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


Hrm...all else being equal, I usually pick green.

but that might be because I'm a near-redhead (or like to imagine I am) with freckles and hazel eyes...I look okay in some blues but pretty much across-the-board good in any green.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 8:36 AM  

Well you know I very seldom pick blue. Green first, then orange or red or brown... walk through an autumn forest...

But yes, MOST people do pick blue, and when I'm knitting for others, I tend to pick shades of blue because it's such a safe bet.

By Blogger Amie, at 12:29 PM  

Lucky you, a knitter trip!!! I can't wait to hear about it! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 7:44 PM  

I, too, get errors in MSIE when viewing your blog, and I know it takes a long time to load for me -- not sure what's causing that, though. Perhaps you use a different browser at work - MSIE tends to show html flaws more so than other browsers, I think. I also notice that your text section is fairly narrow for me in MSIE -- as narrow as your sidebar, and then there's a gray section to the right of the sidebar that doesn't have anything in it -- not sure if that's your intention.

Anyway, I must admit I pick blue when given a choice, but my sister-in-law always picks pink. We make fun of each other for that trait, but congratulate ourselves because we know we'll never fight over a particular colorway.

By Blogger Mary, at 2:16 PM  

I've too noticed that the people I've allowed to pick their yarn have picked blue. Although my mom has picked out red and brownish-gold once before. My sister always picks either grey or black.

In Safari (the Mac browser) your blog looks fine.

Have a great time on your knitterly weekend. If I could afford it I'd be heading off to MS&W this year. Maybe in two years when I have cash.

By Blogger erica, at 11:48 PM  

Purple followed by green. I am not a blue person. And according to the quiz of the day--I'm wind!!!No comments , please!

I'm with Mary on the errors. Everything she decribes is exactly the same for me. But, of course, it doesn't deter me from reading!

Hope your knitter's trip is wonderful.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 7:21 AM  

Hey, thought you might like to know that there's a great tutorial out on the knittyboards right now for how to create a drop-down list for your archives, rather than have the blog list each and every month. Go here: to learn how.

Good luck! I'll be using this if/when my blog ever gets that big! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:35 PM  

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Monday, February 27, 2006  

I sure wish I knew where the "errors on page" are on this thing. I don’t get the message on the new machines at work, but it’s always here on the ancient fly-wheel operated home computer. Maybe the little hamster inside doesn’t like my bed spelling, so he thinks there’s a mistake on the page. Or perhaps he chewed a little hole in the edge of one of the pages and that’s causing the problems. How does one go about finding an error on one’s blog template, though? For that matter, how can I collapse the archives so that they are available by year, not by month. That list is getting long!

Yesterday I had occasion to look back at last May’s archives and was dismayed to see just how wordy I am - and how few photos, pictures and other colorful things end up on an average month’s worth of postings. In fact, May ought not to have been average since I had NewBabyPuppy and MarylandSheep&Wool to write about. This is serious. I simply must get a digital camera. And I am spending Lots (and Lots) of $ on Other Things right now so I simply can’t afford one. Rats.

The weather turned brutally cold yesterday - and windy. With the fire going all out we never really got the house toasty warm. It’s still cold today, but not so windy and by the end of the week we ought to get a little warmth too. I believe that the Farmer’s Almanac said it will be a cold wet spring and a normal Virginia summer - so durn hot you’d think you’d bake, and 98% humidity with a drought. Yep. That’s Virginia. But I hear the spring birds outside. There’s a woods bird singing to me that may be a robin. And Saturday, when it was starting to get very cold and I was hanging clothes on the clothesline I could hear a whole marsh full of red-winged blackbirds serenading and courting and flirting. I don’t care if it is 20 degrees outside - those songs lifted my spirits and brought a smile to my face. It felt like flowers blooming. It felt like the scent of cut grass. It felt like a picnic on the sailboat in the twilight. It felt like movement and freedom and friendship. It felt like spring.

I spent the day indoors as much as possible. I finished up the little hat, of Aurora8, in a very dull and uninteresting charcoal brown, that I’m going to knit a brim onto using a spindle spun yarn. I don’t believe I’ll use the interesting and many colored merino top I spun last week, but a blue merino yarn that dried in all the wind yesterday. This is because of Bess’s Theory of Blue which is: Given the choice, and all other things being equal, people always pick the blue one. And I almost never have any blue fibers around because blue makes me look jaundiced. So my samples tend to be gold and bronze and turquoise and orange, chocolate brown and green and more orange, and tomato red and that fabulous color, so briefly popular 2 springs ago "Azalea" - an orangey pink that is so flattering to me. Loud. But flattering.

But I know my customers (the rest of the world) and I try always to offer some blue. Somewhere. I’ll knit up that brim in the same seed stitch I’d planned to use on the Everything But Blue yarn and just knit a swatch with the EBB stuff to demonstrate what seed stitch can do for an uneven (a.k.a. sloppy) yarn. Then, later, I can rip out the swatch and use it for cuffs on a pair of mittens or - who knows - I have mountains of those felted merino rovings- I may spin up a sweater’s worth ... oh - or better yet - a solid color sweater with interesting details out of pebbly EBB yarn - think a Jean Frost jacket with EBB details .... hmmm.

I spent large chunks of yesterday reading out loud to BD. It’s interesting how some books I must read out loud and others fall to him. Of course, about half the time we drift off to sleep when the other is reading, but I never mind. I like to read out loud and Alan Villiers satisfies some deep longing for news of the sea. I have absolutely no desire to do any deep water sailing and prefer swimming over boating anyway - but when Villiers writes about the sea, my heart is stirred and I must be the one to hold and read and interpret his words.

And now it is Monday. The Monday of a short week for me, for I am going on a trip with some knitterly girlfriends this weekend. And I am taking the morning off to be photographed spinning on the drop spindle. And the office is tidy, the workroom will be getting tidy and I have work to do, but nothing so pressing it can’t be paced realistically. It all looks good to me.

Oh! A mighty congratulations to the Olympic knitters. May you look back at your victories with pride.

posted by Bess | 7:08 AM


Just a quick hello to you, Bess. I miss you and wanted to let you know I was thinking about you.

By Anonymous Patti, at 2:36 PM  

I've taken one cruise and did not enjoy myself, and it had nothing to do with the slow mode of travel, and everything to do with it being (at the time) the largest cruise ship every built. It is not enjoyable for me to be trapped inside a huge moving and rocking building with 3,000 other people and no way to escape. Something like being trapped in an airport, which I'm convinced is where all bad travelers go when they go to hell.

How appropriate that on Learn to Spin day you have broken my will and convinced me to come to the dark side! ;-) I'll have to blog about the irony of that!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:59 PM  

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Sunday, February 26, 2006  

The biggest cruise ship in the whole of history is currently under construction. Why, when you can travel by plane, from one end of the world to the other, in less than a day, would this ancient mode of transport be enjoying such a buoyant market? It's not necessarily any cheaper and nor is it intended to cater only for those who have a fear of flying. It can only be because, finally, people are beginning to realize that there's more to life than efficiency. Speed is for teenagers and megalomaniacs. The rest of us find more pleasure in leisure. This week, your ruler is slowing down. Emulate its example. Focus on quality, not quantity - and be in less of a rush.

Mr.Horoscope tells us all that, with Mercury going into retrograde we may as well expect to be slowed down anyway - but let us hope that the transportation issues hovering around my life and the lives of loved ones stay away just a little longer. And I don’t really mind slowing down the rest of my life because I have been a GoodVirgoGirl this month, succumbed to tidyitis, turned my office into a haven of quiet productivity and made a start on doing the same to the rest of my backroom work environment.

Best of all - a new moon is coming on Tuesday, perfectly timed for Lent. This is what Ms.Horoscope has to say about that:

New Moon in Pisces on February 28 at 0.30AM GMT - If you’ve been partying too much, expect the hangover. If you’ve been kidding yourself, it’s time to stop. It’s one of those times when we’ll all benefit from facing up to ourselves, good bits, and bad bits, and all.

Readers familiar with previous springtime posts know that I love Lent - a last fling at self-absorption with a view to improvement before springtime gets here, with its promise of play and flowers and Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and summer guests just around the corner. If I am going to improve myself I better do it now. And everyone knows an ENFP Virgo is into self-improvement.

As for LearnToSpin Day - well - I did get in some good spinning but better than that, I convinced someone to Learn To Spin and we’ve set up a day when I can teach her and I think that counts as one more victim caught in my web spinner added to the fold.

I’m still putting together spindle spun yarn for my springtime classes. I am also beginning to obsess about how I have never yet been able to make a drafting triangle with thumb and forefinger. 100% of the spinning books I’ve read all say Drafting Triangle - Thumb and Forefinger - Or You Die! Well, they don’t really threaten you because we are all so polite we have to say “Your craft is yours and you can do whatever you want.” I will say the same thing to my students. Which, though we know is true, doesn’t mean they aren’t thinking to themselves “Lawsee - she doesn’t have a clue!! Did you see how she holds the fibers?!?” And I hold the fibers with my ring and little fingers and merely use my thumb and forefinger for traction.

Tomorrow GD comes to take photographs for the handouts for all my classes. I’m taking the morning off especially for this. I’ve written the outline for the handout and will fill it in over the next 2 weeks. But I am certainly glad that Mercury will be going forward again by the time I go to Bedford for Cousin C’s class and the Spring Fiber Festival. It’s absurd, I know, but I feel like the March 11 spinning class will be an easy event because the students - if not familiar - will largely come from my neck of the woods. They’re home girls. The Sedalia students will be Mountain Folk- or at least, I don’t expect to have met any of them before, or be kin to their brother-in-law’s cousin, through marriage, the way it is ‘round here.

But the stars promise that my communication skills will be back in full force come late March and by early April I’ll be LadyLoquacity herself.

Happy cold and frosty Sunday to all.

posted by Bess | 7:05 AM


Wow. My thoughts on the dress are, in this order:

1. someone needs to buy that girl a sandwich. Or a medical consult.

2. she'd look a whole lot better if she ditched the "Wednesday Addams" makeup.

3. "girly-girl"? To me that means pink or ruffles or flowers or something that, you know, makes its wearer look, pretty.

I consider myself somewhat of a girly-girl and that dress is a lot closer to what I wore on Hallowe'en when I dressed up as a Goth girl.

I gave up on fashion when some talking head on "Saturday Today" declared pashmina shawls as being "so over." I'm sorry, honey, but a rectangle of luxury fabric that the owner paid some $300 is not going to be "over" just because you said it was.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 8:27 AM  

I'm with Filly! Get that girl some food, and then some soap and water to wash whateveritis off her (likely) pretty face!

I have always considered m'self a 'female female', but was never one for frills -- or 'talking on the telephone for hours, with 1/2 lb. of cream upon my face' (as the song goes). Her outfit is decidely not girly!

By Blogger Margaret, at 9:40 AM  

She looks like a survivor of a nuclear blast! And the dress looks like it didn't survive!

By Anonymous Isobel, at 8:09 AM  

In regards to the glasses thing -- I've worn them all my life, but in my teens, 20's and 30's wore contact lenses. And then I find out at the ripe old age of 25 that I need reading glasses. At 25!!! So, I started wearing them with my contacts, and when I wasn't using them, I'd push them on top of my head like sunglasses or a headband. That's one way to keep "track" of them without having to wear the granny chain around them. Now that I no longer care about vanity (mostly), I've stopped with the contacts + reading glasses overkill, and just wear bifocals. It just seems easier that way. I could always go the route of my brother who has had clear lens replacement in both eyes (like cataract surgery but for folks with bad eyesight, not cataracts). That seems a bit extreme to me, though....

By Blogger Mary, at 9:00 AM  

When I was 22 I went to get a routine eye exam and was told I needed reading glasses. "That's what happens as you get older" the doctor said.

My response?

"I'm 22!!!! Older than WHAT?????"

By Blogger Amie, at 1:46 PM  

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Friday, February 24, 2006  

Now, dearies - this is why I sometimes boggle at fashion. Beyond such idiocies as cropped pants and ankle length tube dresses, there is such bad copy surrounding the rest of the closet. The caption for this photo in the NYT slide show was not “Cadaver in silk” but “A girly-girl dress from Marni.”


As for losing and finding things - I have always said “She who cleans the house knows where everything is.” That’s also why I am not a complete slob. A little housework brings great reward. The downside of that is ... the little housework - and the OtherOccupant who is not so nice about things like reading and sorting mail, wiping feet before stepping into the house - that sort of thing. Dave Barry said in a column once that the difference between men and women is how they define dirt. A woman calls dirt "dirt" - but a man thinks dirt is a shirt on the floor - thus he has cleaned the house when he picks up his shirt, while you know that the telltale grey color of the kitchen floor is dirt and the shirt on the floor is clutter. And yes! I know many other women who (also) pick up clutter to scrub the floor and then put the clutter back down again. And I have a (male) friend who once told me that it took no more energy to hang the shirt up than to drop it on the floor - whereupon I explained to him the rudiments of such earthly forces as gravity as well as the importance of fresh air to previously worn garments.

Another sort who seems cursed with lost-itis is the daydreamer. Daydreaming is the escape of choice for people who find themselves in unpleasant alien surroundings. It is how abused children make it into adults but it’s also how other different sorts rub along in a world that doesn’t make sense. I am married to that type so the burden of being the neat one has fallen on me far more often than I would have voluntarily sought it. BD inhabited a rich and vivid fantasy world his entire childhood and he still spends a great deal of his life Not Here But Somewhere Else. Thus he also owns many duplicate items to facilitate the journey through Here, Not Somewhere Else. I try very hard not to laugh at him unless I think it will chivvy him out of a flummox, but there is a bit of a crooked smile on my face even now.

The worst thing about getting past the half century mark has been the ease with which I too have slipped into I’m Not Here ‘n You Can’t Make Me Be. My first brush with denial through mental detachment was when I had to start wearing glasses to read. If you were once blessed with perfect vision you will understand my frustration. Seeing clearly through glasses is not the same thing, even if it does make a popular fashion statement. My loved ones who have always worn glasses can’t understand the constant flow of dissatisfaction that pumps through my cranky little heart. And of course, because I can’t see to walk around with the durn things on I’m always having to take them off and since I hate them anyway, I put them ... not just down ... but out of my conscious mind, which is why I own 4 pair of scratched up prescription reading glasses. Because the OTC kind only make things bigger - they don’t make them sharper. Worst of all is the optometrist who says “no you don’t want bifocals. Most people [your age] would be so grateful for eyesight so good” which instantly thrusts me into [your age] category and doesn’t make my dilemma any easier to tolerate. And No. I can’t get a chain and wear them around my neck. They catch on corners and I have no desire for my obituary to say “Strangled by her reading glasses chain - a decorative loop of gold wire, with crushed stones adorning a central emerald cut garnet.”

That short term memory loss that accompanies the riper years requires one to practice evolutionary tactics. I keep extra memory stored in my day timer which I bought because I liked the leather cover, but which, like other narcotic substances, wormed its way into my work day until I feel naked without it. I also accept a certain amount of chaos caused by fragmented brain disks. Like those emails you get from beloved, if misguided friends, that show you how pepl cn reed mst anthg n mttr hw mny gps n errs so lg az th frst n lst ltrs r prsnt - so your life can chug along with a vast great quantity of gaps in your mental processes just so long as you have the outline sketched in.

Ahh well. I am trying to follow my own [good] advice - to be a successful ___ty year old instead of a failed ___ty year old.

Yes. You are right. There is no fiber content in this post, beyond my fashion complaint. That is because I haven’t knit or spin since Tuesday. That is because I have two things to do that I don’t look forward to doing. They are not bad things, or even hard things and they will come and go swiftly over the next 48 hours but they are sitting like scowly gargoyles, spreading black fog across my path. Stupid Virgo personality who will seek out things to worry her if she doesn’t have a real crisis to do so. I know it’s pointless - just an inner tension I have lived with my whole life. Not something I don’t know - just something I don’t like.

I work tomorrow - we are having a drawing for the castle display in the children’s section. It’s tired and worn, but still has a good bit of play left in it. We want it to go to a good home, where it will likely last only a few weeks before either Dad will call it dirt and Mom will call it clutter. It’s clutter to me right now and besides, the cardboard medieval village wants it’s turn to entertain little hands.

Still - every effort will be made to knit or spin or at least write about it this weekend. So Ta.

posted by Bess | 6:45 AM


I lose stuff (and find it again) so often that the sense of joy is probably diluted for me. But I have been known to kiss (literally) a missing gradebook that turned back up, and just today I re-located a v. important book on soil ecology that I feared had been stolen. I also own two cell-phone chargers as a result of my "losing" habit.

I wonder if some personalities are better at losing things than others? I'm good at setting things down in odd places and then frantically resorting to the St. Anthony request (either "St. Anthony, St. Anthony, please come around; something is lost and cannot be found" or "Tony, Tony, help me, I've lost something" if you're in a more casual mood).

(I'm not RC but I had a friend who was the wife of a Protestant minister who used it! And I figured if it was okay for her to use it, it was ok for me. If anything, it clears your mind so you can focus on WHERE you might have left the thing).

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 1:45 PM  

Well, I AM a slob and my house is corner-to-corner clutter, (okay, an out-and-out pigsty), and believe it or not, I know where EVERYTHING is.

Strange, huh?

By Blogger Mary, at 2:41 PM  

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Thursday, February 23, 2006  

Yesterday was the best best best day. It was so good that nothing could go wrong enough to shift it to bad-day status. It was so extra special happiness-producing good because I found my wallet. Uh huh. After a 3 day weekend at home, where I didn’t need a wallet, full of life’s MostImportantThings - like the Visa card and the health insurance card and the ugly driver’s licensee and the checkbook - never any cash, but always a WW log - those important things - I arrived at work on Tuesday with a mostly empty purse and

No Wallet

And a meeting with a guest speaker and a shrug of my shoulders figuring I’d just left it at home. On a day when I didn’t really need any cash or Visa or insurance card, I decided to think about it at Tara only - when I got to Tara there was ...

No Wallet

I am not the greatest of house keepers, but neither am I a slob. My house is not gargantuan but it does contain some nooks and some crannies and perhaps a half dozen piles where a wallet might hide. But it didn’t. Not Tuesday. On Tuesday there was

No Wallet

I scoured the house. I took the flashlight out and crawled around in the car. BD took the flashlight out and crawled around the car. I even lifted the pile of waiting-to-be-ironed laundry that has been on the ironing board since before Christmas. But at that point I realized that, even if the wallet was in the house, I wasn’t going to find it. Not then, at any rate. When you start looking in stupid places it’s time to let the lost item find you. I always stop hunting when my gestures get frantic because I don’t believe in adding company to my misery.

I went to bed. I listened to a soothing meditation tape about self esteem. I dreamed I found my wallet and I went in to work early to give everything a final search before calling Visa and canceling the card, calling the bank and telling them to look out for checks coming in after Feb. __th, to calling the insurance company - and the DMV.

No Wallet

The penultimate looking task was going to be a scour around the library building but since it was raining I needed the umbrella, wisely left in the car on a rainy morning. And what do you suppose I saw tucked up on the window ledge of the rear window - but

Yes Wallet

And at last I grasped the fundamental joy in the story of the prodigal son - which I always hated. For I couldn’t have been that happy if ... if ... I don’t know when I have been that happy. I was so happy I had to tell the story all day, which made my assistant happy for as I waxed on about how nothing could upset me today she said “Good. Because I’ve lost the library’s Walmart charge card.”

And you know what? It didn’t make one bit of difference to my happiness and even L was left feeling happy, since it was so easy to replace, so everyone rejoiced at the homecoming of the Prodigal Wallet!

posted by Bess | 7:41 AM


Such exciting news about your classes...I wonder if our quilter knitters know about all this, I'll tell them!! Have a good weekend, Jane

By Blogger jane, at 6:22 AM  

I'm not a quilter but maybe I could pretend to be one to sneak into your class? ;-)

See, here I go again, longing to spin when I should know better!

Lucky students you're getting!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:35 PM  

Ahh Mary. Come cooooome, to the dark side.

bwa ha haaaaaaa

I Promise - Girty Girls get free drop spindle lessons.

By Blogger Bess, at 4:32 PM  

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006  

Thank you all for your kind compliments on the yarn. I'm having such fun experimenting for a purpose. Two spinning classes in 4 weeks means a lot of new spinners out there. They need to see how many fun things you can do with one stick and some string.

I’m so tickled - B stopped by yesterday and told me 11 people had signed up for my March 11 class. B is, first of all, a superb quilter and an organizing diva. She’s on the board of so many groups it makes me dizzy. One such group is a state wide quilter’s organization. They meet quarterly around Virginia for a Saturday of classes and fellowship. She always tries to include 1 or 2 non-quilting, but fiber related, class and I’m it this year. She told me she’d gotten 2 phone calls and 2 handwritten notes from students who were particularly pleased about that. Oh - not that it was I who would teach, but that it was spinning that would be taught. Lucky them - since I would rather teach spinning than anything else - in spite of my love affair with knitting.

I gave her the length of novelty mohair to embellish a quilt block so I’ll have a sample of “How a quilter could use handspun yarn”. Why not give that yarn star opportunities, right?

Next on the agenda is a call to Stony Mt. Fibers, who is assembling my spindle kits. I’ll order an extra one for myself and perhaps 2 more - because B told me there could be a few more folk who come in at the last minute pleading to be let in. These kits will be the same ones I’m using in April, so a few extra are likely to find homes then. They contain a top whorl Louet spindle, though, which I don’t have and I want to do all my teaching with one of them, so a little practice shan’t do me any harm. Different instruments do make a difference, but I’m more interested in my students learning than having them be impressed by my skills. At the end of class, I can demonstrate on my different spindles and let them play with my toys so they can get a feel for things.

This reminds me of the music instrument experiences I’ve had in my life - there are many, of course, but two stand out. One was when I was 18 and going to Philadelphia, to buy a violin. The shop was owned by Helmuth Keller - and was visited by invitation only. Rumor was he refused admission to the concert master of the NY Philharmonic but he had a soft spot for charming hopeful girls and, my dears - I am from the south. I had a $ amount I could spend and he had selected 3 instruments in my price range. The choice was very easy - for of the three, one was French - with minimal antique value, albeit a tone that sang way above the other two, with their fancyschmancy Italian and German heritage. But after I chose it, after the papers were signed and the check passed over, he pulled out a large rolling case, saying gleefully “Look what I just brought back from Europe!”

It was an Amatti and when I drew my bow across the strings it poured out sound that would carry three blocks. What a violin. After a summer filled with sawing away on orchestral parts, my tone had grown harsh and lifeless - but on that violin I sounded like - like a star!

My other experience with the best of the best of tools was when I was studying with Miran Kojian, then concert master of the National Symphony. One of the perks of that job - or of holding first chair of any of the string sections, was the use of the Smithsonian’s Stradivarius instruments. At a lesson one day he asked if I’d like to play the Strad and .. well... what do you think I answered? Again I was stunned by the difference to my skill that having stellar tools made. I didn’t say it, but I thought that if I had that violin to play on, I too could be concert master of the National Symphony.

So - good tools make good artists - even though one must usually be a good artist to get a shot at the really good tools. Fortunately, spinning wheels don’t soar to the mountain top prices of violins - even if they are Golding spinning wheels. As a performer, I will always use the best instrument I can afford - but as a teacher, I think it’s good to know exactly what your students are working with, to show them what a person with greater skill can do with their tool, and to really understand the limitations the tool imposes on the students. After our class, the students who’ve been bitten by the spinnerbug can feel what it’s like to spin on my higher end spindles, ensuring I’ve lured those victims innocents into the web.

Ooops - late again. Ta.

posted by Bess | 7:49 AM


I just can't decide. Which one do I like the most? Well, all of them actually.

I use seed stitch quite a bit, especially when I want all the bits of color to get their chance to show off.

By Blogger Larry, at 11:19 AM  

Oh, they're all beautiful!

I love seed stitch for variegated yarns - it makes the colors look like jewels!

By Blogger Amie, at 1:51 PM  

Wow, you've been busy! I hadn't stopped by your blog in awhile, shame on me, and was delightfully surprised to see all the lovely yarn you've spun. I'm so impressed! Kudos, lady, on a wonderful job well done! Here's hoping I get to see some in person one day! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 9:50 PM  

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006  

More spindle spun yarns

The first is a merino top blend from Ashland Bay called Rose Garden.

This one is a mohair novelty yarn spun extremely sloppily to leave lots of curls and hairs floating about, then plied against a thin tight single of merino, spun out of one of the smoother of those rolags.

This yarn is spun from all those felted merino tops that I carded into rolags. The first ones I carded turned out awfully neppy, thus the highly textured nature of this yarn. I'll knit it up in seed stitch which seems to enhance textured yarns and play up their good features.

posted by Bess | 10:36 AM


Bess, you darling, LD may have been raised by dogs but the apple didn't fall far from the tree at all. People like you and BD could ONLY produce such a lovely being as LD....

By Blogger Amie, at 8:52 AM  

LOL - don't know if the cleaning I did this week affected my answers, but I ranked Cinderella on the fairy princess quiz. of course, it's not the first time I've been called that....

By Blogger Amie, at 8:55 AM  

Hey, thanks for all the experimenting on the corriedale fleece. Since I have the other half here in my stash. hee.

Good to know it likes to be yarn for a size 8 needle, since that's what I most like to knit on. :-D

Hugs, Jen

By Blogger Jennifer, at 1:36 PM  

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Monday, February 20, 2006  

What’s this! Snow? More snow!!

There is a little dusting of it spread around the yard - and on the few things that didn’t dry yesterday on the clothes line. It’s started since I got up, since it wasn’t there when I let the pups in earlier. The weather dot com guys say it will only last through the morning, but it’s the perfect weather to ensure my last Monday holiday for waaaaaay too long will be cozy and snug and fiber filled.

So. First a Corriedale handspun report. It knits up on #3 needles - not #5. And it is harder to knit with than I thought it would be. Such a soft yarn to touch in the skein, it’s too grabby on my needles and worse than that - it wants to unspin on me. I decided to knit this fingerless glove on circulars - though I’d seen a great idea for knitting them flat and I may knit the mate flat to make, not a matching pair, but a coordinating one. I also suspect I will need to spin more of this yarn and - truth? I don’t look forward to it. I would prefer this fiber to be spun thickly if it’s going to be knit into a solid fabric. I would so much more enjoy knitting it on big needles. I’ve spun heavy weight yarn with some of this fleece before, knitting it into a swatch on something like size 8’s. It was delicious.

This thinner yarn, twisted more tightly, doesn’t seem to feel so good running along my fingers as it’s tucked and looped into small stitches. And knitting has to be a tactile pleasure first of all. You spend so much time handling it; touching, tucking, stroking and guiding. I think this yarn I’ve spun would make a fabulous lace shawl - even a warm one, given the ready-to-cling structure of the fiber itself. Oh my - what felt it would create too, though I have yet to open my heart up to the fabric of felt. I suspect there is another whole fiberish landscape out there, when it comes to felt. Well, it’s waiting up ahead for me. That is the way of it with a fine craft. There are always new fiberlands to visit - new things to learn, skills to acquire.

I’ll finish up that first glove today though - and determine how much more yarn I have to spin. Thank heavens I have a little sample of the single left. I know, by now, I’ve forgotten what to spin first.

On the Golding spindle is a very motley and colorful single spun up of all those mostly merino rovings. I’m suffering from clean plate syndrome because I want to spin up all the rovings I carded and the spindle is getting so full it’s wobbling as I twirl it. (a sure sign that it’s full) With care I might be able to use them all up on this single spinning, a desirable thing, since then one doesn't have the tiny short bit of yarn left over. But it requires a very tedious, fiddly sort of care. So then comes the determination which must be made: when does a production goal outweigh the pleasure principle in a hobby? And should it ever outweigh one’s pleasure?

Ahh yes. The old Puritan rod, smiting a blow that is Good For You and making you Do Your Dooty by your yarns. Hmmmm.

I like to think of myself as artistic, and skilled with my fingers, and creative and even (blush) inspiring to others. From time to time I toy with the idea of leaving my (for me) easy profession of library management, with it’s regular, if small, paycheck, the 14 legal holidays and VRS pension, for something with more flair, something that draws upon these stores of artistry, skill and creativity. So I teach some classes. I do a story program in a school or library. I share my knowledge with others. I contemplate A Change.

It’s at that point a demon specter looms it’s ugly head: Production. I’ve knit some contract knitting before and what a shocker that was! Even a sweater I lusted to own myself, that was fun, easy, and gorgeous to touch and to look at, became ThatEvilThing once it assumed the mantel of responsibility to Another. Evidently even responsibility to Me is an issue, since I own more unfinished sweaters than finished ones.

I have long since accepted my distractibility as a part of my ENFP charm. Whenever possible I try to call it flexibility and use it to good advantage; looking for doorways in brick walls, making lemonade out of lemons. But there are times when lemonade is not the beverage called for and times when production has priority rights. In work, though sometimes it almost kills me, I do finish tasks. I’m usually in such a fog of denial and dreamy fantasizing, I don’t actually comprehend that I’ve finished a task, much less take any pleasure in it. It was years before I could look behind me and see a Whole Complete Brick Library With Columns On The Porch. I had fled reality months before the building opened and I wept for months afterwards.

Another arena where Coming To Completion and Dooty Doing are paramount is that three ring circus called Parenting. Whooee. Thank goodness the angels made my baby, so there were almost no occasions when I had to gird my loins and tackle the hard stuff. Once I heard LD say to a friend “Oh. I was practically raised by dogs.” and, though I am still laughing into my hand about that, the truth is - he could have been. I take little credit in what I did as a parent - all my reward comes from what I didn’t do - which was to Not Screw Up a really straight person. But when I have to answer to the Big Boss someday, at least I’ll be able to say I stayed the course when there were those few hard Mama-tasks to complete.

So - all this is just a long meander into the labyrinth of my brain, as I dig up excuses for not completing craft projects - or is it to understand why I don’t try to elevate my fiber love into a profession - or is it just that I don’t have to go to work today so I have time to babble? Fortunately, I’m a knitter. I have a ball of yarn. We can follow the thread back to the beginning again and I will tell you that it doesn’t matter if I spin all those merino rolags on one spindle or two. Either way they’ll get spun, plyed, and wet set. Tomorrow there will be an interesting length of yarn that is at least 50% lime green to knit into swatches - those magnificent Finished Objects of the ENFP knitter.

BSHP is languishing. It may languish for another week or two. Rats. It was supposed to be done by March 1. It could have been. It ought to be. I doubt it will. Ahh well. Spinning has rightful claims on my time this spring.

And as I peek out the window, the snow is still falling. We have at least half an inch of it already. Pretty pretty pretty. May your snow fall lightly and melt swiftly and may your yarn be smooth and stitch evenly.

posted by Bess | 7:22 AM


It sounds like the "nuudles" are a version of the potato starch thingies that I mainly know as a biodegradable (and non-staticky, and therefore less annoying) replacement for styrofoam packing peanuts.

We have great fun with them in my department whenever a package comes with the starch thingies. (Mostly it involves seeing how fast you can make them dissolve).

I don't think it would be an overly silly toy to share with adults, considering that grown - in some cases, VERY grown - biologists seem to enjoy them.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 4:25 PM  

Yep. In fact, I thought these would make great packing peanuts. But for sure I'll be buying them in bulk for story hour crafts. What fun.

By Blogger Bess, at 5:06 PM  

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Sunday, February 19, 2006  

The trip to Ferry Farm never came off. By 9:45 it was snowing and by 10 it was blowing in horizontally. I wasn’t about to drive a car full of school kids north in that weather. A quick change of plans was called for, but fortunately, our house holds some magical attraction for small children. Perhaps there are just too many mythical stories about LD or perhaps there are the right number of dogs, but whatever it is, little children love to come here and BH’s girls were quick off the mark to agree to the change.

It snowed all morning and about 15 minutes into the visit the girls found (up in William’s Room, of course) the bag of

I had seen them at Ben Franklin at Christmas time and couldn’t resist. I don’t have anyone to buy toys for anymore and don’t usually miss it, but these just tickled my fancy. My first thought was to give them to the YD’s to play with on a rainy Sunday afternoon but as the days passed I felt more and more embarrassed about offering such a silly toy to them. (I don’t always display my silly side, but it’s there.) I figured their purpose would reveal itself and when a little blonde head came down holding the bag in front of her with such a questioning look on her face I didn’t even have to hear what she wanted. Some looks tell it all.

We spread a sheet on the living room floor and those girls were busy for 3 hours. It was the happiest time. Lunch was eaten picnic style in the den while we watched one of the Jack Tale movies produced by Davenport Films. This one was very cute, about how Jack won the girl of his dreams by stealing his future father-in-law's bedsheets when the FiL was sleeping. The picture was a little dark, but I’m hoping that’s because the TV is right in front of a window so the night scenes all blacked out due to glare. At least, I’m telling myself that.

The snow let up around 1 or so without ever accumulating but we had enough fun to not mind missing all the George Washington fun. We’ll plan another trip up there for a warmer spring day.

The rest of the day was spent carding bright colored rolags and spinning them on my Golding spindle. I have so much pretty, but felted, handpainted roving - some of it in rather exotic fiber blends. I’m sure one has angora in it. I managed to card lots of noils into a good number of the rolags because it’s been so long since I’ve done any carding. By the late afternoon I’d remembered all the tips & tricks I know and my rolags became lovely silky soft things but at least half of them are only going to spin up “textured” yarn.

While playing with the spindles I made up a sample of an extremely textured yarn made with mohair locks and plied with thin tight merino. The students in my March class are all quilters and spinning for them will be an alternative fiber craft. I think they might like to know how to make something they could use to ornament a quilt block. This is certainly an exotic yarn. I’ll make one more using glittery thread and perhaps I’ll put some dyed mohair locks in their kits. I only expect about 10 students and we’ll have 3 hours for the class. Time for lots of fun.

I haven’t yet knit up the beautiful corriedale. I hadn’t actually planned to knit anything yesterday anyway, so I don’t feel behind schedule. But today I’ll pull out my trusty Barbara Walker books, pick a pretty diamond cable and cast on. The other yarn I’d thought I might use with this project is a no-go. It’s a Merino blend called Rose Garden and it’s just tooo much of a blend. I know, I’m the Queen of Bold Contrast, but I do think I can select subtle blends. This one isn’t just subtle - it’s invisible. No - if I need more yarn, I’ll just spin more.

And now it’s mid morning of a gorgeous sunshiny winter day. It’s not supposed to get out of the 30’s but all that sun will dry my laundry. Best of all - there is the whole of tomorrow to play in after this sweet day is done. The last Monday holiday till Memorial Day so I plan to savor every delicious moment of it. Hope the same for you.

posted by Bess | 7:46 AM


Drat - I was hoping the skeinwinder wouldn't live in the office and I might *cough* adopt the poor homeless thing... ah well.....

and in a quick glance at your side bar I thought you were reading a book called "The Sweater In the Juice" (obviously a horror story)

By Blogger Amie, at 8:30 AM  

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Saturday, February 18, 2006  

Thank you for the compliments. I’m extremely pleased with this yarn and madly in love with the fiber. I’m setting aside any sweater knitting this weekend to make up the fingerless gloves. I’ve a few yards of pretty pinky lavendery merino that was also spindle spun and I think I’ll use that to knit a wee bit of trim at beginning and end and perhaps embroider a lazy daisy inside the middle of a diamond cable - since there is only 100 yards of the grey. Together they ought to be enough.

I am also playing with a bag of little bits and pieces of handpainted fibers. They’re from my earliest efforts at dyeing and they’re mostly, though not all, bits of merino. Merino does want to felt and I was new at the process, so a lot of these pieces are pretty stubborn about not drafting. While fiddling around on Wednesday I experimented with making rolags out of them, in random colors, and spinning them on my drop spindle. I was surprised at how little difference I could see between the yarn made from the roving and the rolags. Both of them had little dots of colors popping out and the rolags were much easier to draft. Granted, I didn’t over blend the colors when carding, but I was surprised that there remained so much color definition. Since the main reason these bits and snips and 2 foot lengths are still in a bag was because they were so durn hard to draft - their fate is sealed. Rolags they shall become - and then yarn.

I didn’t quite finish the Great Office Excavation this week but I sure came close. Four file drawers are completely revamped, one is almost done and one is still hideously jammed, mostly with photographs of library events. There are a few, very small piles of papers that still must be sorted and a small drawer in my desk to clean out. The room is so empty now there’s an echo, or at least a little ring that hovers shimmeringly when you talk. I have some beautiful paintings by Mama that I’ll hang in the office and that ought to absorb the noise. It is a library director’s office, after all.

I love having Mama’s art in my daily life. There is already a large painting, perfectly positioned for viewing as I work at my desk, of LD and me on the local river tour boat, painted from a photograph of a special I-love-you day in June 1989, when Mama joined us for the picnic tour of the Rappahannock. Some paintings are very important - and this is one of them. I’ll spend a little time this weekend choosing which others I want to take with me. There’s a water color lesson of scenes of Richmond, including one of me walking our old German Shepherd, that she did for a class. I’ve often thought I’d like to have that near me too. Anyway once they are hung I will have glorious after photographs of CleanOfficeSpace to share. (Yep, even one of the skein winder)

I am ready to turn all this organizational zeal on the workroom but I must temper my janitorial instincts a bit and do Other Tasks. Fortunately, the workroom is not such a personal space and I can involve my staff in both the grunt work and the decision making. And doing all my Other Work will be so much fun in a clean environment with blank spaces and feng shue type energy flow. Almost makes me want to go to work on Monday. (Heh heh. I’ll resist the urge, don’t worry.)

But I am going somewhere today. In honor of Washington’s Birthday there are events planned at Ferry Farm - his boyhood home near Fredericksburg. BH and the girls and I are going to go up and see what’s cooking - unless it snows - which is what was in the forecast - but we don’t believe it. It was 70 this week and the teens were all in shorts. No snow. Right? Yeah. Right.

posted by Bess | 8:13 AM


Verrry prrretty (roll the r's for the best effect)! Yes, cables.

By Blogger Jane, at 6:40 AM  

Oh my! Bess, it is absolutely gorgeous. I'm glad you are on a yarn diet because now we get to see beautiful examples of your spinning talent. Don't stop. You are REALLY inspiring me to jump into something new!

By Anonymous Isobel, at 6:46 AM  

Ooh, that is so beautiful! I can actually tell from the picture it is soft and springy.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 7:59 AM  

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Friday, February 17, 2006  

Isn't she pretty? This is about 7 wraps per inch if I don't scrunch it together at all. It's very soft, very springy, just perfect. Looks like it ought to be knit with size 5's to me. This is from the fleece J and I bought in 2003! Yikes. I haven't made anything with it yet.

But it is destined for cables. Just you wait and see.

posted by Bess | 12:03 PM


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The beautiful skein of Corriedale yarn is almost dry. When it is I’ll measure it and have the wpi but it looks like a beautiful sportweight yarn to me - soft, springy and ready to be knit into fat cables. The skein has 104 yards in it and I managed to ply all of it in one session - quite a chore towards the end, for the shaft was so full I had to set the spindle on it’s hook and wind the yarn on as if it were a support spindle. I know, I am sure it is a bad thing to spin on the hook end, but I do it all the time. When I finally do the research and find the technical reason for not supporting the hook (hint hint - you more skilled spinners - feel free to save me the effort) I will stop doing it.

La this is a gorgeous fiber. If I weren’t on fiber restriction I would look for a white corriedale fleece. Which would be disgusting - since I have this beautiful fleece, all processed and ready to spin. How swiftly my mind turns it’s eye onto acquisition. What a needy soul must be lurking beneath this confident exterior. I must remember to try to operate from the knowledge of my own abundance!!

Anyway - it is a thoroughly satisfying fiber and I am enormously proud of the yarn it created. I plan to knit up a pair of fingerless gloves with it - something with cables, since I’m planning to knit the entire fleece into a cabled beauty. This can be a sort of swatch - although I had considered spinning more of a worsted weight for the sweater. I may change my mind, though, after knitting up this skein - for I don’t really live in a heavy cabled sweater climate. It’s possible the thinner yarn may make for a more wearable garment. Things to ponder.

Rats. I see that Blogger is down - which drastically shortens my time on the computer this morning, since half of my morning routine is keeping up with friends’ blogs. Of course, that gives me time to go start another spinning project. I’m going to make paper quills for my spindle and a shoe box lazy Kate to show my students next month. I usually just spin little bits and samples on my spindles, saving the bigger projects for my wheels. Thus, I don’t really mind if a little more twist goes into a sample when the yarn winds off the tip of the spindle shaft.

I do mind, though, if I’m drop spinning yarn for a project. It’s so easy to over spin or over ply a yarn, although I must say, the dormancy factor fools me often enough. Thank you, PatsyZ, for teaching me early on to always always make a control yarn. That tells me what the fiber wants to do at the twist and grist I’m spinning. I may decide to do something else with it, pushing the fiber out of it’s natural inclination, but I can always come back to my spinning after a break and make sure I’m still creating the same basic yarn.

I’d read a little article about making quills in a back issue of SpinOff, instantly becoming intrigued by the idea. This lovely 3 day weekend looks like a good time to play with toys. I wonder if I can find a shoe box somewhere around here.

Ahh - and I see blogger is back up - so I’ll post this little tidbit and sometime today I’ll post a picture of the beautiful Corriedale yarn.

posted by Bess | 6:06 AM


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Thursday, February 16, 2006  

Woops. Late again. Not much time, and no literary inspiration anyway. It’s funny how one week can feel so leisurely and the next can feel so busy, even if there’s not much difference between them. Probably the only real difference is that I sent a bunch of e-mails this week, so when I finally get around to the blog I am lexicographicaly spent.

I’ve been drop spinning some wonderful corriedale wool (said that yesterday, didn’t I?) and I started plying it last night. Usually my drop spinning has less twist than my wheel spinning - obviously it’s easier to treadle more than to twirl - but this is fairly thin yarn so perhaps that’s what put the extra twist into it. Well - no way to give an accurate description of it till it’s been wet set but that might be by tomorrow. I have no way of knowing how much yarn there is because I’ve always used this spindle for samples. It looks like about 100 yards, though.

I’m moving down the lateral files in the Great Office Excavation Project. Some files haven’t been gone through since 1992 - in fact - that seems to have been some sort of pivotal year. I'm finding all sorts of things from that year, all neatly organized. I even found my diary/notebook from 1992. One of the resolutions in January of that year was .... Clear away the clutter. Evidently I did so - but forgot about it in succeeding Januarys. 14 years later I am doing it again. Perhaps, while I’m at it - I’ll set up a "clear it out" time table so I don’t make the same cozy and comfortable mistakes again.

The order from Quill came in yesterday - with the Pendaflex hanging file boxes. I’m scribbling down ideas for a new file system and have decided each drawer will be for different types of things. One for just plain library administration - personnel, budget, bills, etc. One will be for building related things - service contract documents, furniture info - you get the picture. One for Collection Development - where the catalogs will go too. Anyway - that’s the idea. Nobody ever taught me filing and though I’ve read books about setting up filing systems - like knitting patterns - they never seem meant to fit me.

When I’ve gotten to the last file drawer, I’ll have completed the entire office. Then we hit the workroom.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


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Wednesday, February 15, 2006  

Hmmm. Hope everyone who wanted to, had a cozy sweet Valentine’s day. Mine was just right. There is an enormous and quite elegant bouquet in the den, spread out on a green cloth, all greeny pine and red berried holly with arching branches of copper beach, their curly dry leaves still clinging to the thin stems, all of them hugging a cluster of yellow alstomera lilies.

Perhaps I ought not be surprised at the artistry of this arrangement. His mother was a nonpareil at flower display. I just haven’t ever seen that side of him - this man with whom I’ve shared a house since 1971. The surprise of it, coupled with its beauty, is about the only thing that could draw words from my fingers today. I am strangely silent this morning, my literary stream dry as dust. So in true diary fashion I will say only that yesterday I fulfilled the rest of my medical Good Ideas for 2006 and made every nasty doctor appointment and scheduled every Good For You test on the list. Somewhere, I believe, there is written down some mention of a reward for completing the entire list, but even that isn’t motivation enough to make me chatty today.

posted by Bess | 6:43 AM


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Tuesday, February 14, 2006  

Woops. Slept late yesterday and just didn’t have time to write a post - and there are other days this week that may run short of that most precious commodity - time. We’ll just have to see if I wake up early enough to post - and if I have anything worthy or saying. Odd - I suddenly felt a wave of self consciousness about the paucity of illustrations - the outright lack of them when it comes to my own handiwork - on this blog. Not that I owe anything to the world when it comes to the blog, but I am reminded that I always wanted to have photographs of my work up and I haven’t in lo these months and months (and months). It really is time I succumb to the press of technology or at least get out the old Nikon, some sunny day, and take some old fashioned film pictures.

Sigh. Always some sort of Ought To Do lurking around the corner, reminding you to turn off the auto-pilot. Combining with a night filled with scolding dreams, these arrows are all hitting the target of my conscience.

There now - it’ll pass. And no doubt, sooner than it should.

I had lunch with B yesterday. She gave me the good news that my March 11 drop spindle class had “made” - enough students have signed up to justify paying me to teach. I’m really looking forward to teaching it. I haven’t yet been able to figure out a time table for teaching knitting this winter and half my fun with fiber play comes from teaching. In fact, I love it so much I wonder just why I haven’t set up any classes this winter. So, in true research librarian fashion, I paw through my brain for the connecting threads and realize that I am deep in learning mode myself - and that is the one time I don’t like to teach. Oh - I’m always thinking, as I learn something new, “Ahh this will be fun to teach”, but I’m not ready to actually arrange, schedule, and organize the teaching.

I’m working away on some drop spindle spinning. I love the drop spindle but I have yet to see anyone who holds the fibers quite like I do. I’ve been examining other teachers’ methods and explanations and trying to decide how much of my own unique technique I want to incorporate into the coming classes. I also realized I haven’t anything made of my handspun yarn. Everything I’ve made so far has been given away. I’m sure GD will let me use the green merino/silk scarf I gave her, but I don’t even remember where everything else is. So I’m spinning up some lovely grey corriedale roving using the beautiful spindle I bought from Stony Mt. Farms 2 years ago. I’ve about finished the second spindle full. I’ll ply them later this week and I am thinking of knitting a pair of fingerless gloves with it. I’ll have to see, of course. It’s fairly thin yarn, but spindle spinning tends to spin up much more loosely than wheel spinning (unless one is being very conscious and watchful) so it ought to be a very springy and cushy yarn. Just the thing for fingerless gloves.

I also want some samples of textured yarn spun from mohair locks, at least for this first class. It’s 3 hours long, which allows me time to introduce a lot more than basic spinning to my students. The students are all coming from a quilter’s background and I think they might like to see how to create some exotic yarns to use as embellishments on quilt blocks. Imagine couching down an exotic yarn full of curly tips rolling off the core, using silk thread you also spun yourself? Well - I know I’d start drooling over the chance to make my own fancy yarns. I bet at least some of them will too. Hmmm. In fact - I believe I will make a little sample block with decorative embroidery done with handspun. In all my abundant spare time. While I take care of the 48 foreign orphans I’ve just adopted and write the History of The World in time for publication in April, immediately after I host the party for 300 in honor of the first crocus blossoms.

I think I’ll ask B if she’d like some fancy yarns to embroider a sample quilt square.

Knitting on the first sleeve of the BSHP sweater. I have decided to ignore the sausage casing issue for the time being. I thought the sweater would be too short, too, while I was knitting it. I’m sure there are many more angst driven worries up ahead before completion. Neck opening too low. Underarm bindoffs too narrow. Oh Me of Little Faith. Zipping along, though, on the sleeve because it is so few stitches. I don’t know as I’ll be finished by March - but I bet I’ll be looking at being finished. Better go find another bag to stuff it into once I reach the last little bit. Got to let these sweaters ripen you know. Can’t just knit ‘em and wear ‘em. Nope, nope. Gotta' have oaken barrels or at least Walmart bags to age ‘em in.

What a strange mood I’m in today. Best be I log off before I expose any more of it.

posted by Bess | 7:20 AM


I would have been a toad in a past life (You drift into altered states of consciousness freely and easily.
You also have the power to change luck and life a long life.)

We got over a foot here, I think, and I'm set up with a fire crackling, the wheels spinning and lots of projects to play with... what more could a girl ask?

By Blogger Amie, at 12:01 PM  

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Sunday, February 12, 2006  

We got snow!

All day I waited for the flakes to fall but nothing came down but a bit of drizzly cold rain till the sun went down. But in the night, beautiful fat flakes began to lime the trees and disguise the cars, turning them into hummocks of whiteness. The poor, overgrown arborvitae by the front door (a landscape disaster) are bowed nearly to the ground. I’ve swept them off once, but the forecast is for snow till mid-afternoon, so I’ll be out again at least two more times. Funny - I really want to remove them. I am sure I’ll have to cut them down, but I can’t bear to see them bowed and broken, so when it snows I go out with broom and whack away at the branches. They’ve grown so tall the outdoor light doesn’t illuminate anything anymore. They are crowding the passage from the front door. I ought to let them just break from the snow weight and then I’ll be motivated to remove them. Eh. There. Lots of things I ought to do.

I finished the front of the BSHP sweater, making the huge mistake of joining the front right shoulder to the back right shoulder before I’d finished knitting the front left shoulder. I won’t do that again. I had this huge sweater to slug around each time I had to purl back. Of course, you must all know I’m not purling back. This is a K3P1 rib pattern that is offset on the “purl” row, having you K3P1 going back as well. It’s highly textured, extraordinarily stretchy and breaks up pooling in a hand painted yarn beautifully. It’s almost a garter stitch sweater so I decided to take advantage of that to practice sewing pieces together. I actually enjoy the beautiful way a mattress stitch pulls two pieces of knitting snuggly into one, but not enough to purl half a sweater or knit half my stranded colorwork blindly. So there are very few sweaters that I knit in flat pieces. With this stitch I had the perfect opportunity to practice.

Also, I’ve never designed a sweater with a sewn in, set in sleeve. I’ve knit several, and the sewing in looked like C**P, so here was another area where practice was called for. How fortunate I actually want to practice. The design was inspired by Elizabeth Zimmermann’s brioche turtleneck sweater that her son is wearing I the new Opinionated Knitter book. Of course - he’s a broad shouldered flat bellied man and I am a short waisted big chested curvaceous woman. I don’t think we’ll create the same effect in similar sweaters but I am crossing my fingers that, once sewn together I will, at least, look cozy and casual. If I look ridiculous - I believe I will give this sweater away.

The yarn is Brown Sheep’s Handpaint which is a mohair/wool single that reminds me a lot of their Lambs Pride. It’s a gorgeous yarn, but could be knit into a scratchy sweater if the tension were too tight. This very elastic ribbing precludes tight knitting and the fabric created with this yarn and this stitch is utterly delicious; a bouncy, scrunchy, dig-your-fingers-into-it tactile thrill. I know I’ll enjoy wearing it. I just hope I won’t look like sausage in casing.

Ahh. Well. WW is still in force. The plan is one size smaller. The vision is sleek and stylish. Perhaps ... yes ... perhaps.

The kids gave BD a 2 month subscription to Netflicks for Christmas and throughout January we had a rapid turnover in ThingsToSee. Now, as we near the end of the second month, the turnaround has slowed to, not exactly a crawl, but certainly a leisurely stroll. So we have nothing new to watch on a snowy Sunday. There is always P&P - the good version - and all my fiber videos. But this past week the best of the new stuff we’ve watched was Batman Begins. It worked, mind, but let's face it, we were watching the story of a cartoon character! How much does it take for a movie about a cartoon character to work? It gets a C+ from me but I don’t feel like fiddling with the template enough to put a plus by the stars. Hence, the 3 star rating. And just in case you wondered what the stars mean:

Could just barely stand it - but something made me want to see how it turned out
Good but with serious flaw/s - or else trivial, in a Frosted Flakes sort of way
Pretty good

If I really hate every flick I watched in a given week - I’ll come up with some sort of frowny face ikon.

As for books - I gave up on After Dark. I’m reading Shirlee Haizlip’s The Sweeter the Juice now, because it’s the library book club choice for February. Beautiful sentences, now and then, and an issue that I’m still pondering, but not riveting, because I’ve already read this Quest For Origins thing before in a similar book whose title I've now forgotten. Better read a little more before I comment on this one. But I have a neat children’s book I can’t wait to dive into once I’ve finished my required reading.

So - happy snowy Sunday all you east coasters. May your soup bubble and your needles fly.

posted by Bess | 7:50 AM


The snow is comin' -- don't worry. Supposed to start later this evening and snow all night to bring us delightful accumulation by morning. If not, Jim Duncan (ch. 12 weatherman) is in deep trouble.

I, too, must have a daily chocolate fix. I only gave it up once for Lent, but I gave up all sweets that Lent, and ended up losing a ton of weight. Would that I could live without sweets forever, but life is too short for such deprivation.

By Blogger Mary, at 1:32 PM  

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Saturday, February 11, 2006  

No snow yet. But still hoping. The sky is pregnant with some sort of participation, the clouds fat and heavy and thick, like the underside of a fleece. The weatherman promises about 24 hours of it and if his promise is good, the later it begins the happier I will be. What a waste to blanket the land with white immobility on a Saturday when we could get a snow day off if it could be delayed a single day.

The house is only partially prepared for the great snuggle down. I forgot to lay in a supply of WW fudge bars when I was doing the weekly shopping and, true to my 2006 Good Idea resolve, I am not going back into a grocery store till Tuesday night. I’ll just have to get my chocolate fix some other way. And be sure, the chocolate fix is no trite idiom. It’s an essential part of my weight management. Each year I give up something for lent and last year I gave up chocolate. I don’t eat much, only a small taste, but I eat it every day, like a vitamin pill. During those 40 days without it I found myself eating late into the night in a frantic search for the terminal food punctuation to my day. Where was the period that told me “Eating is over - Time to move on”? I put on 5 lbs before Easter - not the thing to do at New Spring Dress time. I won’t do that to myself again, although I do have my little March 1 offering picked out and ready to sacrifice.

But, considering I have been tagged by C, and thank you, missy, I think these are fun, here is what is in the fridge as we head into a snowy Saturday:

Oh. How boring

Graves Mt. Farm Apple Butter - because theirs is the best, bar none.
Mayonnaise in three fat levels - with only the real stuff tasting any good at all - why do they put so durn much sugar in fat free and low fat mayonnaise?
2 lbs of crimini mushrooms.
Velveeta lite - because that is my Mama Loves You Comfort Food from Childhood
Benetino’s sausage and cheese - the only turkey sausage BD really enjoys.

I have an almost always full refrigerator with a rotating cast of staples, like eggs and yogurt and bags’n’bags of green leaves for salad. Alas. There is nothing classy or elegant or special unless one counts the high dollar parmesan cheese I bought with a Christmas gift certificate from S. But it’s very functional.

Mr. BankStatement came. There will be no camera this month. So, for those who yearn for visuals, here is my take on New York’s Fall 2006 fashions.

What the chic nun is wearing this season. Must be French.

I would have killed for this outfit when I was 16. I still yearn to wear knee socks, but on the over 50 set they look decidedly strange. Believe me, I accepted adult status decades ago. But they are cute.

How eighties. I never had the opportunity to wear one of these when they were in style last time. Shan’t have one this time around either.

Oh god. Where are my sunglasses?

Peanut butter for lunch? This is one of three outfits that looked like brown paper bags to me. yuck.

But some things are timeless. In fact, I think I would look better in that outfit than the model. Her arms are too skinny. Mine would be just right. I wonder how much that thing costs.

Still no snow and it’s 2 hours later. Good luck, you olympian knitters. You know who you are.

posted by Bess | 9:12 AM


Bess, I just ordered a new DVD of P & P from Amazon for only 19.96!
Colin Firth is my Valentine gift to myself. If only I had ordered him last week, I could have spent this "shut in " weekend with him & my knitting! What a wonderful thought.

By Anonymous Isobel, at 6:00 PM  

Consider yourself tagged, but it's the painless "fridge" meme, not something that takes honest thought. I liked this one. ;-)

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:40 PM  

I'm late catching up on my LTQ reading for the week. Pictures would be nice but you know how I feel about the words! Have a good weekend, we'll be snowed in in Hanover. Jane

By Blogger jane, at 6:58 AM  

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Friday, February 10, 2006  

Oh. Well. My, my. Hmmm. Photographs, huh?

Well. We’ll have to see about that.

Of course I always thought I’d be getting a digital camera and wouldn’t have to use the clumsy (and not very clear focusing) scanner at work after I’d gotten ordinary photographs developed and all. It’s just that the cheapy digital never seemed to work and the $$ for the other ones seemed to always get spent on other things. And it’s just sooo easy to sit down and let my fingers tap out what’s going on. Besides, the hamster inside the home computer told me even .jpg files are a burden for him to handle. Too many 1’s and 0’s. He’s getting old, nobody wants a job working in these antediluvian computers. And for sure, Himself is not going to make the shift away from Windows98 anytime soon. (smirking smiley here)

But I hear. I will try to color up this little missive more frequently. Mind now, Mr. Bank Statement showed up yesterday and said not this month, unless I add more protein to his diet.

The [research] trip to Richmond was a complete success. I not only must have that $$,$$$ microfilm collection for the library, I will. I was absolutely charmed by the delightful window onto 20th century Tappahannock. I nearly wept when I read that Mrs. WB and her son, P, had lunch with Mrs. JW in D___ville, Thursday and that many of Mrs. WB’s friends in that community joined them for afternoon tea. I remember all of those Mrs. oh, so well, and loved every one of them and was swept with sudden nostalgic longing for their company just one more time. Nope nope. We will find the cash for this project and the whole county will be glad for it. In fact, this will be a fun project to work on over the next year or so.

Imagine this, though. I forgot to take my knitting with me. Yep. 3 hours in a car in daylight and nary a stitch knit. This is bad. And the weather for the weekend is rain/snow, all the way up to Waldorf, MD. I believe our trip to the old growth forest is put off for another week. Since it looks like a shut in weekend, I will make every effort to finish up that sweater body and begin a sleeve. I ought to be aided by my great desire to watch the real P&P again. I’m in need of a Regency fix, big time.

But that’s all the news from here. Well. it’s not all the news, but it’s all I feel like writing about. I’m probably going to rant tomorrow about health insurance because my GP just told BD that he’s quitting due to high insurance costs and I have to go find a new doctor and I am not happy. And I see now, that’s why I’m so reticent and boring today. I can’t feel witty when I feel robbed by a bad societal structure. Rats. Well. At least I know why I’m so dull today. Hmmm. Thank you blogger - for helping me get to the root of my ennui.

At least it’s Friday.

posted by Bess | 6:49 AM


please, a little of both

and you should please me. please.


By Blogger Amie, at 10:03 AM  

Definitely both! And more of everything, of course.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:16 PM  

You won't read this in time, but in case you're staying in town the entire day, there's a knitting group that meets on Wednesday nights -- they alternate between meeting at Unraveled (Gayton Crossing) and at a Barnes & Noble on that side of town....

By Blogger Mary, at 2:25 PM  

"...enough pragmatic American to know that if I don’t actually feel sentiment I can probably buy some at an antique store.)" LOL!!! I luv it, Dear Bess -- L-U-V it!

-- Your VirgoCanuckSoulSister

P.S. The Fall fashion line up?! What happened to Spring?

P.P.S. The only thing that would make it a more perfect week would be having a chance to stop into an LYS while in Richmond... ;-)

By Blogger Margaret, at 2:28 PM  

Oh, yes, some of each, please. Just for context, you know.

By Blogger Jane, at 5:13 PM  

don't get me started on doctors and insurance companies

By Blogger vi, at 8:54 PM  

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Thursday, February 09, 2006  

Warning. This paragraph contains a sentence written by an ENFP.

One entire wall of the office is perfect. That meant I had to leave a few (small) piles on the desk but they will be visible only until they are filed away - in the Soon-2-B empty lateral file drawers along Another wall in my office. In the mean time, from my desk I can gaze at artfully arranged shelves, some with Professional Tomes, some with Important To Me Sentimental Brick-A-Brack (Yes. Be amazed, those who know me. I have just enough Irishman in me to squeeze a drop of sentiment out of this analytical Frenchwoman’s heart - and enough pragmatic American to know that if I don’t actually feel sentiment I can probably buy some at an antique store.) and some [shelves] starkly empty. Just to the left of that bank of shelves is the antique skein winder and then the door.

Just remembering what it looks like gives me a sense of ease. This weekend I will finally select a few more of Mama’s paintings to hang in the office. I think an arrangement of three small ones would be effective on that other blank white wall. Alas. You must be satisfied with word pictures for a while longer, for Visa sent me the monthly tally and my high hopes for reaping profit by perusing the shelves of Wal-Mart only once a week fell a little short of my inner target. Yes. The total is down a lot from last month, but my dears - that was the Christmas bill. Still we must see what Mr. Bank Statement says, and he’s being dilatory about showing up in the mail box. It is still possible that a camera will leap into my hands this month and I can transform this symphony in black and white into a kaleidoscope of color. (Can you tell the New York fall fashions are up on-line now?)

But that makes me ponder a few questions - would people rather see pictures of the Life-0-Queen or read words about it? Or is it not either/or but please, a little of both? And is it important to me to please others with this blog? And would I be more interested in an illustrated history of self? Ahh and what is the meaning of life? Why am I here? Is my name Collin Farrel? Am I pretending to be Capt. John Smith? Who is she?

Ooops. Sorry. Just nattering because I have nothing else to post today. No knitting, no spinning, no good books - and btw, I am giving up on At Day’s Close. It’s a cursed book. I pick it up and BD starts asking me questions, about many things, but also about the book that he interrupts me from reading every time I pick it up. This is not ment to be. And the little I have read of it tells me that there may be no profound message in it anyway, even if it probably is chock full of interesting tidbits you could toss into conversations at cocktail parties to amaze and befuddle your friends.

Today I go to Richmond with S, who is not just the birthday girl, but also on the library board. We’re scoping out some microfilm history of the county, trying to decide if the library ought to shell out $$,$$$ to get that History in the library. I couldn’t set up a meeting with the WiseGuyWhoKnows but we may get lucky and catch him in his lair. After that, we’re going to eat expensive food cooked by others. And tomorrow is Friday. Sounds like a perfect week.

posted by Bess | 6:48 AM


My favorite thing about your office was the beautiful antique skein winder in the corner.... you are keeping that, aren't you?

(or should I offer to take it off your hands?)

By Blogger Amie, at 3:15 PM  

I think I have the Worst Nightmare Office. I'm going to take a picture. It's truly embarrassing, so it will be called a "before" picture. Will you come and help me turn it into a Real Office?

By Blogger Jane, at 3:56 PM  

No, I wouldn't let the antique skein winder go. It's safe in its corner to remind me of why I work.

It will probably go home when I buy a drum carder - because that means I'll have a place for it.

Hmmm. what about a career change?Office Organizer Consultant

By Blogger Bess, at 4:57 PM  

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006  

The biggest thing I’ve ever done, besides raising the PerfectAngelBabyDarlingOnlySon, was to steer the library from its old cramped 2,000 square foot former high school shop building to the pretty brand new 8,000 square foot new building, designed specifically to be a library. You would not believe how much you can fit into 8K sq.ft. but you have to have the right architect to do it. The dream for a new building grew out of a boring car trip in an un-air-conditioned car, up I95 to D.C. one hot July day. The reality came 7 years later, when we moved in, to the thrill and delight of the entire county.

Now - I know lots of communities have/build/expand civic buildings and I was not coming up with an original simple machine, but I sure was doing something entirely new for me and this was a project that had to actually - gasp - horror! - Come To Completion. And to the greater public, it did. Out front, where YouThePublic peruse tidy shelves with elegant paneled woodwork or lounge in fabulously comfortable & stylish chairs, clustered in a sunny bay window, you probably think the library was all finished years ago. It was not. As we got down to the wire, all the clutter, crap and mystery paper, all the ancient statistical compilations - going back to 1978 I discovered yesterday - that were in what passed for my office in the old building just got shoved onto shelves and into drawers in what is a real office - for me. I had never had a real office and did not know how to be in one, unless I was visiting the doctor. I had only ever known cardboard file boxes with slightly crushed edges and little bits of grit that had sprinkled down from cinder block walls. I had only known metal warehouse shelving purloined from some garage owner looking for a tax write-off. I had never had enough staff, even, to go into an office during business hours. Imagine your worst nightmare of an office - and mine would be just one step below that. I know it is one step below because I have been in the worst nightmare office and it belongs to someone else. But mine is close.

Or - it was, because late last week I began the Great Office Excavation. The first stage was to clear off the desk top. In my old office I had a sheet of plywood nailed to a sheet of plywood paneling as a desk. In my present office there is a HON Office Furniture desk (or what looks like one, anyway). I’ve managed to clear it of loose scraps of paper and folded-open-to-the-article magazines maybe a dozen times in the past 6 years, usually just before I go on vacation. The sad truth was that all those heaps were just in one of the empty lateral file drawers, which, now, are full of piles and heaps that I hid from view immediately prior to previous vacations. Evidently, I have yet to actually move into my Real Office.

I’ve spent the past two days clearing off the wall of shelving where there were THREE (3!) Operations Manuals for the New Building. I have no idea why there might be a need for 3. The county administrator already told me he didn’t want one and neither did the maintenance man. Now there is only one. And there are no more statistical forecasts from the Commonwealth of Virginia older than 2005. It might be fun to see how wrong the wonks were a few years ago, but I am not wading through 15 years of miscalculations. No point in housing them. There is also no longer a bag of huck toweling on one shelf nor are there two cassette players and their headphones. The future for these bookshelves will be to hold books I actually use and perhaps a few tasteful ornaments or photographs. The rest is to be Open Space - space that can be dusted by janitorial staff who come in the night.

There actually are three large file drawers with at least a semblance of organization to them, but there is another full of photographs and wrapping paper and two more that are just full of mystery paper. The trash heap was so bad yesterday we had to make a trip to the town dump with it. I shudder to think what it will be like by Friday. But already I can feel the difference a tidy, attractively arranged, usefully stocked wall of bookshelves is going to make on my working day. Just sitting at my desk, looking across a gleaming surface at shelves with space on them made me feel so relaxed and yet at the same time so energized. As if I could think at last.

Odd - I can hardly wait to go to work - to do housekeeping. Fun, so it only once housekeeping. Happily there are people paid to do the drudge of daily maintenance. But at last, after 6 years, I am ready to move into my office and it’s an exciting prospect. I’m just sorry I didn’t take a Before photograph.

And speaking of photographs - for those longing to see visual representations of TheQueen’s Progress - I must beg patience. Like the knee bone being connected to the thigh bone - a camera purchase must be connected to the bank statement which is connected to both the Visa bill and the electric bill, non of which have showed up in the mail. And even then they must all be connected to the final balance which must be connected to black numbers.....

But one of these days there will be pictures and perhaps you will urge me to go back to a text version. Till then, be pleased to know that I’ve knit up one front shoulder to the short row shaping rows. When I finish with the other shoulder I’ll join front to back with 3-needle bind-off stitches and knit the loose turtleneck collar immediately. After that - the sleeves!

Happy Hump Day to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:54 AM


Whez da fab photos you promised ?!
I await them impatiently...

By Blogger yarnahoy, at 9:27 AM  

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006  

Yep, Judy - I think I know more ENFP librarians than in any other profession besides Mother Of Toddlers. All that Possibility in a library. That opportunity for knowledge and understanding. Always coming up with ideas for programs and displays and knowing the secret story behind the Da Vinci code and already owning Holy Blood, Holy Grail because you thought it was an interesting idea back in 1985. All those bits and pieces and never having to really know the whole story - just the high points - just - where it’s shelved. Yep Yep - it’s the profession for the soul of an ENFP. Just so long as we can hire a bunch of SJ’s to put everything back, no?

So. Monday down and a trip to Richmond located somewhere in the rest of this week. Possibly Thursday. S has a birthday lunch coming to her and we are doing "research" at the state library.

I didn’t knit a stitch last night. I did spin a tad - some of the deep teal blue from my Wall-0-Color bag that matches perfectly some beads I have. I fear the excessive handling of the fibers in this bag of wool is causing some matting, because this stuff was the devil to spin yesterday. It will be a heavily textured yarn. That’s about all I can say. The beads will add only more facets of texture to it. It’s the smallest chunk of color I bought - wish I’d bought more - but there you have it. Truly an accent yarn for the swing coat I will one day knit with this stuff.

Hmmm. I thought I had some clever point to make, but it’s slipped away while I trolled other blogs. Oh . Yes! I remember!!

Especially for you Virginia readers, but for those of you who love fairy tales, have children, work in libraries, I want to recommend some perfectly marvelous films. They are live action American versions of Grimms Fairytales. They’re shot in Virginia and have a distinct Appalachian feel to them. They’re absolutely delightful. Quaintly written, performed by local actors, there’s a homespun feel to them that only adds to the real sense of the folk tale - the people’s story. With a delightful moral to tie everything up at the end. They’re simply magic.

The state library used to have a film collection which they lent out to libraries for their programs. These were brand new in the early 1990’s but almost immediately the library axed the film department, under Governor’s orders, mind, but with the banal observation that "You can get these movies on video now."

Bull. You could get Debbie doing Dallas or the latest Disney animated insult, but you sure couldn’t get high quality children’s films on video. It was necessary, of course, to slog into the technological future, but there was a long dry spell when I couldn’t find these films. Then one day I found my favorite, Bearskin, available from our main book jobber and on its box was the producer’s web address.

So - if you have any reason to need fairy tale films; for your kids’ birthday parties, for your secret fairy tail heart, or for any reason you could think of, do go either to your public library and insist they purchase these films, or buy them yourself. Available on VHS or DVD.

posted by Bess | 7:27 AM


Bess, I envy you getting to see an old growth forest! I knew there was one in MD somewhere -- it's in Prince George's County.

Thanks for your offer to cheer me from the sidelines during my Knitting Olympics. I'm surprised that so many people seem to think it's about competition rather than challenge. Challenges are exciting and invigotating; competitions are not.

By Blogger Jane, at 8:31 AM  

See, that? There ARE some beautiful things north of VA!!!! MD has some pretty good things going for it, to ya know....


By Blogger Amie, at 8:58 AM  

Hi Bess. *I* am an ENFP, too! I know just what you mean about doing all of those appears we're kindred fiber spirits. I'm a lucky girl!

By Anonymous Judy, at 5:20 PM  

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Monday, February 06, 2006  

Monday already? Sheesh! Now, how can I be out of the office one day this week so that it too can be a 4 day work week?

This reminds me of that stunningly handsome librarian that used to work at the local community college. He told me that any good library director can find a way to be out of the office at least one day a week. He was actually talking about playing golf with the county administrator, but beneath the realpolitik of his scheming beat the heart of a sloth. Oh la, I forget his name. But he was soooooo good looking and so energetic and was one of the only two people I ever considered leaving my Position Of Responsibility for the role of an underling. Gary. Yes. That was his name. And Patsy. That was the other person who could have bossed me around any time she wanted. One of Patsy’s former employees told me she could get more out of her staff than any of them ever dreamed they had inside. Yes. Some people really are Good For You. Alas, both of them are long gone now. But it was a thrill knowing them.

Odd to muse about the past like that. Well, this weekend is past as well and was full of ProDuction. There is the entire BSHP sweater front, knit up to the neck bind-offs - which will not, of course, be bound off, but put on a stitch holder. I’ve knit this on a circular needle, as I don’t even own straights any more, but now I have to struggle with the unwieldiness of having 2 shoulders on 2 circs, which I do not like. I believe I’ll use a DP as a third hand. I know I have a set of size 8’s around here.

It’s funny how I get nervous with each stage of this project and have to let it linger in the basket a day or two. I had plenty of time and I was certainly on a fiber roll yesterday, but once I hit the front neckline I just had to put it down. I am determined to finish this sweater in February (really it ought not to have taken this long) so I suppose I shall have to put some sort of goal/deadline on this week.


That would be good since we’re off on an historical exploration ramble next weekend. I could knit a sleeve in the car while we tour a primeval forest in Maryland. Hear that Miss A? You have an uncut old growth forest right there in your very own state. Nope. I haven’t a clue where it is. Mr. Jamestown and Mr. Chesapeake Bay are going to be my guides, though, and after my tour I will give a full report.

But back to the fiber report. Once I hit the brick wall of sweater panic I emptied two bobbins of 2 ply merino/mohair blend. There are now 340 yards of it and I would estimate the gauge is 4 = 1 inch. I suspect I’ll need every bit of 1,000 yards to make a cabled cardigan with shirt collar. If I were the type to stick with anything longer than half an hour I could have that done in 2 weeks. Alas for the ENFP in ME.

But with empty bobbins I was not tempted to continue down the same path. I was more in the didddly mood and spun a tiny bit of soy silk which bored me with it’s milky cream color. Rummaging in my stash I pulled out a yellow and blue silk top - what ever made me buy that? I’ll never wear anything made from it - and played around with fine spinning. I’ve made up about 25 yards of a cabled yarn which might knit into a pretty little jewelry gift bag. It might even get beads. I’m still yearning for beads.

Who knows what the next thing to go onto my wheel will be. I’m thinking fun. I’m thinking playful. But I’m also hearing the Wall-0-Color calling to me. As long as I leave the fibers in their black plastic lawn-n-leaf bag I can ignore them but if I dump them out on the floor all sorts of energy flows up from that huge pile of color. Hmmm. There’s a little time before breakfast. I believe I’ll go empty the bag.

May your Monday be short and sweet and may Friday come swiftly.

posted by Bess | 7:48 AM


You have me reading your favorite astrologer too, he's quite good.

This is one of those times when we part company as "twins" - I don't like having to be overly conscious of what I eat. I am going to stay with the Flex plan, but adapt it my way - focus on getting my points from low-glycemic index veggies and lean meats. Most WW menus are interchangeable with South Beach, but I've found that if I avoid simple carbohydrates I lose weight a lot faster and more efficiently. I have to watch both - I think it's the way my body is programmed. I've lost very little just counting points, and I think it's because my body doesn't process too many carbs well.

By Blogger Catherine, at 8:34 AM  

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Sunday, February 05, 2006  


2006 is an exceptional year. It brings a long season of rare 'lunar standstills' during which we will all find ourselves having to stop, stand still for a while and rethink our idea about what is or isn't 'natural'.

How about that. Mr.Horoscope is uncannily on the money for me sometimes, but this message is for all. And wasn’t I just saying that this was the year I resolved to stop trundling along, look around, and maybe chose a new direction? Evidently we will all be given many opportunities to do this. Alas, specifically, for me, for this week, he says it’s going to be Glitch Week and I am to treat life like a game, because it’s going to be throwing pies at my face. Eh. Ok. So be it. I hope they are pumpkin. And he says there is still the possibility that we tenderhearted Virgos will win.

But back to that stop look and think stuff. I am finding it infusing my whole life. Happily I’m enjoying this, since I’m an old navel gazer from way back. I love to think about me, my life, where it’s going, where I want it to go, how to nudge it along, me, me, me, me, me. One area it’s being particularly useful, though, is in the whole Weight Watcher, diet, body arena. A couple of years ago I lost just about all of my Empty Nest fat cushion. There was rather a lot of it and it came off at a nice steady clip, all but the last 5 lbs, which left one ounce at a time. Alas, keeping it off proved to be much harder. At the half century mark, with 30 years of weight issues behind me, I’m fairly philosophical about not having a perfect body and quite able to pretend for long stretches at a time that I actually do have one. Or that, at least, I can move through the world as if I did. But truth does have its place in life and I would like for my imaginary perfect body to be a little closer to the one you see. Also - I would like to have more than one suit jacket that actually buttons.

So in January, WW and I renewed our vows. I do all the work. They can have all the credit. In addition to all the ceremonial recommitment stuff, I decided to actually cook from all the WW cookbooks I’d bought. Good For You cookbooks are like orchestra music. You don’t really practice from the second violin part of Stravinsky (I mean, how could you? There’s no melody?) and you don’t actually cook from the Good For You cookbooks, do you?

Yeah. Right.

I have about 6 of them, picked up in a fleeting hope that the information in them would transfer itself into my brain while I slept. You see, I stopped actually following recipes, hmmm, let’s see - we moved into the house in 1981. Baring a few cake or specialty recipes - I would guess just about then. 25 years ago. I’d already been cooking for 10 years and had most of my ideas about food down pat. But that was when I had the youthful body of the under 30 set, still had to walk half a mile through the woods to get to the car on rainy or snowy days, when the road washed out, and had child-in- school duties that kept me on the go. Fast forward to today and you can see that what I knew how to cook for that gal will not sit right on a more seasoned figure.

In addition to not being much of a recipe follower, I’m even worse at menu planning. How could I possibly know if I’d be hungry for chicken cutlets next Wednesday when I’m shopping for food on Friday? The idea of planning a week’s menus was so outside my circle of consciousness I usually skipped over any magazine article or WW pamphlet that mentioned the word planning. Serendipity for Me, thanks. Though spontaneity in cooking requires a lot of energy, I’d never found it any harder than disciplining myself to menu planning would have been. Until this past autumn, when a series of health issues sapped 97% of my energy and we sank to eating take-out bar-b-cue and three cheese crackers for dinner.

So the new regime for 2006 has been to eat only meals cooked from WW cookbooks and to shop only once a week for the food. The first week was excruciatingly difficult, both to think about what I would eat next Tuesday and to make up the grocery list so that I had everything in the kitchen. But I succeeded well enough and found it a little easier the second. I also realized that the way to streamline cooking from a cookbook was to use only one cookbook a week. After selecting 7 dinner recipes I write them all down on a sheet of paper along with the page # where each can be found and post it on the fridge. I’ll sort of decide what day I’ll cook them and note that beside the page number, but I’m not tied to that day. I can swap them around if I forgot to buy an essential ingredient or merely if I want to. The last step is to write out tonight’s dinner on a little magnetized dry erase board on the refrigerator. The board is prettily decorated, like the ones in trendy cafes, and it lists this week’s cookbook along with the day’s specialty (only-ty?).

So, now when I come home, I know what’s for dinner. I know I have the food in the kitchen. I’ve never eaten it before, so it can still be a bit of a surprise, and if we don’t like it we never have to eat it again. And now that I’ve shifted myself out of the old pattern of not thinking about food till I walk in the kitchen, I’m finding it fun and even easy; something to look forward to.

Which reminded me that whenever I have successfully lost weight I had to really care about food. Care about it. Think about it. Plan for it. Write it down. It had to matter. I am not successful with brainless thoughtless eating. That’s why diets like South Beach or WW Core, which sound like they’d be simple and easy - eat all the vegetables and lean meats you want, don’t eat (m)any starches - just don’t work for me. I have to be involved with my food. It has to be special. It has to matter. Food has been a big aphrodisiac in my marriage, since BD is an enthusiastic diner. Offering him food delights is an important part of my role, very much like the literary delights he constantly brings to me. I don’t want to be brain-dead when it comes to food. When I am, I sink to throwing sausage and grease at him and stuffing myself with cheese and bread and that is just not an option for either of us any more. Mr. & Mrs. Heart Attack do not want any more vacations at Regional Memorial Hospital.

Of course, this commitment of time to meal planning was only the first manifestation of the Lunar Standstill Effect. The other danger zone for this weight challenged Queen is mindless eating. Walking into the kitchen on a Saturday afternoon and picking through the contents for tidbits. Oh - mind - it’s not just okay to eat when you are hungry, it’s important. But to eat because you are something else is the first step through the door of Lane Bryant. Weekends are the toughest time for me when it comes to mindless eating because I don’t always drink enough water. I have a little routine at work to remember to drink water but I don’t have one for home - and really, I don’t want one. I want to be conscious enough to stop and ask myself, as the hand dips into the three cheese cracker box - “are you thirsty?” 9 times out of 10 I am and I can wash the three cheese crumbs off my hands after I have a drink.

But I hope you noticed the pivotal word up there - conscious. I suppose what I’m trying to do, what I’m longing and yearning and needing to do, is to be conscious of what’s going on in my life. To eat food that I really think about and taste. To really know if I’m thirsty and hydrate my parched body. To really know where the paperwork is and how much rust colored yarn I already have and to learn and delight in the texture of that angora fur that J gave me. To live all the life I have in active mode, not auto-pilot. If I am going to be here on this earth, by golly, I really want to Be Here.

Well. Hmmm. How about that. Who would have thought this is where my musing would go. Not I, for sure. The title was added afterwards. Nice to have it all out in the open, though. All part of the conscious life, no?

By the way, I am plying up the second batch of pretty wool/mohair blend. I have one skein drying in the bathroom and when I took one of the first skeins in to compare them I discovered I may have used a different brown wool. I have two that are identical in color and touch - but really are different. Evidently, the crimp in one is less than the other and there are noils in one that are not in the other. And I don’t know which is which, for they’ve been crammed, higgledy piggledy, in the chest in the den for years. I pick up one, then the other and I just can’t tell them apart. But as yarn, I fear one will be far springier than the other. It’s too early to tell for sure yet, since the second skein isn’t fully dry. And, of course, I’d never checked the rovings for crimp. I will now, though and bag them up and label them. Yessiree, by golly, I will.

And I found a grave error in the BSHP sweater and had to rip out the entire front chest part. It’s back on the needles, error repaired and 3 of the 7 inches needed, knit up. And if there is enough $ in the bank after reckoning day, [Thursday], I’ll buy that digital camera on sale at WalMart and introduce you to The Bishop.

Happy Sunday to you all.

posted by Bess | 7:48 AM


Ooops! There is more to say - do go read Fillyjonk's beautiful February 2 post about the many faces of love. It's worthy of reading and of comment.

By Blogger Bess, at 7:34 AM  

The only luxury I would want would be more time. To spend however I choose.
By the way,I'm on my third cup of tea, so don't feel bad!!

By Anonymous Isobel, at 8:22 AM  

Oh, how beautifully said! I am glad you have a glorious Saturday ahead with your riches!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:36 AM  

Love your path of musings this AM - appreciate the ideas, passions, feelings.
I'll keep them w/me as I meander through my Saturday.
XOXO to you, sweets.

By Blogger Martha, at 9:50 AM  

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Saturday, February 04, 2006  

Musing along on a Saturday morning.

I’ve filled up my third cup of coffee - an unusual act for me, since I try to limit the caffeine in my life - but somehow it just feels right today. It feels like luxury and I’m in the mood for that. For abundance and richness and a third cup of hot sweet milky coffee.

I’ve already been very chatty this morning - writing e-mails to friends, posting on the KR forums. And my brain is still pondering and whirring about things. Things like how much fun I’m having not buying any fibers right now. About being awash in the vastness of my stash - the abundance, as I said above - the richness of a room piled high with beautiful fibers. I could just walk into the den, pull everything out and glory in how fabulously wealthy I am.

Lots of folk have said to me “I could never have that much discipline.” but I haven’t really any extraordinary discipline and the oath wasn’t intended to deny me pleasures. It was disciplinary only in that it made me stop moving in one direction, assess my terrain, and choose a new direction - back into the den, where most of my fiber is stored. I just needed to take a really honest look at what I already had and acknowledge it, value it, appreciate my previous decisions, accept my riches and live with my abundance.

I hear a lot of folk fantasizing about being rich, but sometimes I wonder if they aren’t really imagining getting rich - not being there yet, but on the way, with the assurance of success. “When I win the lottery”, they say or “If I only I could inherit from some unknown wealthy recluse.” But what if they were already rich. What would they be doing? Shopping or using what they’d already bought? If I suddenly received fortylevendyhundredmillion dollars I doubt I’d really want to buy more fibers right now. I might pop for that Golding Spinning Wheel and hire the crew to build on the studio - but I truly doubt I would want more fiber. What I would do would be to retire early to have more time - to use all the fiber I already have.

Well, I can’t retire yet, but I can spend the spare time I do have playing with my beautiful abundant stash. I can be rich right now and that seems like such a wonderful thing to have - an opportunity to be rich on an ordinary Saturday morning. And after that, there doesn’t seem anything more worth saying. Except - I wish you all to have that same glorious thing. A Saturday morning when you can be rich - already.

posted by Bess | 7:20 AM


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Friday, February 03, 2006  

Thank you all for the good juju-vibes. The Issue melted like frost beneath an autumn sun. Good Things may even have developed from this. I used my fantasy lover seductive flirting to lure another Stranger into my web - upon whose kindness I shall now cast my computer network.

Now it is Friday; the Friday when I just might get a perfect hair cut - or not, but hope never dies. I’m seriously considering a Short Haircut, having grown beyond bored with my present coif. Probably not today, but coming soon, to a head near you.

If only I could get the new face to go with the new hair. Or even the same face - but the 1986 version. But the clock ticks on. It means dashing out of here in a few minutes, too, since the appointment is at crack-0-dawn.

I have my assessment with the physical therapist today - the boss lady head-straightener. I’m sure she’ll be pleased. I know I am, though I shall miss being completely manipulated by healing hands - a sort of touch that one does not ordinarily get in the common walk of a day. Too bad. I think every business ought to offer this as a health benefit - the company masseuse - yes, that’s what’s needed. Pop on down at lunch time to be worked over. I’d gladly work till 7 if I could have 2 hours at lunch that included a massage and a nap. There’s one more visit after today scheduled - but we may dispense with it. I won’t suggest it, but I won’t be surprised if she does.

Our other weekend plans shifted gears and now I will be home instead of in a primeval forest - so we shall see just how much knitting and spinning progress occurs. None whatsoever happened yesterday but I did mail off my Handspun Yarnswap 2 contribution - which is merino/tencel even if I have been spelling it wrong for weeks.

Really - spelling is so evil.

posted by Bess | 6:55 AM


Wishing you all the luck you need for today's Issues, Dear Heart...and more!

I wonder if I could stand to follow your example and buy Nothing Knitting this month. After all, February is short...

By Blogger Margaret, at 11:52 AM  

Good luck to you!

I deserve a prize for closing the link to The Woolery before I finalized a purchase of linen fiber to spin a top for me... I didn't do it, I was good. Sigh.

Gigantic hugs to you!

By Blogger Amie, at 12:33 PM  

As someone who has taken your same "no new purchases" pledge, I was in a book store yesterday, looked at the covers (only!) of the knitting mags, sighed & walked away - proud of myself that I didn't touch them - for me, only reading them/laying my hands on them would have been tough to do.
Glad you have better resolve in that dept.
Much luck w/your day w/Issues.

By Blogger Martha, at 1:39 PM  

I had totally forgotten that honor pledge...I wrote for 4 years of college!! Thanks for the memory! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 10:15 PM  

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Thursday, February 02, 2006  

It’s been one month and a day now since the calendar flipped over. Although I didn’t officially swear to my No New Fiber oath till the 11th of January, in my heart I intended it to be retroactive to January 1. S and I spent a bit of time trying to figure out how we will handle the parole visits. My assistant at work asked if we planned to inventory my stash. I told her if I had to do inventory control work at home, I’d insist my library staff do the work and she backed down. S and I, both of us coming from our Private School Honor Code backgrounds agreed that a simple signing of the obligatory slip would be enough.

I swear, upon my honor, that I have neither given (money to a yarn, fleece, or fiber shop) nor received (from a sales clerk, UPS delivery man, or second party girlfriend) any yarn, fleece or fiber this month.


Did you have to put those at the bottom of your test papers when you were young? Not only did I, but I was glad, for it ment that I wasn’t responsible the behavior of my fellow students. But just in case, I always glued my eyes to the desk top on test days because in some cases, the honor code also required that you turn in anyone you saw who did cheat. The dichotomy of having to snitch on your buds after years of being taught to not be a tattle tale was too much for this simple Virgo brain. I made sure I didn’t see any cheating going on.

So how have I fared in this desert of shopping? Not badly at all, actually. It’s easy to let up on the shopping after the Christmas frenzy. Besides, I’m full of January resolve - not just on the stash stirring side of my life either. Diet, bookkeeping and finances, all got the eagle eye treatment. But it was surprisingly easy to Not Buy Fiber last month. Not that there weren’t times when I’d feel that little surge of desire, that little swelling in my heart as I thought about a sock I’d like to knit or leafed through a yummy knitting book and lusted for that scarf. In the store yesterday I saw that BH&G’s 2006 KnitIt! was out and inside was a delicious sweater with a deeply cabled rib in one mohair novelty yarn (looked like Dune, but I didn’t check the pattern) that switched to a different color of the same yarn in the body. It just looked so me. There was a little flutter, for I know there’s nothing in my stash like that. Well - at what, $13 a ball, I can promise you I haven’t a spare 13 balls of Dune lying around!

Happily, the moment passed. The moment for purchasing KnitIt! passed as well, since that was about the only garment I’d consider knitting from this year’s issue. It’s a fine little magazine for someone who hasn’t knit much before - a nice mix of easy to medium projects. If I’d never seen a knitting magazine before it’d probably be thrilling. I do remember how exciting it was to see Knitting on clay coated paper in the grocery store and wouldn’t deny the newbies that same thrill. But you must remember my 74 books and 18 inches of back issues of magazines.

I’m still undecided about how and when to make the Golding Wheel contributions. I haven’t finished anything with stash yarn. Ought I to make it once a month? When I finish a project? As I use up the stash fibers? I am leaning towards once a month and not holding myself to an FO. But that stick effect on my completion issues is very nice. I will have to think on this a bit more. Of course, it took me 2 weeks to even figure out how much $ was in the checking account and I want to wait till all the statements and bills come in after the turn of the month before I consider how my abstemious living has effected my disposable income. But banking day is next Thursday, so I’ll definitely make my decision by then.

And since the Virgo POWER DAYS this month are February 1, 6, 14, 19 and 24, perhaps I’ll decide on Monday.

As for fiberly progress- ahh - well I am close to the front neckline of the BSHP sweater. (You know I’m going to have to name this the Bishop Sweater, even if there is nothing ecclesiastical about it. ) I also managed to lose one of the little skeins of yarn for the yarnswap so I couldn’t mail them out yesterday. They can go out today. I’ve made a tad bit of progress on the chocolate brown maybe merino on HeyBaby but there’s a good bit more to go. I’ve maybe half a bobbin full.

Yikes! 8 o’clock already. Well, girding my loins here - because today I have to deal with the last of the Issues that plopped on my desk on Monday. If it goes well - a perfect week. If it doesn’t well, there. I’ve had some days to prepare myself for it. But wish me luck, plese.

posted by Bess | 7:50 AM