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


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Friday, October 31, 2008  

Friday Thoughts

Photos will come this weekend I promise. Right now I'm knitting on the button band/bottom edging and the whole sweater is bunched into a giant knitted bag with floppy appendages. The opportunity to knit on this sweater won't really come again till Sunday, though. Tonight is our Friends of the Library Weekend with a Writer and I'm tied up with library dooty till then. Our author is Alan Pell Crawford and his area is historical writing about the generation after the American Revolution. I've been anxious for months about this because his latest book is yet Another Thomas Jefferson book and I am a little sensitive about TJ. He's the deconstructionists favorite target. The popular habit of American academia of proving how really terrible every hero you ever had was, because academics are so smart and can see everyone else's flaws, never impressed me even when I was a sponge-like young student, ready to have my mind elevated and be brought into the circle of wisdom by the ivory tower sages. And so, my own disdain for academics has allowed my prejudices to throw up barriers. I had dreaded having to read Twilight at Monticello – about TJ's declining years.

Yeah. Right. I mean. I Haz Parentz. I knowz de klining.

But I did settle down to my doooty reading and was happily surprised and pleased with this elegant book that really does lay out, for me to think about, the horrible dichotomy that was America's greatest advocate for personal liberty, that slave owning Thomas Jefferson.

No screaming in my ears, no beating me over the head, nor any beating of this long dead thinker's conflicted life, either. Instead, I found a sober reflection, with only a light application of the author's sentiments. This is good. I don't like an author to obscure his opinions but I don't want a harangue either. It was also good that I picked up the book immediately after perusing a tidy history of the Enlightenment. My mind was prepped and I thoroughly enjoyed myself with Crawford's book.

I am not an intellectual. I am way too right brained to loose myself in theory. I'm just a little too psychic to believe we can philosophise ourselves into being more perfect and I totally believe that the sort of social engineering that is birthed by intellectuals (gone amok) is always evil. I don't believe only one sort of person, one sort of thinking, one sort of living is right, while the others are wrong. I know I am not like you. I don't want you to be just like me. I want you to touch what you share in common with me to what I share in common with you. It is not unity I seek, but, as Moses Mendelssohn wrote, connectivity.

Okay. Off the soap box. Besides, I am going to be doing the southern thing today, all hostessing stuff and partying.

But on Sunday I will clean the house. And knit. And post photos here.

posted by Bess | 7:47 AM


photo please!

By Blogger * Cathy *, at 10:14 AM  

I think your sleeve changes will be great. Should make it more tailored and less kimono-like. I must say, adjustments or not, I'm so impressed with how you took such a large bouquet of colors and came up with something so rich and harmonious!

By Blogger cathy, at 11:19 PM  

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008  

More Musings on Sleeves

Here is a revised sketch of how the short rows would change the silhouette of that sweater.

The sleeves would have a slight inward bend at the elbows, much like the sleeves on a tailored suit.

This sweater architecture has you close the sleeves with a single seam along the sleeve top and shoulders instead of a traditioanl under arm seam and separate shoulder seam. This leaves me wondering how I'd taper the sleeves from elbow to wrist. I don't want to seam what's already knit and then knit the elbow to wrist section on a circular needle because this is garter stitch – it's easier to knit flat. But I don't want big open tubes at my wrists either. I am not sure if I ought to make a double decrease at the center of the sleeve or if I can just make decreases at the beginning and end of every so many rows.

I haven't the experience to tell before hand so I'll just have to try both. And I'll try the decreases at the edges first because that's the one I'm uncomfortable about. The double decreases at a center stitch is something I know will work.

It's always a learning experience, hmmm?

I corrected the color issue but I did leave one ridge of the teal blue because I like it and it came at a good place in the sweater. Gonna knit the last ridge in a gold tweed and then start the looooooooooong button band.

Happy Tuesday!

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posted by Bess | 7:21 AM


Hi Bess,

Despite your recent need to modify, this is still going to be a terrific sweater. I must admit I've never done the sort of short-row adjusting you are going to try; I've been very much a 'pattern' knitter, and only now dare to experiment. I admire you!


By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 11:04 AM  

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Monday, October 27, 2008  

Sweater Thoughts

I've had the best time working on this Adult Surprise Sweater. It's knit up quickly even though I'm using worsted weight and size 7 needles. It's felt like bulky yarn on 11's. I'm enamored of the design and am pretty sure I can adapt it as described a week or so ago into a cropped jacket in lofty airy mohair. One of the things I've liked best about this is that I haven't had to rip out any rows. It is, after all, just garter stitch. Even when I've scrambled a double decrease or two, this is the sort of thing you can make up on the next go 'round. The biggest issue has been color choices, since I'm using stash yarn. Theoretically all these yarns should go together since I bought them for myself and I only look good in certain colors and my goodness, I wouldn't have bought an unflattering color. And I haven't. But there are still the issues with color, even in a somewhat random striping of coordinating hues.

Alas – I can't really reproduce the color problem that is going to have me ripping out for the first time. It's too dark and besides, the vivid glow of the red Dale of Norway has yet to show up in a photograph, nor does the muted green that turns this teal into the only blue I can wear – and makes it play nicely with the golds and oranges and greens and rusts of this sweater.

What I can show you is the weight issue – the density of these two heavy colors placed side by side at the bottom of the sweater. Their intensity and placement takes away the golden glow of the whole. I love them woven throughout the body of the sweater but they must be used as accents, not as foundation colors.

So – out they come. Softer golds will go in their place and then I'll be ready to pick up the hem/button band stitches. From one shoulder/front neck corner, down one center front, across the bottom, back up the other center front and around the neck edge to the other shoulder/neck corner. Whew. That's a lot of stitches. I'm going to have to find some more size 7 needles.

Then I'll tackle the sleeve issues. This is a T shaped garment with sleeves that stop at the elbows. Instructions say start knitting garter stitch extensions at the cast on and knit to wrist. I think in garter stitch this will make for clunky sleeves that either pull up at the wrist on the outside or bunch up at the underarms unless you walk around with your arms held straight out in a T. Not my idea of comfort or style.

I'm planning on putting in some short rows right when I pick up stitches and adding a little triangle of fabric from inner elbow to outer elbow on both the front half and the back half of the sleeves.

Two pair ought to do the trick and then I'll knit on down to the wrists. I'm also thinking of decreasing the sleeves as I go to give the sweater more of a jacket sleeve shape. I don't believe I'll do much more than a crocheted edging around each cuff.

Things I wish I'd done right from the start are

A. Weaving in those ends as I added the yarn rather than leaving those floppy tails! I knew how to do that. I just didn't think of it! Duh.

B. Slipping those center stitches on every other plain garter row so that the miter would have been more defined – and easier to see the next time I had to do either a double increase or a double decrease.
Another major DUH. Next time.

La! It's Monday already!

posted by Bess | 7:53 AM


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Saturday, October 25, 2008  

Sock knitting

I'm back from the VLA convention. I didn't take the surprise sweater because it's gotten so bulky. It's definitely not the sort of thing you can work on unobtrusively in the auditorium. Instead I took this sock yarn – It's Fleece Artist and the socks are tiny for my tiny cousin BH. She picked out the yarn and I bought it for her birthday. I'll knit them up for Christmas.

slender socks on 56 stitches.

Stretched out a bit.

This is what Jack thinks about them.

I did little knitting and no other manual labor while I was away but my wrist is giving me the dickens. Hence the ace bandage on it. Today I'm working on the surprise sweater – I've done all the upper half and am just knitting the skirt portion. I'll knit on that for 2 or 3 inches, then do the edge knitting and button band. Then I'm going to knit the sleeve extensions and then the 3 needle bind-off part. So. More than half way done. I have thoughts on how I would do it differently – I'll write about that and have some photos either tomorrow or later in the week.

Instead, I end with these pretty autumn colorways from the back yard.

posted by Bess | 2:42 PM


Love the sweater! I want one, too :-D

Thanks for posting your anniversary story again. I just got to read it, having been on travel last week. Happy anniversary to you and BD!

xxoo Jen

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:40 PM  

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008  

The overwhelm that is October has begun to fray my work life. Although I had rather a long stretch of Days Off this past weekend, (full, delicious, lovewashed days), I'm afraid they came too late or else too early to smooth out my rough edges. On the way to work yesterday – that time in the car when I prepare myself for the World Outside The Castle - I remembered all the important things I'd forgotten. The publicity for the friends program. The VISA bill deadline. The Other Important Paper. And in spite of the list of Things To Do I made once I sat down at my desk, in spite of the actual ticking off of those TTDs. I still realized, on the way home last night, that there were some forgotten tasks which must go on today's list of TTDs.

Ahh well. I knew October was going to be overwhelming. I knew it way last July. I couldn't avoid it or reschedule it or alter it. And I could do as much as I could and no more and if there were things that didn't get done? Eh. So be it. One step in front of the other. That's all I can do.

Sorta like garter stitch, hmmm? Or darning in lots of ends. Yep, D. Lots of ends to darn in. I come from a tailoring background, though. My first love was the sewing needle, not the knitting needle. It's truly an attitude shift, an existential leap to another dimension, but I do not mind darning in ends. I just assume that today, instead of knitting, I'll sit quietly and fondle little bits of my yarn as I snug it home within the sweater, cozy and loved by their sister stitches. I may get tired of knitting a garment, but I never resent darning in ends. That task is just yarn afterglow.

In fact, I enjoy that part so much, I often do it before I'm finished just to play around and feel productive though my project doesn't grow any more inches. But if I were the type to hate darning in ends, I'd just thread those ends in on the next row as I knit with the new color. Weave them in like you can do in stranded colorwork.

Or make the sweater in a monochromatic colorway, because my goodness it is a fun garment to make and a delight to mystify people with it's strange shape and then, like a magician, flip it all into a sweater right before their eyes.

And Yikes! It's 8 o'clock and I haven't even started today's TTD list. Off I go.

posted by Bess | 8:00 AM


That sweater's lookin' gorgeous, gal -- but all those ends!!

Have a great week,


By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 10:43 AM  

Love the sweater, but oh! the ends!

You've almost got me hooked on knitting one, but I shudder to think how of the effect of horizontal stripes on my short and still-broad beam. Still...if long enough, slightly monochromatic and not at all form fitting it could work.

All the lovely Autumn photos and such make me wish we actually had definite seasons!

By Anonymous diann, at 5:01 PM  

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008  

Tuesday is the New Monday

It's been 5 days of celebration and friends and magic shows and glorious fall weather. And Knitting – progress photos below.

BD and I never did get in the car on Thursday – we went out on the river instead and then we went swimming! I've never ever swum in October around here. Partly, autumn schedules suck us into the whirling vortex. And the days suddenly shorten so you leave just as it's getting light and get home as it is getting dark. And frequently it is just too cold. But this still is the south and we've had an unusually warm October. It was in the 80's last week and we were on the sailboat, so it was hot. And the river was cold. But really no colder than Lake Michigan was last month. Besides – it was a macho thing. We just wanted to prove we could do it. So. Now I have been swimming on both my anniversaries – October 15 and April 17.

A friend was visiting Virginia and I had a chance to catch up with her in my favorite tourist town, Colonial Virginia. I had to work on Saturday so I automatically got Friday off. It was a rainy day and a cold front rolled in with the clouds. We had a few precious hours to wander the streets and gawp at the wonderful architecture – after lunch at the Trellis. Which is good, but not as good as it used to be. Skimpy portions now. Tasty. But skimpy.

I was back home in time to go to the retirement party for our county administrator, who is also a neighbor. Our history mystery magic show at the library was a happy success and we had beloved guests up for a visit on Saturday evening. There was just enough time to do a fake houseclean – you know, vacuum the floor, wipe down the kitchen counters and light candles. I did a more thorough clean on Sunday since we had a friend coming to spend the night – but there were still cobwebs in the windows. Sigh. No matter how hard I try I will never get the whole house clean. Only 85%. Happily, she isn't the critical sort and besides, she really came to talk about boats with BD.

I took of Monday so we could visit a little longer and though I'd planned to go in to work the second half of the day somehow my feet never did walk near the car so I just couldn't get there. Instead, I worked on the ASJ; a little more knitting and a little weaving in of ends, because there are a gazillion ends to weave in on a sweater made up of stash yarn.

And so it is Tuesday and there's no escaping the call of dooty. It's a short week because I go back to Williamsburg on Thursday for our state library convention. Next week is our Weekend with a Writer fall event and the week after that is Stitches. And then I go to NC for another library thing. Lawsee. It is going to be a long time before there is an ordinary week at the library with just checking in books and stuff. Whew!

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posted by Bess | 6:43 AM


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Saturday, October 18, 2008  

Gifts boxes bearing yarn

That is what yesterday brought. I received not one, but two gifts of yarn. One is stash yarn from D who thought she had “a few” skeins of orphan yarn that might go with my Surprise Jacket.

I might say “Quite a few” skeins, wouldn't you? And most of them knit into this color scheme beautifully. Even with this indoor early morning light you can see how well they'll fit in. And my goodness – there is enough yarn here to make another ASJ!

Wouldn't you know it – today I have to work, so it will be a while before I can dive into this luscious pile. I have a knitting friend visiting tomorrow, though, when I will be able to indulge. And I don't really mind going to work today because, not only did I take off Thursday for my Hey Baby Anniversary but I took Friday off too – an unexpected holiday too good to pass up. Since I go to my library conference this coming week I really need today to pack in as much productive work as possible so that I will get where I want to be, work-wise, by the holiday season. Besides, we have a puppeteering magician storyteller coming this afternoon. It'll feel more like a half day than a whole day.

The second gift was a glorious skein of this!

Red like the black gum leaves in autumn – Black Pearl Yarns cashmere. This colorway is called Red Dragon which is fitting since I was born under the sign of the Dragon. This is going to be fingerless mitts – Maine Morning Mitts from K-Boy.

We have guests coming for dinner tonight too – and if I'm going to have any food in the house I better go make up a grocery list – so Ta to you and Savor your Saturday.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


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Friday, October 17, 2008  


Well, she does realize it though she tries not to think about it. She wants to keep on knitting on the Adult Surprise Jacket. That's what everyone on Ravelry is calling it so I guess I can too. ASJ is better than ASS, hmmm?

I finally hit the end of the increases on mine and did another gauge check, since this is where you put 3 inches worth of stitches onto holders. Yikes! I thought I'd be getting 5 stitches to the inch and I'm getting much more like 4.25. That means I will have a bigger sweater than I intended. Fortunately it's intended to be a throw-over-everything cardigan, not a fitted shapely thing. I don't know how I got such a different gauge since I did a fairly good sized swatch - but I've been exceedingly relaxed knitting this and of course, it's made up of 10 or more different yarns.

Here's a schematic of what I've done (in black) and what is left to do (in red). Not bad for a garter stitch project. I'm so pleased with how its turned out and how much fun it was to knit I might just knit another right away. I'm intrigued with how the mitered shaping ends just about at the waistline - but of course it's such a boxy shape it would be very loose about the body at the bottom. But I think you could make a really cute bomber jaket shape by putting a deep ribbed hem and cuffs and a collar on.

It all depends on how the shoulders look on me. If it's not too hulking - well - I have just the yarn to try this out on.

Ah there - the day is pushing me into action. Happy Friday to you all. We had the most splendiferous anniversary yesterday. Can't wait till next year.

posted by Bess | 6:11 AM


What a lovely story! And just who was sharp enough to get that photo?!

Happy Meeting Anniversary!

By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 9:41 AM  

Wow - it is a lovely story. You are a lucky pair of folks. Happy Anniversary.

By Blogger Cat =^,^=, at 10:24 AM  

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Thursday, October 16, 2008  

It's a Hey Baby Anniversary

Here is the post I wrote about October 16 some years ago that explains why this day is so important to me. I never work on 10/16 and I never cook either. Today, BD and I are going on another ramble – this time to Fluvana County to see some Monacan Towns that John Smith mapped. And today I will wish my sister Happy Birthday. And today you can read about long ago days if you missed this post the first time around.

Da Capo

Long long ago there was a cheeky teenager, just past her 19th birthday, who was studying music at a big city university. One Friday, as she walked into the orchestra room, the flute player spun around in his chair, looked her straight in the face and asked her if she wanted to drive to North Carolina with him the next day.

“Sure” she said, desperate for anything to do on a weekend, when most of her friends split for home, leaving her to rattle all alone in a monolithical dormitory. Besides, he was one of the really good looking guys she and Robyn had decided were “cute enough to take us out”. And he had such a voice - deep sonorous basso profundo with the most delicious country southern drawl - not hick, in fact, very cultured, but oh so Southern. And startlingly blue eyes. Blue like autumn skies. And he was big - not fat or anything - just big with a big aura, a big presence. Nothing hesitant or shy or effacing. This was a man, not a boy, and he was inviting her to spend all day with him.

“Right.” he said. "Meet me at my house tomorrow at 10 a.m." and he gave directions to a row house in the Fan district, a few blocks from school.

Poor thing. Little did he know that he’d just arranged a date with his exact opposite in the GreatClockUniverse. She was no ditherer. No lingerer. No procrastinating late comer. She was an EarlyBird - always 15 minutes before hand, sometimes more. For this important assignation she was a full 30 minutes early, knocking on the dark and silent door of his first floor apartment.

“Stood up!” she thought. “Impossible” Nobody stood up this girl, no siree. And she stomped the four blocks back to school, snatched her fiddle out of her locker, slammed the practice room door shut and began to saw away, muttering imprecations, curses, indignant affronted descriptions of what is expected in this world, and other dark and damning words. But ...

She was also innately fair and as she scraped away at Kreutzer, she had to admit that the man had said come at 10. Perhaps he was out filling up the gas tank. Or perhaps he was renting a trailer. After all, the purpose of the trip was to retrieve his piano, waiting for him in his old place in Chapel Hill, NC. And so, at 10 o’clock for sure, she rounded the corner of Lombardy and Floyd and there he was, waving an arm, smiling happily and calling out “Hey Baby!”

She crossed the street and he invited her into his apartment. He offered her a beer, and though she hated the stuff - still does, in fact - she was also aware of what is cool and for a still-teenage girl at college, drinking beer at 10 a.m. was truly cool, so she said yes. He was back in a flash with a mason jar full of the most delicate, most mellow drink she’d ever tasted. His own home brew. There were gallons of it in his little bachelor kitchen. Now, be it gallons or pints, this stuff was potent and it was only moments before she was definitely in the mood to be entertained. And entertained she was, with music, books, ideas, and talk talk talk, tumbling out of this delightful man with his shelves full of books, boxes full of sheet music, head full of poetry in three different languages and kitchen full of nectar. Best of all, he was happy. Neither cynical, sarcastic nor jealous of another’s musical ability or progress, he was ready to share, to learn, to listen and to admire. In the highly competitive world of performing, here was someone with a blend of such innocence and courage there was nothing to do but laugh with pure pleasure and maybe fall in love a bit.

After a while the two of them tooled off in search of a U-haul place. Across the Lee Bridge at an Esso Station on Cowardan Ave., where Caravatti’s Junk Yard used to be, he stopped and went in to arrange a rental. Minutes passed and when he returned he stoood right in front of the car and grinned at her through the windshield; one of those beaming, sunshiny “Ain’t this Grand?” grins. And as she stared up at him, suddenly he turned into an old man, still standing there, still grinning. She blinked; gawped; stared again. She looked down at her own hands and they had turned into an old lady's hands, the skin papery and spotted with large brown freckles, sunk down between the tendons. They were her grandmother’s hands. And she thought “My god. I’m going to be riding around in a car with this man when I’m an old lady.”

For some reason he had decided to rent the trailer in NC. Probably the Richmond outfit didn’t have what he was looking for. They motored on down I95, past the tobacco plant and warehouse district of south Richmond, past Petersburg, through Emporia. They talked the whole time, chattering, discovering, opening, sharing. At one point he said “well, there’s a lot you don’t know about me” and she thought “oh boy, there’s a lot you don’t know either”. And at that, there were some surprising points of contact. He had graduated from the same high school her dad had gone to. She had played a concert in Chapel Hill that he had gone to hear. He had taken lessons in Winston Salem while she had been a student at the School of the Arts. At Herndon, NC they stopped for lunch at a Kentucky Fried Chicken place. She had never been to one. In fact, fast food then consisted almost entirely of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes and fries. Fried chicken was a real treat and, of course, to a 19-year old, it didn’t threaten the diet doom it was to present later on.

The October skies had been gray all day but they grew heavier and more threatening as evening approached. Rain began to fall. At a Carolina gas station he picked up a small box trailer and two ice cream sandwiches. “How did you know ice cream is my all time favorite treat?” she cried and to his question of “Then don’t I deserve a reward” she answered with a resounding kiss. Of course, this was in the days when, first off, girls worried about being thought forward or even worse; fast! It was also at a time when she was very wary of anything that would cause boys to sidle away from a touchy feely woman. Of course, this was no boy. 28, he’d told her. But when it’s the right guy, with the right gift, only a kiss will do.

It was harder to be chatty on the long dark wet drive home. Especially when the passenger was one of those superior morning persons. For an SMP, darkness means it’s time to close one’s eyes. She still didn’t realize she was dealing with one of those stubborn night owls. SNO’s think SMP’s are silly, especially the types who creep out of cozy warm beds before the sun is actually above the roof tops of the houses across the street. All those delightful discoveries were waiting up ahead for them. On that day, in the hypnotic glare of headlights on raindrops, she grew pretty drowsy. “I like to drive. Go to sleep” he told her and eventually she did.

It was too late to get back into the dorm when they reached Richmond. She’d known it would be and had signed out for the weekend. He gallantly put her up for the night. She was there the next day when other friends came around to help shove the piano down the narrow hallway and into the apartment. It was well into the afternoon before she made her way back to her place, to pace the dormitory halls till her girlfriend should show up and she could tell her the exciting news about the upcoming nuptials.

There have been many more rambles, in half a dozen different cars, since that October 16, thirty three years ago. In 1991 the two of them took the trip to North Carolina all over again, even to starting at 1617 Floyd and to looking for some sort of U-haul place on the south side. They found the KFC in Herndon had moved a block but it was still serving up the original 11 herbs and spices recipe. They even went off on a ramble today, the two of them, getting older, but not yet quite as old as the geezers in her vision.

But that is the story of my anniversary. We also celebrate a lovely wedding anniversary in April. It’s important, but not more important than October 16, when my favorite cute couple started out on life’s journey. Sometimes it’s hard to believe I even had a life before that day, although I can tell stories from that Mesozoic Era. It’s as if 10/16 were my real birthday; the day I began living my grown up life. BD, who had a head start on me, says he feels the same way.

There are a lot of stories in my bag of tales, but this one is my favorite.

posted by Bess | 7:23 AM


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Tuesday, October 14, 2008  

A Boat Trip, Some Flowers and Some Knitting

Oh thank you for the kind comments. It's fun to get all nostalgic about TGB (times gone by) and living down here in this small community it's something I get to do often. Sigh. We're still thinking about all the things we liked about that wedding.

This whole weekend has been a gentle holiday. I could have gotten a lot more chores done but I didn't push myself. The place is sort of clean and certainly all the laundry is washed and dried – if not folded and put away. But large chunks of this weekend have been spent out of doors. I am not the boater in this family. In fact, I proudly proclaim that I am a boat bimbo and don't ask me to touch anything on your boat unless it's the picnic lunch, which I will gladly prepare and hand out and even clean up afterwards. I'm not even all that anxious to go out on a boat unless it's taking me to the swimming beach. But sometimes I'll get a hankering to go someplace you can only reach by boat and then I'll make BD the happiest man in the world by saying “Let's go for a boat ride.”

I don't do it too often because once I do he thinks I've had a Road to Damascus Conversion and am now going to be first mate and swabbie too on daily voyages. It always takes a bit of time for the gleam of hope to dim, but I had a Monday holiday this past weekend and it's autumn and I haven't been up Mt. Landing Creek in years – maybe decades. So I asked him to launch the power boat and take me up the creek.

which was full of geese who did not like being disturbed.

There are a lot more photos on the Flickr badge in the sidebar. If you click on it anywhere it automatically takes you to the website where you can see all the pictures – and heck, pretty much anything else I've loaded on Flickr as well.

I took lots of dog photos on the boat too – a digital camera with a 2 gig card, set to small, will hold more shots than you could ever dream of taking and 3 dogs, in your face, are pretty irresistible.


Letting sleeping dogs lie.

Jack and Priss don't have any opinions.

And while I'm showing off photos – these tee tiny roses deserve their moment of fame. They're from the wedding bouquet of the great grandmother of last Saturday's groom. I was surprised they weren't in the wedding display since I got my slip from my good friend P, wife of loving brother and aunt of the groom. I'd have cut some and taken them as a gift if I'd known. I'll have to ask P if she still has the bush that offered my slip. They're deliciously fragrant and are no more than an inch across at full bloom.

I had hoped to have finished with the diagonal increases on my surprise sweater by the end of the weekend but alas, I have still 10 more rows to knit – and increasing 4 stitches every other row I figured there are 2,512 stitches to knit before I can begin decreasing again. Happily I've “seen the architecture” of the whole sweater at last. I knew if I just started knitting it would click into place and my goodness – it is the cleverest piece of knitting construction. Here are some progress shots:

Don't know why this last one is sideways and don't have time to figure it out. It's off to work for me. Ta.

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posted by Bess | 7:39 AM


My goodness, what a beautiful post! An evocative piece of writing, that called up forgotten moods and memories. Lovely.

By Blogger cathy, at 11:51 AM  

Sigh. I think I'll make some tea and go to bed early, and take the beautiful images you drew with words with me, like a lovely bedtime story.
Damn, woman, you really need to write a book about this stuff.

By Blogger Catherine, at 7:52 PM  

Your word pictures are just fabulous! What a wonderful and romantic wedding it must have been.

By Anonymous diann, at 8:48 PM  

What a beautiful description of a wedding and a community. I loved reading it :)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:01 AM  

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Sunday, October 12, 2008  

A Country Wedding

(No photos, lots of words)

Yesterday was one of those perfect blue sky days that are warm enough to remind you of summer but cool enough to make you comfortable in your clothes. Exactly what you would hope for if you were a bride planing to be married at an outdoor ceremony on a beautiful day – or the parents who were throwing a big wedding outdoors for their children . And that's just what happened. The last of the four 2008 weddings of the children of friends of ours was held yesterday and it was the most fun wedding of them all. I don't have photos because these are friends, not family and I knew if I took pictures I'd have to post them here – and the whole privacy thing sort of blossomed in my imagination. But I will try to paint a word picture of it nonetheless.

The groom's family are old friends and very distant cousins who live up-the-county-back-off-the-river. Their big farm is higher up than we are down here on the river flats and you can really feel the height when you're visiting. The land is rolling, with little folds and tucks and copses. It looks like artists' landscape and I've always been a wee bit jealous of the folk who live back from the river. Of course, I have the water and that's quite a compensation, but I'm a piedmont girl and miss those slopes and rises that you never get down where the water nudges up to the shore.

The farm is shared between what has to be the most loving brother and a sister who ever lived and both families have homes on the place. The brother's wife is my good friend but the sister is also a friend, and was LD's sophomore English teacher and is now on my library board. It's a small community. We all overlap. I could get all southern and tell you how their grandmother grew up across from my mother-in-law and babysat her as a wee one and how Ed's grandfather bought our flats farm as a dowry for his little baby daughter, from their great-grandfather but you know, this is getting altogether too twisty. Just suffice it to say it was a community wedding.

I had long ago sent in my RSVP but I hadn't really looked closely at the invitation till yesterday morning, when I noticed the line at the bottom. Attire: Casual, comfortable shoes.

Now, what, I ask you, is wedding casual? I mean, I know that one doesn't wear heels to an outdoor wedding. At least, not stilettos. But wedding casual? Does that mean no sparkles (rats – I had sparkles) or does it mean church dress or khakis and polo shirts or jeans and a t-shirt? Well. In spite of BD's capering about with glee at not having to wear a tie, I was not wearing jeans to a wedding. Fortunately, there are advantages to being a woman and of a certain age. I wore silky black pants and a favorite autumn colored jacket but no hat and ended up on the up-side of average in the dress scale. The important family women were in dresses but not fancy dresses and half the guests were in jeans. A few men had on the ubiquitous blue blazer but only the eldest had on ties. My guess is that a whole lotta ties got ripped off and tossed on the back seet of cars while irritated husbands hissed "I told you I didn't have to wear one of these things."

The bride did wear a dress but it was obviously rayon/lycra tricot knit, very flowy and looking like it was as comfortable as a favorite nightgown – no stiff boned straplessness for her and it suited her perfectly. It even had long sleeves and the prettiest lace yoke with a high lace neckband. Her attendants were in the familiar strapless dresses that all the young girls are wearing these days – very plain, very pretty, with teetery heels. The groomsmen though – they were adorable in prep-school uniforms of blue blazers, white shirts, ties and jeans with flip-flops.

Hosting something way out in the country like this has implications for traveling guests. Friends' homes are pressed into service as emergency lodgings. Pallets get thrown on the floor. Tents can sometimes be an option as was the case here. The younger out-of-town guests were camping just over a little hill, which partly explains the casual attire directive, and I heard both houses were full and every hotel room in town had been booked. There had been a Saturday morning duck shoot on the pond earlier and a football game in the afternoon.

The setting was all green curves rimmed with forests. The decorations were roadside flowers and pumpkins carved into darling jack-0-lanterns with hearts and initials. There were luminarias outlining paths and tea-lights woven through the pretty gardens that were still throwing off roses and dahlias in deep burgundy or pink hues. The ceremony was performed by the groom's father, the local commonwealth's attorney, while it was still light enough and warm enough to keep chill-bumps at bay. There was an assortment of music. Cousins of both bride and groom sang songs and played guitars for all the ceremonial music. I forget which songs but they sounded something like country-western stuff and there was a sing-a-long of How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) – a song everyone there thought was a James Taylor piece. Imagine being so silly. Most of them were old enough to know that's a Marvin Gaye song! It's also a very noodley melody and almost impossible for anyone to sing – but the guests did their best, sounding mostly Episcopalian.

There was an open bar but I do the night driving these days and I'm a notoriously cheap drunk so I stuck with diet coke. The photo session lasted a reasonable time – no Britany Spears photo shoot for this gang – and there were tiny hot crab cakes for the hungry. The food was country casual, barbecued pork and chicken with potatoes and green beans – hearty fare for a group that had been partying hard for 3 days. As the sun set it lit up the sky with streaky clouds backed by a fiery orange. It lingered a long time in the turquoise zone before giving way to a starry night, just as a fabulous Motown sound band started playing.

The bride and groom then gave the most adorable funky dance performance to a tune I know but now forget. I never laughed so hard at a wedding before. They were good dancers and cute to boot and half way through they ran out and grabbed parents, brothers, grandparents and aunts and began doing one of those chain thingeys. It really was an example of exuberant love to that soul sound beat. Even BD, who doesn't dance, took me out on the floor, managing to dodge the dogs who had been a part of the whole event and were determined to dance at the young master's wedding too.

This was a good mixture of friends of the couple and friends of the parents. Half the folk were my neighbors, my cousins, my dentist – who was there with a drop-dead-gorgeous beau who looked like Richard Chamberlain with dimples. The other half were as good as. There was a chance to catch up with friends, to celebrate the young ones, to realize that we are the oldsters and some of us are moving into geezerdom. An awful lot of health chatter slipped into conversations, and the fact that it didn't ruin the talk is proof of the passage of time. It only reminded us that we have been partying here many years. In fact, I remember playing my violin at a wedding right on the same spot some 25 or 30 years ago. Sigh.

But that is our job here on earth, if we are lucky. To live out all those roles, from carry-me-baby to ancient aunt teetering down the aisle on the arms of two great-nephews.

After about an hour or so of dining and dancing the bride and groom cut the home-made cake – baked by mother of the bride and chock full of almonds with a chocolate base. Not bakery wedding cake but kitchen cake, with that delicious feeling of love that no bakery could ever put into its concoctions, no matter how good it is. It was dark by then and chilly and even my red mohair stole couldn't keep me warm. We found a family member and hugged him goodbye and slowly drove on home. The clear night was the perfect backdrop for an almost full moon and we drove quietly, remembering another time we'd come back from visiting this family. It was deep winter, with snow all around and a full moon. We had an ancient car and somewhere around Lloyds the headlights went out. Lord knows what the problem was, but we just let the moon guide us home, driving around 15 miles an hour and crossing our fingers all the way. We still drive old cars, though not such rickety ones and while we didn't lug the engine, we kept it under 30 and talked softly about times gone by. The drive took us past our grandma's and the groom's great-grandma's childhood homes. We brought up some of the old stories; the gossipy ones that come down through the generations and the ones we experienced ourselves. Deer stared at us from the side of the road, but we were driving so slowly they weren't spooked and merely stepped back into the forest. Owls hoo-hooted to us along the way. The gravel of our own driveway crunched softly beneath slow moving tires as we pulled up in front of home. Way out in the country. Up the county. Down on the flats.

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posted by Bess | 9:40 AM


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Saturday, October 11, 2008  

A Night at the Movies

(Lots of links)

We have been watching Alberto Sordi movies, courtesy of Netflix. I'm not a big fan of European movies. Most of them are depressing and too slow. They are called MOVE-EEES because you are supposed to MOVE in them. I do not like sitting for long lugubrious minutes, staring at a huge face that takes up a whole screen while some homely actor tries to tell me what he is feeling by twitching an upper lip. One ought to call them Stillies. And while I can understand that a whole continent that tried to commit suicide twice in the same century would tend to be a little dark, that does not make it either sophisticated nor artistic. In fact, I have instructed BD to lock me in a closet if I ever say the words French and film in the same sentence again! I feel much the same way about German Art films (The tin drum) and don't get me started about Bergman. Just shoot me. And so. And so I tend to be a grumpy European film watcher.

This is not true about Chinese films, which I tend to love. Oh, not those Flying Dragon Slashing Ninja movies that are so popular, but the ones that take you out to a yurt in the barren wastelands where nomadic camel herders brave the winter snow. (Weeping Camel) ((actually a German doccumentary, and not in China, but truly worth watching)) Or the tender love story between a peasant girl and her school teacher husband, (The Road Home) all told in subtitles. I have never minded subtitles and do not like dubbed movies anyway – I like to hear the actors' voices. And these movies are not chirpy happy Hollywood light-motifs either. They might be filled with the poignancy of human nature up against human construct. But their pacing is appropriate for 2 hours of entertainment. They get you from point A to point B and they never make you sit for 10 minutes examining the pores on the nose of a homely man with a greasy wig on. (Tout les matans du monde)

I suppose I really oughtn't to say I don't like French films or European films. What I don't like are bad films – and what I do like are good ones. I really bring the same deeply personal judgment I use to evaluate novels to my movie viewing experience. I'm a little easier on movies because they take less time and manage to grasp my attention through the music of voice a little more swiftly .. and hold it a little longer. But if the pace is wrong I am enough of a musician to reject a movie much in the same way I reject the modern recordings of baroque and classical symphonies performed at break-neck speed just because, I suppose, the musicians can. If they're in that big a hurry to get through a piece, really, they ought not bother to play it at all!

So – enough grousing about other cultures. Especially because I really can't claim any expertise – only experience. I loved Babbette's feast which has a dark, bleak, windswept setting, a slow pace, and unfamiliar actors in it - and is totally delightful. And I simply adore Alberto Sordi. We have watched 4 movies by him – one I didn't care for and slept through, but that was a movie about looser men and quite frankly, I am not interested in that topic. Two nights with Cleopatra was silly beyond belief – like something out of a Jack Benny comedy with Sophia Loren playing both Cleopatra and a slave girl with Sordi as the nightly guard who is supposed to be put to death in the morning. It's worth watching for the 1960 Italian version of ancient Egyptian clothes alone! But The white sheik and Mafioso – oh my. Stunning portrayals of human nature, human folly, even human tragedy, but skillfully wrapped in enough light or tender or funny layers to give them depth and truth. The White Sheik is a comedy with a happy ending, so silly, yet so true. It also stars an amazing actress in the female lead, Brunella Bovo. She completely convinces me that she's a star struck innocent caught up in something she can't comprehend. It is Frederico Felinni's first film. Mafioso is a tragedy with so many cute light touches, and the most poignantly sad ending it is still resonating with me weeks after watching it.

So – the purpose of this meandering post – as close as I've come to a rant in a long time – is to tell you that if you haven't seen Alberto Sordi and you have a netflix account, treat yourself to a wonderful cinematic experience.

posted by Bess | 9:35 AM


You have a long weekend this w'kend too, Bess? Here in Canada, we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving. My DD is coming for ham on Sunday. She has potatoes from a friend's garden; I have carrots and beets from my sister's, and apple pie from the apples in the Tree-I-Owned-in-Calgary. So. There will be bounty for just the two of us, and a toast of thanks for our many blessings, including my online buddies...


By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 9:17 AM  

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Friday, October 10, 2008  

It's Friday!

For some reason this seems more wonderful than usual. Perhaps because I have been able to sink into long detailed tasks all week and Get Them Done! Yippee. And though I have only 3 days next week to do at least as much as I did this week, I feel confident that I shall, nonetheless, accomplish everything on the TTD list. In fact – it is getting to the point where I feel confident enough to actually write down that list – though not here and not now – I see there are only 3 more minutes to breakfast.

This weekend, this sweet three day weekend, hosts the last of the 2008 weddings. We have been to 4 since June. This one is local, the son of friends, a lovely boy I haven't seen since he was in high school, though his brother lives next door. There is a dress upstairs for TheQueen, but the suit for ThePrince is at the cleaners – I must not forget that.

The weather dot com guys promise a warm and sunny day and we shall toast the happy couple and wish them every good thing. And then there'll be 2 days to find warm clothes in the attic and stash summer wardrobes in their place. Or maybe we can put it off another few weeks and do something more fun. Who knows? Two whole days can hold a lot of happy surprises.

Wishing some for you.

posted by Bess | 8:03 AM


If it's as dark in the early a.m. where you are as it is here, Dear Bess, I'm with Jack! On the couch till the sun's up!


By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 9:20 AM  

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Thursday, October 09, 2008  

What the Bird Family has to say.

But they should be more charitable. I really am working away on the Adult Surprise Jacket. Endless rows of garter stitch seldom show much progress. At least, not daily progress. I have 32 more rows to get back to the original cast on stitch count. At that point one is finished with the shoulder and upper sleeve part. Then there are some decreases that get you down to about 200 stitches – but many many more rows.

Whenever I can I like to take a morning walk with my dogs. In the fall I'm greeted by my favorite autumn flower – the knotweed.
This particular patch is new, it traveled up from what we call the big bend. I love this flower because it is so simple, and yet, when it's massed together with all its companions, it creates this lush carpet of deep pink.

Here is the dogs' swimming hole. Doesn't it look as if faeries might play here?
Hmmm. There's a little time now – maybe I can get in a short walk with the pups. Do you think I can get Jack off the couch?

posted by Bess | 7:00 AM


You were there Sunday? I was keeping an eye out, but didn't spot you. Oh well, I look forward to seeing that great hat, anyway!

By Blogger cathy, at 1:32 AM  

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Monday, October 06, 2008  

For everybody - from MsHoroscope:
The Moon moves into the sign of hard work and industry today - Capricorn. Hopefully you managed to suck up some of the good vibes on the weekend and gave yourself a proper work. Because the skies today really do suggest it's time to get back to the grindstone - even though it's a public holiday in Australia.
If you've got the day off, it's a good time to strategise ahead. But be aware; the next planetary alignments head suggest it'll be easy to burst a boiler with over effort! Also be careful not to say too much, if you get involved in either an argument or a secret-trading situation.
And for my Virgo Sisters:
The skies remain on your side today and over the next few days. Your ruler Mercury is going to make a link to excessive Jupiter which for anyone else could be a bit of a problem. for you, though, of course, this is a bit of a Godsend. It means you're just a tad less likely to undersell yourself as you do so well. In addition, rich and loving Venus is headed for a link to Saturn in your sign. Together these two suggest you're more aware of how great you are lately and others are too. Hallelujah.

So this must mean that, though it is Monday and I have to buckle down to business (everyday this month I have to do this!), if I just keep both my ears and mouth shut I can stay on task with the ThingsToDo list and avoid the mess that is OtherPeople'sIssues. I certainly have enough work to keep a whole flock of Capricorns busy this month and I did manage to suck up a bit of a break yesterday at the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival. It was a very different sort of festival for me since Spirit Trail wasn't a vendor there this year and the only work I had was an hour of storytelling on Sunday – and honestly, storytelling is pure pleasure – one of those delicious treats that brings in a little cash and a whole sack full of delight. I had a nice audience – 20 little children and assorted parents who were all complimentary and kind and told me good things to hear.

It's a funny thing about storytelling. So many adults think it's just for children, and certainly I enjoy sharing stories with kids. Perhaps I just have a juvenile fixation with folk stories and fairy tales, but I still find them interesting – and not just because they are familiar. They all hold kernels of the Great Human Truth in them and there are so many ways of interpreting them. Rumplestiltskin and all the other versions of the straw into gold story deal, in a few short paragraphs, with greed, faithfulness, courage, and repetitive stress injuries. All as contemporary as the last news broadcast you watched.

Anyway, along with the pleasure I get from the starry eyed little ones in my audience is the very great satisfaction I get when a parent comes up afterwards and says “you made this relevant to me. I never thought about it that way.”

I didn't take a single photo at the festival nor did I find anyone I felt confident enough to ask to take my photo while I was storytelling. I did come away with the realization that I need some publicity stuff - a poster on an easel, photograph of self, business cards. I actually knew that already but I just hadn't gotten around to it. Developing a private side-line business right now seems like the proverbial straw upon this camel's back. Still and all – a few photos and an hour or two spent with photoshop won't do me in.

The competition tent was an inspiration. I was thrilled to see so many spinning entries and delighted that M took second place with her handspun 2-ply in a glorious turquoise green. (or green turquoise?) There was a red lace shawl that didn't get a ribbon and I can't for the life of me figure out why. Surely there was at least one more ribbon lying about that could have been pinned to it. And there was a fair isle sweater that was so familiar I might almost guess it was an Alice Starmore – but it certainly was gorgeous. The yarns used were as sumptuous as the all over design. It did get a ribbon and well it deserved it, for not only was the knitting superb, but the finishing as well.

(Added later - it was an Alice Starmore sweater - M has a photo of it on her blog. )

I did spend a little cash yesterday. I was only slightly tempted by anything, except those few times when the brain went into overdrive, urging me to purchase a sweater's worth of some glorious handpainted yarn in an unusual combination of strong peaches, greens and golds. Under $100 you know, and wouldn't it be stunning? Only – Only I already have many sweater's worth of yarn, all of which I would like to knit up. I am not a very prolific knitter. I suspect I am too busy making stories out of all my plans to actually put them into motion.

Purchases amounted to 2 lbs of naturally colored mohair roving from Cecil's Folie, half a pound of silky grey and a pound and a half of not quite so sleek light brown. Mr. Cecil has had a display of his beautiful angora goats for years now, but this year he had a booth where you could buy. Alas, serious ill health has him selling off most of his herd. My dear friend R was there with me yesterday and she has been flirting with starting her own herd. I left her waiting to catch up with her husband so they could go talk goats with Mr. Cecil.

My other great indulgence was an enormous white sheepskin hat – very similar to the one Geraldine Chaplain was wearing in Dr. Zhivago, early in the movie, when she got off the train – only hers was pink.
My own photo will come later. When it's colder. The nice thing is that it's loose enough to not give one hat-hair. The ... other thing is that it's very flamboyant. I don't know how often I'll have the moxie to wear it.

I left the festival early so I could stop at a large shopping mall on the way home to buy a wedding gift. Since I don't know the couple's taste, they are children of friends, I wanted. at the least, to give them something they could exchange if they wished. But I had had time to see everything. It was a beautiful day and though the crowd was small, it wasn't minuscule and folk had a happy look to them. Truth to tell, I spent about as much as I did last year. There were several new vendors and several gaps in my list of familiar favorites.

And now it is Monday and almost 7 o'clock. There is time to knit a few rows on the Surprise Sweater. May your day be full of blue skies and snug stitches.

posted by Bess | 6:56 AM


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Thursday, October 02, 2008  

Who isn't happy it's October? Every post I've read out in blogland has had some sort of glad reference to the change in the seasons. No matter how wonderful the summer was, people seem to need this roll into brighter days and crisper nights. It's too soon to start a fire yet, but it is getting close to the time when a sweater will feel good – maybe even this morning when I take the dogs for a walk.

Thanks for the kind comments about the wedding pictures . I still have to upload the actual ceremony photos but they are big and I don't want to suck up too much of my October bandwidth so early in the month. I'm still learning how to use the camera and I wanted to be sure the best photos could be printed – so I used all 12 mega pixels Canon sold me for some of them.

Speaking of photos – there is progress on the Adult Surprise Sweater – minimal progress – I ended up doing a lot more driving and navigating on this recent trip than I had anticipated. And garter stitch is so stultifyingly boring. It is beautiful and I love it when it is done, but I can't really say I enjoy garter stitch. Probably proof I'm not a “real” knitter. Sort of like – you can't be really hungry if you aren't willing to eat brussel sprouts.

With all these colors, even out doors, no matter what setting I had the camera locked into, I couldn't get all of them true to life, but this is close.
How the folds work.
Colors up close
More colors up close

I have such a crazy October schedule this year I have decided to give the Creativity Jar a rest. What with Christmas socks to knit and a strong desire to finish up this ASS – oh la! I had no idea this project would provide that for an acronym – best change that to ... hmmm, what, AtSeSr? AdSuSw? Nope. Best call just it the surprise sweater. Anyway – I reeeeeeeeealy want to finish that before I go to Stitches in November. And there is that box of Fimo and Sculpy singing colorful songs to me. I think I have enough distractions already. So – no creativity jar directives till November – when, as everyone knows, we all have lots of time to be creative, right?

Happy Thursday to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:24 AM