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


Oh, Bess, you are such an inspiration! As I read your post I turned (with a wary eye) to the piles of beautiful yarn that are tumbling out of baskets and bags, and oh goodness, I just have to do something about it Right This Minute! All of that lovely fiber deserves to be honored even before it's knitted, and I'm going to do it right, right now. Happy New Year, Sweet Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 9:37 AM  

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Sunday, December 31, 2006  

Ooooo, Anonymous! How sick I got of reading that book. I’ll look around a bit to see if I still have it with LD’s things but I believe it went the way of other well used baby items. It popped up in our Walmart’s Little Golden Book section abut 10 years ago. I’m not equipped to do real internet searching at home but once I get back to work I’ll see if I can find it.

The funny thing is - I really grew to hate that book, but you mentioning it brought back a flood of tenderness for Days Gone By. Appropriate for New Year’s eve, hmmm?

And so. It is New Year’s Eve. If all goes as I’d like it - today will be a day of Stash Organizing and I’ll get it all done today. One never knows, of course. It’s possible I’ll get invited into someone else’s project - but I’d really like to put my stash in order today so that tomorrow - when the Year Of No New Fiber comes to an end - one of the most important things I had hoped to achieve - to honor my stash - to love my stash - will be visible, not just to me, but to the casual observer.

I have never been an obsessive housekeeper. I’m adequate. I’m 54 years old, for goodness sake. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way. Like - keep one room decent in case guests drop in unexpectedly. I learned that lesson on the bitter highway of experience 25 years ago when two beloved .... really loved ... cousins dropped by to “see Edward’s new house”. It was more like “Edward’s Tornado Site” and I was beyond humiliated. I wouldn’t have turned them away for all the tea in China. I adored these women. But I died a little as we entered each room and stepped around the clutter and mess. I swore that would never happen to me again. And it never has. At least, the wanting to die never has. But Lo - 25 years later, when Cousin Mary’s son, Cousin David, brought half a gallon of oysters over the Friday before Christmas and I, in pajamas and slippers, asked if he’d ever seen the house and would he like a look around - and then I suddenly had to look at my rooms with new eyes - that stash in it’s abandoned heaped disarray looked more like stuff I was taking to the dump than my precious beloved fiber art supplies.

It was a Giiiiiit Uuhp Offit” moment for me. There was nothing I could do but pretend that was the way it was supposed to look, but as that boy drove away, I swore anew - that wasn’t ever going to happen again. How fitting that it was David’s mom who taught me to take care of my house and David who made me realize I had to take better care of my stash.

So. Yesterday I bought 6 tubs and one under-the-bed plastic thing - I just stacked those tubs in Walmart till they looked like they took up as much space as the heap in the corner of the Den. I’ll get more storage bins if I need them, for I’m determined to dismantel every Heap that is my stash and convert it into Organized Spaces, with Contents Labeled. I will take before and after photos of this project to share later in the week.

As for other things New Year’s Resolutionary, I am looking forward to one hell of a fantastic 2007. 2006 was pretty durn good, mind you - even with mama’s ill-health and in-law adjustments that took lots of work. They also pushed me exactly in the direction I needed to go. I wouldn’t go back to where I was for a gazillion bucks! And I have that Golding wheel!!! I have lots of ideas for things to do in the coming year and even more ideas on how to go about doing them. The big gigantic project for 2007 is to map out the house I want - including a major addition of a living room/studio with second upstairs bedroom And redoing the office/den into a real library cum office for Ed And all new kitchen appliances And the bathroom tub re-enameled And a deck that skirts the new living room and butts into the porch. And pretty furniture for that porch. After all. If I’m going to dream and plan - why not ask for all that I want, instead of bits and crumbs and pieces. I can want all I want - and I want it all.

I already have 2 library books about Building Storage For Your House - and every January issue from the B&N magazine rack on storage and remodeling spaces that looked interesting (lots were creepy and not my style - a quick flip through the photos told me that) ... plus a Project Notebook, with graph paper and photo sleeves and pockets! I’m so excited. I mean - if I could get a Golding wheel 5 months after I go on a yarn diet - it ought not take too much longer to get the Dream House hmmm?

:D Happy Happy New Year

posted by Bess | 8:45 AM


just trying to get a little information about a comment you left on another website regarding a book cars and trucks. (trucks and cars everywhere you go) I'm looking for any information about this book. My family has been searching for years.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 PM  

I saw that issue of Fiber Arts at B&N last week -- interesting stuff!

Love your Christmas decor, by the way -- your nativity looks very similar to the one my parents have. And love your tree -- especially the peacock ornament. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 4:58 PM  

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Friday, December 29, 2006  

The art of desiring! You have it, C - time for us to be filled with desire; for learning, for acquiring, for growing. It’s one of the things I adore about BD, who, about 2 months ago, said “I think I’d like to learn Anglo Saxon - and Anglo Norman too.” He just keeps wanting. The rule is - don’t be hemmed in by things you think you might get or things you can figure out how to get. Include them, by all means, but let the wanting fling far afield. The important thing is that you’re not trying to figure out how to get it - just to want it. Once you start thinking about how bustling you have to be to make all this happen, you quit thinking of things to want. You find all the reasons why you won't or can't get them. Too busy. Too much money. One life can only do so many things. And pretty soon you can actually say "I don't want anything." And then you die. So. Forget that. Fill up with desire. Let's here it for the thicker hair and retirement at 56.

Three more days and I get to buy yarn again. I’ve been contemplating what to buy, for surely on January 1 or at least 2, I ought to place an on-line order. I really want to get a skein of Socks that Rock yarn. Mostly I love the name, but I also like the colorways as they pop up on my monitor. Not that I need sock yarn, you understand. There are many balls waiting for me to knit up. But I feel that there is a symbolic gesture needed here, when I have gone so long without buying yarn, and sock yarn is not a major purchase. I haven’t learned a lot during this year of yarn fast. The stash was not whittled down much. The carrot landed in my lap without any effort on my part other than ... well ... by golly ... other than wanting to get it more than anything else in the world ... (do-do-do-do, insert theme song from Twilight Zone, do-do-do-do). I will be devoting January to The KipFee. Sock yarn seems the perfect first purchase.

I’m off to visit Mama and Dad this afternoon and I’ll spend the night. As mentioned yesterday, I’ll shop for plastic bins on the way home - and bubble bath - and maybe one more notebook. Then I’ll be home for 3 and a half more glorious holiday days. Sigh. I really love time off. I am really thinking hard about More Time Off.

But I am also trolling on-line, because yesterday the January 07 issue of Fiberarts came to the library and my dears - on the cover was one of the most amazing displays of knitting I have ever seen. On mind now, I’ve seen many a knitted art object and truthfully, they leave me stone cold. Scarves you’ve asked fortylevendyhundred people to knit on so you can wrap the Empire State Building with them, ugh. Huge drapes of cobwebby, holey, blobs of knitted lace - yuck. They may show you that it’s Not Your Grandmother’s Knitting - but it sure is Ugly. I have also seen some serious edge expanding knitting - I’m thinking here of the knitted wedding gown made of white plastic bags. I’m ashamed I can’t remember who knit it - and remember, I’m on dial-up. I can’t just google it. I think it’s in Knitting in America. But with that plastic dress the artist honored all the many skills involved in knitting (math, physical dexterity, vision, eye for line, understanding of the properties of the material being used, understanding of anatomy) AND made something stunning - and appropriate even if some may not think it’s beautiful. I am not some. I think it's gorgeous.

Sandra Backlund is another artist who's truly honored everything that is knitting - shape, texture, technical skill. These garments are outré, but oh my - even as wavery digital images on old computer screens, they’re luscious, they draw all sorts of physical reactions from me - a desire to touch, to sniff, to hug, even to try myself. I would love to be 14 feet tall and 23 years old. I swear it, I’d knit myself something like that, put on high heeled boots and strut down a busy street in some glamorous city just to turn heads. To use the website, click on a collection and run the cursor up and down the left hand pictures for bigger images. Click on them and you can stare long and long at one.

And just because we don’t want to say good-bye to Christmas yet - here are some more images.

More Christmas Scenes

and Wise Men

And angels

All to see the babe in a manger.

posted by Bess | 9:49 AM


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Thursday, December 28, 2006  

We’re chugging along towards the New Year with all its New Things, New Projects, New Plans. I did a little perusing in Walmart yesterday looking for some New Plastic Bins to store my fibers in. Things in the den have gotten out of control. I didn’t find anything I liked except an under the bed plastic box with wheels. I could use 2 of them. But I’ll do some additional shopping, probably on Saturday, at a few storage bin type shops, including Target and one of the big city Walmarts. I must put a lasso around the clutter in that den.

When cousin David brought oysters by last Friday night, I gave him a tour of the house. And let me tell you something. Showing off one’s house to a new visitor really shows up just how awful a housekeeper one can be! Every room in the house looked like .... like a teenager lived in it. Granted, it was an unexpected drop in - but sheesh! What a mess. Next time it will be different.

Another different thing that I will be doing this year is leaving the tree up AFTER!!! New Year! As you see, we have a really pretty tree and BD wants to enjoy it another week. Now - I like everything swept away and tidy on NYDay in time for Resolutions, but before I could shake my head more than once, why - my heart opened up to hear his plea and out of my mouth, the WifeAngel said "okay, hon. We can keep it up till the weekend."

I am also furiously knitting away on Mama’s Christmas Sock - something I hadn’t thought I could get done in time - but now think I can. If I quit playing around on the computer. And get knitting. So. Ta. Happy Thursday. Happy Birthday Barbara.

posted by Bess | 7:14 AM


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Wednesday, December 27, 2006  

Pictures of Christmas

The perfect tree, in it's place

and ready to be decorated.

All bedecked with treasures.

Some closeups:

Hand Made - by LD in Kindergarten. Man, that acrylic lasts forever!

Another special one made for his G&T class - an ornament inspired by a book he'd read. Here Come Raccoons by Lillian Hoban

I love birds in trees and I especially love birds in Christmas trees. This one is new this year.

This was a gift from a friend. We've spent years trying to figure out what those letters across his tummy spell. He is actually a jumping jack but he has to stay deep in the tree because he's so heavy he'd pull down a smaller branch.

One of the oldest ornaments, saved from BD's childhood.

posted by Bess | 1:48 PM


I love the idea of a 101 Things I Want list! It's so true, we are conditioned to deny ourselves. That is one thing that hit me this year, that I'd spent my entire life worrying about other people's wants and needs ahead of my own.

Tomorrow, I am going to go buy a Macbook. Yes, I am.

And I think I'll make that 101 things list.

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:46 PM  

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It’s a funny thing about the old bod... You can go along for days and days, feeling okay, hmm, not bad, you know, just a little dragging, bit of a sore throat thing you know, now and then there are the sneezes and then your nose runs, but nothing you’d call sick. And then crash, you fall asleep and don’t wake up for hours and hours and you begin to wonder - what the heey...? Yesterday, around noon, I woke up and thought such a white sky day deserved to be spent in bed. There were a few awake hours shared with Tylenol, books, knitting and chicken noodle soup; we finished Sunday’s acrostic, and then I fell asleep for the rest o the night, interrupted by 2-hourly visits to exchange the fluid in my body.

I certainly feel well slept. I could go either way, though. I seriously suspect this is the sort of thing you can walk away from if you just get up and get going, but home feels sooooo good and I have 6 months of sick leave and it’s the 3 days between Christmas and New Years. I actually could call in sick today. Or go in for a few hours and leave way early. Both are tempting. Hmmm. Well, there. I can decide closer to the witching hour.

I did begin a list I’ve been contemplating for some time. It’s the 101 Things I Want List. Yep Yep - have you any idea how hard it is to come up with 101 things you want? No holds, no bars, no limits, even if you think, “Not in a million years”, just start writing the things you really want. The first 15 or so are easy. I even managed to put in some “Niamy” wants, like “I want thicker hair”. The idea is that nice people, good people, get used to snipping off their desires because after all, it’s greedy to want so much, and you have to wait your turn, and who do you think you are, asking for the moon?! Real greed, of course, comes when you want to take from others and if you look around, there is usually enough to go around already. Certainly there are enough lines that your turn should come up pretty darn soon. But really, the more you want, the more fun life is. Watching my parents as they shut down and stop wanting and find it all just too hard to try, ... and as such, step closer to death, I’m really aware that, though they may be ready to quit living, I am not! I’m looking forward to the next thing, even the thicker hair part. Who’s to say that I won’t start finding information about better nutrition that will cause my moribund hair follicles start growing hair again. Or that some product comes on the shelf that will do the trick for me? I’d be thrilled to have as much hair as I had at 18. Who knows?

I’ll admit, there was some effort involved in getting to #50 and I still have 51 more to go - but I’m going to keep at it till I get there. Partly this is because I love to make lists anyway. And it’s getting closer to the New Year when Resolutions are more than legal they’re invited! Nobody loves the New Year’s Resolution Ritual more than I. After the tree is down, the house is sparkly, and I’ve had my fancy bubble bath, I plan to scatter all sorts of notebooks and bright pens on my bed and nestle in the middle of them, and just resolve away.

This year I’ll be guided by more than just a desire for things to look forward to. I’ve been doing a lot of reading into the attitude adjustment at the core of several books on the law of attraction. This says that we get what we ask for, what we pay attention to, what we focus on, be it good or bad. So learn to ask for what you want and not for what you don’t want. (i.e. I want to thin, rather than I don’t want to be fat.) This sounds so utterly logical and reasonable to me that I can’t resist putting it into action. It’s been a part of my world since August and I have to say - I’ve never been happier in my life, in spite of a sick mom, my own sore throat and any number of other little disappointments that, like spent tennis balls, have rolled around my feet. The point is, they just nudged into my feet, they didn’t trip me up. And the number of things I wanted but didn't expect to get, yet got anyway is just a little spooky. Happy spooky, but brrrr. spooky.

It’s hard for me to express what so excites me about being guided by this law of attraction without sounding smarmy or spacy or goofy. I suppose I’m still new enough at it that old habits, old patterns, old negative refrains are still close enough to mock me about being Polyana-ish. Especially if other people think I sound ... smarmy, spacy or goofy. Heck, I really don’t mind if other people think I’m a nut. I’ve always been different. I suppose what’s made me so secretive about it is that I want to be sure I can state what it’s done for me accurately - in the true Bessish way - with my own special insight into things - my own special way of explaining it.

Fear not, though. Once I can put it all into words, you’ll hear them all! (insert laughing smiley face here) In fact, once I have my list of 101 Things ... I’ll start posting them too. Just to give you the idea, see?

Good knitting to you all. And good wanting too!

posted by Bess | 6:47 AM


That description of your grandmother with the cop was priceless -- I can just HEAR her saying those things in her best Richmond accent.

Be careful of all those skunks nearby -- they are the #1 carrier of rabies. (Do I sound like Debbie Downer?)

Happy Boxing Day to you, too! Here's hoping you're feeling better soon. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 4:41 PM  

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006  

The climb up the glittering peak to Christmas this year was not as steep as some. But arrival at the summit was as blissful and rewarding and loving as anyone could hope for. The YD’s came for Christmas eve dinner and we exchanged gifts then. Afterwards BD & I watched Meet Me In St. Louis - which is not really a Christmas movie but it does have a Christmas song. We slid into bed, taking the Sunday crossword puzzle with us and I feel asleep trying to figure out a 7 letter word that meant outdated dogmas.

I’m always awake first on Christmas morning. I’m always awake first on any morning in this house. When LD was little I was always awake before he was too and it puzzled me that a child could lie abed till 7 or so and then just sort of amble on down to the living room. Some years I even had to suggest he get up and see if Santa came. Eh. I suppose without siblings to egg one on and ramp up the excitement, Christmas morning can just wait till you’re good and read to get up. BD is even worse. He won’t crawl downstairs till 9 or so. But in his case, I think it’s because he’s just doesn’t want it to come to an end - all the possibilities and hopefulness and excitement and maybe - and once all the gifts are open, well, there you have it. It’s over.

It isn’t actually over, of course, since we always visit with other family later. In days past we’d drive the long haul up to D.C. and do the City Thing - movies, bookstores, restaurants, traffic, Smithsonian. One holiday Grandma was driving me back through Rock Creek Park and we were laughing and giggling and telling stories with our hands all along those stony twisty roads when a policeman stopped us. My MIL was the pinnacle, the apex, the essential, plus-perfect Southern Lady and with airy charm she asked him about his holiday and wished him merry Christmas and hoped he would get some time off soon, in the New Year, and this was her daughter, visiting up from the country, and she’d been showing me TheTown and what could she do for him. Abashed and blushing and smiling and melting all over the car he suggested that, on such a narrow twisty road, she might meet any sort of careless driver and she better stay on her side in the future, because it would be terrible to have an accident now, and have a Happy New Year, ma’am.

She was a grand one for taking little boys down to see dinosaurs and moon walkers, but the time LD knocked over one of the stanchions rimming one display, filling the marble hall with it’s clang, she looked sideways at me and said “I don’t know him, do you?” We managed to sneak up behind the guard and whisk the offender away so that all anyone official saw of us was the backs of our coats.

Included in the week between Christmas and New Years is always a visit to my folks, too. I’m feeling a little under the weather today and don’t want to sneeze around the old ones so I postponed my visit till Friday, when I can stay over night. Instead, I’ll use this free day off to knit and watch the last of the Christmas videos, and the first of the knitting DVD’s and try to recover from the onslaught of Sugar and Beef and White Flour and Wine that was yesterday’s traditional Christmas Dinner. I should have left out the wine. More and more I’m sensitive to alcohol and last night I was reminded many times that I should have stuck with something gentler. I will remember in future. But the roast beef was perfect and I made a floating island desert that had the rich taste of chocolate and the unusual texture of poached meringues. A new one for me, but quite good.

My gifts all came down one of two paths: Jewelry and beverages. Three people gave me high end teas or coffees, and the big gift we bought in F’burg 2 weekends ago was from a jewelry store. And BH and the girls gave me the prettiest Franz dish: just the thing for putting on your dresser to hold your new earrings. The weather was nippy in the morning but as the day wore on it became wet and balmy till, by the time guests arrived we had the doors flung wide open. Somehow, my house always gets Really Hot Really Fast when it’s also Really Crowded, with people or with trees. We let the dogs stay indoors all day yesterday, after all, it’s Christmas. But Socks is banished to the farm the rest of this week. Her normal eau de hint-0-skunk is exacerbated when wet and I’m not all that sure she’s not applying more on a semi-regular schedule. All wildlife moves in cycles that, if you live close enough to it, you begin to follow. This year is the worst year for skunks I’ve ever lived through. They waddle across your path, or down the lane or road in front of you, never in a hurry and sure they are invincible. Only an automobile can really hurt them and the consequences of such an encounter is almost as bad for the driver as it is for the animal. I can’t completely blame Socks for her excessive curiosity but she does not spend any more days indoors till this cloud of skunkedness passes.

And so. It is December 26. It’s all right now for me to bend my mind towards things New and Improved and Changes and Organizing the Clutter of My Life. I’ve actually been feeling that way for some time, but it seemed disrespectful of Christmas to post about my lust for Bins and Cabinets and Studios. Now, though, with a day of lounging ahead of me, I can begin to Make Plans. I shall start with a photograph of TheStash - in its present configuration of Heapedness. To be posted tomorrow, of course, since nothing short of an ambulance could drag me to town today.

But it is time. Time and plenty, now, to apply some of the energy work and attraction efforts I’ve been practicing in my spiritual life, to my precious, but horribly cluttered surroundings. I envision a future of warm, sleek, functional space.

Happy Boxing Day to you!

posted by Bess | 7:05 AM


See, you're already a step ahead of me in the craftiness -- I would have just glued all the beads onto the velvet -- I never even thought of sewing them on! Oh, and the notebook paper bookmarks? Not colorful at all. They were decorated with drawings in ballpoint ink. Yep, a real Claude Monet I am!

Congrats on the tree! I look forward to pictures!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:07 PM  

Oyster stew supper! That was my father's meal of choice - and my mother couldn't tolerate oysters so he just talked about it. That and the Boston he always wanted - by the time Dudley came to visit, he was too frail to take him for a walk.

I'm going to have to do black-eyed peas for New Year's. I normally don't, but it seems right this year. Maybe even collard greens. I had the BEST collard greens in my entire life in a barbeque place in Asheville when I visited Boy, they were beyond perfection, not soggy at all, buttery-tender and flavorful. They would make an addict out of the most resolute non-greens fan.

I was too self-conscious because of the Aunts to dare make a handmade gift after age 8 or so. I did make stuff and I still have some of it, and it's really not so bad at all. But I was too intimidated by the audience to make gifts. I think I still am, even though the current audience is entirely non-artsy.

By Blogger Catherine, at 8:28 PM  

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Sunday, December 24, 2006  

Oh Mary! How I laughed at the picture you inspired, of those notebook paper bookmarks. I am sure they were all the colors of a 7 year old imagination. I’m sure you were filled with such delight at the thought of the beauty you were creating. Beautiful, useful and cheap too, right? How we think at 7. Or 8 or 18 for that matter. My most hideous homemade gift was going to be a thing of such rich beauty. A bead embroidered velvet ribbon choker for my rather cool and impossible to impress, big sister. She, from the lofty position of eldest child, would not have had to be very good at anything, but instead, she was, sometimes solely by virtue of that pinnacle of sibling order, perfect at everything. Especially everything crafty. Not that she had any taste for handi-crafty cute. But she did do historic re-enactment stuff and hey - what could be more appropriate than a di Medici type piece of jewel encrusted velvet neckwear?

Who knew how hard it is to sew tiny round beads onto thin black velvet? Nor did I realize how badly the thread would show, how tawdry it would look, what a pathetic gift it would turn out to be. This was pre-librarian days and I didn’t think to check out craft books for better instructions. I don’t think I even used a ruler to mark off where those pearls were to be set! My sister, though she wasn’t cruel, wasn’t kind either, and managed to let me know just how she felt about such a rubbishy gift. I was so broke it wasn’t even funny. It never occurred to me to ask my parents for money for gifts. They’d said “No” so many times in my life that I’d learned very early on not to ask. And since I’d blown my entire semester’s spending money on a pair of utterly fabulous leather boots, way back in September, I would have felt too guilty to ask for $ in December anyway. Nobody ever sat me down and explained that it’s okay, if you haven’t any money, to just say so and say you prefer to not exchange gifts. Some of my family is intensely competitive and Christmas is a time to set gift traps for the unwary.

I am sure other members of my family got equally hideous gifts that year, but they were either parents, or younger sisters, so they were more accepting of them. It was a pretty crappy Christmas that year anyway. As I recall, I’d snuck home from college a stray kitten - smuggled in my luggage - that died of distemper the night I got home. On the other hand, those fabulous leather boots lasted me for another 6 or 7 years of fashion statement bliss. Some things do give value for money, hmmm?

Anyway, in half a century of gift giving, I’m finally learning to give my hand-crafted gifts to crafty people and give store-bought gifts to people who buy gifts from stores.

I am thrilled to share the news that Our Tree Is Up! and it’s the most perfect tree, the fullest, the prettiest we’ve ever had. I’d been scouting the roadside for weeks for just the right tree; a young spruce pine, not too tall, especially not too wide, to fill the corner of the living room with it’s spicy fragrance. I had 2 or 3 picked out, but the thing about a spruce pine is, you can never tell till you walk up to it and give it a close inspection. Sometimes it turns out to be too tall, though we have 10 foot ceilings. Sometimes it turns out to be two trees, grown close together, so that neither of them has enough branches to decorate. I’m prepared to accept a bare spot or two in my Christmas tree, and have a goodly number of ornaments with long ribbon loops on them, that dangle in the empty space of a bare spot. But there is a degree of fullness any tree must have and it is surprising how few wild grown spruce pines meet that standard.

Yesterday afternoon we went tree hunting for real, but first we took the trash up to the recycle center at the junction of our tar road and Highway 17. On the way back, we saw it. Atop a scrubby bank that borders an abandoned field, not 50 feet from the highway, was what looked like it might be - and turned out to be - The Perfect Tree. About 7 feet tall, full, wide, but not beyond the living room’s ability to accommodate it, and crowding out some future Christmas tree that could use the added sunshine to stimulate thicker growth. It was the work of a minute to slice through the trunk and we were on our way home.

Happily, this year there is a Camera and there will be Photos. Not till Wednesday, of course, since I have to use the public computers at the library to load them and I don’t intend to leave home before then. Tonight it is oyster stew supper - our traditional Christmas eve meal - and we’ve been gifted with a half gallon of them, to add to the 3 quarts I’d already bought. Tomorrow it is roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and this year I plan to try a new recipe - Floating Island. But today I will simply knit. Maybe on The KipFee, maybe on Mama’s birthday socks. But there isn’t anything else to do. All the dog hair has been vacuumed up.

Merry Christmas to you.

posted by Bess | 8:11 AM


One year when I was seven or so I made everyone in my family bookmarks out of notebook paper, and on Christmas morning I was so ashamed of them I ran up and hid and cried in my bedroom, 'til my sister coaxed me back out. One of my first crafts-gone-wrong. Perhaps that's why I'm not into the scrapbooking and other paper crafts these days....

By Blogger Mary, at 1:38 PM  

Merry Christmas Bess!! May it be a glorious one.
(And,hah,no vacuuming for me - it is someone else's turn to play host for Christmas :-) My DS and DSIL of course!!)

By Blogger Carolyn, at 1:38 PM  

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Saturday, December 23, 2006  

Ha! Christmas sock #2 is done. I’m going to block them today and wrap them tomorrow. Whew.

Of course, Mama’s and BD’s Christmas sock #2 are destined for other gift occasions, so there’s still a bit of sock guilt hovering about. Hey - it comes with a crafter’s territory. I wonder why I am so insistent that HomeMadeGifts are the only Real Gifts - sort of like sweaters being the only real knitting. I suppose some of it must be DNA - after all, Martha Stewart was born, you know, not assembled. And some of it might stem from never having much $. Or perhaps, not knowing how to manage money very well. But for dozens of years the actual buying of gifts was pretty much beyond our means. I believe the total Christmas budget was $100 and I could keep to it. So I can manage a tee tiny bit of money - just not large sums. And even if I could stay within a no money budget that doesn’t mean people didn’t think my gifts were cheesy or creepy or ugly or embarrassing. I have always given with the blithe confidence that none of my gifts would ever sink to as low a level as my youngest sister’s gift, the year she was in 1st grade, to Mama.

The class all made candle holding arrangements for their mothers, gluing leaves and sweet gum balls and acorns around a soda bottle cap on a paper plate. The whole assemblage was spray painted gold and allowed to dry. The actual wrapping of the decorative object was left to each child, in the comfort of her own home. Evidently my sister was so impressed with her artistry she didn’t ask anyone for help with that last task. This was going to be a surprise to wow the whole family. She put the gift in a cardboard box my dad’s shirts came home from the cleaners in - an oblong that was a good deal too long for her golden gift. To keep it from sliding around inside, she padded it with the trash from the bathroom trash can. Lipstick blotted tissue from the teenaged sister, a Reece’s peanut butter cup wrapper from me, a tangerine peel. I can only suppose she thought the bathroom tissue looked soft and fluffy, and maybe the fruit peel would give off a nice fragrance. She always did look at the world from a quirky angle.

I can still see my mother’s face on Christmas day when she opened the box-of-trash present. I can still laugh about it till tears stream down my cheeks. I am still mightily impressed at mother’s rebound off the floor of disgust onto the pedestal of maternal wisdom. I could see her brain working like some precision instrument and in a twinkling she had reassembled the bits of golden flora into something of an arrangement. She thought the bottle cap was part of the “packing” though, and sister had to tell her, through her tears, that it was supposed to hold a candle. I believe sister only cried a little bit but we all still giggle about that morning.

This is shaping up to be so not a social Christmas; no parties, no guests. Instead it shall be a curl into the nest and sleep or knit or read sort of one. I am beginning to think maybe I live on another planet. Fortunately, I don’t have TV reception so I’m not constantly reminded that I’m not behaving appropriately Christmassly festive. I still don’t have a tree up - boo hoo - but I by golly, no matter how much it’s raining, we are going to get one today. It is, fortuantely, as warm as Florida today - even the spring birds are singing out among the bushes. Getting wet won't matter. I have to go into town this morning very briefly, for a hair cut and to pick up at least one more Christmas movie. Other than that - I foresee a quiet weekend.

Oh - and M, the library fines come to about $750 a year - enough to do some serious book buying. At a nickle a day this means folk are mighty lazy getting their books back around here. When libraries don’t have late fees, it’s because they have to turn in that money to their local government, where it goes into the general fund and they never see it again. No point in collecting it if you can’t keep it. Happily, we get to keep our $, probably because it never occurs to the county that they could lay claim to it.

May your days - and your vacuuming - be merry and bright!

posted by Bess | 7:26 AM


What does a library do with the fines from overdue books? Is it a significant-enough amount to buy the library something like a new computer? Or do all those dimes just buy the volunteers some donuts at the end of the year? Just curious....

I must say that I'm with BD on his review of "Love Actually". Give me "Miracle on 34th St." or "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Charlie Brown" or "Rudolph".

By Blogger Mary, at 3:44 PM  

Ah, Bess! You'll enjoy Hamish. I like him better than Agatha. (Raisin, that is, not Christie!)

I'm working today and tomorrow; my children arrive tonight. If I don't get back, very Merry Christmas to you and all the Darlings!


By Blogger Margaret, at 9:04 AM  

I just burst out laughing, because I was sitting here thinking about how I want to chase dog hair later, then clicked on your blog - I guess I shouldn't be surprised by now that we have the same weird urge to celebrate by vacuuming! Merry Christmas!

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:51 AM  

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Thursday, December 21, 2006  

Oooo Catherine. We have almost the same weather promise. Why does 3 days snuggled in the den with yarn and movies in p.j.’s sound so deliciously fun? Heck - even vacuuming up the dog hair sounds fun to me, for some strange holiday reason.

One more day at “work” before our vacation days kick in. The schools closed yesterday at noon and by the time I left at 5 o’clock, hardly anybody had been in the library for 4 hours. I expect today will be as easy as yesterday only more so. Our only lure people to come in next week will be the fine free bit - since we’re letting delinquents bring back late books (or call in and renew) unpunished through January 8. I could start putting together the 2007-8 Budget or begin planning our Summer Reading Club or maybe redesigning the library web page or even get the board packet ready for the January meeting. I could, but I’ll probably just fritter the time away instead.

And with still no tree and a dining room table covered with envelopes and wrapping paper and only one package a night getting wrapped and half a Christmas sock to knit still, I’m feeling simply giddy with that OnHolidayMood. We watched Love Actually last night - a movie I’ve seen perhaps 20 times - at least the parts I like - the Colin Firth section and the Emma Thompson/Allen Rickman episodes, and the part where Hugh Grant offers to have Natalie’s ex boyfriend murdered. And that deleted scene when Liam Neeson clicks on Claudia Schiffer Naked Naked Naked and all the porn pop-ups flood his computer just as his father in law walks in. Lawsee, I giggled for 20 minutes over that - little sniggers that felt like hick-ups. Of course, BD, who is even sugarier than I, didn’t like it because it didn’t have enough of a Christmas theme, and that just made me love him even more. He prefers Miracle on 34th St, which I find particularly cute (his prefrences, not the movie). At Christmas, we both melt syrup all over the place.

So, today I will pretend to work, but mostly take up space in the office and maybe get paid for reading books and hand out the last of the gifts to volunteers and chat with staff and show the really great Christmas books that are still on the shelves to idling innocents who are bringing back grossly overdue library materials. I may even take knitting to work! And tomorrow I begin the indulgences, with a haircut at 8, a manicure and pedicure at 9, gym visit at 11, grocery shopping after that and really, that’s about it.

I may not be 9 years old, but I am as happy and light hearted as if I were. In fact, far more lighthearted than I was when I was 9 - because I don’t have to worry if I’ve been good enough this year. And neither do you. Merry Christmas.

posted by Bess | 7:33 AM


We are supposed to have three days of rain and thunderstorms. I plan to spend them in yoga pants and a t-shirt, parked on the couch watching movies, reading and knitting. It's time to regroup and brace ourselves for 2007.

By Blogger Catherine, at 6:55 AM  

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006  

I seem to be going through the pre-Christmas week in a sort of Not Really Here haze. I had a good day about 2 weeks ago, getting organized and efficient and shopping and deciding. Since then it’s been just a bit ... floaty. No tree. No dinner ordered. Not sure if anybody but us will even be here for dinner. Not really minding if it’s just the 2 of us. No tree yet. No parties to give or attend. No friends coming and no plans to visit friends.

On the other hand - I have an enormous pile of inter-library loan books I got in just before the university libraries all shut down for the week. Almost all the cards are done and sent. Ditto most of the gift wrapping as of this morning. The last of my Christmas knitting will be done by Saturday. There are 5 days off in a row over Christmas - beginning in 2 days!! 5 days when I can stay in my pajamas if I want to. Other things are clamoring for a place in the frontal lobe. It looks like I’m just going to do Christmas Lite this year.

This may be a good thing. I may need all 5 days to switch my blog - or not. If C can’t switch hers because it’s too big - I fear I may not be able to switch mine either. Mine is even older. And of course, I’ll bet sooner rather than later I’ll have to switch of die. Like moving into Windows XP or whatever. What a screw. I suppose I ought to have expected this. Sigh. Well. Bummer.

One thing for sure, I will spend the next few days making a copy of this thing. I don’t have it saved anywhere else and I have a secret pride and love for all my pervious posts. It’s part of my secret virgo love of self and belief that Virgos are really better than other lesser beings - the real reason most horoscope writers hate Virgos and say bad things about them and predict misery and poverty and a lonely old age for them, sitting in broken chairs eating cat food. Sigh.

Alas too since I don’t really want to go to all the trouble of prettifying up a new blog. I’m not in that sort of New Year New Projects mood. Lawsee. I best get off the air. I am getting grumpier by the minute and, honest and true. I’m not in a bad mood.

Knit away my friends, with love and joy.

posted by Bess | 7:33 AM


Oh, you make a cute elf!!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 6:32 PM  

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006  

I succumbed. I've been elfed, by myselfed.

Click Here

Other than that it's Tuesday - where is my network priest?

posted by Bess | 10:12 AM


Bess, I hate the new Blogger too. I have a blogger account and for some reason, some blogs won't let me sign in, even though it says, "You can use your blogger account." I have a blogger account but it wants me to create a Google account. So glad someone else understands! I hope you're able to get out of the dial-up hell soon. It's dreadfully slow and I feel like it's getting slower as a way to force people into DSL or cable. We saw a fascinating piece on Bill Moyers several months ago about high-speed internet and how other countries are way ahead of us in getting high-speed internet to their citizens because they're governments are responsible for it and not the cable and telephone companies, who say they don't have the money to give us ultra-high-speed when they received the money from our government 8-10 years ago but didn't do anything but spend it. Okay, enough ranting.

I hope your tree is lovely and that you enjoy it while you have it. Good luck with all of your Christmas knitting.

By Blogger erica, at 10:10 AM  

I've done a little more research on the switching to Blogger Beta, as well as the issue with leaving comments on a Beta blog when one still has a Classic blog. You can read about it here: , or if that URL doesn't work, try this tiny one: .

Hope that helps.

Oh, I watched the Keira Knightly/Donald Sutherland version of Pride & Prejudice again last night. I have to say that, although it'll never be as fulfilling as the 8-hour BBC/A&E Colin Firth miniseries, the filmmakers did a beautiful job telling that story in under two hours. Beautiful cinematography, beautiful acting. But whoever was in charge of Keira Knightly's hair should be fired - the worst hair pieces and extensions I've ever seen in a movie. What were they thinking??

By Blogger Mary, at 2:38 PM  

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Monday, December 18, 2006  

Well, some days things are really stupid with blogger. I can’t get my blogspot blog to open up - even though I’ve opened up other people’s blogspot blogs. BahBlogger! And the new blogger beta insists that I email comments to the blog owner - and I don’t have anybody’s email address just sitting about on slips of paper on the desk or in my non-existent PDA. I have to open up H




on dial up access. Argh! I hate technological bloat. It’s as bad as my personal fat accumulation and offers about as much hope forbeing dieted away as my love handles do.

We didn’t get the tree yesterday. BD has had a cold and after a long day shopping (during which the big gift bought was for me - to be revealed after Christmas day) he didn’t feel like putting up a tree. And since he has to go off with the car on Friday I shan’t be slipping on over to Richmond that day - and can decorate a tree instead. Which makes me happy because this way the tree, enormous clumsy beautiful guest that it will be, shan’t crowd us more than about 10 days. I love a tree. I love to put it up. I love to look at it when it’s up. And by golly, I love to take it down.

The other thing that happened because BD was feeling puny is that I had to do all the driving this weekend - and as such - have knit much less than I’d planned. Heel is turned on Christmas Sock #2. Mama’s is not even started and I can see it won’t be till after mid-week. Eh. I bought her a gift too - she can have the sock for her birthday. I did weep my way through White Christmas, but the copy of It's a Wonderful Life I checked out from the library was defective.

I know. I'm so trite.

So the week before Christmas dawns with not all my gifts at the presentation stage and no tree up and a short work week that will feel strange since nobody really wants library books this week. My statistical report was popped off on Friday (I'd finished it a week ago, but I didn’t feel lucky about it and waited till I did before hitting the irreversible, locking button on the program). I believe I got other dooty stuff done last week too. All that’s left is to dig up the information I need for the network wizard who’s coming down tomorrow and to wrap gifts for people at work, (and give them, of course).

Happy Monday - let us hope I can get into blogger via the back door at least.

posted by Bess | 6:24 AM


Don't you just love Cherry Tree Hill? They do gorgeous things with color. You know that must be true, when I'm admiring many of their non-blue/green colorways!

Have fun chopping down and putting up your tree!

By Blogger Mary, at 5:26 PM  

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Saturday, December 16, 2006  

Heh Heh about the yarn temptations - both the given and the gotten. I went to the web site, M - yum! Of course, I would have to buy Champlain Sunset, no? And they have Opal sock yarn too. C - I have plans for that cashmere and silk. In fact, that will be my very first post-oath purchase, to make a very special something - something with a story attached. A blog post&pic lies ahead.

Ahhh Saturday. A Saturday at home, no less. Unless, of course. Unless we go Christmas shopping in the city. I have only one gift left to acquire - a china doll for E - who doesn’t like fluff and frill. A china Brats doll or a china soccer playing doll is more her line. Years ago I suggested to their mother that each birthday and Christmas I’d give my goddaughters the same thing so that when they grew up they’d have a collection. All children go through some sort of collecting phase and some stay that way forever - especially the ones who learn to knit! At first big sister got the dolls and little sister got music boxes, but after a year or so, little sister - quite little at the time - asked if maybe she, too, could get china dolls. She is a frou-frou girlie girl and actually plays with her dolls. It’s big sister who became fixated on the collection idea and, though each year I suggest she might rather have some different gift, something she might actually use or enjoy more, I always get a resounding "China Doll!!" as my answer. And then we giggle.

Alas, when I began the doll collections, china dolls were fairly ubiquitous, with kiosks setting up in malls each holiday season and selections well within the grasp of 5 year old hands and librarian’s budgets. Like all things stylish and faddish, china dolls have gone the way of Transformers (more than meets the eye). They still exist, but you have to hunt for them. I hope I can find something special for MissE today, but I do know of a very fine doll store in Kilmarnock and if necessary, I can slip on down there one day next week.

Kilmarnock is almost as far as Richmond, even though it's east of us. Thus the need to slip instead of drive there.

Regardless of what we do today, tomorrow we get the tree. I’ve been checking out the short-needle pines crowding against each other on a piece of cut-over land where we have permission to poach. We’ve gotten the past few trees there and, though the loblollies are taking over, after all, they were planted, there are still a few fat, thickly branched, bushy, but not too tall native pine trees along the edge of the road that might do nicely for our Christmas tree.

Long time readers of this blog know that I like my tree to go up the weekend before Christmas and come down on New Year’s Day. My little house is crowded enough as it is. No matter how beautiful and magical a Christmas tree is, dodging the fragrant, glass laden, swaying pine branches eventually grows old. At the moment there are no wee ones to play with this enormous toy so I’m not inclined to push the magic too far. Still, I don’t want to be putting a Christmas tree up on Christmas eve. I’m at work most of next week and on Friday I’ll be going up to see the parents. Thus - tomorrow is Christmas tree day and it will be a lovely one. Weather in the 60’s, dry, blue sky, eagle wheeling days are the norm this December 2006 and I have no complaints at all. I like cold. I hope we get some snow this winter, but I just got the smallest electric bill I’ve ever gotten in all the years we’ve lived in this house.

Lawsee! Once I get to typing I can go on forever! (She’s a delightful girl - if only she wouldn’t talk so much.) So I’ll end with this.

I have statscounter on the blog and it can tell me what country people who visit the page are in. I’ve always wondered why nobody from South America has ever looked at this blog, but I see that yesterday someone from Venezuela peeked in. So. Hola! to you, my South American visitor and Feliz Navidad!

posted by Bess | 7:54 AM


New yarns, projects and maybe a new computer on the horizon... It sounds like 2007 will be a great year for you!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 9:39 AM  

Hey sister, I'll buy a Mac if you will! And why did you have to show me that cashmere blend? Arrgh.

By Blogger Catherine, at 8:54 PM  

I've got all kinds of ideas floating in my head. I suppose I'll put them down as Knitterly Resolutions on Jan.1. I wrote a list like that in my KRR New Beginnings letter. It'll be interesting to see if it matches what I write in a couple weeks....

Oh, I emailed you a link to a pretty sock yarn, not having realized that you'd blogged about new yarn today. Great minds....

And hooray for the potential new computer. Hooray!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:34 PM  

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Thursday, December 14, 2006  

Yarns I'm definitely thinking about buying in the new year.
and more of

And items I'm thinking of scheduling into my very own Knitters Almanac.

D'Artagnan socks
Spin enough yarn for a sweater
Finish UFOs
Knit some cuffs
A sweater with Nicky Epstein trims
Harem pants
Learn 5 new cast-ons and cast-offs; preferably decorative ones
Knit up some swatches for mastering other new techniques
Finish the KipFee
Another fine gauge stranded color work dale of Norway sweater
Christmas Socks done before Christmas months (Nov. & Dec)
Della Robbia Christmas Stockings
Something unexpected or inspired

As you can see, at one idea a month, I'm already into 2008. And I’m sure to come up with other new ideas before January 1. In fact, I’d welcome suggestions for Monthly Projects - or just hearing about what you might want to do if you were going to plot out your own Knitter’s Almanac. And of course, I don’t plan to be as rigid with this project as I was with the No Fiber Oath of 2006. One year of such strictness is enough for me.

Well and so. This is where TheQueen’s brain is playing these days. In the land of Next Year (I’ll be better). But in the mean time, I’d best be off to finish up this year’s Christmas socks.
I had planned to write a rant about the new and improved blogger - which I dread because I have an old and decrepit computer. But I’ve changed my mind. Perhaps the upgrade will push TheQueen and HerConsort to "geeeut up offit" and go buy a new computer. TheKing has brought it up once or twice and if HeHimself is willing to consider the change SheHerself ought to encourage him.

Happy Friday.

posted by Bess | 1:09 PM


Oh boy, oh boy, have you started the wheels spinning in my head! I love the idea of a knitting plan, and am eager to see what you come up with, because I might just have to copycat you.

And a studio.... I've been seriously considering turning my deck into either a screened porch or, preferably, a four-season room, of which one of its purposes would be for orderly stash storage and display. I think I'll be looking hard into this, after the New Year. I may have to look at that book you recommended, for inspiration....

By Blogger Mary, at 1:24 PM  

Hi Bess - I am Rusty Smith, the program chair of Auburn University School of Architecture. Thanks for the kind words about Sambo and The Rural Studio. You may also enjoy both "Proceed and Be Bold: Rural Studio After Samuel Mockbee" and "Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture" Sambo actually worked on the last book prior to his untimely death; it showcases not only the work of the Rural Studio students but also a good sampling of Sambo's artwork that was significantly influenced by his time in Hale County.

You may also find it interesting that both Andrea Oppenheimer Dean and Timothy Hursley (The author and photographer, respectively) of the first two books both donate the entire proceeds of their books to support the work of the Rural Studio, so your purchase has helped us out directly - thanks for that!

As you are designing your own studio, you may enjoy Micahel Pollan's book "A Place of My Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder" in which Pollan works with an architect to design his own studio and then embarks on the construction of the studio himself. It is required reading for all of our students.

Finally, you may enjoy taking a peak at the site for a look at a studio for Renowned Quilter Mozell Benson that our students are in the process of completing. The site is not yet populated with content, but should be by early January when the students that are working on it return to school.

Thanks again for the notice - I hope that the design of your studio is as pleasant as it should be!

By Blogger Rusty, at 7:44 PM  

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Whew! I had no idea I wouldn’t be posting for such a long time. Nothing untoward has occurred. I’d blame it on Christmas and all its frenzy, because that would be easy, only, it wouldn’t be true. I’ve just been busy/waking in the night/sleeping too late to get on-line in the mornings. Monday I slipped on over to Richmond and visited with my folks and my Alaska sister. I hadn’t seen her since Christmas ’00 but the last time Mama went into the hospital, my other VA sister and I encouraged both far away sisters to make the trip back east if they possibly could. Happily, one could come before Christmas.

I gave her a lift to the airport on Tuesday and then rolled back into town to have lunch with M in Carytown – and check out the yarns at The Yarn Lounge. I was especially looking at sock yarns because I am having serious sock creativity surges as I knit away on Christmas socks. She had Fleece Artist sock yarn – yum. One day soon I will have some of that too. Only 17 days left on my Sacred Fiber Oath. Whew.

I am still working on my Personal Knitters Almanac for 2007. I’m really warming to the idea of plotting out a knitting schedule, much as Elizabeth Zimmermann did, tailored to my needs, lusts, and stash. I’m shifting around ideas like someone working the shell game at the fair right now, but I will map it all out on January 1, when I sit down to do my Year in Review/Ahead list making. I love the idea of treating time like money and budgeting it to see just how much I can get from a definitely limited resource. It’s another kind of Math Play that really gets me feeling energized and powerful and happy.

I’m also designing a studio for myself. Not that there’s any serious discussion between the RoyalCouple about expanding TheCastle – yet. But there will be one of these days and besides, I know that having A Plan is always a good thing. Always. You never know if you’ll be able to carry out your plan, but for sure, you won’t be able to if you don’t actually create a plan.

I adore planning. It’s such a creative positive thing. It’s the sort of activity that creaks open the rusted gates of your mind – and of your heart. It helps you write your self-definition. It rolls out the carpet of possibility like some welcoming path to joy. And while I’ve wanted a studio for a long time, and have even put a few ideas down on paper, they were of meager proportions. I’m glad they never came to fruition. What I envisioned would have been inadequate.

I’m ready now to really blow open the idea cache and root through the treasures. One first step was to look up books about studios – an almost forlorn activity, for there are very few books on studio design unless it’s a photographer’s studio or a recording studio. I’ve found a few, though and ordered them via interlibrary-loan. But a happy by-product of digging through one vein of information is how many other fascinating things you’ll discover. Like this – for example - discovered while doing a keyword search on OCLC for Studio!

Well you may have heard of them before, but I had not and this is a most fascinating book. Lots of photos. Enough text to inform you, but not so much you skip it all and just look at the pictures. Sambo Mockbee has created an organization for a truly creative marriage of social work and architecture. I’ll do a longer review of this book later, but I can already tell you its idea, its premise, is enough to earn it 5 stars.

posted by Bess | 11:55 AM


Fun times, yesterday -- thanks for meeting me for lunch!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:27 PM  

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By Blogger Rusty, at 7:41 PM  

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Sunday, December 10, 2006  

Real knitting progress hath occurred. 1 inch of ribbing on the Second Sock of a Christmas Gift pair hangs from my size 3 Addis. Yes yes, I know. #3’s are a little big for socks but I knit the foot part on #2’s. I just like knitting with these bigger needles and when a yarn, like Regia, for example, makes a pretty fabric on #3’s I go ahead and use those bigger needles. Besides, all the socks I’ve knit on #3’s have held up to my usage. Granted, I’m not too hard on socks, but I’m not altogether sure how much these gift socks are worn anyway. They’ve just been requested.

BD’s socks don’t really count as a Christmas Gift pair. They likely won’t be done by Christmas either. I’ve 1.9 socks left to do from that pool of gift knitting and after that I believe I’ll allow myself some KipFee knitting. A photo will be taken though, of the departing socks just to prove that I really do finish something now and then. Thank you, M, for your kind confidence in my productivity.

I don’t know why I have this funny belief that it’s not real knitting unless it’s a sweater. Maybe an afghan is real knitting - perhaps it’s not real knitting unless it’s a lot of finished knitting. So if I had say, a dozen pair of knitted socks in my drawer, or BD’s drawer, then I could feel like I really produced things. Eh. I’ve pondered this silly thing before and haven’t yet found the psychological pesticide that will eradicate it.

My latest mental gyration in the quest for becoming a Real Knitter has been a sort of 2007 knitting schedule whereby I did something particular each month. My own version of a knitter’s almanac. Each month I’d tackle something knitterly. Something different. Perhaps a month of finishing projects, a month of socks, a month of lace. Hmmm. Yes. The more I think of this the more excited I’m becoming. What fun this is going to be to devise - I may even make it into my own KnitAlong. Yep Yep - I could call it the year of Real Knitting.

Okay - I’m maybe not going to be able to post tomorrow a.m. I’ve been sleeping late for the past several days and I’m off to my folks’ house tomorrow for an overnight stay. Friday was a particularly successful Christmas Prep day. I brought out all the Christmas CDs, went shopping and scored all my staff and library volunteer gifts and one of the family gifts too. And cleaned the house. And discovered the vacuum needs repair And delivered it to the repair man with pleading and begging that he’ll get it fixed by the weekend. So. As I ride around the eastern part of Virginia, listening once again to Ferrol Sams’ Christmas Gift - which, with the exception of the first Christmas story, is the only consistently satisfactory seasonal story I know, I am feeling pretty relaxed and stressless. Everything is falling into place and I’m not working very hard at it. Sounds about perfect to me. May your pre-Christmas schedule fall into place as well.


posted by Bess | 5:17 PM


Nuthin' wrong with hats and socks, IMHO. Or swatches. Have fun knitting over the edge!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:06 PM  

This definitely feels like a year that I didn't accomplish as much as years past. I certainly didn't accomplish as much as I did in 2005, but I did finish a few things I'd planned to finish this year. There is nothing wrong with swatches. They make knitting fun sometimes just to try out all of your yarns.

I started Level II and got bored with it. Maybe if you start working on it, it will be a motivator to get me going on it again.

By Blogger erica, at 12:37 PM  

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Friday, December 08, 2006  

Well. Since I have the day off, I had thought I’d slip on over to Richmond today, and maybe have lunch with M. But this isn’t really a day off - so much as a day exchanged. I work tomorrow instead and when I looked around at the flood of home things that really must get done I realized I couldn’t. Not, and have groceries in the house or Christmas cards written or, gulp, bills paid, or anything so mundane as a wreath on the door.

And thinking of wreaths on the door reminds me that all the plantings in front of the house are so overgrown you can barely see the front door light. Everything has flung up branches and limbs and leaves and needles so that getting into my house is a little like crawling into an animal den. And part of me really likes that. Normally I do get those ligurstrums pruned before cold weather so that they'll bloom in the springtime, but I didn’t this year. Because nearly every weekend I was doing important family things except when I was having knitting fun. It’s a good thing we live so far off the road nobody ever sees our yard or house unless they’re invited - or lost.

Come to think of it - not too many people find us when they’re lost. They end up at Robert’s Landing.

Anyway, I still want wreaths on the door even if you can’t see them till you duck behind the arborvitae. But if I want them, I have to get them today and decorate them and hang them and all that. So. It will be shopping this a.m. and cleaning this p.m. and if there is time, I will paw through the stash a bit and see what I might be able to use to knit up some sort of Nicky Epstein magic.

I’m also feeling a great urge to do some scholarly knitting. Some exploratory knitting. Some technical, skill building, mastery enhancing knitting. I am thinking of TKGA’s Level II master class. I am thinking long swatches of different edge treatments or multitudes of swatches with different cast-ons and bind-offs. I am thinking I would like to be a better knitter. A more knowledgeable knitter. I am thinking of becoming the SwatchWitch.

If, as it turns out, I can go a year without buying any new yarn OR finishing any projects beyond socks or hats, little socks or hats at that, then I may as well just accept my inner-definition and admit I am the SwatchWitch and quit pretending I knit sweaters.

And, if, as I would like it to turn out, 2006 was just an aberration, a period of chrysalis, of incubation, well, a little skill beneath my fingertips is always a Good Thing.

posted by Bess | 7:00 AM


Lynne at Lettuce Knit definitely marches to her own, rather than her customers' beat. It amazes me that the shop does as well as it does.

I think you made a wise choice in purchasing Victorian Lace Today -- it's gotten rave reviews everywhere. I can't wait until they get it in at Barnes & Noble, so I can get my hands on it!

By Blogger Mary, at 3:16 PM  

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Thursday, December 07, 2006  

Hooray for me! I finished the dread statistical report for the State Library. In doing so I had to gather up the last of the paperwork the auditors need so that can be shipped off today as well. Two major projects off the list. My, that feels so good. There are still some Must Do Before Christmas activities and projects, but none of them are wicked. Just must dos.

My knitting is going so slowly. I’m still inching my way down the foot of LDS#1. This doesn’t feel good to me. I’m so wanting to get back to TheKipFee. Must Knit Socks. I swear this every year, so I may as well swear it again: I Will Knit Christmas Socks Some Other Time Of The Year! I hate this rush rush at the end of the year trying to do something that’s so simple to do. I don’t know why I didn’t knit a passel of Christmas Socks in, oh, say, March. Yes. March ought to be my Sock Knitting Month. Or April. Or for heaven’s sake, July, when it’s too hot to hold anything else in your lap anyway. What was I doing in July?!? What was I thinking?

The lowering thing is .... I have produced very little in 2006. Hardly any spinning. Not a single sweater. A little bit of sock knitting, an unfinished ribbed sweater and most of TheKipFee - but not the hardest part. I have some thoughts about that and will give some time to organizing those thoughts when my Year Of Abstinence is over.

Hey, but there. I’m not very down about this .... even if it sounds like I am. I am just thoughtful.

And inspired too. 2 new books have been added to the library. I had ordered them on a hunch, some time ago and I got a chance to peek at them when I was in Richmond over Thanksgiving. Lettuce Knit had both of them and they weren’t too impressed. The owner told me she had to buy her own copies and then she’d decide to stock them or not. She didn’t seem to feel that her customers would like them. Fortunately for Richmond knitters, they’ll be in the book stores and other LYSs.

Victorian Lace Today is an XRX book so I knew it would be glossy, beautifully photographed, and on the pricey side. At $29.95, though, that’s not all that expensive any more. There are 2 things I particularly like about this book.

First, it’s got a wonderful history of Victorian knitting and the women who wrote down those first patterns. Covering written patterns from the1830s through the Weldon books of the late 1800's, Jane Sowerby offers little biographies of these women and even little genealogies of some of the patterns. It’s such a treat to savor the history of our craft and there’s precious little written about it. I appreciate anyone willing to do the scholarship for me.

Second, the designs don’t duplicate Gathering of Lace, the library’s other big glossy lace book. There are lots of scarves, lots of big square stoles and a very pretty cape or two that are unusual and versatile. The first pattern is an easy pattern but it’s quite lovely. There are other easy patterns, lots of intermediate ones, and many that are knit on size 7 needles. Not so daunting as those tee tiny needles coupled with fortylevendyhundred stitches.

Knitting Beyond the Edge is the 3rd in Nicky Epstein’s series of trims, edges, borders and details and it’s my favorite yet. I’ve got no problem with admitting that her eye, her style, her … her theme matches mine. Or perhaps, more politely to say that mine matches hers, since she’s the one who has gotten out there and done all that innovating, experimenting and presenting. I simply adore her books and this one is More of the same, not TheSame. My favorite cuff is the one that looks like Renaissance puffs. The main yarn is a plain twist but the puffs are knit in mohair, and probably on a bigger needle. It’s absolutely darling! I can just see all the princesses out there sighing over these cuffs.

I’ve been tempted by NE’s clever ideas in the past, but this book made me want to knit a sweater for just about every collar, cuff or closure she’s designed. There are a few whole garment patterns at the back, as in her other books. I house NE’s books right up along side the Barbara Walker books for inspiration, instruction and that rich feeling of having resources in my brain bank that I can draw on anytime I need to.

Hmmm. If I were to knit 7 sweaters for me this year, how many NE ideas could I incorporate into my wardrobe?

posted by Bess | 8:22 AM


Love the great hat. And I'd love the forest if someone could guarantee that there would be no poison ivy residue of any kind.

Uh huh -- didn't think so.

By Blogger Mary, at 11:14 PM  

Yes, Bess Dear, that is a Great Hat! And you look so appropriately Regal in it! Bravo!


By Blogger Margaret, at 11:41 AM  

Hey - the pose here: looks awfully familiar!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:33 AM  

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006  

Join me for

More travels with a Girl
(with a great hat) and Her Dog.

On the prowl for secrets hidden in the forest. Like


Doesn't it look witchey? After 2 serious hurricain seasons it's a little sparser, and perhaps, a little friendlier, but those mountain laurel branches always make me think of spectral arms reaching out to grab you.

There are less spooky secrets in the woods. This copper beech tree sports many a boy's monogram. The BWH is my stepson, the BC is a neighbor who is, what, 50 now? yikes! There are more but they're higher up and I couldn't photograph them.

Blooming in the woods this time of year are some magical fungi.

It's a muted world this time of year, all grey and white and black and tan. But there's still a hint of autumn's glory left.

My Sunday stroll uncovered many beauties. Some were reassuring, some inspiring. I never get tired of the forest, though, nor of the great dome of blue sky that closes me into the ring of trees that is home.

posted by Bess | 2:51 PM


Seems like your Christmas will occur on New Year's Day! I wonder what colorway you'll choose. Someone asked me if I bought some STR yarn for myself. Duh! Why didn't I? I guess because I already have lots of un-knit sock yarn waiting in the wings, including one hank of STR.

Hey, if your shopping on Friday finds you in my neck of the woods, give me a holler. Perhaps we can meet somewhere....

By Blogger Mary, at 4:09 PM  

One whole year! Wow! That must have been so diffcult. Congrats.

By Blogger Krista, at 8:27 PM  

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006  

Forgotten from yesterday’s post is this announcement.

4 More Weeks

Because 4 weeks from yesterday I will be at liberty to

Buy Yarn

Yes. The year long abstinence from yarn, fiber and fleece purchasing comes to a close on December 31st and after that I may purchase them all, up to my wallet’s capability. Of course, January 1 is a holiday and even if there were that yarn shop out there whose dedicated proprietor felt like crawling in to work on a Monday, I will be too busy dismantling Christmas. There is always on-line shopping, though, since the internet doesn’t take holidays. I am thinking of making some sort of token purchase that day. I’m thinking of something I’ve heard about this year but been unable to indulge. Something small and delicious and luxurious but not necessarily expensive. I am thinking some Socks that Rock yarn. This - after seeing M’s post the other day, of the prize yarns she’s shipping out. Yum to those colors.

I shall write all about the Year of No Fiber when it’s actually been a year but I didn’t want this 4 week timetable to go unremarked.

There isn’t much other news from TheCastle today. Sock knitting goes apace while The KipFee languishes in the basket. I’m still decreasing the gusset of LD’s Christmas sock - sock #1. EEEK! Best leave off typing and get back to knitting. I’m curiously stupid about the holidays this year. While I’m aware it’s that festive time, and I’m certainly not feeling blue about it, I can’t seem to focus on it either. I felt this way about Thanksgiving too. Unable to really see the date on the calendar, yet managing to celebrate it nonetheless. Just minus the rush of joy and excitement of other years. Well. There you have it. Sometimes we have to accept that things are different some years from others.

BD begins his 2 week stint in F’burg with the Salvation Army. I have Friday off to go shopping. I even know about some rather beautiful things I could do to sort of kick-start the holidays. Instead, I haven’t done anything. No lists. No cards. No pulling out the Christmas music. No idea what to tell my darling to get me for a gift - not even an idea about what I’ll buy myself for my secret gift. Just this vague day-to-day acknowledgment that it’s Christmas time now. Time to get busy.

I’ll admit that half the fun of Christmas is the excitement of New Year’s Day and all the New Newness of New it gives. 365 whole days of a New Year rolling out in front of you with it’s mystery and promise and supposes and what-ifs. It’s the gift of time after you’ve spent all your money. There is something so enriching about having a whole year ahead of you, with its seasons, its anniversaries, its surprises. And this year I feel I’m fortified with new resources - new tools, additional skills - to walk into those sparkly empty 12 months and see what sort of things I can cook up, build, create. I’ve already got some ideas percolating. I’m feeling a tremendous urge to Make a List. Perhaps, on Friday, I’d best have a look in the stationary shops. I’m going to need a New Notebook!

Hmmm. Well. Seems as if I’ve leapt right over Christmas. I guess I really must be in the mood to buy yarn!

posted by Bess | 7:32 AM


When did you trade in the sweet puppy for that handsome guy?

By Blogger Amie, at 3:11 PM  

Love the pictures! BD looks so serious in 1976!

By Blogger Mary, at 4:05 PM  

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Monday, December 04, 2006  

Take me for a walk, Mama!

Down the path. Through the woods!

Let's see what's blooming in the winter landscape.

It looks like some sort of futuristic apartment complex.

How many browns are in this photo?

Across Middle Swamp we go.

With just one stop off for a little drink.

And from the archives - this is Christmas 1976. Cute, aren't they?

posted by Bess | 11:43 AM


I didn't see an email link. If you're interested in joining us for a knitting retreat held in VA in January, please email me.

By Anonymous Robin, at 5:06 PM  

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Sunday, December 03, 2006  

There’s a rose colored banner beneath the purple clouds to the east this morning. Sometime today rain is supposed to herald in some true December temperatures. It’s been so warm and wet that the forsythia is blooming in the yard next door to the library. The red sunrise isn’t so indicative of rain as the blanket of cloud cover that’s fading into the soft white of winter snow. Alas, it’s far too warm for snow here but my, wouldn’t snow at Christmas time be a treat?

I meant to write yesterday about poor Socks, our little house dog, who tangled with a skunk and has been relegated to the front yard for 3 days. She is our most patient dog, our sweetest tempered, and our most obedient. She lives to lie on the Big Bed and it’s been a sad few days that she’s had to stay outside in the morning when the others get to come in and snuggle with Daddy. Today she’s just below the stink threshold and I believe she’s snuck on upstairs. And today it is Jack who is banished to the front door because he came up out of the marsh in mud stockings and he is not coming into my sparkly clean house ... that I spent all of yesterday creating - from cleaning off the crud on the ceiling fans to swiping down the baseboards. Nope nope nope. No mudpups today.

I didn’t write about anything at all because the tendons in my wrist were plucking like a little harp. Tiny twinges that struck dread in the heart of a Christmas sock knitter. It’s much better today thank heavens. Still and all - I am watching it. Dooty requires the sock knitting but my heart belongs to The KipFee and as soon as the gifts are knit I will jump back into more colorful knitting.

The other knitterly thing I pondered off and on yesterday was the many rhythms of knitting. This was prompted by some ever so slight frustration I’ve been feeling as I knit on a pair of socks using 2 Addi Turbos of different lengths. I knit all small tubes on 2 circs because when I use DP’s I tend to pivot the working needle on my ring finger in a way that irritates a nerve in it. Try as I might, I’ve never been able to find a position, a way of holding the needle so that I don’t rub that poor nerve. Yet when I knit with circulars, for some reason I miss that tender place.

I use longer circulars because the shanks are longer too and I use Addi’s most of the time because I just love the way they feel. I like the KnitPicks circulars as well, though I think they are still working out some quality kinks, but I already have a lot of Addi’s. I have 24" and 36" (or whatever specific length Addi makes) and usually I just grab some needles and start knitting away. But yesterday morning it became increasingly obvious that by using a 24" needle on one side of my sock and a 36" on the other, the ballet of my knitting was suffering.

Of course, any repetitive task is likely to set up a rhythm in your head - the more so if once, you were a professional musician. I have lived my whole life to the beat of one tune or another. Some become wedded to the task, some visit only a while, to be displaced by another, some are seasonal, some depend solely on what’s on the CD player at the time. The 4x4 beat of ribbing, with its knit and purl stitches, just begs for some dependable Bach. The steady rush of stockinette fits right into a Dvorak Slavonic Dance. I even found myself humming Chestnuts Roasting yesterday because once through the whole song was one round on a Christmas sock!

That is, it was, once I made sure my needles were the same length. That extra reach I had to make to slide the stitches onto a 36" needle just ruined my dance. And that got me to thinking about other little routines of knitting perfection I’ve adopted over the years in order to feel like I was dancing through a project. Little things like singing a song as you cast on so that when you get to the end of it you have the correct number of stitches on the needles; like bringing the same color up from the bottom when doing stranded colorwork.

I tend to be a tad bit sloppy about things. Not a real pig, mind you, but just a little careless around the edges. I think of myself as a 90% girl. If 90% of my job is right on the money, that’s good enough for me. This is a deliberate choice, on my part. Something about 100% gives me the creeps. I’ve seen so much misery created by perfectionists, who reject all they’ve done because of that last 10% they didn’t do...or perhaps just think they didn’t do ... Bah! It’s wicked of them. Their rejection of love and compliments and joy and happiness, while they embrace the half empty part of their glasses, their lack, their losses, their misses, is not just a wounding of themselves, but of others who value their 90% but get slapped down when they say so. Besides, if you savor the 90% of perfect that you are, sometimes that pure happiness is enough to push you into a state of 100%. From that joy will come the energy and the vision to go the last 10%.

But now and then I like the idea of going after 100% right from the start, and setting up a rhythm, following a beat, is a tidy and pleasurable way of hitting a bulls-eye every time.

So. May you find your rhythm, dance your knitterly ballet. May you love your 90%.

posted by Bess | 8:53 AM


This week has been Thinking About Somehow Organizing the Stash week, and I'm just clueless on how to do that in my tiny house. Time to start surfing the Container Store and Ikea websites....

By Blogger Mary, at 1:55 PM  

Bathe that puppy in tomato juice and bring em inside. It's winter in VA.

By Anonymous Kathryn, at 3:20 PM  

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Friday, December 01, 2006  

Thanks Mary. I suppose it’s good, every once in a while, for my true scatterbrainedness to peep out. Yesterday’s post is textual evidence of why I there are so many single socks on needles at TheCastle. This whole week has been scattered, as if Mercury was still in retrograde and things communicative were missing the mark. Our delightful computer wiz showed up on Monday and did a once over on our machines, murmured that the two that give us the most trouble were probably not worth fixing and didn’t we want to buy 2 new ones (yes.) He put a lock-down program on the public access machines and gave me the procedure for opening it up, making changes and locking them back down again ... and it hasn’t worked since he drove away. Then, the quotes he sent me to my library email didn’t come through - again and again. I finally called Dell and had the fellow there send them to my hotmail address and bingo. So this means there’s a firewall issue with our router. Which I knew because we haven’t been able to move other Important Things That We’d Paid For through that router either. His boss, who is the Router Man, will have to deal with that issue. Today I’ll go talk to the Asst.CtyAdmn. and see if I can borrow from Peter to pay Dell - and order those new machines.

Computers aside, the whole week has had an aura of dithery frustration about it. It’s as if I’ve been away from work so long I can’t remember what it is I do. Yesterday, at last, I seemed able to actually accomplish what might be called real work. Of course, helping you find a great book to read is not real work, nor is opening up boxes of new books and DVD’s and CD’s, stroking them, flipping through the pages, getting their little bar-code stickers in them and displaying them on shelves real work either. Taking a little 6 year old by the hand and showing him the World Wrestling Books and those Formula One Racing Car books and that fabulous book on the Land of Lego - well, you know that’s not real work and when you stand in the stacks with a 9 year old and start to tell her about Robin, who’s mother is waiting on the queen and who’s father is away at The Wars with the king (probably in Wales) and he’s come down with some illness and now he can’t walk and how will he ever become a knight!?! Well. Nobody could call that work. That is sheer joy as you ignite the thrill of history in some little heart. No. That’s not work.

Work is ... filling out Bibliostat and preparing all that stuff for the audit. Work is telling that gang of 20 year old layabouts, who will hover around the front of the building, that they must either come in or go home ... again. Work is remembering to phone again and squeak about the ceiling lights that are still burnt out and have been since July! Work is all that stuff you have to do but don’t feel like doing - so it changes from day to day, from mood to mood, and from successful completion to successful completion. If Jerry would actually come fix my lights, I wouldn’t mind calling him when they burn out.

Happily, when you just keep plugging away at work, at least, when I do, eventually it begins to get done. Yesterday was so much more productive than Wednesday and Wednesday we finally got a collection of pre-school story hour .... babies! I’ve been watching this happen, as more and more mothers go to work and put their children in pre-school. When LD was a tot, our story hours had 30 children in them and they were 4 years old and we read the most wonderful books. Then, in a slow but steady stream, the children became younger and younger. The local private school began a 3 year old program. Then the public school got grants for a bunch of pre-k programs in addition to Head Start. Last summer I attended a Dep. of Ed. seminar where I heard the death knell for pre-school library programs when the key speaker stood up and said "Of course, we aren’t trying to expand our authority into the private day-care arena" and I tell you, if his nose had grown any longer he wouldn’t have been able to sit behind his steering wheel. The truth is - in a decade it will be mandatory school for children 3 and up. You just watch and see.

Anyway, my new group of babies - 1 and 2 year olds - are adorable and we will just shift the content of the program to lots of finger games and singing and re-think the time of day we offer any kiddie programming.

Knitting Blog. Yeah. That too. LD’s Christmas sock is inching down towards the ankle. Mighty slow progress this week, but I’m keeping at it. Hope it doesn’t turn out that everyone on my sock list gets one sock this year. I’ll be riding in the car on Sunday though, and get in some good knitting time. My sock knitting, though, unless I'm doing some kind of elaborate pattern (which I will be doing after the holidays ... I’m thinking stranded colorwork cuffs on knee socks) is just sock knitting. Hardly worth a photo. And the KipFee is patiently awaiting my attention again.
But I am thinking about knitting projects. I’m thinking about A’s 7 sweaters in 2007. I’m thinking about all that stash I didn’t knit up in 2006, even though I didn’t buy yarn this year. I’m thinking about that drawer full of deep reds and burgundies and browns and either an Elizabeth Zimmermann Adult Surprise sweater or the Mitered Mozart from an old Knitter’s magazine. And I’m thinking of a worsted weight alpaca lace snugly shawl. And a chevron patterned stash sweater in golds that I already assembled, though I haven’t designed it yet. And there is the fingering weight merino and cashmere I bought in the 11th hour of 2005 from Elann - and swatched - and began designing and realized it’d have to be knit on size 3 needles!!! and quaked in my little boots as I thought of all those hundreds of stitches. Thank you KipFee darling, for giving me the confidence to knit a sweater for me on size 3 needles.

So. This is a Thinking About Knitting blog today. May your thoughts turn to knitting too, and fill you with inspiration and delight.

posted by Bess | 7:20 AM