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


Hello Dear Bess,

Just a quick note to let you know that I was thinking of you today. I missed my traditional Thanksgiving with you and your BD. I'm sending you all the love and hugs possible.

Patti :)

By Blogger Patti, at 1:31 AM  

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Thursday, November 27, 2008  

Happy Thanksgiving to you from me

way down south, where there are still a few blooms left in the garden

and from deep in the countryside, where the view to the west offers up such grand sunsets.

posted by Bess | 7:19 AM


Ummm...pre-Thanksgiving questions, Dear Bess:

1. What's combination stitch?
2. Why's it called Black Friday? (We don't have it here. Up here, Boxing Day -- which used to be a day to take gifts to the poor -- is now Shop-till-you-drop Day here. Sigh.)


By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 8:57 AM  

Combination knitting means you tension the yarn with your left hand, like continental knitting, and when you knit the knit stitches everything is familiar, but when you purl, you catch the yarn from the top and sort of scoop it through the loop on the left hand needle. It's easier to pick up the yarn that way, and it also helps prevent guttering, but it lines the stitch up backwards - as in the little sketch below. If you don't purl or knit into the "back" of the stitch on the next time round, you'll twist the stitch. Much like when you've ripped out a lot of stitches and then put the loose ones back on the needle, you sometimes have a stitch lined up backwards. Your choice on how you realign the stitch, but I usually just "knit into the back".

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving, in the US. It's the traditional start of the holiday shopping season and it's the day that's supposed to put retail merchants "in the black" by the end of the year.

By Blogger Bess, at 9:05 AM  

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008  

Let the Holiday Season begin!

Thank you C and M, for the compliments. I can't wait to cast on another one of these fun hat projects. Now ... how did I keep those holes at bay? Seems to me the yarn had a little stiffness to it. It's a generic wool, not a soft merino or slippery alpaca. So the extra twist of the purl 2 together made the yarn tuck beneath the 3 purl stitches to the right. Also, I had that first of the P2tog stitches, which is a purl stitch, lined up backwards, with the right side of the stitch behind the needle instead of in front. (I use combination stitch and it always lines up purls that way... just need to keep that in mind when I'm knitting.)

The advantage of that line-up is that that stitch, which lies on top of the stitch to its left, will then lie flat and untwisted when I complete the stitch. P2tog really does look neater if you've got your stitch lined up “backwards”.

The holidays started for me last night. Due to travel and illness and holidays and business, we haven't had a knitters gathering all November. We tried to set it up for last night and I stayed late at work in case any knitters showed up. Ooops. The meeting room was already booked. But only one girlfriend came, so we took over the nice chairs in the reading area of the library and knit and talked and dumped my Surprise Sweater bag on the floor and tidied up all those little bits and pieces of yarn. And talked some more. It was delicious to visit with C who has been a special friend for 25 years.

And today I am off. Yes. It's bizarre but the library is closed Wed-Fri. of Thanksgiving week. That is – the county gives us these days off and though that seems excessively indulgent, I have never quite been able to make myself work those days and if I'm not willing to do it, I'm not asking staff to.

But it always niggles at me and driving in to work yesterday I hit on the perfect solution! I will work those days, the W and F of next year. It won't be too busy since most people will be shopping on Friday and school closes early on Wednesday. I won't need to make staff come in though they can if they want to. But I will take those two days at Christmas time. Yes! The perfect solution. I'd far rather have Christmas off than T'giving, though I admit, there's a sweetness to knowing I have the day before guests come to clean house. But I never shop on Black Friday and I can visit my parents on Saturday just as easily as on Friday (what I traditionally do on BF). I only wish I'd thought of this earlier, before we posted our closing hours. Because with 2 extra days off this year I could have the entire Christmas week off. Well. The days will be all the sweeter for saving till next year.

So. I'm off to town (what?!?) - but for a hair cut and a manicure and last minute shopping. I'll be home by 1:30 and ready to tackle the button band of that surprise sweater. I still hope to meet my November goal of finishing that thing. Maybe. Maybe pictures by Sunday. Of course, May Bees don't fly in November. But maybe sweaters get done.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

posted by Bess | 8:01 AM


What a warm-colored cozy-looking hat. Nice to see your creativity "swirling." :)

By Blogger cathy, at 7:03 PM  

Happy almost your Thanksgiving, Dear Bess! What a cute hat -- and Christmas Set. I admire your firm, neat snail swirl. I tried one of those in a Schoolhouse Press KAL some months ago, and couldn't escape holes on the increase/decrease. I'd try again if you have some tips for success...

Hugs and Best Wishes!

By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 10:37 AM  

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Monday, November 24, 2008  

Nostalgia and knitting

You have been through something crazy and chaotic. This week, you are starting to come out the other side.

Well, ain't that the truth, Mr. Horoscope?

I spent the weekend being weepily nostalgic. I am sure some of that is because I'm still not fully recovered from the crud. I haven't had a lot of energy and the holidays are fast upon us! And LD , who will be working in a foreign state on Thanksgiving Day, took some personal leave time to visit us and pick up his bird dog from bird dog college. He left mid-day on Saturday so that's another reason to get all soppy.

Normally, I love looking back at the past – it's a rich source of love, strength and confidence for me. I'm not sentimental, though from all the clutter I cling to, “just in case” or “because it was William's” you'd think I was. A large part of that is just laziness. It is a maxim one can bank on, that clutter will expand to fill your storage space.

But as I move forward in time, the things that are gone for good are even more precious to me in my memory and I've noticed the past few years, especially since my parents moved into assisted living, that when I pluk up those snapshots in my memory I ache a little bit even as I feel the cozy.

It is holiday memories that have been pricking my tear ducts this weekend. Do you realize there are less than 6 weeks left in 2008?!? Of course you did. And you already have your holiday organized and laid out in neat steps that lead you to a glittering New Year's celebration with the person of your dreams waltzing you beneath the holiday ball at the big party, or bringing you champagne on the white fur rug as you lean back against the pillows and gaze satisfyingly into the crackling fire. Right?

And I am trying to figure out if I can get the windows washed before Christmas or if it will be too cold to stand outdoors scrubbing the fortyzillion little panes of glass in my down stairs windows. The weather dot com guys are calling for snow next Monday. Snow! In December! In Virginia!!

Well. This certainly isn't the post I thought I'd be making today. Funny what the fingers do when you sit down at a keyboard.

What I intended to do was show Proof of Creativity. Here is what I've been working on.

I've been in love with Elizabeth Zimmermann's nail hat ever since I saw it in one of her videos. I knew it was the hat for me and since the CJ told me to knit a hat this week, and since I have a plethora of stash yarn now, and particularly since I adore the colors in this yarn, I cast on.

I had to fiddle with the proportions, and it's really too small for me. (my head is 22 inches!!) But I can knit another version of this hat for me and add more stitches in the knit part. EZ rewrote the pattern to have only 3 segments, to work better with the particular yarn she liked to use, but I believe I prefer the 5 segment hat.

I became enamored of this spiraling shape, though, as I knit this hat. I kept thinking of ways it could be used in other garments. What about a sweater body? Well – only for a child, but it would be fun to make a sort of Michelin Tire Man sweater for a 4 year old using this shaping. Or what about puffed sleeves? What about some sort of holiday yarn with glitter or beads? Some Tilly Tomas yarn? What about a Renasance sleeve, straight from wrist to above the elbow and then all swirly puffy above?

Things to think about.

What I did decide was to make a Christmas gift out of this hat by adding a pair of Maine Morning Mitts from the KnittyBOY book by Clara Parkes. There was just a wee bit of the orange yarn left. Perfect to trim out a pair of rustic mitts and coordinate them to the hat. The first mitt knit up in about 2 hours so I ought to finish the second one by tomorrow when I can show the set off at Tuesday Night knitters.

Here's a picture of the top swirl of the hat. Isn't it cute?

So. Happy Monday before Thanksgiving. May all your memories be sweet and my you have Friday to knit.

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posted by Bess | 7:07 AM


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Thursday, November 20, 2008  

This week the creativity jar tells me to make a hat. I'm so glad since that's just want I want to do. At least, I want to escape having to make a leap into the button band of my surprise sweater. The all important color choice is waiting to cook a little longer in the oven of my brain. I am counting on hearing a little ding on Sunday morning that will advise me to pick it back up and knit away. There is still a November goal of completion in the side bar. I'd be tickled pink to make that goal. Then I can sink into December/Christmas knitting with a clear creativity center and come January 1 I'll be free to cast on anything I want!
I'm getting better and crossing fingers the heart patient doesn't come down with this crud. This is no time for him to be coughing his lungs out. Working in my office, I've given instructions to field all calls with the information that I have laryngitis. Since this is the truth, it's easy to ask my staff to do this for me. Catching up on the serious stuff at last.

posted by Bess | 5:54 PM


I'm so glady you're feeling better...I've given my germs to Bob! He hasn't thanked me,yet! Jane

By Blogger jane, at 7:12 AM  

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008  

Modern meds, ancient treatments, bit of knitting talk

Thank heaven for modern medicine! I am truly a different person from the woman of Monday, weeping about the rocks in her throat and coughing till she had to go change her pants. But thank heaven also, for ancient treatments as well, for the nightly hours, even supported by modern chemistry, had been chimed by my hacking lungs. And then I remembered visiting Stratford Hall one year and listening to a docent comment on how short colonial beds were.

“It's not that the people were so short, but that so many of them suffered from lung complaints. They slept propped up on pillows in a half sitting position in order to breathe at night.”

And so did I, last night, the whole night through! Imagine, the current fad of mountains of pillows heaped on luxury beds isn't a style thing, but a harkening back to the days of consumption. I wonder if Bed Bath and Beyond knows this?

And so, fortified with 8 hours of Z's I shall take myself in to the office after 2 weeks away, with only slight reluctance. I admit I could grow very used to these sweet days at home, especially as I feel so much better. But there are some rather exciting things I'd like to set in motion before my lavish Thanksgiving holiday rolls around. I get 5 days off and in spite of the twinge of guilt I feel about being closed on Friday, I am not going to open up anyway. If anybody has a book emergency, she better go shopping instead.

There was time yesterday to get serious about the Adult Surprise Sweater. It's at that dreadful stage in every sweater I make, when I know each step needed to finish it. That, alone, is often enough to give it the kiss of death, for this completion phobic ENFP. In addition, there is the ubiquitous worry: What if it doesn't fit? accompanied by its sister angst, What if it fits but looks like crap on me? With the last of the gorgon fears “What if it looks like crap and it doesn't fit? Peeping over their shoulders.

I know the only solution to this is to knit doggedly ahead. There are a few other issues too. First is one which I do not intend to address.

Yes. It's a flaw. It is just going to have to be there. It doesn't point at anything awful, like a nipple or a belly. It's just a blip. It may pull the button band askew and if, at completion time, I reeeeeeally hate it, I'll just wear the sweater open. I live in the south anyway. I've never even bothered to put buttons on my KipFee.
This, though, is ... or should I say “was”... unacceptable. Loose sloppy button holes. Nasty. They are already history.
But while I had reached this point in the sweater I put all those many stitches, down the front, along the bottom and back up the other front, on a loooong piece of yarn and stitched the sleeve/shoulder seam loosely together and tried on the sweater. Gorgon Fear #1 is groundless. It fits. Gorgon Fear #2 is still out there lurking. This is a very boxy square sweater. It is attractive on boxy square bodies. It is okay on round bodies. I saw lots of them at Stitches 2 weeks ago. But it will never be chic on them. I knew this when I began. I also knew that there are ways to wear boxy even if you are more rolly polly shaped.
Fortunately, I dress in business casual. Most of my trousers have pockets.
Another confirmed decision is the absolute necessity for those elbow short row triangles. I still haven't decided if I want to close up the sleeve/shoulder seams and then add the sleeve extensioins or if I want to knit the extensions and then close up the shoulders. It's the second decision lying up ahead because first I have to re-do the button band.
Happily, after trying the sweater on I see I can knit the neckband and button band all at the same time. This is how EZ instructs you in her pattern, but I was doubtful about the width of the neck opening. This is such an untraditional shape for a sweater that you can't eyeball some things the way you can with the more common bottom-up or top-down sweaters. That's part of the delight of learning to knit this shape. You just add to your database of knitting knowledge. My neckline seemed a bit narrow to me and I feared filling in too much of it with a band the same size as the button band. Happily, this won't happen and knitting them at the same time is a splendid bit of knitting efficency.
The next issue is color choices for these last rows of knitting. You'd think a random lot of stash colors would be easy to knit up, but I have fiddled and worried and bitten my lip about it all the way. It's stripes. The colors all go together. But there are combinations and then there are color marriages made in heaven. Who wouldn't strive for heavenly colors, hmmm? And there is the issue of .... is there enough yarn left? But these are niggly little non-issues. I'm just dithering because closure is up ahead and I hate closure.
And there is other yarn whispering little sweetnesses to me. And I watched Lucy Neatby's 2 DVD's about intarsia knitting and I am tempted. Especially when she says right up front “This is a challenge project. You should knit on it in the early evening. Knit a row or two and then go on to other knitting.”
Don't you just love a person who encourages you to have multiple projects?
So. Happy knitting to you all. On your many projects.

posted by Bess | 7:11 AM


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Tuesday, November 18, 2008  

Bronchitis - antibiotics
Severe allergies - predinozone

that's where I am. Home. medicated. ready to knit.

posted by Bess | 9:36 AM


Oh, my goodness. I blink for just a couple of days... I'm so glad your BD is doing OK. Take care of yourselves!

By Blogger cathy, at 1:21 AM  

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Monday, November 17, 2008  

Good News and Bad

Well, the good news is that BD is home and doing fine. He is to take it easy, not lift anything over 10 lbs (ha!) and go back in 2 weeks. If I weren't so durn sick I would be dancing a jig. This is so different from last time when he put off talking to a dr. till the real thing happened. I'm so proud of my spot-changing leopard, my new-trick-learning pup. Remember, this is the man who said that it was bad to go to doctors because they always made you sick – you went in without a disease but came out with one! ?!?!?

Thank you all for your prayers, good wishes, white light and juju.

The bad news is that whatever I brought home from my travels has decided to move in for the winter. After 5 nights of waking up every hour or so to cough my lungs inside out, I will go to the doctor today. Even if it was a virus or an allergy when it started out, it's transmuted into the snothead from hell. But hey. I went years without using sick leave. I maxed out so long ago I don't even count it up at the end of the year. We're at a wonderful point of pause at work, though my poor staff is way overworked. I'll make it up to them when I am back on my feet. But till I can make it through an hour without sounding like a 19th century consumptive, I'm staying home.

In the mean time I was unable to resist the siren song of New Yarn. Last night I plucked a skein of Stitches Stash yarn and cast on a sleeve.

This is the yarn I call the Happy Sweater Yarn. It's label recommends using 5-7 needles to get 4.25 stitches to the inch, but that ends up looking like this – tight and unyielding.

On #10's it knits up at 3 stitches to the inch and creates a much more supple fabric.

I do like the seed stitch cuff knit with the #7 needle, but I'll rip back the part to get rid of that ugly lump where I added twin increases. I have the idea that I'll make the increases not on either side of one center stitch, but maybe a band of 3 center stitches.

(note ugly bump on left where increases were made)

Of course, I am not a slip of a young thing who can be swathed in great blobs of color nor do I live in the frozen north, so the cute pullover with turtleneck I envisioned when I picked up the bag of yarn is never going to happen. But a cardigan – a big, loose, flop-on, snuggle-into, cozy hug of a cardigan, maybe with big buttons made of polymer clay??? Yes. I think that will work.

So. Happy knitting to you all and may you avoid colds, viruses and allergies.

p.s. hmmm. thinking about all this bulky yarn makes me wonder how many yards I'd have if I unspun it, drafted it out a little more and then spun it into a more worsted weight yarn. hmmmm. not with this happy color stuff, but hmmmm. ideas......

posted by Bess | 7:29 AM


I'm sending the strongest love and healing light I have to both of you, dear Bess!

By Blogger Jane, at 8:47 AM  

Oh, he and you are both in my thoughts and prayers. I remember my dad going through heart issues a couple years ago at this time. Scary.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 10:29 AM  

Y'all are both in my prayers. May you be restored, healed and strengthened. Take care and enjoy all that lovely rain and the new beautiful yarn.

By Anonymous diann, at 11:04 AM  

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Saturday, November 15, 2008  

Only love can mend it again

In the scant moments I had to be on-line yesterday morning, I checked my horoscope, which warned me to be prepared to change my weekend plans at a moment's notice. And then the stars proceeded to give me notice.

I came home from my travels with some sort of upper respiratory ailment. Not sure if it is viral, a cold or allergies I'm not sure how to treat it either. I've been left tired, with a slight fever and a truly horrible cough. The house hasn't been cleaned in weeks since the past 2 weekends have required my presence elsewhere and cleaning house during the week is just not going to happen. Laundry is piled to the sky and it's rained for days and will continue to do so till tomorrow. Although my darling BD emptied the kitchen trash last weekend, he neglected to empty any of the others, which are now impudently rejecting any additional content by spilling it onto the floor. Emptying trash in the country is a big deal. You have to take it out yourself – not just to the curb, but to the Waste Management Center and you must remember that it is only open M,W,F, and S and not after 5:30, which pinches when you work till 6 most days of the week.

Sounds like really good reasons to complain, hmmm? Or at least to hole up in bed with hot lemon flavored drinks and trashy novels. But this is not to be. BD has also been suffering lately with angina attacks. He had a heart attack 3 years ago and after surgery and a few weeks of rest, was pretty much back on his feet again that summer. But 2 months ago I noticed him changing his behavior – resting after the sort of exertion that never bothered him before – and quizzed him about it. At the time he brushed my concerns aside. Evidently the attacks began coming more frequently though, and the recent loss of his brother to a massive heart attack prompted him, 10 days ago, to make an appointment with his cardiologist. The level of his concern is illustrated by the fact that he didn't tell me till I got back from NC.
I am not offended by his reticence. I understand it, actually. And he told me in time for me to take the day off and go with him to the city hospital yesterday for a stress test. Good thing too. He went straight from the stress test, via convoluted hallways and elevators, to the operating room, where good doctors put a stent in the blockage that was causing the trouble. Sober tsking faces warned of some Other Issues that he Better Take Action Upon This Time and advised me that they would sick Dr. A-K on him.

Dr. A-K is a story unto herself. She is the woman who ruins it all for the rest of us. Drop Dead Gorgeous, a passel of kids, and the best durn endocrinologist in the city. I hope I am there when she rakes him over the coals, because she had her hands on him 3 years ago and he resisted her advice. Bet he won't this time.

But in spite of the slight wicked glee at the thought of my precious darling husband being scolded by someone with more data in her base than I have; and in spite of whatever changes in schedule the coming weeks hold, I'm actually very proud of him for acting on these warning signals in time to prevent another heart attack. We sure don't need to loose 2 Haile men in the same month. He's on the mend. He'll likely be home today.

Knitting content? Knitting? Oh yeah. There's a flash badge of photos in the sidebar. The Stitches haul was massive. It's mostly all chunky, but it's also mostly all soft merino and alpaca with just a little bling in the form of ribbon and silk. Final calculations – 122 skeins of yarn at $1.51 a piece.

posted by Bess | 6:05 AM


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Thursday, November 13, 2008  

Stolen from Fillyjonk's Progress it expresses exactly who I am today. Stash enhancement photos and updates on Life 0 Queen soon.

posted by Bess | 7:49 AM


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Begun yesterday, but edited and posted on Friday.
I'm back from the whirlwind spate of traveling with a foreign cold picked up in some exotic place like North Carolina. It was worth it though. The Grandover Golf Resort is the only hotel I've ever felt homesick for. Whew. Not only was my room enormous - as big as my living room, with a jacuzzi bath (that I used bubble bath in - not knowing that that is a no-no) and a TV as big as my car windshield - it was plush. The sheets were high thread cotton with no clorine smell. The bathroom floors were marble. The lighting was bright, with every lamp having 3 settings. The toiletries in the bathroom were the first I've brought home since I was a little girl and the carpet was the only hotel floor I've ever walked on barefoot. (childhood trauma story there).

Library board president after a hard day of being fed.

I picked up my stash enhancements, purchased in Baltimore last week. B had left them in my office at work and even though I really was too sick to go in, I'm also short staffed this week (only other full time person is on vacation). I slipped into town for 2 hours, till the afternoon shift showed up and hey, look what's here! Whole lotta yarn!

Got some serious stuff to do today, though. Taking BD in to the cardiologist for a stress test. At the hopsital where they can pop him into the OR if they think they need to. I won't be scared, but I will be glad that he at least had the courage to act on this, especially in light of his brother's massive and fatal heart attack 2 weeks ago. Sigh. This old-guy stuff ain't no fun. At least, this part of it ain't.

So, how about something that is?

Woo woo! Thank you C of the Bossy Little Dog.

The rules are to

1. Post the award on my blog

2. Link to the person who gave me the award

3. Nominate at least 4 others

4. Leave a comment on their blogs so they can pass it on.

Popping off the top of my head and not repeating already nominated blogs are:

Fillyjonk's Progress This is one of my favorites because E, the author, is not only prolific, but full of whimsey. She writes wonderful essays about her world which is rich with so much more than knitting.

Knitting Sister J is the most prolific knitter I know. She whips out sweaters, shawls, mittens, christmas stockings, baby things so fast you'd think she was a retail knitter. And she's a loyal friend who'll hang out in a hospital parking lot till you finally answer your durn cell phone, then take you to lunch. I mean - it doesn't get much better than that. She's been a little quiet lately but just checking her Finished Objects link will inspire you.

Yarn's the Word Imagine pet llamas all your own - miniature llamas! C is a born fiberista. She's only been at this fiber play for a couple of years but already she has a spinning wheel, a loom, a fiber farm, a studio and blue ribbons from MS&W!! Pure Inspiration - and kind hearted too.

Knits with Cats Here's another speedy knitter who spins too! Beautiful things stream from D's fingers and she makes lists! I love lists. And she knits with cats.

There are other wonderful blogs but it's 7 o'clock. Got to get ready to visit the doctor.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


$1 a skein? I didn't see any sales as good as that! Can't wait to hear how you managed it. (And it was _so nice_ to meet you in person!)

By Blogger cathy, at 6:42 PM  

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Sunday, November 09, 2008  

I'm back, briefly, from a whirlwind of knitting, classes, family and eating. The folk at Stitches were wonderful and let me switch from the all day Saturday lace class to the Friday afternoon lace class and refunded me the $ for the lost class. Happily the Friday lace class was the part I wanted most - lace edgings and how to attach them.

I also hit pay dirt with the shopping experience - in a way I have never ever done before. Tell ya all about it when I'm back from N.C., with stash enhancement photos, but the yarn I purchased averaged out to $1 a skein.

I kid you not.

The memorial for Brother was different. It came across more like some gigantic party, a kind of flight from mourning, which is not my way, so I don't really feel like he's really gone. That, I suspect, will come next summer, when he should come for a visit but doesn't. Truly this is not a criticism, though it is a judgement on my part - but it is only of the "assessing" sort. I believe strongly that, like all things spiritual, they are individual paths and it is the widdow and the children who must design the ceremonies they need to find comfort.

My guys are in the living room right now, talking in low soft masculine voices. I am so blessed. I've just enough time, now to unpack a suitcase, pack a suitcase and head off to a work conference down in NC. Be back in a few days.

posted by Bess | 9:36 AM


Safe travels, Dear Bess. Looking forward to hearing all about it when you return.


By Anonymous Marg in Mirror, at 8:06 AM  

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Thursday, November 06, 2008  

I'm off today to spend quality time with my dear friend B and the gaggle of knitters gathering in Baltimore. We had such a good time last year that we booked our hotel room as we were checking out of the Days Inn. I was particularly excited to take a lace class - they've been the hot classes for several years and are now taking a back seat to sock structure. But there was still an all day Russian lace class taught by Galina Khmeleva on Saturday. I registered early for it and I've been looking forward to it all summer. It turns out I shan't be able to stay for it, since that's the day of our brother's memorial service. Happily, I see there is an opening for her lace edging class on Friday afternoon and I'm hoping the stitches folk will let me take that class instead.

But even if they don't, well, there. I expect to have a sweet time no matter what. I have a wee bit of cash I've saved from storytelling gigs and birthdays. The only thing I'm really interested in buying is some brown yarn from Webs. I may succumb to the book tables because I really do want Nicky Epstein's Knitting On Top Of The World - but I know I can buy that with my staff discount and shouldn't pay full price for it. but I might not be able to resist. One never knows.

Anyway - if you see This Person

knitting on This Sock

Please introduce yourself!

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posted by Bess | 6:36 AM


Yes, a tree I know far too well, from years ago on a Plant Ecology field trip - we were running down a hillside at the end of the day after looking at a hilltop prairie, it was getting dark, the professor was urging us on to get back to the vans, I started to slide, and grabbed the first convenient woody plant. (It was dark enough that I didn't see the spines, but I sure felt them.)

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 6:37 AM  

Beautiful berries! Hard to believe they'd come from the Devil's anything. Unless you happen to pass too close to their thorns in the summer, I suppose...

By Blogger Clara, at 8:34 PM  

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008  

Magenta Stars

That's what it should be called. Instead it's called Devil's Walkingstick or Aralia Spinosa. Most of the time we knock them down when they're young and still soft enough to touch - for as they mature the thick stiff stems grow thorns that will rip your flesh if you happen to brush by one while stepping into the forest.
But in early autumn they develop the prettiest heads of creamy blossoms, followed in full autumn by these glorious deep purple berries and magenta stars. So I let some mature just for the beauty they add to November.

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posted by Bess | 5:42 AM


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Tuesday, November 04, 2008  

What's blooming in the garden still!!

Bouncing Bet a.k.a. Saponaria officinalis

Thank you friends, who have been sending kind and encouraging words. They have been of deep comfort. I keep thinking I'll write something wonderful about Brother and then just sort of drift away, not really believing he isn't just across the Potomac from us. There will be a memorial service soon and not only are all the siblings and their children coming, but I believe a goodly numbeof second, third, and fourth cousins will be there too. Both of my boys are flying in this weekend.


Both my boys?? you ask.

Yes. There is a mostly-absent, but much loved, SS who lives far off in west coast land. He didn't grow up with us and tended to drift towards grandma's house when he visited, so somehow he isn't a part of the masonry or even the tapestry of TheCastle. He was a splendid big brother, though, to LD and none of the grownups involved ever interfered with that. LD spent long weekends at SS's home and once he was old enough to stay up all night with the big boys he was at grandmas almost as much as the rest of the boy cousins. TheCastle ended up being where all the girl cousins stayed - so much that BD started calling it Bess' Girls Camp. R, the bride, spent durn near all her summers at TheCastle from age 10 on. All this swapping of children seemed so loving and tender and natural that nobody could be jealous about who stayed where. All us grownups raised all them chill'un.

Anyway – it is how things turned out and they are both flying in on Friday. I'll be riding down from Baltimore with a nephew and his family, with my Stitches booty safely in his trunk. I'll be missing my lace class on Saturday but there will be other opportunities to take a lace class. What will be sweet is the time spent with my friend B, whose busy life has veered off in a different direction from my recent busy life. We're going to visit, knit, shop and dine together for 2 nights and 2 days. A sweet reward after all the work we've done the past few weeks.

As for my ASJ (I keep vacillating between calling it a sweater and a jacket – I just balk at the acronym ASS. ), I haven't knit a lot on it. I spent Sunday pondering the button placement and now I'm worried it will be too short – even for a woman who likes short jacket sweaters. It will be easy to rip out the button band right now – even though I woke in the night having dreamed the complete mathematical placement of each of those buttons. I'll think a little more today and knit on BH's Christmas socks instead. Still – I do have a photo of it in its present state – along with Mother Nature's inspiration for My Favorite Colorway.

posted by Bess | 7:48 AM


I'm so sorry to both of you for your loss. Trite words, maybe, but written with much depth of feeling.

By Blogger KathyR, at 4:57 PM  

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Sunday, November 02, 2008  

Farewell Brother

Last night we had a cozy intimate dinner in town with the guest author for the library's Weekend with a Writer. We left just a tad early because BD wanted to get a new ax handle. We were out all night so didn't get the message we would have gotten had we left when we'd planned. His older brother -only 68 - died of a massive heart attack while bicycling around the neighborhood.

We are very floaty right now, all full of soft memories and talking about Brother and family and times gone by. BD was on the phone for hours last night, reaching out, touching, remembering.
Brother was the father of the bride at the September wedding we attended in Michigan. It was such a fun gathering of family – an opportunity to connect with some family we were not as close with as we'd have liked – to remember some old stories with family who share our long history together – to meet new family we can grow to love. I'm so glad the last time spent with Brother was so sweet and loving and fun.

If our time together had to be brief – I am glad it was sweet.

I could write a lot about other things, since this is a turning point weekend, but somehow, the inspiration just isn't there. What I do have is a series of photos I took on the way to work last week.
What's this?
What you lookin' at?
Not sure I like this
Let's get outta here!

posted by Bess | 7:37 AM