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


Thank you for the progress report. And yes, I'm still sending bliss-wishes your way.

I've been all out of sorts since hearing the news about C. We've never even met, yet I am as fond of her and her feistiness as I would be of anyone I "know."

"Miss Merck Manual" makes me laugh. I know her well! :)

By Blogger Jane, at 7:49 PM  

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007  

Thank you all for the loving posts and the silent prayers you’ve sent my way. I can feel them every time I stop rushing around and open up to them. There’s no news about Dad - who is still in hospital undergoing tests. They’re treating him for pneumonia and [my sister hopes] he will be released to re-hab. I go up today - to do some paper sorting and make plans to go back and do some more, probably this weekend. But BD is going with me today and we are going to fit in some serious play as well. Our CD player died a week or so ago and we are going to get a new one. We’ll dine out too and for the first time in months and months I believe we will slide over into the wicked zone and have ourselves a little steak dinner.

Had a long talk with Miss Merck Manual - my eldest sister - who loves to spew out technical medical jargon. I have good ear filters and can hear the woman beneath the multisylabicism and even hear the real insight when there is some. I have always felt that my dad never felt alive till he was functioning in a crisis and if there wasn’t one - he’d stir one up. It was no way to grow up, though I suspect many children did/do. An adrenaline junkie, as I put it - and when I used that term last night she cried out "Yes! Post Traumatic Stress Disorder!"- and listed the clinical process by which the brain grows addicted to the endorphins that rush through it when it's survived a great struggle.

Lawsee - what a world. Where do we calm junkies come from, hmm? We slugs who think 100 days of soft bliss should be followed by 100 more? Ahh well. I believe I shall look out for my still waters and slip into the dock quietly. I have knitting to do.

I have another request to make for more of your love. Catherine - C who is my secret twin - is gravely ill. Please send your wishes, prayers and loving thoughts winging her way. I met her in 03 on the Knitters Review Forums. She was part of the great 2003 wave of knit bloggers who surged onto the internet. I met her in person in 04 when she came o the KR Retreat. We’ve been counting on a second tour of MS&W this spring. Last week she collapsed suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Fortunately she was at work and rushed to the hospital. Surgery was performed but she’s still in the most delicate condition - if delicate can be applied to as feisty and strong spirited a human as ever walked.

Again - please add her to your prayers.

The KipFee is waiting patiently in the wings as I dash about for work and family. It’s funny that I thought something might hold up her completion back when I wrote out my 2007 Knitter’s Almanac and allowed for a month of catch-up before summer. She will keep. She’s made of wool. Instead, I have a lap full of socks. Mama’s are done, btw.

And so - may your day be the first of the 100 days of bliss and may all your knitting be Good Knitting.

posted by Bess | 7:15 AM


Bess, I've been thinking about you all weekend. I'd hope to hear that things turned out in a way that they were meant to. I'm glad to hear that they are well taken care of and that things are moving in a direction that's best for them.

By Blogger erica, at 1:14 PM  

That nursing home is about 2 minutes from my house...I've heard very nice things about it. I hope they make the right decisions-glad your visit was ok. jane

By Blogger jane, at 1:38 PM  

Dear Heart,

Good to hear you've returned home with what is -- in the context of the situation -- good news. I continue to hold you all in my prayers.


By Anonymous Margaret, at 3:38 PM  

I, too, thought about, and prayed for, you and your family all weekend, and continue to do so.

I am half tempted to send a link for this post to my dad to read. My parents think they will be healthy forever and have yet made no plans for what to do with their house or themselves when that isn't the case anymore, and they only humor their youngest daughter when I bring up the subject. Here's hoping they'll listen to the older kids....

By Blogger Mary, at 12:04 PM  

Hi Bess,
I too prayed all week for you and your parents. I thought about your Dad and his wonderful sense of humor and just prayed that he would not try to use it to side step you. I will continue to pray for their care and for your stamina to handle what is ahead of you.
I love ya much!


By Anonymous Patti, at 4:29 PM  

Aging parents and their care always has the potential to be stressful and upsetting. Fortunately my Mum decided where she would go, and when. Now there is just Dad and I think he is thinking hard, too.

Many prayers and kind thoughts for you as the situation with your parents pans out.

By Blogger KathyR, at 8:54 PM  

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Sunday, February 25, 2007  

When my mother in law, who was born in 1907, began to age, but long before she was unable to enjoy life, make plenty of good choices, or get along on her own for the most part, she fell and broke her arm. It never regained any real strength. It was her left arm so she could still dress herself, write letters, pretty much do anything except carry a laden tray. Immediately that cut out the top layer of high end continuing care homes in the Richmond area. The one where all her cronies, widowed with grown children, lived. The one that took you to the symphony matinees, the museum openings, the teas at ... well, I don’t suppose I know where old ladies have teas any more, now that Miller & Rhodes is closed, but I know there is some place.

If you already live at W. C., even if you’ve only lived there for a day, and fall and become unable to carry a tray in the dining room, and they will take care of you to the last moment of life. But that first day you have to be able to walk in and carry a tray. And Mom couldn’t do that. Not that she wanted to in 1990, when she fell. Oh no. It was a 3 year struggle to wrench the car keys from her. She lived with her daughter till said daughter married, and then with us till she became bed ridden. By then she didn’t know or really care who took care of her any more.

But from 1990 on I began begging my parents, who were born in the early 1920’s, to make some choices about where they would like to live while they could still walk in and carry trays. While they could choose the place that felt the best, smelled the best, offered the most. Believe me, there are a lot of choices for senior living and there are more of them every day. For years, on every visit, I’d ask them what they’d like and they would look at me with such expressions, or sit mum, or get angry. There came a day when I was singing that repetitious song and I looked in their faces and saw they’d already made their decisions. Dad would keep riding horses till one of them threw him hard enough to kill him, and Mama would move in with me. Case closed.

So the years have passed. I’ve never quit pressing. They’ve grown older, more infirm, truly sick, wheelchair bound. They’ve had surgeries for knees and feet and brain tumors. I have sped to the city from work, from home, from the gym, in answer to the real emergencies. I’ve murmured soothing comforting nothings over the phone for the imagined ones. I have also had many hours of true support from BD who has helped me make the existential leap from thinking I not only must do something but also will be judged by society, like some school child, on how successful my actions are - to understanding that they have chosen every day of their lives to live in, to trip over whatever discomfort, pain, anger, confusion or even real danger they now suffer. At the deepest level, where it counts, I no longer worry, even feel, that the quality of their old age is a reflection on me. Had they let me, I could have made it much nicer, but they wouldn’t and that was and has always been, their choice.

By now, social services would have stepped up behind me as well as whatever other legal arms that insist that old people be taken care of, and they would have been pressured into assisted living, only love intervened. Love in the form of a blissfully happy marriage between my sister and an old family friend of Dad’s - really, of the whole family. He was widowed. She was long divorced. They both came as guests to celebrate the YD’s wedding in ‘05. Six months later she was living 20 minutes from my parents and last fall they got married.

As is in any family, we sisters each inherited different things from our parents. We also each identified more with one parent than another. P got her phenomenal artistic talent from Mama and her engineering skills from Mama’s Dad. From our dad she inherited an incredible work-a-holic ethic. Ethic? Ha! Hunger. It didn’t show up when she was little - when she was as fey and whimsical as Tinkerbell. But by the time she was 20 and in charge of her own life, she was the absolutely workin’est woman I’ve ever seen. Exactly like Dad, who worked 3 jobs most of my life and, when he retired, started up a little business - to keep him busy. Caring for invalid and semi-invalid parents requires a whole lotta work and she is not just temperamentally equipped to do that, but also has a deep hunger to fill - to care for the sick parents she has been too far away from to do so in the past. Because of her, our parents have been able to spend this last 18 months in their own home, in spite of a host of illnesses that have threatened and even struck.

But even St.P. has her limits, even my parents have them, and it was arranged for me to join her this past week go over the $ with Dad to see what real choices they have. (In fact, they have a wonderful choice and they can afford it and have plenty to spare. It just needs Dad to admit it. He might. He might not.) But if he needs us to sit beside him while he faces the music, we can do so tenderly and gently. I actually sent out a prayer call to friends - that at such and such a time on Friday to please envision my parents in a safe good place or places or at least to see me driving home, happy and confident.

To those wonderful friends who also read this, know that in the strange quirky way of the world - their prayers were answered. The parents are in safe good places - if only temporarily. Dad is in hospital after falling in the night and Mama is at home with Nurse Natalie, who was an angel sent from heaven if any ever was. Young, pretty, engaged to be married to a local boy, with a lilting Caribbean accent, swift, deft and skillful, but most of all, full of conversation. Mama has someone to talk to at last!

Dad has at least signed the papers that will allow his doctors to speak with sister P. He also asked me (yet again) what he should "do about Mama" and again I told him he should sell the big house he can no longer care for, move Mama to the wonderful assisted living place in Sigh, Salisbury, Sigh, and, if he didn’t want to live there, move into a smaller house nearby. There are plenty of them. I also managed to cue in the primary care physician (and dad’s nurse at the hospital) with the sequence of his health crises since he blacked out last September (something I venture to guess not a single of his doctors knows) and before Dad leaves the hospital, the neurologist and the cardiologist will all be called in to consult with primary care doctor and they’ll have the facts. And they’ll report back to P.

We aren’t out of the woods yet. Dad is extraordinarily strong willed. Most of last week he was pretty depressed and focusing pretty much on giving up. But when I left the hospital yesterday he was laughing at Jeff Foxworthy jokes and getting lots of oxygen into his blood clotted lungs. Worst case would be that he recovered enough to insist that everything is fine and my wheelchair bound mother could take care of her self if she would just get up off her lazy .... and things could decay until the next crisis. But there are other outcomes. Who knows? Sister P is the one on the scene, so the major choices are hers. I am just her back up person now. It’s not the role I had thought I would be playing, but I have no ego invested in this. I still have many gifts to bring into play - among them my own sort of efficiency in organizing (ever the librarian) the 4 years of papers, bills, tax forms, prescriptions, DMV registrations (Dad’s car tags expire on Tuesday) stacked in heaps on the dressers and tables at their house. That horrible tin of medicines from the mid 1990’s landed in the trash can first. I know how to tell a thousand jokes and another thousand stories - as you who know me well have suffered through. I may not be able to distinguish all Mama’s 30 daily pills, but I do know her secret fondness for almonds and remember to buy them when I’m at the store.

There is no sane and reasonable - and happy and fun - walk into this last phase of life for my parents. But there never was a smooth or reasonable walk into anything with them. They’ve always been crisis people - adrenaline junkies who didn’t feel normal unless they were fighting the Nazis. Perhaps this is a WWII generation thing, this situation where they are only able to feel alive, to feel real, when rescuing themselves from danger. Or perhaps this is DNA at work, some inherited thing I may pass on to my poor grandchildren.

What I know is that the worst of this episode is over and I thank everyone who meditated, prayed, visualized for me on Friday. Mama is in a place where someone counts out her pills, serves her hot meals, engages her in friendly conversation and where she isn’t afraid. Dad is at peace while young nurses flirt with him. It is all temporary, but at least everything worked out surprisingly easy for me, if not for my parents. And looking back I see that my request really was as much for me as for them. I thank you all. As for the future - well, here is what Mr.Horoscope tells me to expect this week:

Are you not going over old ground? Have you not already run through the arguments that are now being so vociferously discussed and debated? Perhaps so. But this time, you are seeing something new in them. Experience can be a great teacher, but sometimes it can be a deceptive guide. We feel, because we have been somewhere before, that we know all there is to know about a place or a situation. This week, it is right in the midst of the most familiar that you are due to make a most unusual and surprising discovery. Don't be shocked or worried. Just be open-minded and ready to look at an old idea from a slightly different angle.


posted by Bess | 8:16 AM


Do have a good visit with your mom. Hope she likes the socks. I'm a bit like you with my knitting attention. It's got to be pretty simple if I'm going to knit while chatting and, of course, even then I can start doing something totally unrelated to what I'm supposed to be doing. Like binding off just because someone else is doing it.

By Blogger Larry, at 9:11 AM  

Thanks for the link to that new yarn shop -- it's now added to my GPS with all the other Virginia yarn shops. I might need to take a trip to Staunton sometime soon!

Both of the classes you're teaching sound very tempting -- especially the sweater class!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:51 AM  

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Thursday, February 22, 2007  

It looks like that KipFee is going to have to wait till next week to get finished. I’ve put too much into her to rush things now and the past 2 weeks have been packed with all sorts of things that distracted me from her. Work has been particularly tough because not only have 2 staff members been out, but our three volunteers who have the most training and skills, have also been out. Two piddly little souls have kept that place running 49 hours a week, so when you go somewhere today and a public servant helps you along your way - say thanks. They’re probably short staffed and exhausted.

I got a little bit of knitting done when J was visiting but I am not particularly good company when knitting, unless it’s mindless knitting, like a stockinette sock, which is what I knit the most on last weekend. And now I am off to Richmond and I am not taking precious knitting into a place with questionable karma. When I left you on Tuesday to bind off the last of the button band, my knitting was too loose and sloppy. I had to rip out everything I did. Not doing that again. It is decided. She can wait for calmer days to be finished. The only real goal I had was to wear the sweater this winter and I know I’ll be able to do that.

Instead, I am knitting that second sock for Mama - which is quite appropriate knitting since I’ll be at her house. She can try on the first sock to be sure it fits - who knows, I may finish it while I’m there. Knitting doesn’t relax me. It entertains me, it intrigues me, it thrills me and it delights me. But I am a counter, and I am a stare-er too. I do all sorts of little mathematical things in my head while I knit. I sing second violin parts from symphonies. I tote up square footage for garden beds. My fractured senses can listen to stories - plot lines - of movies or books while I’m knitting, because I’m riding along on someone else’s theme, but if I’m in a dynamic environment - one with conversation that requires the commitment of my attention, I’m more likely to put my knitting down and gaze about ... or knit the neck opening shut or some other weird and goofy thing. Socks, hats, things I have no opinion about or have done so many times I can do them in my sleep are my company projects. I will still have to stare at my knitting, but I can at least participate in the conversation.

Interestingly, spinning does relax me. A day spent spinning is a day of bliss, joy, and flights of fancy. And I haven’t spun since early fall. Happily - and suprisingly - I haven’t been too tense this year. Been too busy learning new techniques for getting what I want out of life and loving the heck out of it. A number of plans and happy projects are still so deep in infancy they aren’t ready to be brought out in public, but one of my favorite activities is teaching and I’m gearing up to teach 2 long days of classes. In March I’ll be teaching beginning knitting in a 5 hour class to the quilting ladies I taught spinning to last year. I will be, that is, if enough register. That one is a tad bit iffy but I’ll know for sure on Monday. In April I’ll be teaching at On The Lamb in Staunton VA - a new shop in a town that I think is one of the prettiest in Virginia.

Now, mid-April in Virginia is second only to May in Virginia, which is Eden on Earth. It’s a grand time to be traveling across state and I’ll be teaching one of my absolutely favorite classes - the EZ seamless circular sweater. I love teaching this class because it offers the new - middle knitter such a window to freedom. Freedom from patterns so that you can make what you want to fit whom in whatever stitch pleases you. When students first join the sleeves to the body and then zip up to the neckline in the little doll sweater we knit in this class - whey they realize they can do this in any yarn - for any body - it’s the most rewarding experience to watch. As understanding dawns on their faces, as they sit up a little straighter, as you can see in their eyes the thousands of sweaters that suddenly flashed through their brains - well. That is a teacher’s high of the highest magnitude.

The other class I’ll be teaching is a socks on two circulars class. Since that is a technique that takes all of 30 minutes to teach - or even far less, if it’s a small class - in fact, it takes about 5 minutes to demonstrate and the other 25 minutes to convince people to just obey the instructions long enough to see for themselves - I think I’ll spend the rest of the class on some interesting sock variations. Double knitted cast on? (am I too cocky to be considering the short row heel?) maybe the spiral toe - a pretty little technique that is just different enough to be enticing.

Well. It is some weeks away. I have time to think about it.

I don’t know what the weekend holds for me. Not sure when I’ll be back from Richmond, either. I’m just opening up and letting the force be with me.

And taking mindless knitting - which is still good knitting - for us all.

posted by Bess | 5:43 AM


Ooooh, daffodils! I love Spring. You are right - they do look like they are chattering to each other!

By Blogger KathyR, at 6:00 PM  

Boy, does that Interlacements knit up nice! And I just love the little sweater, and the fact that you gave it a little yoke! :-)

My crocuses are up today!

By Blogger Mary, at 3:20 PM  

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007  

Quickie photos from a weekend of productive knitting

Mama's new bigger sock in very soft Interlacements wool.

Sample for a class I'm teaching in April.

And look at these little troopers. In spite of 10 degree nights and 30 degree days, these babies are still perky. I always think they look like they're chattering to each other.

posted by Bess | 2:30 PM


I sympathize with the fear of completion. Many of the more distasteful tasks occur after the fun of the knitting is finished. But I'll bet that you'll like the cut neckline a lot better after you knit on the band....

I'm guessing that whatever brings you to Richmond on Thursday will keep you busy, but if you have free time, the Maymont Flower & Garden show is at the convention center. I'll be going for a couple of the lectures, and then of course, touring the exhibits and vendors. If you have time and want to meet up, give me a holler!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:28 PM  

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Sometimes I see a post, usually on Knitters Review, since I look there the most, and it’s so badly spelled the person comes across as 98% illiterate. My first thought is - oooo poor thing. Someone ought to tell her to type it first on a word processing document and run spell check on it. Control C/V will cut and paste it if her browser doesn’t give her the edit option. Believe me, if I didn’t do this I would barely be understood. I can’t spell worth jack.

So it’s particularly disheartening that the New Blogger won’t take apostrophes from a .doc file, inserting instead one of those weird symbols. And over in the sidebar, it put little rectangles where the punctuation should go - even when I logged onto blogger and risked humiliation by typing into the raw template.

Ahh well.

That is what makes me blasé about technology. It’s so arbitrary in its behavior, so undependable. It’s why I always take a library patron’s word for it when they say they brought a book back. After all, why should I believe a computer over a human. There isn’t any more veracity in one than in another.

Now, Missy A, I have put TheKipFee in the bag for a few days - partly because I am so close to the end and such an ENFP I’ll do anything to avoid closure. I have rounded the second neck-band corner and am coming down the button-hole band. Then there will be the i-cord foundation, the weaving in of the right sleeve, the blocking and the sewing of buttons and tacking down of the facing (what I am dreading).

The other reason for delay is that I don’t like the places where I cut away the steek in the neckline. I am regretting I didn’t make an Elizabeth Zimmermann kangaroo pouch neckline, which is vastly more elegant than the cut neckline. So much so, the cut neckline looks like a rebuke.

Of course there is nothing like a rebuking project, whining in a basket about how you done it wrong, to chase you into vigorous activity to prove that you are a worthy person who does so complete things if only they deserve to be completed and don’t complain. Mama’s first sock, for example. I’ll cast on the second righ away, since it turns out I am going up there on Thursday. (I want to buy some sock blockers like J has. I love the look of a blocked sock as an object of beauty in and of itself.) And I conquered that short row heel construction - yea me! And the mini sweater for the April class - very cute and fun to knit in spongy, silky Aurora8.

But we all know, all that activity is but a smoke screen to mask Dread of Completion. And so I offer up this Queenly Oath. I must go to Richmond on Thursday . I hereby vow that before I leave TheKipFee will be knit and blocked and spread out flat on towels on the dinning room table.

But with that vow - I am off - to knit i-cord bind-offs.

posted by Bess | 6:58 AM


On almost every heel I know, I end up picking up an extra stitch at the end of a row and working it together with the last stitch before I start working in the round again. It just makes sense that if you're going to be working back and forth on something like the heel, that little section of fabric is going to be a tiny bit longer than anything else.

Waiting to see pics of the kipfee!!!

By Blogger Amie, at 10:22 AM  

Hey - thanks for the shout-out about the sheep-shearing. Patsy wrote a beautiful description and I felt it shouldn't be wasted on my eyes alone. Glad you enjoyed it!

I agree with you about bald eagles. A few years ago I went to an Easter sunrise service down at Pony Pasture on the river, and right in the middle of the sermon, an eagle swooped down behind the pastor, into the river, and came up with a fish. It was incredible. Everyone exclaimed "Oh!", and the pastor didn't know what we were going on about!

Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend. I may have to look into that fiber guild myself!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:22 PM  

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Monday, February 19, 2007  

Yo! Mary! I tried to comment but blogger wouldn’t let me. I so so so thank you and Patsy for the wonderful peek into the window of sheep shearing. I am sure it was a magical experience, because anything to do with Barbara Gentry is full of gentle magic.

Now. TheQueen’s post.

Ahh the joys of being a government employee. They're few and far between, but I guarantee you, they can be felt on those Monday holidays. It’s ten0seven and I don’t have to hustle along at all, but may leisurely poke about on the creaky dial-up internet to see how friends are doing.

As for how I’ve been - well - delicious is the first word that comes to mind. J and her daughter C got to my house about dinner time on Friday and very swiftly we were pulling out knitting and catching up on everything that has happened since last November. New house, new knitting, new plans, new hopes. It was a great catch up evening. Then, at Crack of Dawn we were up and dressing and breakfasting and heading to Richmond where J was holding a trunk show of her spinning fibers for Clotho’s Children - the Richmond area fiber guild.

The guild meets at St. Joseph’s Villa which is part of the interesting lore of Richmond, and a tiny bit of the Lore Of TheQueen too, since for a very brief time when I was struggling to become 10 and worrying about homework and wishing I were an orphan so people wouldn’t have such high expectations of me, we were a host family for a little girl who lived there. It’s a good sized organization - maybe 50 members and there were 25-30 of them at Saturday’s Valentine’s Day Tea. Best of all we knew some of these members from previous KRRetreats, so there was a feel of reunion to the gathering.

I would reeeeeeealy love to join this guild and I could, if I would commit to some Saturdays in the city. After all, they only meet once a month and there’s no requirement that you attend every meeting. Really - I ought to join. In fact, I am talking myself into joining right now. Even if I could go only twice a year - it’s not any further than the other fiber guild that meets across the river (and down by the bay).

But what we did do was unload all of J’s bags of fabulous spinning fibers and set them up in a large U of tables, opened them up, clipped their little labels and samples on the outside and stood back. J specializes in rare breed fibers, though there are the occasional more common ones which she has dyed in her own glorious colors. Some of these are blends, some are straight off the animal’s back with only careful washing, most have been carded into rovings. Happy for me, I am no longer restricted so I could "shop" too, though I was careful to wait till we were packing up before grabbing that bag of Border Leicester and measuring out a pound of it. It’s a fluffy soft grey. It’s a long wool that hazes just a tiny bit like mohair and spun fine it will still knit up at 5 stitches to the inch. Yes sir. At that rate this baby could become a sweater.

Would you believe it - I have been so aswamp with knitting this winter I forgot to take a spindle with me! Sort of forgot. It did once cross my mind but the mind answered that I ought to remember that I was going to be busy the whole time - and I was. C - who is only 7 - was an absolute angel. A child with a naturally good temperament nurtured by very good parents, she spent the entire day actually helping us measure up and label the purchases. Not just for a little while, but for hours, this little girl was a happy helper. I don’t think even I could have been that good for that long at that age. In fact, the closest thing to a melt down she exhibited was .... nothing. I can’t remember one moment when C wasn’t pure joy to have around the entire weekend. Needless to say, BD was in his element - for he always wanted a daughter of his own. It was he who did the bedtime story reading and he knew to read the book about the Chinkoteague ponies.

I was pleased that my bald eagles put in an appearance, since I’m inordinately proud of them. It’s so cold these days the bay is frozen so there’s no point in them hunting over the water. They’re out in the fields instead, looking for mice. We had just pulled onto the farm when one flew up right beside us and into a tree. I always feel like a bald eagle sighting is a blessing - a sort of benediction from the eagle spirit - and happily - I get to see one almost every day.

Before J left I pumped her about those short row heels - I located both the instructions and the sock I had been knitting - and we talked it over. The funny thing is - though J forgot exactly what to do she remembered enough to prompt me to actually read the durn instructions. I don’t know what I was doing the last time I tried to knit that short row heel but this time the directions made perfect sense, the double wraps closed up the gaps in the seam line and the heel turned out almost just right. The instructions did have you begin the wrap and turns on a knit row and end on a purl row - and there was nothing in the instructions about whether or not to knit back across the heel and then start kniting across the instep, but I certainly didn't want to purl the rest of the sock cuff! But knitting back left big holes at the corners. I ripped and tried it again starting with a purl row, and that left only one smaller hole on the purl row. It’s a small enough hole I can close it shut with darning, but the next time I am going to start with a knit row, join the heel to the front on that last knit row and pick up the last purl wraps when I come around to the heel again on the other side.

I feel triumphant.

I dug other things out of our Microsoft Word archives. I am getting ready to teach some classes and need my handouts. That prompted me to start on another mini-sweater to be sure just how much yarn is needed. I’ve always made them with scrap yarn and I have only the original mini-sweater that’s on my Knitters Review Bear. He does not want me to send it off to the shop as a sample so I am making one that will go into my Teaching Box. (Yes, I do anthropomorphize my inanimate objects. Read Asimov’s Foundation series, book 4 if you want an explanation.) I have some grey Aurora8 in the stash. Yarn that has languished because I don’t wear grey and I’d never thought about knitting a hat for BD and who makes doll clothes out of Aurora8?!? Well. I do. Or am doing. It’s a cute thing. I’ll finish it up today. Switching to size 7 needles after all this KipFee knitting and sock knitting ( I didn't do any KipFee knitting but I finished the first of those Interlacements socks I’m knitting for Mom this weekend.) felt like knitting with pine trees. Wow! size 7 needles! Man. They’re enormous!!

All in all - it was the most knitterly of weekends. It was companionable. It was fun. It was sweet. It was restful even though we worked hard on Saturday and conked out at 10. It was productive. It was happy. And best of all - it isn’t over yet!

Thank you Mr. Presidents!

Photos soon.

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posted by Bess | 7:42 AM


No, I don't feel guilty. Knitting time is knitting time, and that's that!

By Blogger Jane, at 6:48 AM  

No, no more than I feel guilty knitting on summer days when it's deadly, horrible, eye-fryingly hot out.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 8:19 AM  

Guilt? Do we Virgos feel guilt?
Just kidding, dear Bess.
My knitting time is so valuable to me & brings such pleasure that I keep guilt at bay.
We had about 4.5 inches of snow & lots of ice. Better here than in parts of NY w/ ALL THAT SNOW - the mind reels over that quantity of the cold, white stuff.
Have a fab time w/J & her beautiful babygirl. Look forward to hearing about it.
Stay warm.

By Blogger Martha, at 8:34 AM  

It must be that old Catholic guilt, Bess, because I feel it, too. In fact, I really have a hard time sitting and knitting in daylight, unless it's an official "holiday" or "weekend". During the week, even when I'm not working, I just can't seem to sit on the couch and knit until after the sun has gone down and there's primetime on the tube, because I'd feel like such a slacker. Not that I'm not a slacker. I just don't like feeling like one!

I, too, am also resentful of all our northern neighbors stealing our snow. Doggone it!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:33 PM  

I don't feel guilty about knitting even when its sunny out. I just move the project to the nearest spot by a window on the sunny side of the house if its very cold outside.

On the days we had early winter when it was in the 40s I actually took DS outside to play and sat in the yard knitting while he ran in circles, stopping periodically to chase him ;)

Snow wise, all we have here is an icy crust, nothing that would interest a toddler to play in and far too cold lately with windchills. Alas, his x-mas sled may not make it out till next year at this rate!

By Blogger Martheme, at 10:56 AM  

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Friday, February 16, 2007  

It’s cold down here. Effing cold. Bone chilling, finger numbing cold. But it’s dry, too. No hundred inches of snow for us. No snow at all, sadly. Just hard bright cold. Folk around here are so blue about not having any snow, they’re closing schools just because it might snow or because the light rain that fell crystallized on the trees for an hour or so. Sigh. I hope my northern friends are enjoying all the snow that was supposed to be ours. I hope they are taking full advantage of it. I hope they are snug and cozy and tucked into soft chairs with beautiful yarn on slick needles. Or slick yarn on rosewood needles. Or rosy yarn on flexible needles. but yarn, glorious yarn on some sort of hook or needle.

So. Here is a question for you fiber folk out there. Do you feel guilty if it is a sunny day and you stay indoors and knit all day. Even if it is eff, gee and aiching cold outside?

I am still binding off TheKipFee. I took Valentines Day off to play with BD. We had a favorite dinner and chocolate ice cream and watched Father Goose with Cary Grant and Leslie Caron. He’d never seen it and I loved it as much the second time around as I did when I saw it at the movie theater with Mama. And crawled into bed early. I’ve been horribly short staffed at work - one person is away and another is sick - so that leaves only 2 of us to keep the doors open. Whew! I will be sooooo glad when the weekend comes.

Doubly glad because J is coming with her daughter for their annual girls winter visit and this time she has an appointment with the fiber guild in Richmond to give them a trunk show!! And this time I can shop too - which I haven’t been able to do the last 3 times I was around to help. I have that lace ribbed silk/wool sock for her to put in her display too - but not the lace wristlettes. They will be ready for MS&W though.

I haven’t spun on any of my poor lonely wheels in months (and months!) I wonder if I even remember how. Of course, partly I was wanting to knit on TheKipFee and partly I was knitting Christmas things and when I was last spinning I was teaching myself how to spin cotton which I’m not all that interested in. But with bags and bags of J’s unique fibers at my fingertips and an almost complete sweater in the basket - I expect inspiration to gush forth.

I’m already feeling the itch. Especially as I peruse Statscounter where I see someone is interested in spinning boucle yarns. The old boucle posts have been pulled up several times lately and I wonder who’s out there looking them up. Whoever you are - I wish you happy spinning. Boucles are fun to make and easy since they don’t require such precision as smooth yarns.

Okay dears - it’s too cold to stay out here in this frosty office. I am going to go sit by the fire and bind-off.

posted by Bess | 6:07 AM


Hooray! Now you're really in the home stretch!

By Blogger Jane, at 2:26 PM  

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By Anonymous Joni, at 5:04 PM  

Wow - so close! Looking forward to the model shot! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 5:39 PM  

Oh my! Just lovely! And yes, that mitre is a Thing Of Beauty. :-) You are made of sterner stuff than I where Fair Isle is concerned! As for steeking...Wow! I haven't had the courage yet.


By Anonymous Margaret, at 8:41 AM  

Woo Hoo! Bring on the buttons! It's all stunning.

By Blogger Larry, at 9:14 AM  

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007  


As I wrote last week - this is how I handled the color changes:

And this is how I wish I'd handled them:

I wish I'd woven in the ends, especially on the sleeves, but also on the steek. It would just have been so much quicker if I hadn't had to worry about catching yarn ends when I sewed that steek.

But, eventually I was ready to take the plunge. This isn't my first steek - but it's probably only my 3rd or 4th - and all of them were cut several years ago. I called on my feathered helpers for moral support.

Steek basted. Steek cut.

This is something I'm not too pleased with. Here is the button band where its side meets the bottom of the sweater. Pretty rough looking. I'm casting off with a 2 stitch i-cord bind-off and when I get to the last stitch on the other end of the button band, I'm going to continue around the bottom of the whole sweater with a 3 stitch i-cord bindoff. I hope this gives it the smooth finish I want.

Here's where I actually am on the sweater - on the i-cord bindoff of the neck edge. I particularly like the nice mitered corner at the top of the sweater.

Here's where I wove in the open sleeve stitches to the open body stitches at the underarm seam. Not perfect, but pretty durn good, hmmm?

Here are my birdbuds, examining the button holes.

Here's where I stopped last night. I slept too late this morning to knit any and I was also worried that I wasn't going to like what I saw in the morning, so I didn't look till I was ready to take photos. Altogether, I'm happy.


posted by Bess | 11:39 AM


You and your cute stick figure drawings....

By Blogger Mary, at 12:10 PM  

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Happy Valentines Day.

There will be pictures later today - but today is Wednesday, remember, and Wednesday means story hour, so I shan't be free to play around on the fast machine with the photo program till lunch time.

I am sooooooo close. There are things I'm really pleased with. There are things I'm not so happy with. Some things I know I'll do differently the next time, some things I'm going to have to live with always. But what a sweater!

Okay - till later.

posted by Bess | 7:49 AM


In case it snows?! Honey, up here it's been snowing for 5 days, and is currently running around -20C...and colder with the wind. Schools are still open...and the rest of us are knitting on the bus!


By Anonymous Margaret, at 8:45 AM  

They cancelled school here today and closed the library (!), so it's going to be a nice day at home. Looks like the same storm is headed your way. It's amazing what a difference six inches is in rural areas compared to cities. Six inches in Chicago is nothing, here it shuts down the town.

By Blogger erica, at 9:21 AM  

We're pretty bad in my county - but real flakes have to actually fall and the grass has to have become a little bit white.

6 inches would shut us down for a week!

By Blogger Bess, at 10:13 AM  

Alas, just rain here in Richmond. Bummer. I think we're pretty much done for our snow opportunities this winter. Sigh....

By Blogger Mary, at 1:09 PM  

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007  

Mercury, the communication planet, now stands still in the sky. It's a great time to develop misunderstandings or have genuine gestures misinterpreted. It's also a fine time for missing crucial pieces of information. It is hardly, though, the most auspicious climate for sending or receiving Valentine's cards! Even if your missive reaches its intended destination, it may get as far as the "head" of the recipient but fail to reach their heart. Make sure, whatever you do or say, today... or tomorrow, that it is sincere. Commitments made under a stationary Mercury tend to prove very hard to break

Hmmm. Perhaps this the time to make a commitment to the healthier (slimmer) body. I know that Mercury is about to go retrograde for the next 3 weeks so I already know to sign no contracts, make no travel plans and look over everything I thought I’d done in the past to be sure I didn’t forget anything. Since the accountant called over the weekend to complain about my mishandling of QuickBooks - something I told him, up front, had happened because I couldn’t figure out how to use the program - me not being an accountant and all, I know I’ll be looking over that mess this week. I guess I’ll wait till my ruling planet actually begins to "go backwards" - what? Thursday? Yes. I can do that on Thursday.

There now. I am sure you are not interested in my stars, but in my KipFee. Well. I am actually taking a break from garter stitch knitting to write this post. My eyes were getting a little bleary. When I get to concentrating on something that is so close to the finish line I tend to forget to blink. I can type blindfolded and my spelling is going to be bad no matter what, so this is a good way to rest my eyes. I have, though, completed the buttonhole ridge and the next garter ridge following. There are left, 2 rows of black and 2 rows of brown, at which time I will decide if an i-cord bind off would look better, or if I need to put in another ridge (2 rows) of garter stitch.

And then I will take photos.

Okay - my eyes are rested. But I hope, when I’m finished with TheKipFee, I will remember about an observation (not really a rant) I want to make about people who email you things they found out on the internet but never write real stuff about themselves.

Maybe photos tomorrow?

Weather report - counties just north and west of F’burg are closing their schools - in case it snows. Gawd. It’s the attack of the severe weather sprite. I bet they’ll be sorry they committed to that decision.

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posted by Bess | 7:35 AM


I'm glad the move to Beta Blogger was so uneventful. I hope it is that way for me, as well.

Come to Richmond and go button shopping with me at Couture! And if we're forced to hit The Knitting Basket and perhaps the Yarn Lounge while we're at it, well, who could blame us? ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 3:46 PM  

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Monday, February 12, 2007  

Well, it didn’t take all that much courage to move to the new blogger - that is - I am not daunted by computer geek stuff. I’m more hampered by the hard stuff - like crustedly ancient computer on dial-up. This will change fairly soon. BD is working on a project that involves a tremendous amount of e-mailing of large graphical files. The joke is, he’s mastered how to do it on this equipment. Mastered it, that is, if one can make such a claim when it takes 45 minutes for him to get his file - if he doesn’t get bounced from our carrier or the sending server doesn’t just disconnect. I hadn’t realized he was devoting that much time to playing the waiting game, but there you have it. He’s almost finished this project and he promises me that once that’s over we will get the satellite guys in and (I am hoping) get a machine that will talk to them.

But I’d heard early switchers were having trouble with the move, loosing their blog name, having to start anew. I didn’t want to loose my poor blog behind a wall of BetaBloggerBlocking. I also didn’t want to change my name, though I am certainly ready to gussie up the template. I figured, sooner or later they were going to force me to switch and they did on Saturday. I couldn’t log on to Old Blogger, even though they gave me the option. I was sent to a "You Must Use Your Google Account. We Will Help You Choose One."

Talk about Big Brother!

Wasn’t I lucky they didn’t storm TheCastle and tear it down?

But in the mean time, I have decided that I will not spend the 2 most productive personal hours of my day playing solitaire while I wait for the in-box on Hotmail to open up. I give it 30 minutes to check my e-mail and horoscope, maybe write a blog post and then I’m outta here. I have things to do.

Like - finishing that button band. I don’t have the buttons and am slightly undecided about how big to make those button holes. I’m on the row where the button hole must be made. I think a 4 stitch button hole ought to be big enough for most any button I might buy. I have lots of buttons - thousands of buttons - but I don’t have enough of either brown or red buttons of the correct size for this sweater. I could just make the button holes and buy buttons to fit. I may do that (in the next 30 minutes) or I may wait till I see what’s for sale in town today. I don’t want anything fancy for buttons, nor anything heavy. The KipFee is fancy enough. I also struggled with how many buttons I’ll want. 7 is the usual, the pattern calls for 14 little black ones. I marked 7 places and it looks okay but I believe I’ll make 9. More buttons means smaller holes. I’ll make a 4 stitch button hole and see what it looks like - if I don’t like it I can rip it out and make a 3 stitch one.

Because darling wise clever generous Meg Swansen made the most wonderful video on Cardigan Details and I have watched it and remembered about that one row button hole. So I can make one and rip it out without having to rip out a whole row of button band stitches. She even shows you how to do the clever knitting math to figure out how to space your button holes. Meg is a counter and I have secret counting tendencies myself. (Yep. I count how many rows I knit in the body of a sock and then knit that same number on the second sock.)

I have some photos. I may post them today or I may wait till I am finished. I’m close. Oh so close to done. But to get there, I’d best log off.

Ta. And Good Knitting to you ALL!

P. S. I’m really really really really really happy with this sweater.

Labels: ,

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


Well now, that wasn't so bad, was it? This looks just like your old home to me.

The steeks should be easy-peasy because of the good energy left from breezing through the blog switch!

By Blogger Jane, at 9:06 AM  

Well, glad to see it went smooth as clockwork for you (the move to Blogger Beta, that is). I've been hearing that from a lot of people - that lately, now that the bugs seemed to have been ironed out, it's been painless and somewhat invisible, unless/until you start fooling with your template. I suppose I should stop dragging my feet and make the move myself.

Here's hoping your steeking goes just as smoothly!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:54 PM  

Some of my small project blogs wouldn't move before they kept telling me there were too many errors in my blogs (?!) and then when they forced me to move it was no problem. Sort of sad that I lost my previous username, though.

Brave woman, good luck with the steeking. I haven't become that brave yet.

By Blogger erica, at 11:23 PM  

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Sunday, February 11, 2007  

I have switched to new blogger.

Can you tell?

Yeah. What I thought.

I had such a bad time a few months ago, when I switched to the New Beta Hotmail and then couldn't access my email on our (blush) windows98 DIMM memory motherboard rebuilt rebuilt (rebuilt) computer on dial up. So when Blogger started begging me to try their New Beta Blogger well. Thanks but no thanks. And when C said she was told her blog was too big and she couldn't move it over to the New & Improved Better Beta Blogger - well. Well. Whell! I wasn't tempted.

I knew sooner or later they were going to make me move. Yesterday they closed my back door. Today I switched. Let us hope it takes.

They assure me everything moved.

And how is TheKipFee? It is at the snipping stage. I decided to machine sew the steeks because I chickened out at the last moment on crochetting them. Also, I have to cut out some of the neckline. I haven't snipped because I want to resew around the neckline just to make it tidier.
I experimented around with pickup ratios and direction. Sometime today I'll get out my trusty scissors, snip away and pick up those stitches.

Photos tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 7:42 AM


Well, I will say in my flat Midwestern-with-a-hint-of-northern-Michigan voice:

"Ribbing is just fine for button bands. I do not see why you should not use ribbing."

I've used plain stockinette, ribbing, garter...I don't really see a difference in them. The key is in how you pick up the stitches, I think.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 1:29 PM  

You are right, of course. But I like the color stripes in the garter band best with this sweater. In fact, the more I look at it the better I like it.

It's exciting to be so close to the finish!

By Blogger Bess, at 4:16 PM  

My, oh my, it's coming along nicely! This is so fun! Hey, if you need to button shop in Richmond, I'll meet you at Couture!

By Blogger Mary, at 4:58 PM  

The garter stripes are my favorite, and they add a nice vertical element. The color stripes sre an extra special touch.

What a beautiful sweater!

By Anonymous diann, at 10:00 AM  

Dearest Bess,
Your sweater is bee-ute-tee-full ^..^

By Blogger Martha, at 6:09 PM  

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Thursday, February 08, 2007  

Well, my dears, here are some more photos with accompanying verbiage. Here is a shot showing the shoulder fit - unblocked, mind you - so pay no attention to the wobbly stitching. Water will smooth this out a lot.

Note that the front neckline looks just perfect for adding a turtle neck. In other words, its way too high and I shall have to put in that collar steek after all. When I was first knitting the shoulder portion I planned to cut out that large chunk of laboriously knit Fair Isle work. Then, when I began the triangular shoulder shaping it looked as if I could just knit the shoulder part starting where the front neck opening should begin and skip the cutting.

Wrong. I would have to have begun the neckline shaping at the top of the green band to do that. I would never (EVER!) have knit that much stranded colorwork flat, but I could have done an Elizabeth Zimmermann kangaroo pouch. Only, I didn’t. So I’ll have to cut. I comfort myself with the knowledge that I had less purling back in stranded colorwork and less cutting to do than originally planned. I am extraordinarily pleased with the back.

Note how nicely the back shoulder and neck area fits since I put in those lovely short rows and sneaky little decreases. Yes. I am pleased with this.

This is how I handled the color changes.

Ooops – forgot to photograph that. I’ll show you next time.

This is how I wish I’d handled the color changes.

Ooops – forgot to photograph that. I’ll show you next time too.

I’ve done a lot of Fair Isle knitting in small things; mittens, hats, pull-over yokes. This is only the second all over the whole durn sweater fair isle I’ve even done and it’s at 8 st. to the inch, not 5. Without thinking I just did what I do when I do what I do: drop one color, pick up another. Weave it in at the end. I wish I’d started wrapping the new colors around the working yarns at the beginning of each steek, swapped colors in mid-steek, and carried the old colors to the end of the steek. Then I could have just snipped off the dangling bits, crocheted my steek and jumped right into button band knitting. Now I have to do something about all those dangling ends and loose stitches and bummer and all.

Eh. So be it. What I will do is:

1. tie off each end
2. machine stitch the center steek stitch
3. snip off all the loose bits close to the machine stitching.

As for the button band, well, hmm. You must know that I am a devoted follower of EZ, though I do not think I am a blind one. I can hear her saying in her clipped English accent, "I can’t see why they use ribbing for button bands. Don’t do it! Gaaaaahtah stitch is the thing for button bands."

Since I have done so few cardigans, I have very little experience and even less of an opinion about it. But I am developing opinions swiftly, for I am swatching. Here is a ribbing swatch done on #2 needles.

And #3’s.

I prefer the ribbing done on #2’s but I don’t really like the ribbing, period. I fear EZ is correct. Certainly, with neither swatch was I tempted to include the color knitting - neither the one suggested in the pattern nor the one I used in the cuffs.

I really like those cuff colors. So here is a gaaaahtah stitch swatch that includes the cuff colors.

Here it is pinned to the sweater front, right down the center, along with a view of the coordinating cuffs.

Here it is pinned around as a neck band. I had thought it might be too wide for a neck band, but I like the width.

I'm pretty confident about what to do next. The only thing I want to check is the gauge on that garter stitch band. I would like to see how it looks knit on #2 needles. If I didn't have #2 needles, I wouldn't bother to check this, but since I do, I'll knit another button band swatch and make a final decision.

I'm also going to check out Meg Swansen's video Cardigan details and watch it tonight. Just to beef up my confidence, you know. I have tomorrow off because I am working on Saturday. Who knows where I shall be on this sweater by Monday?

Goodness! I'm going to need buttons!!

Good knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 12:19 PM


Oh that looks beautiful! I am so impressed! Good job! It's been a lot of fun watching you make progress on this project.

By Blogger Heidi, at 11:08 AM  

Thankee thankee! I'm just tickled pink with it. As the day goes on I just get more excited about it.

By Blogger Bess, at 11:37 AM  

So impressive! Thanks for the pictures! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 1:28 PM  

Simply spectacular. I want to be you when I grow up.

By Blogger Jane, at 6:25 PM  

Bravo! (insert applause track here). Beautifully done, Bess. You're much braver than I!


By Blogger Margaret, at 8:52 AM  

Bess, congratulations! I'm so impressed. Isn't it fun when our own knitting impresses us, I think that's what makes it so fun that with yarn and two/three/four needles we can make something that still makes us say, "Wow, I did that!"

Can't wait to see the finished sweater, it will be a beauty. I think we need a true fashion show on the blog.

By Blogger erica, at 10:22 AM  

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007  


Even for TheQueen of Loquacity, there are times when pictures are worth so much more. Today I give you:

Two shoulder views - the first one is an enhanced photo that has slightly more true colors. The second one shows the little blips where I did short rows wrap&turns. They are not wanted, and will not show up when worn and besides, I think they'll also block out completely. I just wanted them visible for the record.

Here you can also see where the short rows occured and the consequences of doing short rows as well. You see how the sweater widens on both sides of the seam. This will make it conform to the slope of the shoulder from neck towards arm.

Here you see the last front and back stitch on the body eating up the sleeve. Notice the slope in the lavender and yellow areas. Those end stitches stop angling and lie flat as they consume sleeve stitches when the colorways turn to the plain buff, striped tiger brown and gold and plain buff color again (Twig,Fawn, Yellow and Twig).

Here they are meeting in the middle.

Another shot.

Can you imagine how pleased I am with this? This is the point in my knitting where a sweater often defeats me and retires to glorious and triumphant misery as future nourishment for guilt and moths in the UFO bin. I knew the knitting should turn out this way, but after Sunday's mind loss and the subsequent discovery of a Math Error I could feel the insidious creep of doubt and fear pushing up tendrils of defeat into my normal confident frontal lobe.

Happily TheQueen was triumphant instead and The KipFee will be all the better for it.

Two tips though, for anyone wanting to try this method.

First off – don’t be lazy and leave any dormant stitches on loose circular needles. The wise thing to do is to thread a long piece of yarn through all those loose stitches and tie it into a circle. I seldom do this because I resent having to pick stitches off of yarn and back onto a needle. It’s a tedious process that you can by-pass if you leave your dormant knitting on needles. The down side is that all those wretched needle tips flop around and catch in your knitting, tangle in the working yarn, tangle in any loose ends that you haven’t woven in. Leaving your dormant stitches on needles is the lazy man’s way and it’s always more work in the end than doing it the wise, but slow, tortoise way.

Second tip – do the 3-needle bind off with a separate fairly short double point needle. 8 inches long would be good. My other lazy man’s trick is to use the dangling end of one of the circular needles in the stitches being bound off. With worsted weight at 4 or 5 stitches to the inch you probably only have 15 or so stitches to do and the thicker yarn is less prone to slide off a needle when you’re manipulating the other end. At 8 stitches to the inch I had durn near 40 stitches and they were as recalcitrant as naughty 2 year olds. Again, I was too lazy to stop and go hunt down another needle. Especially when I already had a lap full of them!

Left shoulder front to knit and attach to left shoulder back and I am done with all but the bands; a little behind schedule, but not unnervingly so. This is a happy day.

posted by Bess | 10:10 AM


Ah, yes...medical madness! My DH used to experience it from time to time...once, quite seriously and awfully in a recovery room (but that's another story). Hopefully you will find something that works just as well -- sans nuttiness! As for all that math, I have to come back and read your blog later in the day to follow it clearly! ;-)


By Blogger Margaret, at 8:05 AM  

And don't forget Caitlins and Madisons. Yikes!

By Blogger Mary, at 1:22 PM  

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Monday, February 05, 2007  

No photos today. boo hoo. No progress either, except in the Knowledge and Understanding area - where I learned that I must change how I’m knitting up the shoulders. I need to decrease the number of Fawn & Yellow rows by 1. Oh here - let me see if I can explain it so that you can see what I’m talking about. If you do - let me know - and if you don’t let me know too.

As I mentioned the day before, I had 14 sleeve cap stitches left to make a nice flat sleeve cap. Alas, though I realized the truth, I kept thinking I had 16 stitches left. I kept thinking of that decrease stitch as a sleeve cap stitch instead of a body stitch. 16 stitches, half for the front, half for the back. That means 8 rows of back and forth knitting. I planned 2 rows of solid color knitting and 4 rows of colorwork knitting and 2 rows of solid color with a little short row magic in them. That should bring the front and the back together in the center of the sleeve cap,

You all know I realized that I had only 14 stitches left, not the 16 I based my plotting on. I told you so last week, right? So we also know I knew that, right?


Wwhen I knit the beautiful back portion with its attendant short row shaping and then knit the right front with all it’s perfect short row mathmagic what did I get?

You got it - extra front and back rows of knitting and a hole in the center of the sleeve cap.

I didn’t get there till late in the day Sunday because of a very weird experience I had in the morning that left me muddled and sleepy most of the day. Long followers of this blog know I had a bad fall in summer 05 and it went from a bad fall to headaches and back aches, to a disastrous experience with a chiropractor, to chest pains, to a stress test that revealed a shadow on my heart, to a heart catheterization I refer to as that $15,000 bra fitting, to a complete repudiation of all people medical, to a month of physical therapy in January a year ago. From there I began to doctor myself with sleep, water, gentle exercise and an intense listening to my body. Whatever I asked it to do, I really listened to the answer it gave me. That is the slow way to heal, but by early December of this year I was feeling so moxie, so hot, so fit, I got carried away in an exercise class and did Sit Ups. Mind now, I am one of those freaks of nature who adored calisthenics in gym class and was always sorry when we had to go Play A Sport. I like sit-ups. But all last year my back had said “Don’t You Dare!” and I hadn’t. And when I finally overrode my wise body just before Christmas, my back really did begin to trouble me again. Some days worse, some days not so bad. One day bad enough to stay home.

Back on the self prescribed routine of being careful, I’m pretty much better but there are still little symptoms that I thought worth mentioning to the Brand New Boyish Doctor whose name is, like some kindergarten chum of my son's, Ryan!! After lots of manipulation and muscle reflex testing and such he assured me the spine was okay but the muscles along it were cramped and he prescribed a week’s worth of muscle relaxants. Which I was willing to give a try and which I started taking on Friday night. And which made me feel better on Saturday than I had in a looooooong time. But which I am blaming for completely disorienting me yesterday morning. There is a missing hour during which, BD tells me, I was quite nutty. I am glad he was here to witness it because it’s a blank hole in my memory. I certainly remember when I began to come out of it because I knew there was something wrong and it was an hour later. But it took most of the rest of the day for me to feel unmuddled and you can be sure I was in no mood to play with knitting math after I’d already lost 60 minutes of my life to blank mindedness.

I did knit some things for my spring classes and by about 4 o’clock I’d figured out what was wrong with The KipFee shoulders, but all I have done now is to rip out the mistake knitting and reload the needles. I never can seem to work as well on thinking knitting during the week so I shan’t set myself any goals this week except to be happy and LISTEN TO MY BODY!

And to give that doctor a call this a.m.

Do you realize your future is in the hands of Trevors and Ryans and Tylers and Tiffanies?

How glad I am there are socks to knit. Take care.

posted by Bess | 7:55 AM


Oh, I envy your clear skies, lack of city lights and unobstructed western views! Could you see the Milky Way?

I adore astronomy. And not just the cold science of it. The more wonders Hubble reveals about the universe, the more marvelous its Creator becomes to me. If it weren't for all the hard math, (physics -- eek!), I might have made that my life's work....

By Blogger Mary, at 11:32 AM  

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Sunday, February 04, 2007  

Ahh well. I ended up ripping out the last colorwork pattern after all. There was a bit of a gap between the next to the last body stitch and the last, sleeve-cap-eating body stitch, caused when I switched colors between them and I really didn’t like it. I thought I could snug it up by pulling on the floats but I ended up with hideous loops in back that I couldn’t spread out along the other stitches further into the body. So I ripped, and by the time I got those rows re-knit my eyes were bleary and I never got around to the easy knitting solid color short row bit. But I shall prevail today. There is nothing on the schedule today but knitting.

Interestingly, I knit all the colorwork with my left hand tension. It was still dreadful, but not as bad as it was the first time. I’m eve a bit glad I had the chance to practice blind stranding. I'm that much better prepared to do the fronts and I’d sure hate for any clumsy knitting to sit on the front of this pretty sweater.

But mostly yesterday was a drag around the house day. I have been having trouble with my back - the injury I suffered in 05 surfacing. I finally went to the dr. and he gave me muscle relaxants and they tend to pretty much relax the whole being. I was tired. I was cranky. I took naps and went to bed early. But not before experiencing the most wonderful moment of awareness.

BD, among his many talents, is a bit of an astronomer. He has two large telescopes and on clear evenings he’s likely to haul one of them or the other out to the field for your viewing pleasure. Last night was just such a clear one and there was something really worth viewing in the early evening sky. Mercury, that Virgo ruling planet, was at maximum elongation to the sun which means it was visible to the naked eye. Venus too was well up in the sky and for the very first time I could really see the solar system. See it and feel it.

Oh. I’ve seen the vivid drawings representing the solar system and I’m sure I built one in elementary school. The D’s even painted a proportional distance solar system on the floor one year when I was upstairs with the flu. But it never seemed like it was intrinsically true to me or even of any import. Okay. So. If we accept that there is a solar system and if we accept that those are not stars, but planets, well, yes, that’s probably how they’d line up. I am perfectly willing to accept the truth of the scientific teachings even if I don’t really feel that they are true. Most of them, while obviously vital to my existence, don’t really make themselves known to me. Their truth is at once both too fundamental and too subtle for me to really know it. I must just accept it. At least long enough to pass the exam.

But to stand here in the stubble of my corn field and look to the west and see bang, bang - two planets headed towards the sun as it sinks just below the horizon - well now. That’s something. That’s real. That’s just about the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen in a night sky.

Pretty cool, hm? It will still be visible tonight, though Mercury is small and moves swiftly. If it’s clear in your back yard, or wherever you have a bit of a westerly vista, go out and look, just as the orange shawl of sunset settles onto the shoulders of the earth. The big star looking thing will be Venus and if you look down towards 4 o’clock, the first "star" you see will be Mercury. And you will know that you really are in a solar system.

Then go back inside to knit - for it’s cold as blue blazes out there.

posted by Bess | 7:18 AM


As it's SILENT poetry day, I can't read that to Oscar until tomorrow. But I know that his answer would be YESYESYESYESYESYESYES IWOULDIWOULDIWOULD! I"DLIKETHATVERYMUCHMAMMA!

By Blogger Amie, at 9:02 AM  

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Friday, February 02, 2007  

For Silent Poetry Reading I offer you just the first stanza of one of my favorite poems by Himself, himself. I believe it’s still a work in progress so I am only putting out this teaser.


Would you like to be a little bad dog,
nose up in the breeze,
to cock your ears and jaunt or jog
anywhere you please?

And stalk the quiet beneath old owl,
and challenge the cold moon to a howl,
and greets the night’s response to scowl
and take the shortcut climb
to rifling the chestnut trunk
to just get dose of skunk;
home at five hungry as hell,
just in time for dinner yell.

by Edward Wright Haile

This poem was inspired by Ike, a very little-bad-dog of ours who filled our hearts with so much joy and delight and love. He was the first of the honey helping dogs. Jack is a worthy successor, and much more of a honey helper, too. But when any of our dogs are just too cute for us to stand, we will quote those first couple of lines and gather them up in giant Big Bed hugs.

(stuff about TheQueen is in the post below.)

posted by Bess | 6:52 AM


I'm definitely reassessing my knitting almanac. So much so that I'm thinking of June, July and August as being fix what needs to be fixed and finish what needs to be finished months. Those are always strange knitting months anyway since it's either too hot to knit, to spin or think. They may be finish up baby items months too. I'm not writing anything down in my knitting journal until I can figure it all out, even if it isn't figured out until June 1.

By Blogger erica, at 1:31 PM  

Sorry, I normally ignore misspellings, but that one was just too fun to resist.

So, what classes will you be teaching?

By Blogger Mary, at 3:42 PM  

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Alright youz guyz. No fair laughing at spelling mistakes, made either by TheSpellChecker or TheCut&Paste Feature. You would never laugh at TheQueen, uninvited, of course. That would be high treason. As for that very Frenchy looking eclair - well, you can just look at him and see he’s no good. He’s typical of the way chocolate treats some of us - sending us into a frenzy of passion only to leave us wiser, but, alas, fatter. I’m quite fond of chocolate, but chocolate eclairs really do something to me. And this is definitely the chocolate season. We’re even having Chocolate Fairy Tales at the library on February 10. I’ve never been attracted to bad boys and I know that eclair is a bounder, but I still have a fondness for him.

Yesterday had the stupidest weather. It was snowing so hard as I dressed for work and the forecast was for continued wintry mix throughout the day and into the night. It wasn’t bad enough to stay home in the a.m., but it surely sounded like I’d be heading home in the early afternoon. BD offered to drive me in, for he knows I’m not ever very fond of driving anyway and I accepted. I also canceled a lunch date, figuring that if I was still in town by lunch time I’d probably work through it to make up for cutting out early.

We left an inch of snow at home as we drove off but we hadn’t gotten 2 miles past the Champlain post office before it began to taper off. Just outside of town there was No Snow - falling or on the ground. Nada. Niente. What a disappointment. It went that way all day. It would begin to fall but then stop. School was already closed for a teacher workday. Nobody was in town, the folks who usually meet on the last Thursday of the month canceled. And BD sat around kicking his heels till about 3:30 when I decided to go home anyway. All night nothing fell. It’s just beginning to rain now and well, rain at 45 degrees would be enough to depress you only, it’s Friday. Who could be depressed on a Friday?

Hey - especially on a Friday when I have a manicure scheduled and it is not going to be snowed out!

With my extra home time last night, and in honor of it being February 1, I did a little reevaluating of my Knitter’s Almanac. Its purpose isn’t to cast in stone a series of activities that would leave me full of shame if I failed to accomplish them. It’s a guideline to help me stay fully involved in the things that make me happy and to discourage me from drifting away in a dozen different directions leading nowhere. It’s so easy to fritter time away till you realize you’ve frittered years away - a life away. In January, I’m all briskly full of ambition to stay on task. But come February, those cozy dark evenings after a long day at work, with the worthless ones smoking in the men’s room and a desk littered with junk mail, seldom feel like an opportunity for Getting On With Things. Far more likely to lure me into a hot bath and an early night of it.

So I scheduled into the day timer, on the first of each month, an evening of reassessment and planning. I did some serious note taking and outline writing for two wonderful day-long classes I’ll be teaching in March and April. I made shopping lists for the kits I'm putting together for that March class. I figured out exactly what handouts must be edited or written and what samples need to be knit. I need to knit a goodly number of samples because I find I’ve given away or lost all the old examples I’ve used in classes in the past. I thought about the things I hoped to do in February - and still do hope to. But I suspect these Other Things will cause the sum to spill over into March. Thank goodness I built in a month of catch-up time this spring.

This weekend, though I plan to close the shoulders on TheKipFee and knit up some button band swatches. I ordered the extra ball of Bark and I shan’t actually knit those bands till it comes, because I don’t want to deal with dye lot changes. There will be photos come Monday.

posted by Bess | 6:42 AM


Okay, you're going to have to do some 'splainin' about that Apache Biker Eclair. And perhaps also your alternate spelling of "assess". ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 4:18 PM  

Examine what? You sure do have some 'splainin' to do! I can't wait to see the weekend progress, though.

By Blogger Jane, at 6:10 PM  

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Thursday, February 01, 2007  

Yes! Exactly, Jane. It’s so wonderful to be able to examine, asses, and improve one’s efforts. The learning curve is such a rewarding opportunity. And each step up I take makes it that much easier to be creative, to know ahead of time how to get where I want to go. Like suddenly knowing that those decreases are not sleeve stitches but body stitches. That’s going to make such a difference the next time I knit set-in sleeves.

I’m at the point in TheKipFee where I need to feel calm and confident when I’m knitting on it. That’s not how I feel in the evenings at all. I need to be made calm then, after a day with ThePublic and chores and doing things and fixing dinner and such. Socks are the ticket in the evenings on workdays, or working in those ends. Early mornings are my calmest times anyway and I am calmest of all when the house is beautifully perfectly heavenly sparkly.

So. Since it’s after the hump day and I really ought to grocery shop on Thursday so I don’t get home at half after famished like happens when I have to go to Walmart on Friday after 6. And since we’re supposed to get wintry mix this evening. And because I have a 9 o’clock appointment tomorrow a.m., TheKipFee will be tenderly set aside to await a sparkly house and calm hours on Saturday. No more photographs of my beauty till next week.

But in honor of it being February 1 and close to the weekend and because I’ve been pretty durn good following TheQueen’s Knitter’s Almanac I give you these: gratuitous pictures of things that tickle me.

This is the apache biker eclair. This was done pre-haircut. You can't see what he's saying but it's "sure, baby. I still respect you. See ya around. See lots of ya."

This is my dog lamp.

posted by Bess | 7:36 AM