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


Both of the yarns I really Really want to be knitting right now haven't found a pattern, even after several tries. I think they want to be lace and I just wasn't listening! Thanks, Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 6:12 AM  

Well I may just have to pick up some Addi Lace Turbos at MS&W next weekend. Skacel should be slipping you a little something under the table for your glowing recommendation! I'm reading Cat Bordhi's "Socks Soar on Two Circulars" right now, and she also waxes poetic about Addis -- of course, she's close friends with the Skacel folks. Can't wait to try the lace versions sometime! And I look forward to seeing the lace you're knitting!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:33 PM  

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Sunday, April 29, 2007  

Did you know how much fun it is to knit lace?!?

Did you know????

Do you know the pleasure of slip slip slipping those tiny silky stitches from one needle to the next and then just flicking that yarn over onto the needle. Oh how I love to come back across on the next row and pick up that little YO. I love the opening it makes in the knitted fabric, I love the way it dances from the needle in a bouncy open airy fluff of knitting. Lace knitting is the most musical of all knitting for me. It has the rhythm that’s missing in stockinette and the melody that cables interrupt when you have to stop and manipulate the stitches with either your fingers or a cable needle. Lace lets you pluck those stitches as if you were playing a harpsichord.

Especially when you knit it with those new Addi Lace needles. You know, the ones that feel like silk in your hands - that let you snick up those little stitches even if you are making them with black yarn - at night - by bedside lamplight?

Yes. I got a pair in the mail yesterday. Joe sent them to me from On The Lamb - the shop I taught in 2 weeks ago. Oh my goodness. My, my, my I ... I adore them. I want to marry them. I want to build a shrine to them.

I’ve always loved Addi Turbos anyway, even though I understand and appreciate the virtues of other needles and can knit on just about anything except a 16” Boye circular. They are too wicked for anybody. I have the KnitPicks circulars and they’re fine. I have used the Denise needles and they’re nice too. I have high dollar exotic wood needles that are beautiful to hold and beautiful to look at. But given the choice, any time, I’d choose an Addi needle. I think it’s the actual metal and weight of those Addi shanks that I love so much. (I haven’t tried their wooden ones but I will someday) In my hands, an Addi circular just feels right. Like it’s what I’m supposed to be holding. Like anything I make with these needles will be exactly what I wanted to be making.

So, even though I’m well into the Second Sock I was already making, I had to cast on a new pair. On that 47” #2 pointy little ballet dancer of a needle. I had to knit some ribbing out of the shiny Regia sock yarn I have - using the magic loop technique - something I never cared for before because I didn’t like how the stiff cables pushed against the stitches. Of course, the sweet soft cable on these new lace needles is soooo gentle with those tiny stitches, they don’t’ mind at all making room for that loop to push through. And of course I wanted to see if knitting on a wooden circular would make silk knitting easier and I’m so enamored of the lace pattern I’m using to knit that Jitterbug yarn that I cast on a swatch on the Clover Bamboo needles I picked up last week, using the very fine lace weight silk yarn that was supposed to be my MS&W entry - but isn’t.

And it is - that is, it’s easier to knit fine silk thread with wooden needles. So there are 3 little lacy things on needles beside my bed right at this very moment. I have my choice of frills to work on. But I think I shall go pick up those Addi lace needles.


Edited to add:

Blogger wouldn't let me in this a.m. when I wrote this post - I'm back to that jitterbug yarn because I want to finish it, but I had a splendid time knitting soft brown regia yarn with glittery gold in it ... on Addi Lace Needles. Whoopee!

And more family stuff on my plate tomorrow so no photos till Tuesday.

posted by Bess | 3:23 PM


Bess, I'm not sure whether the New York Times makes it's way into your corner of the world on Sunday Morning. Because of your story telling and spinning, I couldn't resist letting you know that today's acrostic puzzle combines the word "spinning", just as you do in your life. If you don't have access, I'd love to email the puzzle to you. Let me know.

By Blogger rosi, at 9:40 AM  

I can't believe MS&W is next week. I'm not ready!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:39 PM  

I can't believe it either, I keep thinking it's still a couple of weeks away! April flew by.

By Blogger Catherine, at 8:51 AM  

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Saturday, April 28, 2007  

Oh La!

Is it Saturday already? Well, thank goodness for that. This week zipped through my fingers like butter melting on asparagus. By the looks of my desk, very little got done, but there were big steps taken, nonetheless. We were short staffed at work again - the same to people who were sick/on-vacation last winter were now on-vacation/sick this past week. Whew! At the same time the truck broke down while BD was out of town and hmmm, let’s see, I went to Richmond (in a borrowed car) to help dad with his state taxes - and realized he’s just not getting better in re-hab. So - today Sister is checking out assisted living places that Do let you keep a dog and Do have a room available Right Now. Monday we will have the heart to heart with Dad and make yet another change in the way the world looks from home.

Sometimes I’m daunted by this, sometimes I am anxious for it to hurry up and happen so we can move on. Well, no. I’m always ready for us to move on. Let us ask the universe for smooth passage over all waters.

So. Today, Ms.Horoscope tells me, is a power day and a $ day and since I want to talk about a New Car with someone important who sleeps upstairs even as I type, I shall take advantage of the stars and broach the NC Topic. Altogether I’m working very hard on listening to the universe and telling it what I really want.

I finished the first Jitterbug sock - it’s ... well. I like it. I know it’s not quite right and yet - I like it nonetheless. The colors pooled and spiraled around the sock and they’re very vivid but I still like what it turned out to be. I’ll post a photo of it on Monday - who knows, I may even have its mate by then, for with great industry I cast on the SecondSock the same night I finished the first.

It’s the Week Before MS&W and I’m scurrying about trying to line everything up to go on Friday. Let us hope for all good things this week - a week where people say Yes and things go Click and a Carpet of Delight rolls out in front of us. Hmm?

posted by Bess | 7:39 AM


Love the popsicle yarn!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:30 AM  

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007  

Still knitting on the little projects - but I hear through the ether-line there are 2 pair of Addi Turbo Lace needles on their way to me. Lace may be leaping onto needles any moment now. Shiver. I’ve turned the heel on that jitterbug sock.

It’s not going to be quite as elegantly balanced as the original, which had an uneven number of pattern repeats, so that one arrow of lace went down the center of the instep. But it will be balanced enough and best of all - it makes this sock yarn look more interesting (to me, at least). It cried out for texture. I don’t mind the vivid stripes. I’ve always wanted to try this pattern. The socks will be arresting if nothing more. They may also be done soon. Now that I’ve memorized the pattern it’s just a matter of stitching away.

This is the book that contains the lace pattern I'm using. It's that central photo on the cover - sorry I couldn't get a closer view. The book was a gift from my dear friend L.

Glorious spring weather is also flooding my world - yesterday morning when I stepped out the front door I could see the beech tree had unfurled it’s silky green leaves.

(Hello my pretties)

Since we don’t have either a crepe myrtle or a sycamore in the yard, this is always the last thing to leaf out. In the mornings, when I look through the window, my forest is all fringed and shimmery and cloaked in greenery. No more golden light slanting through the silver grey of tree bark, it’s all emerald jewelry set in gold. It’s truly stunning.

Nature’s great beauty is a powerful aid these days, in getting through some suddenly and surprisingly tough weeks. Not counting recent Current Events, and Family Needs, there are AtWork issues! Last winter I allowed a part time employee to go on an extended vacation - 2 months - and my full time assistant got sick for weeks and weeks. Now the full timer is on vacation and my part timer is out sick! So here we are just as short staffed as we were in the winter. Yikes! I had planned to take the week after MS&W off, but I’m thinking not now - work I would be doing in the background is on hold while the two souls left are out front helping people find Good Books.

It’s funny about my plans - because there are lots of them that aren’t anywhere near on schedule. This doesn’t bother me too much because planning (did you say daydreaming?) is one of my favorite things to do. I love my plans. They’re like plots in a good novel. Note how I equate them with good novels, but then, I am writing them and they’re all about MEMEMEME.
A plan is an opportunity. It’s the chance to time-travel or ride a flying carpet to an imagined place. It’s ... yes... it’s choice. It’s one way I could go if nothing interfered. Of course, things always do interfere and besides, it was only one way. Another way may be just as much fun, or more fun, or may bring to light things I hadn’t thought about when I first wrote those plans. Like - since I don’t have any wooden needles in size 4, the silk lace I’m trying to knit on my old blunt tipped Addis is going to slide like a cartoon character on a banana peel.

Ahh but there you have it. My Addi Lace Tips are on their way and I’m back to the beginning again. Woo Woo - I am thinking a silk lace top for springtime.

But if I’m planning to go to work today - and I am: it’s Wednesday and we all know what Wednesday means - I better get goin’.


posted by Bess | 7:51 AM


Hmmph! I'm green that you're garden is green -- and blooming! I raked the last of the mulches up in my back yard yesterday...and will be ready to do some serious gardening when I return from my UK holiday...after our last chance of frost has past!

Hugs, and blessings for a good month,

By Anonymous Margaret, at 8:54 AM  

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Monday, April 23, 2007  

You know it’s spring around here when the front door stays open in the morning and the dogs wander in and out.

You can only do this in the a.m., before the flies wake up, for we don’t have a screen door on the front of the house. Never have. there’s a big back porch that’s screened so we can leave that door open, but the front door stays shut except on beautiful spring and autumn mornings. Something about a wide open front door makes me feel free, light hearted, even rich.

BD and I went to the Menokin Bluegrass Festival on Saturday. I really love bluegrass music. This is the first time I’ve been able to go to this event because it’s always been held the same weekend as MS&W! Imagine such bad scheduling.

Menokin is the home of Francis Lightfoot Lee - of the great Lee Family.

While we enjoyed some of the bands, especially the The Infamous Stringdusters, shown below
the most fun I had was walking down by the river along Becky's Trail.

Where I got a chance to wade a bit.

Yes! This is a blog that includes fiber and even goes so far as to register itself on several fiber webrings. So. Here’s some knitting:

No. This is not a dress for Barbie. It’s a detachable ruffled cuff - a sample I’m making for Spirit Trial Fiberworks out of a merino/silk blend. Here is how you wear it. I understand that other designers have been making and selling patterns for these - but really, you don’t need a pattern. Just cast on lots and lots of stitches in multiples of whatever your lace pattern calls for, join, (being careful to not twist the stitches) knit a few inches of it, knit 2,3, or 4 stitches together across the whole and knit a bit of ribbing to slip beneath a plain sweater cuff. You could do this in mohair on size 7-9 needles in stockinette or garter stitch and it would look like lace - just remember that the heavier the yarn, the fewer the stitches, the finer the yarn, the more.

And here is a sock being knit in Collinette’s Jitterbug yarn, colorway Popcicle.

I bought this last March when I was staying in Richmond and never could settle on a pattern. 56 stitches was just right to prevent pooling, but was too small for my foot. 64 stitches is just right for this lace pattern but it causes the yarn to pool and spiral. Since I liked the green better than the yellow slanting stripe, I chose that side as the front and began the heel flap with a knit row.

I am profoundly glad it is this week at last. Some people say that time is an artificial construct, but nobody will convince me that a day is not a unit of time and even if weeks are the creation of the human mind, lunar cycles were created by something greater than us and that comforts me. If dividing a month into weeks helps me move on, well and good.
I am not one who is comforted by knitting for charity but if I were, this is a charity knitting project I’d join.

posted by Bess | 7:39 AM


Sounds lovely, and I can't wait to visit that yarn shop sometime!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:26 PM  

Dearest Bess,
You all have been in my tho'ts & as I catch up on blog reading this AM, I wanted you to know that I have been thinking about you all & am sending lots of love & light.
Re your convention/meeting news & the yarn shop "review" - am glad you have had these fun opportunities w/the light & diversion they brought.

By Blogger Martha, at 7:38 AM  

Hello, my new-found librarian/knitter/spinner friend!

Your description of our meet-up is just right. What a great time!

I'm laughing at your joy in knitting lace because I'm "this close" to finishing a HUGE shawl with gossamer-weight yarn...I don't think it's so poetic right now, but I'm soooo excited for the magic that is blocking lace. Soon...

By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 6:42 PM  

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Saturday, April 21, 2007  

Thank you all for your kind words and warm prayers. I’m much better now. Time has helped, and getting together with the library directors these past 2 days helped as well. There was rather a lot of Hokie support at Graves Mt. Lodge, where we gather every spring, but there was no news. No Internet. No television. No media at all - not even a newspaper. It was an enormous relief. All the focus was on other things, with a softer literary bent than in any other year I can remember. It had been planned that way - but I think it’s also interestingly coincidental, since we usually spend a lot of time talking politics, as applied to libraries. This year, half the programs were about literature. Imagine that! Librarians talking about literature.

I think it’s time a write about the wonderful weekend I spent in Staunton, VA. This was my first real visit to the lovely mountain town west of Charlottesville, west of Waynesboro, one of half a dozen rocky beads strung along old Rt. 11 and the bigger, faster I81. It’s still old enough to qualify for a colonial town but it was settled about 2 generations after Tappahannock and it was named after Governor Gooch’s wife, who was born a Staunton. All Very Virginia, my dears.

I went to teach my all time favorite class, the EPS circular sweater, at On The Lamb, a darling new yarn shop on Augusta Street, owned by Joe Zachery. I believe I’ve now found my all time favorite yarn shop.

I’ve been in lots of wonderful shops, mind you, and I know a good number of really great shop owners. In addition to a really fun shop owner, what makes this place special is the space it has, and the charming location. The rooms are full of light and there are so many places to just be - to sit. Joe has a fine selection of yarns I hadn’t seen before.

He carries an Australian fine kid mohair yarn called

But I think the friendliest thing about this shop - the thing that made it feel like visiting your best friend and playing with her toys - was that he had no counter. The cash register is in a corner, unobtrusive and quiet and almost un-noticeable. I’d never thought about how much distance a counter puts between me and a store owner. We accept that there will be a counter and it’s an off-limits place. I understand why shops have them. I have one at the library. It puts the Person With Authority And Knowledge in a set place where anybody can find her. It allows PWA&Ks to keep their little memos and papers and bits that help them do their job at hand, but out of sight. But a counter automatically separates ThePublic from TheBoss. That’s not necessarily unfriendly, but it can be, and sometimes it is. I realize now that I’m always walking out from behind the counter, removing that barrier, becoming part of the person’s solution. And Joe’s shop has that same feel to me - as if it’s a sharing between friends. It’s just another thing that makes a visit to On The Lamb unique and special.

Of course, the wonderful students who were eager and smart and had clever fingers, made the day at the shop a Perfect Day. I got there early, about 11 or 11:30, because it was raining so hard there was very little sight seeing I could do - and I stayed late - when I got in the car it was after 6!! In the middle of that cozy day I helped some wonderful knitters learn how to make the EPS sweater.

These are the ones that didn’t get away before I could take a photo.

Of course, the fun wasn’t over then. In fact, the fun had started on Friday, with BD driving me through the green and blue Virginia countryside. Then there was the checking in to The Old Staunton Inn. Here’s our 3rd floor room.

So many hills and so many steps. This flatlander’s thighs and shins were burning all weekend.

The following day I had a storytelling gig at the Staunton Public Library. Those who know me know I simply can’t stop talking and I’m always making a story about whatever has been happening in my world. When my stories are used up I can go on to tell Other Stories; fairy tales, fables, fiber stories. When they’re all used up I can make up new ones. I really am a nice girl - if only I’d stop talking. Irritating sometimes, but not when children have gathered to learn about the world through the magic of stories.

But first, I got to have brunch with 3 other knitting librarians at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center. Very white tablecloths and gleaming cutlery with the feel of the 1920’s about it.

I bet nobody would have thought that chattery bunch of women were really shushing librarians. R is the director - and old friend, veteran of many library gatherings. B is the children’s librarian, a new friend and story telling compatriot. J is an e-mail buddy with whom I finally got to have a face to face meeting. We could have chatted and visited all afternoon.

The library is in an old school building - as so many downtown city libraries are. It’s one of my favorite old school building transformations, probably because I loved going to school and still feel both excited with the possibilities and comforted by the familiarity of those brick monuments to knowing. I could never feel that way about the flat sleek dullness of post 1950 school architecture, but the schools built before WWII still make me feel like I could really learn stuff inside.

So - I don’t like to sound braggy about my storytelling skills. I’ll just say I had a super time sharing my tales and introducing children to spinning and the spinning wheel. I could tell by their bright eyes that they had fun and I think even the adults in the audience had a good time. I still get a tremendous rush from telling these stories, but I’m also busy adding new story programs to my repertoire. Eventually I want to have a solid list of story telling programs on a number of topics, either germane to school curriculums or seasonal, that I can take out on the road. No doubt about it - I can get addicted to the rush of being on stage, but there’s a deeper motivation driving me on. The tales, especially the old ones, but all of our stories and tales and books and novels are how we pass on the important lessons children need to learn. I know I took the lessons I learned through the stories much more to heart than the ones I learned as rules.

One of these days I am going to retire from the library - but I don’t ever intend to retire from sharing stories. In fact, I hope this will become my retirement job - traveling bard - storyteller - that nice lady who never stops talking.

So. That was my wonderful weekend in Staunton. It rained the whole time. It rained all the way home. It got really windy before we actually got home. It was a perfectly heavenly weekend and even the blight of Monday didn’t diminish the fun I had. Just put it in the background for a little while. I just can’t wait to go back.

posted by Bess | 7:07 AM


Hang in there! Satellite's comin'!

By Blogger Mary, at 2:29 PM  

Hmmmm. Now I'm thinking that by "IT" you didn't mean "I.T.", as I first assumed. Doh! (Sometimes I can be a little dense...).

I think everyone is grieving, as more details and victims' names are released. The only way I know to cope is to pray for those families.

By Blogger Mary, at 2:33 PM  

Hugs to you. And prayers as well.

If I may be so presumptuous as to offer advice:

turn off the radio, don't look at the newspaper, don't look at online news (I know you don't have a tv so I won't mention that). Declare a 24 hour news-fast in the name of mental health.

Go home, work in the garden, play with the dogs, cook dinner. Do things in the here-and-now. Do the things that keep life going. Spin. Knit. Think about knitting a gift for someone.

If it were me, I'd prescribe listening to a baseball game on the radio and sewing on a quilt, but you're not me so I don't know exactly what it is that brings you best peace, but I'm guessing it's some combo of the things I listed above.

I feel for you. I'm unsettled about it and I'm a thousand miles away. One of the curses of living in a connected world is that it's sometimes hard to unplug from the madness.

I hope, as I said, I haven't been presumptuous; I never know quite the right thing to say in these situations but I ascribe to the dictum that "The friend who comes and says the wrong thing is a better friend than the friend who stays away." So maybe I've said the wrong thing, and if I have, I apologize...

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 4:03 PM  

I've remained silent, Dear Bess, simply for lack of words. The anger and the hurt and the tendency to blame are running high. Grieve, but don't try to understand. Quiet cups of tea, hot baths, early-to-beds, good books, knitting, knitting, knitting (preferably gifts)...and a hug from this Canuck, for sure.


By Anonymous Margaret, at 9:55 AM  

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007  

Having a really hard time here, folks, with IT.

posted by Bess | 1:41 PM


My prayers go out to the whole community. As a college prof I'm so aware of how close ties between people develop on campus...and how we're vulnerable but don't realize it.

And, I don't politicize much, but it makes me kind of sick how people have taken the actions of one deranged individual and used it as a condemnation of whatever it is they don't like about our society. No. Don't go there. Especially don't go there while the parents are still in fresh mourning.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 12:42 PM  

A "security expert" on CNN yesterday was ranting about how there needs to be metal detectors and bag searches on college campuses, which I find is a very troubling mentality. Lord help us if this tragedy leads to such imprisonment.

By Blogger Mary, at 1:48 PM  

How sad for the victims' families, the college, the community and the country. At times like this, it is a shame we can't all come together and mourn without folks getting up on a soapbox about issues and dragging the whole tragedy through a media circus.
Ah, well.. like you, I could say more, but I won't

By Blogger Carolyn, at 6:15 PM  

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007  

It’s a hard time for the folks down here. My father went to Tech. My father in law did. His brother. My brother in law. My son. His best friend B is a graduate. B’s wife works there. Because of the big agricultural and forestry programs, Essex is much more of a Tech county than, say, a UVA community. Our own darling E, who volunteered at the library all through high school is only 3 weeks from graduation. When I heard the news - that is, when I realized it was a melee - I called her mother at work. She answered the phone and her first words were "E’s all right." I burst into uncontrollable sobbing and she understood when I just hung up. We met up later at the grocery store and got in some mighty good hugging.

We’re going to have a rough few weeks now. All the news magazines will have hideous mug shot photo spreads of the dead. There will be long newscasts on television - thank god I don’t have one - with KnowNothingHeads blabbing about gun control and lock-downs and children raised in day care and violence in the media. Hideous regulations will be passed that merely fence in the guiltless. I can see it now. Knitting needles banned on college campuses. Some a****** on a history list I follow made the repugnant attempt to display his depth by sneering, "Thank god the gunman wasn’t an Arab or our hysteria would be out of control." Huh! Thank god that person was on-line, not in front of me, or I’d have drop kicked him. Anything to prove how worthless Americans, how we get just what we deserve with this senseless violence. How ... how ... well, I shan’t say it, but those who know me well know just what epithet I’m not typing.

When I am not quite so sad I’ll write about the wonderful weekend I had in Staunton. Anything I say today will be too bitter to want to keep.

posted by Bess | 7:23 AM


My heart is breaking for the families, my heart is breaking for all our youth. We simply have to find a way to stop this madness for the sakes of our children and our granchildren. What has happened to hope?

God Bless Virginia Tech!

Patti M Brewer

By Anonymous Patti, at 10:25 PM  

May 16th?

By Blogger Mary, at 1:40 PM  

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Monday, April 16, 2007  

April 16, 2007

posted by Bess | 4:45 PM


Have a great time teaching in Staunton!
And just out of curiosity, will BD get to be at the big Jamestown to-do when the "other" queen crosses the pond to visit? That would be so cool for "our queen" to get to meet her namesake. skippy

By Blogger Carolyn, at 12:06 PM  

So sorry about that last cryptic word in the last message. It sneaked in there uninvited.

By Blogger Carolyn, at 12:07 PM  

Have fun this weekend! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 1:39 PM  

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Friday, April 13, 2007  

What a week! What a 2 week flurry I’m in. Of course, my flurry could be your calm sea, but for a gal who follows a routine as ... as routinely as I, these days are like brief kisses from the wind. Here and gone in a sigh.

Wednesday, the crew from the John Smith Shallop were here for a tutorial on the real JS itinerary of 1607. They were all between 25 and 30 and as cute as they could be, all of them highly educated but with that seafarer’s lust that has them making their living out on reproduction historical ships. It was a cold grey day with a spit of rain toying with us but they gamely got into BD’s long slender boat and went out onto Occupacia Bay for a taste of the sea, before gathering in the living room and getting down to business. I, wisely, stayed ashore - 14 people in that open boat was enough. Besides, I can go out anytime.

I adore watching my darling when he’s being Mr.Jamestown and I really adore watching other people adore him too. Or at least, raptly listening to him.

Of course, being there ment I had to skip out of work early but the last thing I told my assistant before I left was to see if we didn’t have any new keyboards in the back room that we could swap out at the circ desk and PAC computers, because the ones we were using were all old and sticky. I found out on Thursday morning that we did have some and they all fought with the equipment in place and shut the computers down. Lawsee - I am sure those wicked machines knew I was busy and distracted and just decided to give us a fit out of pure spite. We got them working again, with telephone help from the computer priests in Richmond, but the upshot is that the scanners at the circulation desk don’t work now and we have to type in the bar code numbers to check books in and out. My poor staff. ‘Cause there ain’t anything we can do about it before next week.

And Of Course, we also had our all time favorite children’s book salesman calling at 10 - and we can’t miss that opportunity. And Of Course we had promised out the LCD projector to one of the local service groups but didn’t have a VGA cable and Radio Shack has closed down so I had to go to the horrible computer store I had promised myself I’d never shop in and purchase one. And Of Course Of Course Of Course.

So - I am breezing off today to Staunton with nothing but a wave good-bye for the library. But not before I go into town and get my nails done - because nobody can teach knitting with grubby nails. And then home again to load up the car. And then I am off.

I’ll be back Monday, then off Tuesday for a 33rd wedding anniversary holiday, then back Wednesday for a library board meeting, and then off Thursday and Friday to the library director’s meeting. Then back for Saturday’s bluegrass festival at Menokin. Whew.

Well, as I said. I’ll be back Monday. With Pictures.

posted by Bess | 7:31 AM


I won't be at MS&W so I'm sure not to be tempted. Actually, I'm getting over the temptation to just buy, buy, buy. I even resisted some 40% of Colinette yesterday. It was beautiful and I'd like to have some samples in my stash but it made me uncomfortable to even think about adding yet more yarn that I may never get around to using. And then there's the income tax to be paid.

By Blogger Larry, at 9:28 AM  

We are TEN years apart? I thought it was 3 or 4 years! I love your neighbor's comment about only bringing the good stuff - that's what I'm trying to do. I feel the same way about MDS&W - I'm looking forward to getting together with everybody, and yarn will have to be really special to get my attention.

By Blogger Catherine, at 9:30 AM  

Two years in a row with few or no fiber purchases at MS&W? Such restraint!

I know what you mean, though -- I can't imagine buying much, myself. I didn't buy a lot last year, either.

It's probably good you're not coming to Sedalia this year -- looks like it may be another mudfest....

By Blogger Mary, at 11:26 AM  

I'm so sad that I'm going to miss MS&W this year. The funds that I could have spent will be going towards a good educational cause this year. I promise for my own graduation gift in two years, I'll be at MS&W again.

By Blogger erica, at 5:13 PM  

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007  

I haven’t been keeping up with many blogs lately. My reading has had to be a little more focused on my budding story telling business and it’s been a delight to reacquaint myself with some old favorites from childhood. I was an insatiable fable/tale/story reader as a child and I’m still a big fan of the short story, so just because I’ve had to read a lot of Other Things doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a lot of fun. But one blog I never miss is C’s, the window into my spirit-twin. She’s a cancer and I’m a virgo and 10 years separate us - but we seem to be walking on the same path. Within a day or a month or even a year, we stroll on past the same landscape, notice the same things, find ourselves at similar junctions.

Today she talks about her relationship with stuff - Stuff, as she calls it - and its dominion over us. Of course, she’s thinking of moving all that stuff. Nothing takes the bloom off of your devotion to that carved paneled armoire like having to move it from here to there, especially when the resident guy with dolly no longer lives at home. I’m reminded of a visit I paid to a new neighbor, shortly after she moved in. Everything in her house was exquisite - not a single piece of furniture, accessory or drapery was less than stellar. I complimented her on her beautiful appointments and she laughed and said "Of course. I just moved from an 8 room house to a 4 room house. I only brought the good stuff."

Not that I’m planning on downsizing, mind you - nor moving either. But I am helping my parents move - sometimes at glacial speed, but other times with unsettling swiftness. And I am at a moving spot in other parts of my life, at decision points and crossroads and direction shifts. Now, when movement is involved, I believe in packing lightly, and not just my physical possessions, but attitudes, emotional investments - all those things that weigh me down. I realize that’s why I’ve lost interest, over the past year, in keeping up with news, in fashion trends, even in some of the fluffier aspects of fiber. I haven’t spun in months. I concentrated on a single large knitting project, I had opinions on almost nothing (even though I managed to fill this blog with months of posts). Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I had few opinions on the World outside of TheQueen.

And so I am coming up on MS&W, less than 4 weeks off, and I am realizing that I will probably have more fun this year than in any previous year - because I don’t really want to buy anything. I’m sure that doesn’t ring pleasantly on the ears of the vendors, though one non-shopper among 40,000 positive purchasers will make no difference in their adjusted gross income. Mind now, I’ve had a Ton-0-Fun in the past, buying everything in sight. It’s just that, this year, I’m so in tune with what I already have, and love, it’s rather as if I’m at a party where there are a whole lot of charming, interesting, really good looking single men. I already have the guy I want. I can admire the pickings without wanting to take anything home. Yeah. That’s it. I’ve got that married feeling. I’m not in the fiber dating scene.

I’m not saying I shan’t bring anything home. I probably will. I have an idea for a summer weight top I want to make and, being the wool girl I am, I don’t have any summer fibers in quantities large enough to clothe myself. But like C, I’m really excited about the friends I’m going to meet up with. I look forward to hearing about M’s first year at her new job, of S’s life on the farm, of J’s expansion into the new house, of A’s cruise. I look forward to helping in the Spirit Trail booth. I even look forward to seeing the frenzied excitement in the eyes of Other Shoppers. I’m positive I will be able to admire and appreciate everyone’s wares. I just don’t think I’ll have to make them all mine. Yep. I think MS&W’07 is going to be a really different sort of show for me. Different and Fun.

posted by Bess | 6:31 AM


Well, a large part of me wishes I was taking your sock class and learning all those great techniques! You're really giving your students their money's worth! I would like to better understand the provisional cast-on -- what it does, how it looks, what's its purpose. If you have a source to reference, I'd appreciate a recommendation!

By Blogger Mary, at 12:39 AM  

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Monday, April 09, 2007  

I sometimes wonder if we are particularly messy people or if I am just particularly sensitive to clutter and dust. Either way, the transformation post housecleaning blitz is always perceivable, palpable, and intensely pleasurable. Since we are having strangers in on Wed. I paid particular attention to bathroom clutter, hauling out catalogs from the downstairs bathroom and clearing off the catch-all ironing board upstairs. And ALL the laundry was folded and put away. No baskets of clean clothes in the bedroom this week!

Of course, only the owner can really care about how clean a house is - so - on to fiber talk.

I’ve been practicing different sock techniques on little 24 stitch socks knit in worsted weight wool. I have the basic heel flap sock memorized and I understand enough about centering patterns on the instep top.

I’ve been working on heels, heel positioning and cast-ons. I am completely in love with the afterthought heel. I don’t mind going back and picking out the stitches for a truly afterthought heel, so I am not (yet) inclined to knit a forethought afterthought heel as advised by Charlene Schurch - though as I type this it seems to me I ought to learn it so I can be a better teacher. Just ‘cause I don’t like a technique doesn’t mean I ought not be able to teach it.

Another approach to sock fitting is to knit the heel on more than half the stitches. In a heel flap it doesn’t seem to matter, but in those short row heels or the after thought heel there could be some justification for it. I’m now forgetting where I first heard the explanation for using more than half the stitches, but be sure - this is not my idea, nor my explanation. The author (oh law - how irritating it is for this librarian to not cite my source!!) advises you to imagine a cardboard tube such as one from a roll of paper towels. Imagine cutting half way across and trying to bend the tube into a right angle. Yep. You get wrinkles. Now imagine cutting it a little more than half way across and trying to form that right angle. Yep. Much easier.

So. I tried knitting a short row heel on greater than half the stitches and it was simply awful. The 45 degree angle of stitches (with holes in them!!) came way up across the front of my ankle. Ugly and a bad fit to boot - or to sock - as may be. "Not doing that again" I thought.

But making these little socks on 24 stitches and worsted weight yarn really points out the problem of bending math. I don’t like either of these (inserting photos later today). I’m sure that both of them would have done better for some bending math and this lace cuff one could do with a few rows of plain stockinette before I begin the heel shaping.

Even wet blocked it didn't look quite right.

I plan to make them both again using Greater than Half the stitches on the heels and see how they turn out. Because there is nothing like proving it to yourself, for cementing knowledge into the knitter’s brain.

I’ve also been working on cast-ons - practicing both the knitted on provisional cast-on and the Channel Island cast-on. I love them both!

The provisional cast-on is pretty easy to do, forgiving no matter which direction I pick up the stitch on the back of the waste yarn. It’s a great beginning for K1P1 ribbing and is exactly the cast-on I’d use for socks knit in a yarn that might stretch out - silk or cotton, for example. Because you go right into double knitting for 3 or 4 rows, the yarn that’s carried when you slip every other stitch forms a little guy line that would prevent the ribbing from stretching beyond its length. Come to think of it - it would be a good stabilizing cast-on&rib for any garment - sweater cuffs, sweater bottoms, even hats!

The Channel Island cast-on is not so kind. This cast-on is a modification of the long-tail cast-on where you double the yarn that goes over your thumb. If I wrap the doubled yarn around my thumb in a clockwise direction it does just fine, but if I go in a counter clockwise direction it knots and tangles and makes a mess. Nevertheless, it’s worth the effort because it creates the prettiest picot edge. It’s not so prominent on this worsted weight sock cuff on only 24 stitches -

but I suspect it would be lovely on a bigger circumference and just look at it on this bit of lace knitting!

The lace is knit in Spirit Trail Fiberworks yarn, merino/silk blend. It gets a little fuzzy with use but it’s a joy to knit with. I only wish I had some of those Addi Turbo lace needles - with the sharper points. I think I’ll hunt some down today.

So. Some knitting at last. Yep Mary - I will miss Sedalia this year but I’ll be doing something I love even more than shopping! And as you say - Maryland is not so far away.

posted by Bess | 8:02 AM


Phew! Busy! And it looks as though TheQueen won't get to fondle fibers at Sedalia on Saturday. That's just a cryin' shame. But May and Maryland will come soon enough. And hopefully without snow!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:51 PM  

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Sunday, April 08, 2007  

It’s a beautiful blue sky day, fringed with emerald and the old-gold green of early spring. There’s a breeze that’s making the trees dance and the last of the daffodils nod and bow. For the first time ever, my flowering crab-apple is going to bloom. Maybe this is the year I will get the garden cleaned up. At least, I plan to dig up those one thousand daffodils that are scattered about the poor garden and put them Somewhere Else. If I do nothing else, that will be a big step forward.

The lane into my house is half a mile long and the last third runs along the western edge of the forest. I’ve planted daffodils along the lane - there are about 900 of them. The goal was to get a continuous line of blossom to welcome me home in the springtime and for the most part I have it. But there are some gaps. The trouble is - I can’t tell where the gaps are in the autumn when one can buy new bulbs. Often, when I’d dig a spot for new ones, I’d slice into established clumps. So the new ones ended up in the flower gardens where they’ve grown so crowded now they don’t bloom much.

So. Now, while I can see the tops to dig them up and the gaps where they could be planted, I will make the shift. It’s an interruption in their life cycle, but they’ll adapt. If not this year, then by next year and, as I said, they’re so crowded right now they don’t bloom any more anyway.

The coming 2 weeks are going to be crammed packed with exciting events for both BD and TheQueen. Wednesday a crew of the Sultana’s John Smith Shallop will be gathering around the feet of Mr.Jamestown in a quest to understand what it is they will be commemorating as they row the thousands of miles around the Chesapeake Bay this summer. They are not historians - they’re professional rowers - a couple of Olympic team folk and some crew members from some colleges. The press will be joining them as well as BD’s agent - yes, he has a booking agent now - and of course TheQueen will be there too because she likes to see people admire TheKing. So the house has to look good. (Old King himself has been assigned the back porch and front lawn.) Friday I hop on off to Staunton where I will be teaching and story telling over the weekend. Tuesday is our 33 wedding anniversary and Wednesday is the library board meeting - which is only ever seminal and stressful for me - and only because I make it so. Thursday and Friday of next week is the library director’s meeting and the next day is a local bluegrass music festival which, happily, got rescheduled so that it’s not the same weekend as MS&W.


Life is never this frenetic at TheCastle. Except, of course, when it is.

Guess I’ll be vacuuming today. Hope you get to knit instead.

posted by Bess | 8:11 AM


What a freakish little storm, wasn't it?

Are you going to Sedalia next week -- I can't remember. If so, I'll see you there. :-)

I need to find a good pattern for leg warmers, believe it or not -- I have two nieces in dance classes who have expressed an interest. Something non-tedious, if that's even possible....

By Blogger Mary, at 2:20 PM  

Come now, Bess, don't exaggerate. It's only April 7.

Of course, I'm wearing eleventy hundred layers of clothes, because I just refuse to light a fire in APRIL for crying out loud!

By Blogger Amie, at 8:24 PM  

There you have it, missy Rose. I'm so excited about MS&W I'm trying to hurry the days away.
And of course - there is still some snow on the ground on the real April 8.
Now - go light a fire, silly. It's COLD!

By Blogger Bess, at 7:13 AM  

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Saturday, April 07, 2007  

You oughta see what’s happening outside my window!

On April 8! I didn’t believe the weather reports. I barely believe my eyes. I’m supposed to go to work today - my Saturday to work - but I’m thinking - why bother. In honor of Snow, the day before Easter, in Champlain, VA of all places! I think I ought to close that library. Hmmm?

Yesterday was my day off, in recompense for working on Saturday, so I drove up to see my parents. It was a very positive day and Richmond, in early spring, with the first of the azaleas and tulips out, was so pretty. All the Bradford pears had gone green giving the city a fresh look. I took Daddy for a little outing back home again, down Robius Road - I see they’re calling it Huguenot Trail now. Yuck. It was the first time he’d seen something other than hospital walls for 2 weeks. It was a good thing.

An interesting thing has happened to me, something I had hoped would happen but didn’t know for sure, when I decided to go a year with no fiber purchases. I seem to have broken that addiction I had of Having to Buy every time I got within 20 miles of a yarn shop. I’ve been to Richmond dozens of times this winter and I did buy one skein of yarn because I was going to a knitting group meeting there and didn’t have anything in my knitting bag that inspired me. But it was one skein of sock yarn that I cast on right away - not something that was going to fill tubs in my den. Mind now, I am 100% in favor of buying yarn when you really want it. But buying it because you are in a car somewhere or with a group of friends or for any other reason not wholly driven by thoughtful desire - no thanks. Addictive behavior was not something I wanted to be connected to a pleasure as great as fiber play.

I’m sure I’ll still have plenty of stash and continue to add to it too. Just not in such a frenzied manner.

I’m knitting up different swatches and samples for the classes I’m supposed to teach next Saturday, so I’m constantly being tempted by Other Knitting. The experimenting I’ve been doing has opened up all sorts of possibilities for New Projects. I’ve found a little 6 stitch, 4 row lace pattern that would be so cute in either a tank top or hmmm, what about silk leggings. Yeah, I know I’m a little old for silk lace leggings, but what a great idea for a pattern anyway. Maybe for one of those more youthful knitting magazines. I really am tempted by leggings or harem pants or over the knee stockings. Ahh the way the mind wanders when the hands are holding needles.

I’ve let the Stinky Bad Dogs back inside. They’re still a little stinky, but it’s moderated a lot and I miss them so when they’re banished from the house. Every summer I lay down a decree. No Dogs In The House. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes it frays down to No Dogs On The Big Bed. But it’s not summer yet.

If I do go into town, I’ll post snow pictures later. Otherwise, I'll post them on Monday, just because. In the mean time, I’m going to go make oatmeal. Ta.

posted by Bess | 8:04 AM


What is it with dogs and rolling in decaying animals? I'll never get that.... Truly disgusting.

If I didn't know better, I'd say you'd seen a recent episode of Oprah with a segment about this movement:

Not a bad idea, actually. After watching that, I started to realize how much I complain about things, unnecessarily. Human nature, I suppose, but not good behavior.

By Blogger Mary, at 6:41 PM  

I don’t want to end up like my mother, whose weight has limited so many of her options as her body ages. the last months of my mother's life, she told me the one thing she regretted was "letting all that weight come on after menopause". Hmmm. Although I take after my father rather than my mom, I understand, for I am fighting 15 lb. that I don't want. Even counting points (a la WW) is not helping....and I exercise! I truly do!


Easter blessings,

and Hugs,

By Anonymous Margaret, at 11:36 PM  

My goal, inspired by C's participation in the walk-a-go-go is to do that mile+ a day and work towards getting up to ten-thousand steps a day (which is about 5 miles, but is all inclusive, ie. trips to the kitchen count) It's going to take me a looooong time to get there, but it's a specific goal with nothing but good payoffs.

Love you!

By Blogger Amie, at 8:27 PM  

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Thursday, April 05, 2007  

Thank you dear hearts. I’m really fine. It was just a mean bruise - and it’s almost healed now. Just a pinch now and then if I squeeze too tightly.

I would have written about how much I am enjoying all these dogs except that Priss brought some particularly virulent carrion up into the yard last night and all of them rolled in it - even the tiny one. Right now the slip cover for the sofa is in the wash. They are all banished to the outdoors today and tomorrow too. BD will have to get to work with the shovel.

Country Dogs.

No knitting news - I’ve been giving my hand a rest. I did get in a fabulous workout with the Jazzercize teacher yesterday - and ache in places that surprise me. She incorporated weight bearing workout in a new way, for a dance class. After one particularly vigorous set we stopped and did plies against rubber bands. Later we did arm curls and pec stretches with different bands. This gal is absolutely amazing. She’s winding up her last session of chemo on Friday - and hasn’t missed a class with us all winter! Amazing. And inspirational. When I don’t feel like going to class ‘cause I’m tired ... I think of her, driving an hour to get here and then teaching class after working all day and going to chemo on Friday. Besides, she’s beautiful, funny and just a glow of pulsing energy all the time.

I’ve also gotten serious with WW again. I’d let several - ‘fess up - many old pounds back onto my body the past year or so. I haven’t hit my personal Dread Number, but I’m only ounces away from it. So I rededicated myself at the Tuesday meeting to what I know is an easy and workable and even fun way of eating. I don’t want to end up like my mother, whose weight has limited so many of her options as her body ages.

But beyond that I am absolutely NOT going to grouse about my bad parents again. Even if I do it in a sort of Stand Up Comic Skit version. I’m afraid I’m just attracting More Bad Parents into my life by doing so. They will continue to be Bad Parents, but I am not going to talk about it or think about it. I will answer them only when they have good things to say and I will change the subject every time they begin to grouse - which ought to make for some very disconnected conversations. :D

And when my beloved friends ask how they are doing I shall say "They are doing as well as they choose to do."

And with that, I say no more about BP’s.

Instead I will say that the world around here is the prettiest blue and green you ever saw. Everyone has put out some sort of fluttery growth except the sycamore trees, but they are always the last to do so. And just last night I got the idea for an absolutely fun knitting project I want to take up soon. I’m not much of a stable fiber knitter. Mostly I like wool and mostly I like the bounce in wool. But it’s going to be too hot for that for a long time. But several yarn temptation catalogs have arrived with beautiful yarns of silk and cotton and silk/cotton and linen and linen/cotton and linen/silk and bamboo and silk/bamboo and lawsee who knows what else, but my goodness it sure looks good. I think I want to make myself a little warm weather top after all! Who’d have thought?

So, my loves, good knitting to you all. And remember. No Complaints!

posted by Bess | 7:48 AM


Oh, Bess!! Are you OK? did you break it or?? I am so sorry, that was all you needed,right!

Big Healing Hugs!!


By Anonymous Patti, at 9:41 PM  

no, dear, just a bad bruise on the ball of the thumb. That brace is to keep me from banging it about. but I'm not typing much.

By Blogger Bess, at 7:49 AM  

...but I'm not typing much.

Knitting? Oh! Spinning? Oh!

Being catered to? ;-)

Hugs and wishes for speedy recovery!

By Anonymous Margaret, at 9:36 AM  

Oh no! I can't think of much worse that could happent to a knitter and spinner and writer. Rest and heal. Watch movies. Read with BD. Get better. So sorry this happened. At least you've got about 10 days to heal before your class.

By Blogger Mary, at 1:56 PM  

Bess, may you have a very speedy recovery. Any hand injury can seem like an eternity to heal. May you get lots of reading done and a lot of pampering from BD, it's not too much to ask do you think?

By Blogger erica, at 12:06 AM  

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007  

5 dogs playing rough. 1 woman felled.

posted by Bess | 5:27 PM


What a nice description of the Yorktown Battlefield. I've never been (that I remember -- perhaps as a kid on a field trip that I've forgotten), but I should go as an adult sometime.

We were talking about you and your gorgeous Golding wheel yesterday at Patsy's. I look forward to hearing about you spinning on it again. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:22 PM  

Would you like to knit woollens a bit longer? Come visit me in snowy Southern Alberta! I just came in from shovelling my walk. This is not what an April morning is s'posed to be like -- even in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies!!


By Anonymous Margaret, at 10:15 AM  

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Monday, April 02, 2007  

We never did get to Richmond. We didn’t even start out in that direction. Instead we went down to the Yorktown Battlefield for a look around. I hadn’t been there since 1981. Lawsee, Reagan was president then, that cold October afternoon, and was the commemorative speaker at the bicentennial celebrations. That day the park was filled with tourists and we had to park at a shopping center in Gloucester and take a bus over the Coleman Bridge across the York River. Not this time. There were a nice number of visitors - spring break families, mostly - with little boys who fought as ghost soldiers in among the readouts and girls who crawled into a hollow tree that was big enough for me to stand up inside. The park service guide told a gripping tale - he had a very thin sharp face - quite the English face, I might say - and at first he looked a bit unctuous. But as he began to speak he burst into passion and brought vividly to life scenes of bravery and victory. Once we began to walk about, avid little children clustered around him and his smile was all sunshine and delight over his success at touching off the spark of history in them.

The museum display is quite good. There is a human sized model of a warship that you can walk through, with appropriately sloping decks, low and cramped just a little. You can almost get a bit of seasickness if you aren’t careful. They also have some of Washington’s campaign tents; the sleeping marquee and the dining marquee. They’re set up in a large glassed display case that is indented so that you can walk just inside the dining marquee and get a sense of what it was like to be campaigning with the Continental Army. That was the most thrilling thing for me.

Alas, we’d gotten such a late start we didn’t have time to linger in the gift shop - I adore museum gift shops because they give you such good ideas for books. I usually wander through with pen and paper and come back to the library with a shopping list.

The day grew blustery and grey after 5, as we walked across the actual battlefield. The park itself is quite large. The driving tour is 9 miles, but that takes in a lot of Virginia wilderness where the huge support encampments were located; the cooks, the hospitals, the camp followers. We never did get a chance to walk into Yorktown itself, though it is only a few hundred yards from the museum. The sun was chasing us away. But we’ll go back and take the rest of the tour one day soon.

Dinner was steak in Williamsburg - though Saturday night in springtime is always a difficult time to find a place to eat. Not that there aren’t hundreds of eateries along Rt. 60, but you know how it is - invariably the place you are looking for is the one everyone else wants to find, too. We didn't sit down till after 8. It was midnight before we got home, to be greeted by 5 very hungry dogs. 5 hairy hungry dogs at that. Lawsee I did some vacuuming yesterday. By 1 o’clock TheCastle was spick and span and I could sit down and do taxes.


I don’t really mind doing taxes, but with BD as my partner, oh my! I love that man. But he itemized all the costs of his latest book under Misc. Expenses. I nearly died. Thank god for accountants.

The last part of the day held knitting content. I’ve been working on sock techniques in preparation for my upcoming class. The main technique will be the 2 circular method and that can take an hour or no time at all. I have 2 hours to fill and I would love to teach the afterthought heel, since it’s such a fun thing to do with self-striping yarns. I would also love to teach the knitted on provisional cast on with ribbing done in k1p1. I’m completely intrigued by the process and the results, but I’m just not sure there will be time. What I know is that sometime this week I have to write the handouts that go with this class.

So. It is a Monday. A glorious blue sky Monday in April. I must bid good-bye to long snugly cold days of woolen knitting winter. I never feel as free to just knit all day after the equinox. I haven’t done any spinning all winter, but springtime is a time to spin. I’m released from KipFee obligations. Once I’m back from Staunton, I’ll have 2 weeks with nothing on the needles, at least, nothing with a deadline. I believe I shall pull out that lovely Border Leicester I bought from J last February and see what Bella can do with it.

But for now - it’s off to work I go ... heigh ho.

posted by Bess | 7:32 AM