orange - and Rt. 20 and Rt. 3 and Rt. 17 - in no time at all. I was home before full dark, which is always a treat, with the added sweet knowledge that the next day was a Monday holiday. BD was home, a light shone from the window, and only one dog had tangled with a skunk over the weekend! (What is it with those dogs and skunks?!?)

As I said earlier - I stayed true to my No New Fibers vow - reluctantly. But I did buy two books.

I like them both a lot, though I’ve had no time to really study them since I bought them. I just know I’ll get a lot out of them.

And so - the FFF is gone again and won’t be back for another whole year. I’ll have one more big fiberish event in November, when I’ll be going to the Knitters Review Retreat in NY. I’ll just grit my teeth and leave my wallet in my room. After that, it’ll be Christmas and New Year and then I can go shopping again.

Hugs to you all! And good knitting too!

posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


Wow, your KnitPicks sweater is really moving along! Can't wait to see it in person! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 4:09 PM  

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006  

I had my lovely (looooong) report about the Fall Fiber Festival about 80% written this morning when


power went out then on again

And it was lost, because I seldom save these posts.

Poor me. Lucky you. It was probably too long. I'll try to get it posted tomorrow. In the mean time, here is how much sock you can knit while at a festival if you are using Spirit Trail's fabulous sock yarn.

And here is another slice of my happy Knit Pick Fair Isle!

This is one fun sweater to knit. I'm on the first pattern in the second chart. My goal is 6 rounds a day on days when I can knit - 1 round on the others. Let us see where this gets us, hmmm?

And if you want to see a picture of the Story Telling Lady (a.k.a. HerHighnessness, MOI) go check out Jane's blog.

posted by Bess | 1:45 PM


Now I know the whole story of your Friday morning!!! It did turn out well, didn't it?? jane

By Blogger jane, at 8:59 PM  

Boy, can you tell a good story! And I so agree with you about GWT's! I'd marry one, if they'd have me! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 4:08 PM  

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Monday, October 09, 2006  

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

And nothing is as sweet as home again. Even all the joy and pleasure that is a fiber filled weekend. After 2 days of rain that would have made Noah sweat, and 2 days of working in and around the Bog of Orange County Mud Wallow, blue skies spread out across the land, warm sun rejuvenated our skin with vitamin D and I got home before dark!!!, thanks to the wonderful Mr.SpiritTrail, who showed up at 4:30 and did in 20 minutes what usually takes us gals 45, lugging all the heavy display furniture away faster than we could pack up all the beautiful yarns. Fewer beautiful yarns than were unpacked, happily. But the old saw “Many hands make light work” isn’t the half of it. Particular hands make even lighter work. Thank you B!!

But what a 3 day adventure I’ve had! Each twist and turn is enough to make the bravest shiver till the only response that makes sense is a hearty laugh and a faith-filled leap.

First off there was the rain. We’ve had a spate of glorious weather for weeks. Even the rain has been polite, coming after dinner and bidding us adieu before dawn. But last Thursday night the rain god decided we needed to know what real wet means. It’s seldom that torrential, thunder filled, belly washing gushes of rain come after 10 at night, but Thursday they did. Packing (and unpacking) is no fun in the rain, so I’d put my wheel and a few other odds & ends in the car earlier that evening, but I still had a few things that couldn’t be spared in the morning. I carried my clothes for the story telling in plastic and wore sweats to drive. They dry beneath the car heater.

The first sign of trouble reared its head before I’d even left the farm. Jacob’s Gut, the little stream that boarders our farm - and separates us from the road, was gushing across our lane. In years past that would have been deadly, but BD put a bigger culvert beneath the road about 10 years ago and our lane doesn’t wash away in these huge storms anymore. Still - it was a S L O W creep off the farm onto .... flooded tar roads!


Just about every field on the flats was saturated and runoff laid a sheet of water across miles of asphalt. Driving through them made the water fly up on either ide of my car, sometimes higher than the roof. That nixed taking the short cut over back roads to Richmond. My first performance was at 10 and I wanted to get to the school with plenty of time to dry off, settle in and compose my thoughts. I left at 7. An ordinary drive would take just under 2 hours. Morning rush hour in the city - something I am completely unused to - a pit stop - all those little time eaters needed the cushion of that extra hour. But I didn’t want to find myself at the bottom of the hill, only to find Patti Swamp Creek had flooded the road and closed it off to traffic. So I took the longer, stoplight filled, but high speed road route through town and straight onto 360.

I’d just crossed the Mataponi River at Aylett when my windshield wipers went THUNK! and just stopped working. No buzzing motor sound. No whir whir whir, if I turned them off, then on again - oh child of the computer age who thinks rebooting something might make it work again. Nothing.

People often talk about something hitting you in the pit of your stomach - and it’s actually happened to me once or twice in my life, but only when the blow was so bad I didn’t think I could recover. A lesser blow - one for which I believe there is an answer - if only I can just think - if only I can just open up and let it come to me - hits me in my chest, throat and head. It’s what you might call an upper body blow. Or perhaps response is the better word. An upper body response is one which has all the light headed woozy sensations, but I don’t feel like I’m going to throw up. Just got to think fast, with every window open - wide. It’s a sort of blossoming feeling - an opening up - an extending of every antenna I have, tuned to every frequency I can think of. That’s how it was on Friday, as I continued to speed towards Richmond in the pouring ... streaming gushing pouring rain. If I peered up high I could see over the curve of the windshield where wind blew the rain away enough to actually sort of see the road.

I’ll admit it. One option I considered was to just drive on through the rain, sitting on top of a quilt I had on the back seat, so that I could keep peering through the top 4 inches of windshield. I nixed that idea when a state trouper passed me and I considered that the ticket he’d give me if he realized I was driving without windshield wipers might be “reckless driving” - a serious violation. And besides, I really wouldn’t be able to see if anybody pulled out in front of me. Death by car wreck was not one of my choices. Even crumple by car wreck was off the list.

Next option was to pull off, call home, and beg BD to fix it. Yep. That was a possibility. Not my choice but maybe #3 on the list.

Or stop at a service station and see if it was just some little nothing of a repair, though, any time your car goes THUNK! it’s probably not a little nothing repair job.

As for the story telling gig - well - the brain opened up to the possibility of canceling - accepted fate - then looked around to see if there might be a way to get there somehow, some time.

Just past Aylett, but off the main road, is Fleetwood motor shop and anything named Fleetwood has to be connected to the Acrees of King and Queen and Carol Lee Walker, so I had a couple of names to bandy about if I stopped there. But I’ve never been there before and they aren’t really on the highway. A little further on is the King William Exxon at Manquin and they’ll cash a check for you if you forgot to go to the bank before you headed off to Richmond and I know it’s a real garage, not just a gas station. That was my choice. To throw myself on the mercy of (almost) strangers and see what doors opened up.

By this time I was pumped. I always have faith in GWTs (Guys With Tools) even if it’s sometimes misplaced. I was ready to talk, to wheedle, to flirt, to sigh, anything to get my car fixed if it could be fixed or to find out fast that it couldn’t so I could make a decision about the school.

“Well, ma’am, it could be anything. The wipers, the motor, (ooops - that shaft aimed at the stomach) just about anything.”

“Can you look at it and let me know? For I have to tell a school full of little children (secret guilt words) that I won’t be there for them today.”

“Pull her into bay 1, ma’am.”

A second older GWT said that, loping out of a doorway that seemed to pour out an endless stream of GWT’s throughout the morning. This turned out to be the owner, the head honcho, Top GWT, father of the first GWT - A man with “20 years at Toyota, ma’am. They’re all built alike.”

Anxious minutes later, hood popped up, all the tree detritus in a car that lives out doors scooped out of the wiper base, caps lifted, screws unscrewed, I had my answer. The linkage had broken. That means a new linkage part. HeadGWT was very taciturn, the sort who muttered softly and if you were paying close attention you might be able to put 2 and 2 together, but he wasn’t going to speak directly to me. These GWTs are sometimes like that - didn’t do all that well in English, but were really good with their hands. The Heir GWT was just silent. But I was all antennae and ears and open windows and I caught the phone conversation HeadGWT made to Fleetwood motor shop and knew he was asking for a part for my car and when he said “yeah, it’ll take me 20 minutes to get the old one out” I knew it was going to be okay.

I borrowed their phone and called BD. No. I didn’t have the school's phone number. It was in a pile of papers I’d taken out of my purse that I really couldn’t ask him to paw through. "Just go on-line and look up the schools number and tell them I’m going to miss the morning performance but I’d be there by noon."

There were actually a couple of anxious phone calls - even more than I’d realized, as BD called around to see who might be able to pick me up and drive me into the city - someone with a car, since there would be no point in going if I couldn’t take my wheel and I wasn’t putting my wheel in the back of a truck. But the essential communication was that the school knew I’d be late but not all that late.

It took longer than 20 minutes to get the part. In fact, HeadGWT drove off to get it himself, while HeirGWT prepped my car. I sat in the garage knitting a sock for my mother - not a very onerous way to pass an hour. But I can tell you this - my car was back on the road again at 11 o’clock and I was at the school by quarter past noon.

Really - we ought always remember just how important those GWTs are - these men who have a shy and careful way of communicating - or can’t really communicate at all. The fellows who didn’t shine in the classroom but man - out in the wood shop or the motor shop - could they make things happen. And when you need your machine to work now and not a moment later than now - and what are you going to do?!? Those GWTs really do look sort of shining and knightly and gallant. And just maybe some chocolate chip cookies ought to get dropped off at the King William Exxon next time I’m driving to Richmond.

Happily, at J’s wonderful elementary school the children were patient, the principal was smiling, and everyone had that pumped up ‘We’re ready for a good time’ attitude and what the heck! I was ready to have a good time too. After all, my car was fixed. I love to talk. I can always tell you a story. Why - I can even make a story out of a broken windshield wiper! We condensed the performances from 3 to 2. These were the biggest audiences I’ve worked with yet - around 300 children each time. But they were the most polite and engaged children. They sat quietly, they listened with interest and I had a splendid time sharing my favorite things with them; songs, poems, history, stories and spinning.

This was the best way to end a wild and energized day. I couldn’t say it was an anxious day, though I had to think fast and decide things from a tight position. But at no time did I ever feel like the situation was going to collapse. It was just a different sort of day than the one I’d planned. And in the end it was an even better day, not a worse one. It was a great day. I absolutely loved being with that audience, I loved being in that school, I loved it that I could go take this happy feeling to my parents and spend an evening with them. In spite of the adventure part of it all, it was a blissfully happy day.

I’ll write tomorrow, about the Fall Mud Fiber Festival. There are wonderful tales to tell about that. But I’ve written enough words-without-any-pictures to share and I shan’t have any pictures tomorrow either. Besides, today is a DayOff for us government workers and I am going to savor it. I plan to clean the house - it’s in pretty good shape but still... - and knit on my sweater and read some of the marvelous knitting books and magazines I bought at the fair. Cheers to you all and Hooray for Monday Holidays.

posted by Bess | 8:14 AM


Sounds like a lovely weekend planned, weather notwithstanding. Monday is a holiday here too -- Thanksgiving. Tomorrow I'm off to spend the long weekend with my sis at her cottage, knitting and watercolour in tow. Best to you!


By Anonymous Margaret, at 8:28 AM  

Your sweater is looking stunning, and I'm so glad you've figured out a way to take pictures of it despite the postponed camera adoption ceremony.


Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday, and to reading about your cotton-spinning experiences on Friday and this weekend's FFF.

By Blogger Mary, at 12:04 AM  

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Thursday, October 05, 2006  

I love this sweater so much I thought I’d post the slice-0-sweater pic. again just so I can look at it when I open up my blog. I’m not getting much done on it because I’m working on Other Things - like the story program for tomorrow.

I’ve got a riddle, some history, a song, some technology, a demonstration and a story. But not too much of anything since it all fits into 30 minutes. The story I haven’t memorized - it’s a sort of Dr. Seus-ian rhyming thing - and I was getting worried about my ability to memorize it in time. Then, on my way to work yesterday, the light bulb flashed and I came up with the perfect solution. I’m going to draw cartoon picture posters of each segment of the poem and tape the lines on the back. That way I can sort of read the thing while I show the posters. Whew. And no. I am not an artist, but I can sketch well enough that my pictures can be recognized as what I’d intended them to be. Whew. What a load off my mind. Besides, the idea for the story came from one of the Little Mole films - fabulous Czech wordless animations that, alas, aren’t available here in the U.S. And pictures will soften the banality of my rhymes.

I’ll be up with the cows tomorrow and out the door by 7 in order to get all the way across Richmond by 9. Rain is predicted for all day tomorrow so I think I’ll pack up when I get home from work today; certainly load the wheel and my supplies. I’m taking HeyBaby because she’s my best traveling wheel. I am really looking forward to tomorrow. I adore this kind of project - gathering children around me and talking to them while my hands do magical making things. This will be the biggest crowd I’ve spoken to, though I suppose once you get 80 kids in a group, more doesn’t really matter. And I’ve done my program for that large a group.

After that I’ll be off to the Fall Fiber Festival. Cool weather is predicted for Saturday and warmer for Sunday so lots of sweaters and woolly socks are in order and shorts and t-shirts. I’ll work all weekend with J and be back home by 9 o’clock on Sunday. Happily, Monday is a holiday in our county - I can sleep in, putter around the house (or clean it, rather) and knit away on my KP sweater. I plan to take that baby with me, to show off, of course, but I don’t think I’ll knit on it - I’m too afraid I’ll make mistakes, knitting on it when I’m either busy or tired. So I’ll take mindless knitting in the form of some Regia Sock Yarn in guy colors, given to me by KD for my birthday. I’m not a big hand knit gifter - I’ve already slid down that slippery slope and don’t intend to burden my loved ones again with unasked for knitted gifts. But hand knit wool socks are on all 3 of my nearest and dearest’s Christmas lists, so I better get knitting.

So - dear hearts - till Monday - I wish you good knitting and no dropped stitches.

posted by Bess | 6:51 AM


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Wednesday, October 04, 2006  

All About MEMEME

Every once in a while you get a glimpse of yourself from afar and understanding clicks up another notch. In the case of a classic ENFP who’s only reason for being alive at all is to figure out why she’s alive at all - I know, it sounds like we’re a little too circular, but we aren’t - we are spiralish - spiralick - spirilic? Anyway, each time we come around again, we’re a little higher up the mountain - (back to that subordinate clause) - that notch up is deeply satisfying and reassuring.

[insert smiley face here]

That sentence was just an exercise in Look-a-bird ENFPedness. Once we get going down the path of navel gazing we’re gone for hours.

[drag self back to original thought before it’s gone forever]

Okay - well, what prompted all the above verbiage is the sudden Ah-Haa moment when I realized that two aspects of my life seem to draw upon the same motivation for progress. When I feel I have sufficient knowledge and skill in an area, I need outside stimulation in the form of an audience, to make me create with those skills. No Jack Horner in a Corner coming up for air every now and then, holding a plum, I seem to go into idle daydream mode unless there is an audience to perform for. Years and years (and years) ago I was a professional musician. The stage has been home for me since I was around 5. It should be no wonder that my best efforts are offered to the folks sitting out there.

I’m getting ready to do a story telling (for pay, yes isn’t that nice?) at J’s school. I have a lovely spinning story program already and I know I can fall back on that at a moment’s notice, but am I rehearsing that? Oh. No. I am writing a NewStory to be told for the VeryFirstTimeEver on Friday. Partly that’s because they really want cotton to be the focus of the program. I’m the entertainment for a dedication of a garden in which cotton (a southern agricultural staple - great for those SOL’s) was grown this summer. Partly, it’s the chance to add to the repertoire, too. But most of all it’s because I was so stimulated by the thought of a BrandNewAudience, I couldn't resist the opportunity to produce New Material.

As I was tsking at myself for making all those darling children at J’s school into my story telling guinea pigs, I suddenly realized that I also do this to all - and I do mean ALL - the people who come to dinner at my house. I always cook a new recipe for them. BD always looks up from his plate and says “What is this? We’ve never had this before.” which makes me squirm a bit, and laugh it off, and sometimes cavil and make it sound like he might have forgotten that we’d had this dish before ... without actually saying that ... since it wouldn’t be true ...

And I got to wondering - Why would you take such a risk in front of an audience? What if it’s a flop? What if your story is stupid or dull? What if your food tastes awful? Don’t you value your friends, your audience, enough to give them a polished performance, a practiced menu? Do you always have to be on the edge? Are you addicted to BSing?

The response came as swiftly as the question. I don’t ever do this in areas where I don’t have a solid grounding with lots of experience in the foundations and basics of a skill. I don't pretend to know things I don't know - to be able to do things I can't do. I wouldn’t fake it. At least, I wouldn’t deliberately fake it. I might try to wing it to fill in a gap, not of my making, or created by circumstances. I might fake it if the teasing part of faking it is the intended result. But I don't need you to think I am something I am not. And I am not a ... as dad used to say ... a 4-flusher. What I do is respond to the stimulation of Others. (that's the E in ENFP) When I feel like I have real skill in an area, I enjoy showing it off to others, sharing it with others, giving it to others. Praise or appreciation only spurs me further. I am inspired. Brain cells pop with excitement. Gears whir, wheels turn, belts move. I just love to create for an audience.

Mama used to say there was no point in scolding me. I just caved inward and shut down. But praise - ahhh - praise for even the tiniest part of an effort would get me to try harder and harder - to do better and better next time. A spiral. Ever upwards. Clever mama. She used that parenting trick again and again and as a result, I adored her and she had a pretty easy to raise daughter. We never had a stage when we quarreled. We giggled our way through my adolescence and even during that one dark time when they had to make me do something I didn’t want to and I ... true ENFP that I am ... curled inwards and grew dark, she found those strokes to give me that kept the bond strong till I could let the sunshine in again.

So. What is this all about. oh yeah. MEMEMEMEMEMEMEME
Want some fiber news?

It is AbSoLutely fun to spin cotton from the seed. I don’t have a charka. I don’t even like to knit with cotton. But I completely love spinning cotton from the seed - using any tool I have - spindle, Ashford, Golding Wheel. The unprocessed fiber sits there snug to the seed, not ready to zip through your fingers before the twist can go in. The seed gives it a resistance that feels like the traction of scales in wool. I could become addicted.

I have a huge box of cotton bolls to take with me on Friday so that all the children can touch and play with and fondle their own cotton and not feel sad about having to keep Hands Off the garden’s plants. 100 bolls x 5 sections per boll x about 7 seeds per section means there will be plenty left for me to play with after Friday. And it also means my cotton spinning demonstration will be much better than it would if I were using punis or roving. I’ll make a puni for them to see how carding works but I will spin from the tiny seeds - so I will look better than I am ... or ought I say ... I’ll be at my best.

I got the cotton here. I called them because I was running late and the farmer called me back from his peanut combine in his North Carolina fields and sweetly offered to ship me the bolls before my check arrived. This is one darling family. If you want a source for spinnable cotton bolls (oh you will love spinning from these) the educational box of 100 seconds is a great bargain. And if you want to put them in flower arrangements, they have firsts too - perfect bolls for display.

I knit only 1 round of the colorful stripey KnitPicks sweater. Concentrating on more literary efforts. But here is a cute little quiz I picked up from Fillyjonk’s blog. I admit. I cheated a little and looked up that deconstructionist - but he was my first pick. I was just checking.

True English Nerd
You scored 84 erudition!
Not only do you know your subjects from your objects and your definite from your indefinite articles, but you've got quite a handle on the literature and the history of the language as well. Huzzah, and well done! The English snobs of Boston salute you.

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

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on erudition
Link: The Are You Truly Erudite? Test written by okellelala on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

posted by Bess | 7:24 AM


Oh my, isn't it the most beautiful knitted thing!

What wonkiness? I don't see a thing. ;)

By Blogger Jane, at 7:25 AM  

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006  

This is the sweater - so far- at least, a segment of it. No need to point out that sloppy colorwork in the second pattern section. I have every confidence that blocking will smooth out the lumpiness and anyone getting close enough to see that the hem of my sweater is a little wonky had better be married to me and holding a box of chocolates.

posted by Bess | 1:43 PM


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Tuesday. October 3. Day one of NoLongerOnVacation.

That’s how I feel at the moment. I’m not sorry to be going back to work, but I wonder where the vacation time went and why didn’t I do this or that and my goodness, it’s been 9 days already? Would I have done some other things if I’d realized how swiftly time was going to fly past? Oh my!

And I don’t exactly feel like I’m going back to work even yet because the next 2 weeks are crammed full of NotInTheOffice days. There shan’t be a real nose to the grindstone week till ... woahhhhh. I have a board meeting on the 18th and I won’t be in the office on the 16th. and I have to do the minutes and director’s report and ship it out a week before that. Which is... next week. whew!

Oops. Sorry. Stream of consciousness panic there.

Well, I shall just sit back and watch what happens this week. I’ll be mighty busy with preparations for the story telling at Reams Road Elementary School. That is scheduled for this coming Friday. I’ll spend that night with my parents’ and head on up 15 at Crack-0-Dawn on Saturday to get to the Fall Fiber Festival in time to help J open up enormous bags of her fantabulous spinning fibers. Then it will just be fun and selling and talking and giggling and demonstrating and giggling some more and then a little more fun and did I say talking? I simply love it that I get to help with J’s booth. I’m scatterbrained and in high gear and probably not exactly useful, but oozing out energy pulses to innocent shoppers, while she is calm and serene, though I recognize that little line of concentration between her eyebrows. When she has that expression on her face I know she’s in limited stimulus mode. While I’m all antennae, J’s a Focus person. I’m picking up every broadcast within a 2 mile radius and, almost as if I were ADD, I’m responding to the energy. She’s closing off unnecessary interruptions and giving each individual her calm steady attention. Together we make an almost perfect sales team. We just need M to neatly crunch the numbers and then, nothing could stop us. At MS&W we are blessed with her skill and watchful eye. At FFF we have to wing it. Thank goodness, FFF is about 1/30th the size of MS&W.

My extra treat for having the good sense to indulge myself this weekend will be ...

Monday Off! Yep. Your tax dollars are going to be taking a banker’s holiday on Columbus Day. Thank you General Assembly. I promise to make it up to you on Tuesday, when I will work 2X hard fulfilling your library needs.

Okay. Enough about my schedule. The real question everyone’s been pondering must be “how is the sweater going?”

It’s going splendidly. I don’t have photos yet, but I will at least scan the patterns I’ve knit so far sometime today. (lunch hour? after hours?) I’ve knit the first 4 patterns. I’ve had only 2 serious tink-back-and-fix-it rounds out of 47. I’d like to think I won’t have too many more of these, but it’s fair isle and it’s stripes, with patterns that change about every 10 rows. Once you’re into the pattern it’s pretty easy to stay accurate, or at least, to catch a mistake within a few stitches. But each pattern change means a set-up row - where you have 330 opportunities to miscount. I am resigned to whatever repairs my drifting attention creates the need for.

I continue to endorse doing fair isle knitting with thin yarn. It is so much easier to keep the tension even. I don’t know why I’ve taken so long to take up #3 needles and cast on multiple hundreds of stitches and knit intricate patterns in several colors.


All joking aside, I’m obviously still in the sweet early days of New Love with this sweater. We’ve decided to try living together to see “if it will work out”. The real test will be that second sleeve - and the shoulder technique - which, though I feel it must have a theoretical foundation, has not had its math worked out. Ha! Which may not ever get its math worked out, seeing as how I’m hoping to be able to wing it, by doing a little slight of hand solid color knitting around those shoulders and dispense with math altogether. That is definitely a ThinkAboutItTommorow-At-Tara subject. I don’t expect to get to that point till November. That’s about 54,646 stitches from now.

I’ve had lots of uninterrupted time to work on this baby the past few days. I shan’t have so much freedom the rest of this week. Other fiber (and literary) pursuits must take precedence the rest of this week and I expect to be too wired at the FFF to wisely attempt all that counting. Of course, who ever said I was wise? But I’m taking along some sock yarn as a back-up.

I’m off now. There will be something of color in this blog by tonight. Ta.

Oh! P. S. I was really impressed with Interweave Knit’s holiday issue. Click Here.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


My birthday is in the 1960's - no spring chicken here, either!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:49 PM  

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Sunday, October 01, 2006  

This is for my Virgo friends:

October should leave you feeling good, as long as you're prepared to stop criticizing yourself! This is easier said than done for lots of Virgos. You can't help it if you see life, warts and all. Yes, you are quick to criticize other people and show them the error of their ways but you are also often your own biggest critic. The best thing you can do for yourself this month is stop the moaning and self-deprecating and look at what you really want for yourself.

I hope you don’t need more than a prod about this issue. October is the month for borrowing from another role model of mine, Zaphod Beeblebrox, and say, “Yep. Just what I thought. I’m a pretty neat guy.”

The sun broke through soft clouds yesterday afternoon at the Walkerton Tavern in Henrico Co. Perfect blue and white skies capped a lush green and white lawn and the wedding took place like a gem in its setting. There was lovely recorded music, M&J were ecstatic, the families were kind and gracious and we all had fun getting dressed up on a Saturday afternoon. Happy happy day and an inevitable happy future for these darlings.

Of course, events like these tend to draw upon my store of nostalgia and wistfulness so I was all awash in memories the rest of the afternoon. The other odd thing was that this is no young couple. With birthdays in the 1960’s - they’re still a lot younger than I am. But they looked so young. Is that a telltale sign that ...gulp... I am getting old?!? Yikes!

I got in some good knitting on the KP fair isle sweater. Not as much as I’d hoped, because one of the yarns tangled as I probed for the center pull end. I spent the drive from the top of Broaddus’s Flats, all the way down Studly Road and up Mountain Road to the tavern, possibly 20 minutes, just untangling that mess. I was much more careful seeking for ends inside the other balls of yarn.

Also, I must remember that on big projects, car gauge is often not the same as house gauge. The knitting I did in the car was much looser than the two rows I did before going to sleep last night. I like the pre-sleep fabric better than the car fabric. I won’t rip anything out. Much of this will disappear with blocking. But I will at least try, from now on, to keep the gauge close. Especially tomorrow, when I shall be once again knitting in the car.

Photos of all this stuff on Wednesday. I’m on the second half of the second pattern and movin’ on up.

Happy knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 8:37 AM