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


I've been very tempted to join the Hunt Valley Cashmere GAAA club, but worried about either buying all that cashmere at once ($cha-ching!) or having the last batch's color be noticeably different from the first batch's color received 2 years prior. They probably have some way to guard against that -- who knows?

Anyway, I will enjoy living vicariously through your project....

By Blogger Mary, at 8:59 AM  

ok i got that book too
and guess what
i was dumb enough to list an ipod
and i got it
the hitch???????

i don't have xp on the computer and can't USE IT
so now that ipod nano is a year old
it was a christmas gift
i have never used it

the moral of this story

be very careful what you ask for

(and remember to ask for countertops as well when you ask for a new kitchen......oh and to ASK FOR THE KITCHEN to actually BE in the room set aside for it
not in the living room, the studio, the basement........)


ok bess
i am going to join you in this
now......if i forget
remind me ok?

maybe i should put 'find my mind' on one of them thar papers?????


happy new year bess

By Blogger vi, at 6:11 PM  

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Monday, December 31, 2007  

Closing out the old year with a knitting post

Oh my – here it is December 31 at last. It's a white sky day here at TheCastle, all seamed with bare bark trees and carpeted with their fallen leaves. It's a calm looking day, an indoor day, a peaceful looking day. It is a good day for reflection should one feel that hunger, or for frittering, should the mind need more of a rest. I'm not yet sure how I shall spend this soft day of mine, but I am sure there shall be some knitting involved, for I have made yarn decisions and discoveries since yesterday.

First off – that Austerman Merino Stretch. It's a no-go. I wet set that nice big swatch and then began to rough it up a wee bit, rubbing it against itself. Almost immediately it began to fuzz. I could see tiny fibers haloing around the yarn – future pills or even worse, future thin spots. M asks how much does a sweater wear and I will tell you – it wears out under the arms and along the sides, where the two pieces brush against each other and it wears out on the shoulder if you cary your purse that way. If a yarn is cashmere – high end cashmere, or angora – I am willing to put up with pills or halos, though pills on my sides are never going to be flattering. When it's acrylic blend – I'm not so forgiving. Especially if I put my heart into something textured like the swatch I knit.

So. Merino Stretch is relegated to scarf&hat yarn and I shall find something else, something better, for my sweater body. Maybe 1812 or even Cascade. And yes, Marge, the photo certainly looks Ali McGraw-ish – the model and her 70's hairdo. I never intended to actually knit that sweater – Just something with those wrist and hem patterns in colorwork and a sweater body in texture. I'll probably do my regular knitted in set in sleeves for this project.

I very much want to knit myself a sweater though, so I'll have to dig through my stash and discover what magical yarn is hidden away. I want a fast, easy sweater with just a little fancy detail. I have some blue faced Leicester in a deep green which might be just the trick.

I am ALSO working on the GreatAmericanAranAfghanInCashmereYarn. Hmmm. What shall I call it? GAAA? I believe there is a KAL for it called something like that. Anyway – I finally wound up the yarn and cast on. I picked Ginette Bellinger's square because it was easy and I have never knit with cashmere before – at least not 100% cashmere. Wow. It's a different sort of knitting. There's no spring in cashmere – it's like silk that way. It doesn't bounce back and fill in the gaps when I perform any twisty stitches. Note how there are spaces between the purl three together stitches on both sides.

But it's very soft, so it's like angora or even dog fur. It's a sensual pleasure to hold this yarn and I suspect I'll come to understand its properties at some basic physical level, the more I knit with it. It's also very white so I'm all the time washing my hands as I work with it.

This is my first square and I am not going to hold myself to it if I don't end up liking it. If the whole square looks too loose I'll go down a needle. I'm using #6 addi lace tips right now – though I would rather have used a #5. I just can't find any #5 needles. Wonder what UFO they're lodged in. I will say, this is a pleasing square to knit. I like the cluster stitch, I know it would be fabulous in springy wool – a real Aran sweater someday, maybe? The pattern is a 24 row repeat, done 3 times. I'm half way through the first repeat. Let us see how far I get today.

May you all have a safe happy new year's eve, snuggled close to your favorites.

posted by Bess | 8:32 AM


Hi Bess,

The photo is very Ali McGraw/Love Story-ish, isn't it?! But a yoke sweater with the body pattern would be great. What about the yoke pattern? Would you do repeats of the pattern in the photo?



By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 8:42 AM  

Love the yarn, and I think you will, too. How much wear-and-tear does a sweater get, anyway? Maybe a little bit of pilling under the arms? It's not like it's socks, right? Love the sweater design, and I agree that set-in sleeves or a yoke would be nice, too.

By Blogger Mary, at 1:23 PM  

That sweater and the other one that's on that page have been favorites of mine for a ver long time. Will I ever knit them? Probably not. Well not this coming year.

It's not raining here but we do have some pretty strong winds, and crowds of people lining up for tomorrow's Rose Parade. That means lots of noise tonight. Patrick will be a wreck.

By Blogger Larry, at 8:21 AM  

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Sunday, December 30, 2007  

Oh my friends
I wish I'd found this site earlier in December! What a hoot.
Having written letters to a bunch of friends this morning, I'm a bit written out right now, but never fear. I can always dredge up a few more words to sprinkle onto a blog post. Especially when they are words about knitting photos. That reddish yarn swatch on yesterday's post is really a deep greyish green. Of course, we all know that red goes into making green so evidently there was a little blue filtering going on so only red showed up in the photo. Here's a better photo of it but I still didn't get the color right.

Anyway – I completed the swatch. I'm going to measure it. Then I'm going to try to rough it up as hard as I can – really mistreat that swatch – and see how quickly it shows wear. This is Austerman's Merino Stretch – a yarn has sold a lot of at a very cheap price. It's a blend of merino and acrylic and it is way stretchy. I think it shows these knit/purl stitches simply beautifully but rumor on Ravelry has it that it doesn't wear well. It gets shabby looking fast. If it turns out the yarn does wear badly, I'll probably just make a scarf out of it and buy something else to knit the body of my adaptation of this sweater: The inspiration

I'm really ready to knit a sweater for me. I really don't want to buy more yarn. I really don't have anything else that would work in this sweater. If the merino stretch falls apart on me, I'll have to search my stash for another sweater to knit.

Well – isn't that just the way life is? The best that can happen is that I get to knit this sweater with this yarn. The worst is that I get to knit a different sweater with different yarn. Not much difference, is there? Life is really that good!

Hugs to you all.

posted by Bess | 8:35 AM


A Namaste Bag! Whoa, Bess Dear. My Dear Daughter lives in walking distance (not a block, but close -- 4 or 5) from a knitting shop in Edmonton...and yet, no knitting gift pour moi. Clearly, I need to point out the obvious for next year!!

Hugs -- and Happy New Year,

By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 9:10 AM  

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Saturday, December 29, 2007  

Around TheCastle, December means Christmas, and once that glittering peak has been surmounted, we are pretty much done with the celebrating. Now and then we'll throw a party, very rarely we'll be asked to one. Often the weekend after Christmas involves me going to Richmond to visit the folks. This year, every celebratory activity took place before my official New Year holiday began and so now I have before me 4 days of pure selfish downtime rest and relaxation. I'm even getting a little rain thrown in for good measure – a double bonus, since Virginia is still about 6 inches into a drought and besides, when it's raining it's legal to watch movies all day and knit!

I do have some chores to do – but there's nothing frenzied about it since I have 4 days to do them and can putter about it, rather than trying to get it all crammed into Saturday morning so I can at least have Sunday off. Instead, I'll probably slip into town to pick up some groceries I left in the library refrigerator last night, run my poor wet laundry through the dryer and make a stop by the gym. Back home there really has to be some dog hair removal via a vacuum, but there's no point in doing serious housework till Tuesday, when the tree comes down.

But with the downing of the tree – and the return to plain old ordinary house, minus festive decorations – comes the New Years Resolutions. For the first time I can ever remember, I'm not all thrumming with energy about What I'm Going To Do Next! I'm feeling very cozy and comfy with things. I'm looking forward to the next few knitting projects I've got lined up. I'm very happy with the current state of a number of the basic emotional stability issues that fill the life of anyone sandwiched between grown children and aging parents.

I'm not sure why I'm not all busy with New Ideas and What Now??? thoughts. Perhaps because we did so many NewThings with the house in the fall. Perhaps because only one room is full of cluttery mess that needs to be put away and that room has a door in its wall. I can just close it. I'm not even sure how to have a January 1 without a list of ... at least a list of Good Ideas. Ordinarily I would hate not having such a list – and I am a wee bit uncomfortable about it. But never fear. I am sure I can come up with some sort of 1/1/2008 list. In fact, I plan to look back over some of my old lists and see if any of them can yield a contribution to this year's.

But in the mean time – I have been poking about the Internets and I believe I have found my First Project for after I have made peace with my VISA card. How's this for creativity?

Yes. I'm in love. And I'm inspired. And if I weren't already broke for January (just found the house insurance bill – ugh) I'd be purchasing this today. Yum. It's for sale here.

How glad I am to have my first skein of cashmere from Hunt Valley Cashmere to knit my Great American Aran Afghan. I've decided on which block I want to knit and I'll be starting it today. (Humph. I can't find good pictures on-line and I don't want to wake up BD looking for the booklet. I'll have photos tomorrow)

I'm still swatching away with the Merino Stretch yarn even though rumor has it this yarn gets shabby fast. A final decision has yet to be made about using it at all, in fact, but I have fallen in love with a stitch pattern.

Isn't this beautiful? It's sort of reversible too – so it makes a splendid scarf – but I'm seeing two types of sweaters – Guernsey pullovers and tailored suit jackets. It's from this book:
and it's only offered as a chart which makes it easier to follow when knit in the round. Knit flat, especially in a dark yarn, it's hard to “read the knitting” and takes a bit more concentration. I know I'll knit this as a scarf, even though I don't like to knit scarves – and when I do, I'll re-draw the chart to make all the wrong side rows into right side rows.

And yes. That is a Namaste Bag – and it is a Christmas gift – and it's the sort of thing one gets from a beloved son who lives one block away from a darling knitting shop. I wouldn't ever have picked this color - I would have stayed with ordinary brown or maybe rust - but I'm so glad to have someone kick me out of my color rut! Merry Christmas to me, hmmm? and to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:57 AM


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Friday, December 28, 2007  

We are taught to feel that everything in life has to have an explanation. In reality, though, we are all creatures of instinct. Inwardly, we sum up every situation we ever encounter in a flash. It takes less than a nanosecond for our psychic radar to decide whether or not it likes something or someone. Our intellect then scurries along behind, attempting to catch up by justifying whatever it is that we have felt. Save yourself some effort today. Trust your heart and never mind why.

Hmmm. Nice. Thank you Mr.Horoscope.

I'm ready to do that. To trust the heart, ride the wave, and let Saturn have his hard workin' way with me. I'm just ready. Ready to enjoy. There is one last holiday party tonight and by golly, after that it will be all apples and carrots. I've had enough party cheer to last me till – well, till spring, at least.

It's almost a joke that I'm going in to work today, though there is a tee tiny bit of actual work that has to be done. Easy stuff, but timely. It's supposed to rain this weekend so I'm doing the only important laundry right now. I'm so so so looking forward to days of looking at movies and old tv shows and knitting.

Yes. This is a knitting blog. I promise – there will be knitting content and even knitting photos before 2008.

posted by Bess | 8:01 AM


Sounds wonderful! And that picture of the dogs in the car is priceless! They look so hopeful!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:15 AM  

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Thursday, December 27, 2007  

The past 5 days have been like a trip to fairyland – to peter pan ville – to some place that doesn't have anything to do with the real world. It was the longest period of living in the present I've ever experienced. Perhaps instinct told me to do this, but my conscious activities were never more than 2 hours beforehand – the time it took to put the rib roast into the oven so it would be at dinner time. Everything else I did, felt, saw, watched, enjoyed, savored, loved – just flowed into the next minute, just when it was supposed to.

Normally I am a PlanAhead ThinkLongAndHardAboutIt MakeAList kind of gal. I am so glad I just lived this holiday because, all that planning and listing and thinking can so easily become the substitute for living – an excuse for having let something slip through your fingers.

Saturday, LD and I went to town, picking up groceries and a spotted bird dog. Yes, A, that's a canine visitor. Buster is LD's Llewellyn setter – a dog he couldn't figure out how to take with him on this new job. A beloved bird hunting friend offered to keep him – for as long or as little as needed and to train him as well, so Buster went to hunting dog boarding school. The little mutt came to live with us and it is going to take some convincing to get me to give her up now.

Watching that reunion – man and dog – was one of the sweetest things I ever saw. LD ended up in tears and the dog probably would have cried if he had been wired up that way. Instead, it was all lick,lick,lick,lick,lick,lick,lick. (any of you ever read Pinkerton Behave to your kids?)

I didn't leave home again, except on foot – on long long walks – till yesterday. Christmas day was pure bliss with just the right number of presents for each of us, and - since much of the shopping had been done on Friday, when we were all together - exactly the right presents also. BH joined us for the 9.5 pound standing rib roast that my boys (of ThePhoto – and btw, did you notice hand knit socks on both pair of feet?) polished down to 5 bones and enough meat for 4 sandwiches.

We had music all the time, and laughter, calm gentle conversations, and so many hugs, and lots of opportunity to hear LD's opinions and thoughts about the work he's doing, enough sleep, not too much holiday cheer, and in general, 5 days of love, tenderness, and warmth. Could anybody ask for more than that?

Yesterday we had Things2Do in the City. As we were leaving TheCastle, though, some hitchhikers decided they should come along too.
What do you mean - "no"?
We visited both my parents and made the happy discovery of a visiting uncle and aunt!

All too soon, and yet, just at the right time, we dropped our beloved boy at the airport. Hugs and hugs and hugs goodbye and in the gloming dusk my BD guided me home through eastern Hanover county, on roads I'd never traveled before, through the last of the farmland downstream from Chicahominy Swamp, land of Capt. John Smith. I still feel a wee bit as if I were Wendy, or Dorothy, waking up from a fantastical trip to fairyland. I know that a wonderful blank beautiful happy year is waiting up ahead, but I'm just not yet ready to think about it. I believe I shall do a Scarlet – and think about it tomorrow – at Tara.

My love goes out to you all, dear readers. I hope you are as full of the magic of possibilities and life as a body can be.

posted by Bess | 7:46 AM


I foresee a fitness program entering into your New Year's Resolutions! LOL!

Happy Boxing Day, Bess!


By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 8:03 AM  

Happy Boxing Day to you, Dear One!

Someone seems to have smuggled an extra animal into your house. Don't let on that you know - you might have to feed it!

By Blogger Amie, at 8:43 AM  

What a picture of happiness! Happy Boxing Day, Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 10:36 AM  

So it seems you were the only vertical living thing in your house at that moment. Ain't that always the way?! Looks like you had a lovely Christmas -- so glad. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:52 PM  

What a perfect photo--everyone so happy and comfy and relaxed. How lucky they all are to be in such a safe, happy place.

Happy 2008 to you and yours!


By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 9:06 PM  

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007  

Happy Boxing Day

Life doesn't get much better than this.

Be back with real posts tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


I'm glad you were able to counter the wretched Short Pump mall with a lovely stroll through the lights at Lewis Ginter. I won two tickets to that, and may be going next week sometime....

By Blogger Mary, at 11:23 AM  

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Sunday, December 23, 2007  

The night before the night before

Here at TheCastle, Christmas is filling up all the nooks and crannies. Clutter is filling up all the rest of the space and today I plan to declutter in a rather big way. I still have a few cards I want to send – even though I know they won't get to their destinations on Monday. Perhaps my favorite part of the December revels is the cards. Selecting them, writing them, sending them – and I take my time. It's funny who gets saved for last each year – they tend to be the folks I have the most news to tell to and that shifts a bit each year.

Friday we picked up a newly solo LD at the airport. We will have 5 glorious days of his company, plying him with favorite foods and weepy family Christmas traditions and lots of love and laughter. As BD hadn't done any Christmas shopping and as we weren't really sure what a young man with a job that has him moving twice a year (and thus, needs to pack lightly) could use. (Of course, there are Christmas socks, but what else???? that was the question.)

My plan-loving little Virgo soul used to have a rather superior attitude about week-before-Christmas shoppers, and for quite good reasons. I had a lot less $ at one time and to make it wrap around everything I wanted to do took a couple months of planning. I'm not sure if the media that ridicules the last minute shopper ever had any real foundation for it's humor or if it was just an effort by merchants and advertisers to get people to start the free flowing spending as early as possible, but what I have found is that there are many wonderful gifts that you can buy that weekend before Christmas and it's likely they will be marked down quite a good bit. I will still always do my shopping early, but I don't mind tagging along with my traditional guys and seeing what's out there. Besides, TheConsort is probably going to be buying my present (like this year) and I can steer him in the right direction (like this year).

We drove out to the hideous shopping mecca at Short Pump – land of engineered parking lots. Don't think we didn't find gifts – though all the blue checked size medium shirts were sold out except the ones at Orvis – a place I've never shopped before. I never looked at the price of LD's Christmas shirt, because, heck, a shirt's a shirt, right? Right before Christmas they're all about $30, right? Ha! Perhaps it can become an heirloom shirt. But the development of the Short Pump Shopping And Spending Extraviganza is just about the saddest monument to isolation I've ever seen. Every thing is clogged, channeled, narrow, and sad. I am so so so glad it's not a regular part of my life. It's architecture for the permanently plugged in - intended to lure you in and then make you leave as soon as possible. It's just right for the person who's always talking on the phone instead of to the person he's with - and the disconnect is bleak. But that's the only blue note injected into our holiday season and even there I found parking right up front and hit every green light going east into the real city.

The one thing I wanted to buy turned out to be this year's Hot Item - . About the only thing that brings Daddy out of his funk these days is anything to do with Band of Brothers – he watches it almost every day and brings it into the conversation all the time. I've given him all the peripheral books; Dick Winter's memoir, the original Stephen Ambrose. I'm glad there was something new to add to his collection. I am doubly glad that the last copy in Richmond could be put on hold for me and that B&N was open till 11.

That left the evening free for Friends and Beauty! Great friends and good food = love We met D&P at their house and joined M&J at Dot's Back Door, a neighborhood bar and restaurant that started the nostalgia flowing. The food was delicious and generous. Then it was off to Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens and their Festival of Lights. In the darkness, lit only by colorfully illuminated trees, ponds, bridges, and flowers, it was impossible to repress the holiday spirit. We began an impromptu caroling that lasted all evening. No single person knew all the words to any of the carols but we filled in with lusty fa la las – and next year we'll bring song sheets – maybe even enough to distribute to strangers. The joy of it all was that in the dark, nobody was the least inhibited about filling the air with song. It was glorious and Saturday morning phone calls assured us all that we were still walking on clouds. Don't you doubt it – this is going to be our new true blue Christmas Tradition.

Here's a link to my flickr slideshow of that happy evening. Night photography is not something I have much experience with so the pictures are definitely amateurish, but I think they capture something of the fun and pleasure of the evening. You can see better photos here.

Today will be tidy the house, write loving letters and maybe... just maybe... knit a wee bit.

May your days be merry and bright.

posted by Bess | 7:34 AM


A lovely tree, and beautiful ornments! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:52 PM  

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Friday, December 21, 2007  

Tree Magic is happening

With ornaments both new

and old


and homemade

So sit by the fire and have a cup of tea with me

posted by Bess | 6:53 AM


Christmas Hugs wending your way across the continent, Dear Bess!

But as for Mr. H...Well, 2008 has just got to be better for me than the past 2 years...but I don't want a Special Someone to 'play' with. Or even to 'not play' with. Perhaps for my DD?


By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 10:18 AM  

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007  

This is for all my Virgo Sisters. What a holiday gift from the stars!

Break out the bunting! This is a classic Lucky Cycle for you. Jupiter is the planet of good fortune and for the next 12 months, he's in the part of your chart where the dice more often rolls in your favour - your 5th House. Even though there may be other things going on in your chart which mean you still have to work hard and don't have as much time off as you might like, the good news is that you should still manage to eke a lot of fun out of the coming 12 months. The 5th House is where we express ourselves openly - and if you've forgotten what it feels like to do that, don't worry. You really will remember over the coming year. It's the part of our chart where we keep our Inner Child and good old Uncle Jupiter, who arrives laden with cheer and presents, is most certainly the one to bring your Inner Child out to play. For this reason, this transit is very positive where children (your own or someone else's) are concerned. If you're wanting to get pregnant anytime soon, start practicing! It's also good for romance because nothing needs a bit of light-hearted relief like partnership. Forget about the snipping and the sniping, the coming 12 months will help you to remember how to amuse yourself with Someone Else. Singles could easily meet more than one person to play with. Couples will reinvigorate their enjoyment of each other. Lastly, this is a very good transit if you have creative aspirations. Go for it. Travel is also extra likely this cycle.

My hands are much better – and the hardest and most daunting procrastinated project is almost done – it involves paperwork, taxes and an infuriated libertarian spouse – and ready to be flushed out of my life till next year. Happy Happy Day!

I have only one real work day left since I will be doing some Out of the Office Chores on Thursday and I'm taking Friday off. I shan't have to go back till the following Thursday – a joke, since, well, who reads library books at Christmas? I mean – if you're a reader you got books for Christmas gifts and otherwise, well, school's out. The only folk who will come in the week between Christmas and New Year will be people who want to check e-mail or the ubiquitous rap-dancing-streaming-video watchers and I think those kids would do better to play outside.

Oysters for Christmas Eve stew have been ordered. The beef roast has not. I have one gift left to buy and all of them need wrapping – some of it must be done tonight. The tree is still not decorated. Sheesh! I'm pretty behind this year.

But last night I relaxed in triumph (after taxpaperworkangst) and watched my all time favorite White Christmas. I wept through the war scene. I teared up at the end and I sang along with all the songs.

It really is Christmas!

Hugs to you all.

posted by Bess | 7:09 AM


I'm so sad about Dan Fogelburg!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:06 AM  

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007  

It never ceases to amaze me how I can procrastinate something till it's almost too late, or screw something up so badly I have to scramble around to fix it. So, of course, now is when my hands begin to ache with a bit of carpel tunnel pain. That is the only time CTS shows up, isn't it? When you have a bunch of stuff to do fast? The next few days will be scramble and hustle time for me.

So – today I will let other good bloggers say what I'm too rushed to. First there is this interesting bit about Bayberry Candles from D, via C.

Then this requiem from J.

Last of all is this incredible knitting pointed out to me by M. Whew!

There ought to be a sock photo tomorrow since I have to sit through a meeting tonight. Fortunately my CTS doesn't seem to be bothered by knitting.


posted by Bess | 7:39 AM


Everyone looks so content in that last picture! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:07 AM  

That marmalade looks awesome!

And the sock is beauteous, too :-D

Hugs, Jen

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:16 AM  

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Monday, December 17, 2007  

One Week to Christmas Eve!

Saturn is grinding to a halt and is about to start a reverse cycle. And of course, he is doing that in your sign. This is the first retrograde period of his current passage through Virgo and in many ways is your chance to rebuild something that's recently be mowed to the ground. Only this time, you get to rebuild it properly. Saturn only knocks down structures which are too shaky to be safe. You are effectively getting a second chance to make something solid.

Well, my Virgo sisters – now is the time to frog that dreadful project if ever it was. Or perhaps I ought to say – tonight it is – since this is an Australian horoscope from MSHoroscope.

Happily I don't have anything that needs to go to the frog pond but I do have More Inches Knit on that lace sock. This is a sock for me – because I am bereft of Christmas Knitting. It took me a week to figure out why I couldn't seem to start anything when I have 2 sweaters I'm dieing to knit and all the yarn, patterns and needles I need to knit them. Then it hit me – I had been looking around for obligation knitting with deadlines attached. I was even wondering if I ought to whip up a little gift for someone, when the cool hand of reason wiped my fevered brow. I did my Christmas knitting earlier. I am free to do what I want with my knitting time. I can be selfish!!!

So, instead I made other gifts:

Yes. Orange marmalade – strong, sharp, and sweet. I confess. Even after the requisite 30 minutes of boiling, I ended up useing a box of pectin and even the box said it could take a week for this stuff to set. We may eat it before it gets a chance. I made 2 batches, because the first was so delicious and I still had some grapefruit that I knew we would never eat. In typical lucky-break fashion, the second batch was not as good as the first. That will probably be the stuff I keep. It can always be poured on a cake or a desert. Hmmmm. Oh my. Yes. Vanilla ice cream with orange marmalade juice and hot fudge sauce. Oh MY!

There was also a so so cookie baking session using my all time favorite fat person's peanut butter from here. This stuff is so good and has almost no fat in it and ... no other weird stuff either. I had to tinker with the recipe though, because I didn't have any baking soda. For all that the peanut butter has so much taste, baked up in a cookie with only a wee bit of butter for fluffiness, the flavor was much milder – leading me to think that a lot of the peanut butter flavor is in the oil. I will try again tonight, though, with baking soda – and maybe a little more butter – because BD loved these cookies.

The last triumphant Christmas activity of the weekend was getting the Christmas tree! Every year we pile into the car or the truck and head off down the road. In the weeks before, on my way to work, I try to spy out the most likely growths along our road because we have permission to cut along most of it and can knock on a door and ask if the perfect tree happens to be somewhere where we haven't cut before. It's always best if we don't have to skulk along the highway, checking out the median strip – though – in pursuit of the perfect tree, we have been known to allow our criminal nature to have its sway.

I hadn't seen anything this year, though I did scare my neighbors on Saturday as I poked my way back home from the post office, checking out both sides of the road, at about 8 miles an hour and definitely taking my half out of the middle. I thought it was our new young neighbor who is somewhat in awe of me ... but it was closer friends, who asked if I'd hit the Christmas toddy a little early. The understood, though, when I told them I was checking out the tree situation.

But once we put the saw and machete in the car and head off in earnest, we are always successful. There used to be hurt feelings and nagging on tree cutting day but we've finally grown up enough to stop squabbling about things like ... why would anybody drive a sub-compact car out to bring a tree home when he owns a full sized truck? We take the truck. Sometimes we take the dogs. But we always find a tree and it's always beautiful! See?

May your last week before Christmas be a loving joy filled one – I think I shall go knit on a sock.

posted by Bess | 6:28 AM


Gorgeous! :-)

And remind me to remind you to get a clothes dryer! Some days a clothes line just isn't gonna work! ;-)

By Blogger Mary, at 7:42 PM  

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Sunday, December 16, 2007  

Proof of knitting:
4 stitch lace rib

That same little rib stretched out a bit - how it will look when worn:

Interesting little seed stitch heel flap border - not much to see yet but I'm pleased with it. AND I wrote it down!

I'm using this merino/silk yarn I bought at Holly Springs Homespun last spring - it's the same yarn J uses for Spirit Trail Fiberworks - just dyed by someone else.

posted by Bess | 12:56 PM


Ahhhhh Bess, I am sorry that you had a sucky day. I sooo envy you being able to pick your own pecans - how does that happen hee in VA??? Pick me a bucket and sent the quick to my house - I won't crack them around the computer, I promise!!!! I think my dear friend, that it is time that you come to visit us here at On The Lamb for an afternoon of knitting or spinning. Play hooky from work and come this Friday the 21st to Finish Friday, bring Hey Baby and spend the afternoon, enjoying some time just for you. Joe and I miss seeing you!

By Anonymous Angel, at 9:59 AM  

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Well. So much for the photography. It took till 2 to get the house clean and then there was the cookie baking and the marmalade starting and then BD came home and it began to rain and I had to drag the damp laundry in off the line and spread it around the living room and ... well ... there you have it.

Let us see if We can do better – later on today.

posted by Bess | 6:24 AM


So sorry about your bad day yesterday! Thank God for Saturdays! If it's any consolation, you made yesterday a very good day for me by sending that lovely fiber. Surely good things will cycle back to you. I, too, plan to spend a good part of the day knitting, as I do have one Christmas gift I want to get done before next Saturday. Knitting and watching movies -- can't think of a better way to spend a Saturday! And Sunday, maybe I'll try and do some plying!

By Blogger Mary, at 11:11 AM  

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Saturday, December 15, 2007  

Hooray Larry! The comment feature works now. I'm sure it wasn't working because I'm using the world's oldest blog template. One of these days I'll update, hmmm?

Yesterday was Bess's Terrible Horrible Very Bad No Good Day. It was a Day of Suckiness of such proportions that nothing else can be as bad – and I shall have only good things for the rest of my life.

Well. Hmmm. It wasn't quite that bad – but it was one of those days where every word spoken, every step taken, every decision made, except to go home after a dr. apt., was blocked, twisted, misunderstood, or otherwise led to a brick corner. I was never so glad to go to bed as I was last night – just to end the day.

Today is better. First off, it's not yesterday. Then, it's Saturday. I am at home. Alone for most of it, since BD is still doing Salvation Army things. The house needs to be cleaned, but it's not a pit. Just ordinarily sloppy looking. I haven't really been home for a weekend in 3 weeks so this is special for me. Like Antaeus, I need to plug back into my home territory or I begin to fray. Perhaps that is part of why I had such a cranky day yesterday.

I plan to scurry about doing Chores and then to indulge myself in Christmas music and Christmas movies and Christmas baking and ... no Christmas knitting – the strangest December I've ever had. Not sure if I like it or not... but I think I do.

I'll be back later today, or else tomorrow, with photographs.

posted by Bess | 7:30 AM


Umm, fresh pecans! Except for the work they're always better than store bought. I've been meaning to make a pecan pie but since I'm afraid I'd eat it all myself I've been delaying. Maybe next week I'll make to take to our knitting group. And I won't be cracking nuts anywhere near the computer.

By Blogger Larry, at 9:28 AM  

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Friday, December 14, 2007  

Yesterday, the world of technology was not my friend. Everything that could go wrong did, so I backed carefully away from the computers in my life and did manual labor instead. Unfortunately, I left my camera cable at work... no photos. I hope today is better. It's starting out so because last night I found out what was screwing up the shift key - making it so that every time you tried to type a capital letter, you jumped down a line.

It will be a long time before BD cracks nuts around the computer again.

Pecans are falling in town these days. For the slightest effort, maybe 20 minutes, you can walk around town and pick up 2 or 3 pounds of them. They're still a wee bit green - I rather like them that way - they're more buttery - but they don't have quite the pecan flavor they'll have after a week or two inside a kitchen.

This December is proving to be very demanding, sucking my time in the oddest ways. Happily, tomorrow I am home and alone - and I am going to watch Christmas movies all by myself. Hope that gets me more in the mood. Or at least, it fulfills this deep urge to loll about. Happy Friday!

posted by Bess | 7:04 AM


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Thursday, December 13, 2007  

Well my dears,
I have deep silenceitis – inflammation of my chatter box – and though life is happening in TheCastle, for some reason I don't seem inclined to write about it. Puzzling, I know, but there it is.

There is knitting going on, though, and some spinning too, and a wee bit of photography, which I will share with you today.


I have electricity! It is destroying all my relationships with electronic gadgets. I lost the photos - because the sample adobe photoshop overrode the freebee Kodak EasyShare software and ripped the photos out of my camera and deleted them at the same time. Ratsratsrats.

Still and all, I do have some lovely little merino/silk yarn I'm knitting into a lacy ribbed sock for myself. I bought this yarn at Holly Springs Homespun in Powhatan, VA last spring when I was up taking care of Dad. I always intended to make socks out of it but just didn't get around to it. I popped it into the project bag when we went out to visit LD and all the way home I experimented with 4-stitch lacy ribs. With no stitch dictionary in the car I had to dig into my own mental database of how stitches and lace are created. I had a wonderful time trying this and that. I'd actually thought I'd settled on a rib and completed the cuff when I decided I hated it and ripped it back to use one of the earlier ribs. It was grand fun to see what happened when you tried different ways of twisting stitches around each other and making up for it with YOs.

And what is this (now lost forever ... but it was) hiding behind the downstairs shower curtain? Oh My! It looks like ... yes! It's a beautiful natural dark chocolate brown fleece, all carded into roving by Zeilinger's, that was the final purchase I made at FFF last October. My friendly UPS man brought it last Thursday. I've only had the opportunity to spin a teetiny sample of it – All my wheels have other things on them and I'm not ready to empty any bobbins yet. But I see that it's going to spin up fast and soft and end up textured. Merino roving, unlike merino top, is sure to be neppy, but I will have fun learning how to manage this fiber.

All the Christmas socks are finished – though I am already thinking of people I would have liked to give hand knit socks to ... that's just a stupid guilt/ego game I play with myself every year. It goes like this:

Gift opening session... and I think “Oh! She would have loved hand knit gifts. And he would! And she would!"


I've gotten better at resisting that stupid urge. Knitted gifts go to those who have asked for them... and that I love enough to say yes to. Saturday, though, I'll do some holiday baking for everyone else on the list.

Hope your days are merry and bright.

posted by Bess | 11:06 AM


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Monday, December 10, 2007  

Hmmm. Don't know why I'm so silent. I have had a little time and I've certainly had some things to blog about. I just haven't felt like pulling the brain together enough to type it out. Must be the holiday season or the Dark-0-the-Moon or who knows.

One of these days I'll be back with photos of my final purchase last October, at the Fall Fiber Festival....and other knitting progress.

Till then – Happy Monday to all.

posted by Bess | 7:28 AM


Sounds wonderful! And think how lovely it'll be in the spring! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 10:35 PM  

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Thursday, December 06, 2007  

Oh dear! I better write about my trip before Christmas completely takes over and I forget I even took it.

In September, LD took a job that will have him moving about the country some – hence all the furniture moving and shifting in our house, as we made room to store some of his bigger items. While it's hard to say goodbye to a loved one, it's tremendous fun to visit him in a new location. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting him when he was in the navy and went places we'd not likely ever have gone otherwise. South west Indiana is another location that would not have ordinarily drawn me west, but coupled with a beloved son, well, it's a no brainer. When I said “we'd sure love to visit you out there” and he said “can you come the weekend after Thanksgiving?” it was an easy answer to say “Yes!”

We have always driven little cars around home but when we travel out of state we nearly always rent a bigger car. BD had to make a quick trip up to NYC and had already reserved a vehicle so he just switched it from a daily rate to a weekly rate and we were all set. It took us a while to actually get out of town on Thursday but by 11 we were on I64, just west of Richmond and I was doing the driving.

Now – I will drive. You can't live in the stix and not drive – but I never like driving. But this summer, with BD's eye problems, I've had to do a lot of driving. I'd girded my loins and calmed my mind to maneuver a strange, and bigger, car on the interstates, but I got lucky. With the exception of Beckly WVA, and that nasty stretch between Lexington and Clifton Forge, where 81 and 64 use the same roadbed, there were maybe 400 cars on the road over 700 miles. 64 west is the nicest drive you could imagine and once out of VA, the speed limit is 70. Nice. We were in Charleston by 5:30 or so and pulled off to spend the night at the first exit.

The traffic had been so light and easy that BD took over the wheel on Friday and took us into KY, but at Olive Hill, the town where Hailes settled with their covered wagons and mule teams some time shortly after the Revolutionary War, we pulled off and BD looked up how many Hailes/Hails/Hales were in the phone book. 16, I think he said. The old high school was now the local historical society's headquarters.

Kentucky is a rolling landscape that reminds me of the central portion of Virginia – only it goes on for more miles. Rolling hills, lush green grass, lots of horses, lots more horses. I64 goes through both Lexington and Louisville – which is the nicest city to drive either through or around. We pulled off the highway there, to have a look at the falls of the Ohio.

This is where Louis & Clark met to begin their explorations west and here is a present day explorer standing with them.

From here on, our trip was strung along the Ohio River, which is dammed and locked to allow for river traffic both ways. Here at Louisville, though, you can still see a little of the falls since there are really two channels in the river. There is also a state park on the Indiana side where they had a diorama with both a mastodon skeleton and a life sized figures representing the different people who had lived at the falls – including the Welsh Prince Cormac who some say found his way down the Ohio in either 600 or 1100 or sometime in between. Right.

Once back on the interstate – and downtown Louisville is the easiest nicest city to travel through – we had only about 160 miles to go. We called LD and he gave us driving instructions to Newburgh – where he actually lives – and we were there before sundown. In fact, we had time to take a bit of a river walk into the sunset.

There were hugs and hugs and hugs, you must know, that whole weekend long but that first one was the best. Saturday morning we went first (after coffee, of course) to see the Alcoa plant where LD is working. Something about big industrial sites really speaks to most guys – even the poets.

Our next stop was Angel Mounds – the Indian mounds outside of Evansville.

This place has been carbon dated to 1100-1400 when Middle Mississippian Peoples occupied this area. They're not the same folk as the nomadic tribes nor are they “woodland” peoples. Who knows, maybe they're the sons of Cormac?. It is a large area where a stockaded town of about 1000 people used to be – perhaps 200 acres? Maybe less. On a blustery weekend in the Christmas season there were few visitors and we thoroughly enjoyed prowling about with the guide sheet, looking for mounds and taking photos.

But oh my we got cold and around 1:30 we went to get Indiana Bar-B-Que – delicious and not so sharp as our own east coast knock-off of North Carolina BBQ. Happily, the rental car had those heated front seats so my tired and cold legs didn't seize up and I could walk about Evansville after lunch. The architecture of this area all dates to around 1840 and it has the robust grandiosity of the 19th century that always makes me feel energetic and proud. I confess. I am a complete sucker for what I call Stone Lace. Elaborate edifices full of scrolls and rosettes and civic pride. The old courthouse stands almost alone now, with only parking lots and a few municipal buildings representing different eras. I'm glad the building looks so good from the outside – but it's a little forlorn too.

There is also a gambling casino in Evansville, but what we were interested in was the river walk and the frilly Victorian houses lining narrow residential streets. LD says their library is superior with very friendly staff. Somehow I missed a photo opportunity there. I did get in some great shots of my favorite guys as they studied the locks and levy system.

Once we were back at LD's apartment, we didn't feel like doing much- not even going out to eat. Instead we ate popcorn and watched college football on TV.

Now – this may not sound like such a much to you – but we don't have television and LD never has had it before either. His apartment came furnished with two televisions and since none of us had watched a football game in what?...?... 5 years? Ha! We got sucked in and watched Pittsburgh defeat WVA, Missouri go down in defeat, and the boys watched the Hawaii game too. I conked out before that, for remember, I was now on Central Time – like daylight savings all over again.

Sunday we toured the Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve – an old growth forest in the heart of Evansville's strip mall shopping district.

I believe that once a forest gets 100 years old you can't really see much evidence of aging. Our own forest is about that old and it's also about that big – but of course, Indiana doesn't have the heavy holly and mountain laurel undergrowth we have here on the east coast. The preserve is laced with wooden paths which proved to be terribly slippery when sprinkled with wet leaves. We had to be very careful as we walked, but happily nobody slipped.

Heavy with 10 o'clock pancakes, we didn't feel much like lunch but we all wanted a good hike around Newburgh.

This is a darling little river town. It's very prosperous looking and there is nothing of a blight to it – all the shops are open and lit and full of goods to buy. It has its own strip mall area too, but of course we were interested in where we could go on foot. The town was hosting it's Christmas House Tour, which tempted me but not my guys – who were much more interested in seeing the Toyota plant up in Princeton. There were only 3 houses but they were all quite prettily done up for the holidays. One, was very colorfully decorated, even without adding Christmas trim. One had the feel of an old homeplace that had housed generations. Along the route, I ran into this guy
and put in a quick Christmas wish for someone I love. It began to rain as I walked to the last house, which was actually a law office, though the owner had turned it back into something of a home, and besides, she had a piano and musician in the front parlor, adding music to the air. Happily, I had seen a forecast and brought an umbrella.

My last stop, one I'd hoped and planned and slightly schemed for, was here.

Yes. Newburgh has a yarn shop. A lovely friendly happy cozy warm yarn shop where I spent almost an hour enjoying a chat with Docia Peveler, the owner and her fellow knitter Debbie. I'd seen a number of hostesses and docents on the house tour in beautiful hand knit shawls and scarves so I wasn't surprised to find the shop so welcoming. Just delighted. There was a wonderful selection of yarns, especially sock yarns – some I hadn't heard of yet! Docia also carries Jamieson's Shetland, some of which had to come home with me, and a Dolce Handknits pattern which also jumped into my bag. There was also a whole room full of books and patterns!! And in honor of the holiday weekend, there were homemade chocolate chip cookies with nuts – and coffee. Sigh. Bliss.

I hated to leave the shop, but I also hated to miss time with LD, so after an hour, at a moment when the rain let up a bit, I stepped out just in time to see them parking the car beside his apartment. Yup. My son lives half a block from a yarn store.

They hadn't been able to get a tour of the car factory but they'd had some quality guy time – something just as important. The rain kept falling, though and we decided to do the football thing again since it is such a rarity for us. We chose different teams and cheered them on, fueled by popcorn and pizza delivery.

But all too soon it was Sunday night and Monday morning and time to pack up and load up and lock up and drive off. We left at 6:30 – a rare time in the morning for BD to be moving at all, but since we were awake, there wasn't any reason to delay. Sharing the drive, we tooled east down the highway, retracing our path through Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and by 5 o'clock we were over the state line and then who would have thought – we were in Charlottesville and really – there's no point in stopping when you're that close to home – so at 9 o'clock we were walking through the front doors of home sweet home.

You can find more photos - including some of the historic houses - here.


It was a grand weekend. Lots of driving for only 2 days but oh so sweet those 2 days were. I fell in love with southern Indiana. I could move there if I ever had to. I thoroughly enjoyed West VA – which is the sort of place I love to visit and love to populate with fictional characters, but which is entirely too mountainous for this flatlander. But east or west, home is best and now I'm back for a while.

No more serious traveling till warm weather gets here again.

posted by Bess | 7:56 AM


Oh my gosh, that yarn is gorgeous! Can't wait to hear about the trip! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 2:57 PM  

Glad you're home safe and sound, and had a wonderful trip. Can't wait to hear all about it!

Love and Mucho Hugs,


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:27 PM  

Aww. I am so glad you had a great trip and huggy visit. I can tell you were positively glowing!!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 5:43 PM  

I wished & wished for a snow day yesterday, too, but it just wasn't in the cards...phooey.

Glad to see your smiling faces in the photos--thanks for sharing!


By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 7:29 PM  

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007  

December is so full of deadline-y MustDo's that I've decided to limit my goals for this month to the physical/health/weight area of my life. That's the toughest part to stick to anyway, so I'll just keep a grip on them and think of all my other activities as ThingsToDo.

We took the rental car back to the Richmond airport yesterday, and stocked up on groceries on the way home. It always takes a while to warm up the house after you've been away, even if it hasn't been that cold, so the stove hummed hot all afternoon. It was also good to cook in my own kitchen after eating out for 6 days.

I'd thought I'd get the trip post written, alas. I didn't. But here is another great photograph from Indiana:

I'm back to work today. boo hoo. Hoped for some slushy snow - but at least it's Wednesday and we all know what Wednesday means.

Some serious fiber thoughts whirled around inside my head yesterday too. There was a Real Knitting Experience in Indiana and it not only got me to spend a wee bit of $ but got me to thinking about a Stash Project. It got me to swatching too!

Yikes! It's after 8!
I'll be back again.

posted by Bess | 7:47 AM


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Tuesday, December 04, 2007  

Sheeeeee's Back!

Well. How's that for meeting my goals? Of course, the only things that required real discipline were the weight and exercise items - and that, only because they need to be addressed daily. Once I'd washed the windows, well, heck - that was just something to cross off the list. Hmmm. No. It also was bright crisp views and sunshine in the house, but the task itself was a one time deal. I didn't finish setting up the guest room but I made some progress and I let the present network administrator at the library have a second chance. And I did have great good fun - especially some fun I am just done with.

Almost out of the blue - almost all of a sudden - I had the opportunity to go here!

And visit someone special!
I'll put up a post about the whole trip later in the week, but the best part was the hugging and the chance to spend time with a favorite person.
And my dear friends - if you have questions, do please ask me via

posted by Bess | 5:57 AM