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


Ah yes! Fridays off! Well, I shouldn't complain...I don't always work full days anyway. Today it was 9 a.m. to 1 p.m....then help prep for a wedding reception. Yep, a wedding at 7 p.m. tonight at our church, and a finger food reception afterward in the hall. Happy Leap Year!

Now, for Little Joy is much neglected too. Part of the problem is a comfortable chair. What do you use?


By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 6:22 PM  

You acquired some pretty fiber yesterday! And how timely -- I was just thinking about Jennifer and Spirit Trail and the silk sliver I bought from her at KRR '06, and which spindle I might try spinning it on....

Hope your workday Saturday is short and sweet!

By Blogger Mary, at 9:08 AM  

Wow, those colors will be gorgeous together!

By Blogger cathy, at 12:01 PM  

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Friday, February 29, 2008  

I have this sweet stolen day at home all to myself. It's not really stolen, of course, I have to work tomorrow. But it feels that way because I have the house to myself today and I have been doing Fun Things. This is my second day out of the office this week, for I had to visit a library in Rappahannock County yesterday – a treat for me because this flatlander had the chance to come up over a little rise in the highway and look what I found!

Yes. Mountains. I had intended to do something of a photo essay about the day but I really was there for work and never got around to taking a picture of the charming little library or it's million dollar vista. What I did, instead, was swing by Sperryville at lunchtime and visit with J and her Spirit Trail Fibers – in her magic wood sprite house, where, again I never did get around to even asking if I could take pictures. Instead I had a look at her new colorways, her new yarns, and her fabulous fibers.

While I was there the UPS man drove up and he had MoreFibers back from the processors – and J gave me a handful of each. I knew then exactly which slip of paper I wanted to pull out of the Creativity Jar last night.
Shucks. I really need to do a better job photographying these things. It says "Empty a bobbin and fill it full of a New Fiber."

Yep. And so I have unwound the bobbin of sock yarn I was spinning.

Pulled out the fabulous fibers – CVM/Cotswold cross

and this marvelous merino I got last fall at the Montpelier Fiber Festival.

And I am spinning. I haven't spun on HeyBaby in months and months and she is suffering from the neglect – and dry heat of winter – she's mighty loose. My technique is suffering as well.
I'm doing a fast fake long draw and I plan to spin everything up as quickly as I can. I want to do some stranded colorwork with these three yarns. Perhaps, at last, I shall have a pair of fingerless mitts for myself.

Oh for every Friday off – oh my wouldn't that just be splendid?

posted by Bess | 4:32 PM


After seeing the final installment of Pride & Prejudice on PBS Sunday night, the same thought occurred, regarding a girl's virtue, and how Mr. Darcy saved the entire Bennett family's place in society by forcing Wickham to marry the youngest daughter. It does seem a bit quaint today, but I do recall that at our illustrious alma mater as recent as the early 1980's, when a girl found herself pregnant, it certainly affected her status and that of her siblings that followed behind her at the school....

By Blogger Mary, at 12:12 PM  

It was so fun to see you yesterday!

Hugs, Jen

By Blogger Jennifer, at 1:40 PM  

I only own 3 movies. Gandhi, Lawrence of Arabia and Dr Z. I have reread only a few books. Most of them are Thomas Hardy, the rest are Jane Austen.

I had one of those hats. I chewed on the fur balls at the ends of the strings when I got nervous.

By Blogger Alice, at 10:58 AM  

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008  

The past 2 evenings we have been watching the beautiful movie Dr. Zhivago and it has had my mind wandering off in a couple of different directions, pondering some questions. Like – is there a movie now that could have such a sweeping impact on fashion? That film ushered in so many styles – long belted coats, big fur hats, knee high boots. The military look gets dragged out periodically, but I suspect DrZ made it more popular in the second half of the 1960's than any year since world war II.
I also remember the spread Vogue magazine did on Geraldine Chaplin in her gigantic fur hat. I remember getting my own version of a white fur hood when I was 15 – some time after the movie had been out – and feeling very Tonya-esque. Two years alter I got one of those long grey sweeping winter coats that just added to the look and feel of turn of the century grandeur and elegance threatened by military overthrow. Of course, I could never be that tall or have quite such a tiny nose. But I could pretend I was and did and in fact, we are only ever – or always ever – as elegant as we believe we are. Not everyone needs feedback in the form of a Vogue fashion spread. Some of us can feed ourselves.

The original
The knockoff

I also remember the impact on my own (very loose) political philosophy as my loathing of Tom Courtenay's character Pasha grew throughout the film. The social engineers of this world, those who say there is no private life when the revolution comes, are the worst of all the political murderers and offenders. No art, no truth no goal they strive for, ever justifies the mountains of corpses upon which they build their shabby fragile edifices. Give me a Tamerlane or a Genghis Khan any day, if I am to have my skull added to the pile. That is an honest massacre. The Pablo Nerudas who wax poetic about TheRevolution merely add the insult of hypocrisy to their blood lust and leave me cold.

The other question that has threaded its way through conversation in TheCastle the past 2 days is the profound change in our mores, after centuries of worshiping the innocent virgin, in a few short decades. Where, in our western world today, would a woman who was seduced at 17 by an older man, find her life ruined, her future blighted, her reputation condemning her wherever she went?

When I saw that film as a teenager, I knew immediately that Evil Rod Steiger had destroyed innocent Julie Christie. I didn't need any words to tell me the story of her victimhood and my heart grieved for her tragedy. Watching it today – it's hard to imagine anywhere outside countries ruled by the Shariah where this would matter at all. As someone who lived during the Clinton/Lewinski debacle, this premise is oddly naive today.

And the vulgarity of the 90's White House aside, I am glad of that. The personal tragedy of a girl seduced is one thing, but for it to be a societal tragedy too seems such an enormous waste of talent, value and love. Of course, that old thematic trap of trusting the guy who says “I forgive you. I won't hold it against you” has been plumbed deeply by better authors than Pasternak – anybody who has the slightest understanding of human nature would be screaming to Lara “Don't believe him!” much the same way one would at poor Tess of the D'Ubervilles. I remember thinking, at 15, that any man who was not my husband, who had the arrogance to tell me that he forgave me for anything I'd done before I'd given him the full commitment could just keep on movin' on down the highway.

Anyway, that is where my head has been these past few days. Pondering society and drama and art. My needles have been knitting little bits of this and that. My camera will be taking photos some other time.

posted by Bess | 9:58 AM


Love the Canterbury Bells blossom. What are you planning to do with the flowers when your little friend moves on to another hat? A cluster of them might be really pretty decorating a grown-up-sized hat. :)

By Blogger cathy, at 9:28 PM  

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Monday, February 25, 2008  

I've moved the link to MrJamestown on National Geographic over to the sidebar.

La – I hate to see the weekends come to an end. They are just too sweet, too cozy, and too much fun. This was an all knitting weekend – I didn't do much of anything else I had to do and I had a different knitting project for every room in the house – excepting the kitchen. There were teal blue sleeves – there is only binding off to do on them – no photos because really now – blobs of teal blue stockinette are not worth photographing.

But there were also socks – which you saw yesterday – turned heel on sock #1

And Nicky Epstein knitted flowers!

This is leftover sock yarn – It's the one she calls Canterbury bells. It turned out bigger than I thought it would.

This is Patons Brilliance – and I had to use it double and I'm still not sure I'm all that fond of it. You really do need a yarn with a lot of resistance so those loops puff out a bit – or you need very thin slippery stuff used in multiple strands.

These really are fun to make. The Bird family approves.

posted by Bess | 7:43 AM


hey that was great bess
i watched it and bernie listened while we had breakfast this morning

tell mr that we enjoyed it very much

i put some pictures up for you..i just took them of out back this morning
bernie plowed us out yesterday when he finally got back from work


By Blogger vi, at 9:41 AM  

That was fascinating! Thanks for the link. Mr. Jamestown does have a lovely voice, doesn't he?

By Blogger Mary, at 10:31 AM  

Awesome, Bess! I had been hoping to get to see Mr. Jamestown on film sometime. A husband to be proud of!! And, I agree with Mary... he has such a voice!

By Blogger Carolyn, at 2:25 PM  

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Sunday, February 24, 2008  


Link to video – it took 6 minutes to load on my computer

Here he is – TheMan in all his talking head glory. He's the first one - and immediately after his first appearance, there is a shot of the waterfront where we launch our own boats. Filming was done just a few weeks after he'd had a serious heart attack and when I heard they kept him hatless in the hot sun for 6 hours ... that he let them do that ... I was horrified. And he laughed at me because he always does. And I know he had fun and I think, perhaps joy is as healing as anything else. I know we really enjoy watching it and I'm still always surprised when I hear his voice coming out of the television set.

The trip we took last fall, all around the upper Chesapeake, was a fact finding mission for his last Jamestown publication. A boater's guide to John Smith's Chesapeak Bay, spiral bound and printed on waterproof paper, it's intended for the recreational boater who might wonder what it was like here, 400 years ago. It will be available for purchase in the early summer.

As for MrsJamestown and her weekend, well, I spent yesterday impersonating a slug but I got some good knitting done. This is the Cherry Tree Hill sock in a crunchy textured pattern that took me nigh on to a year to find and 6 more months to cast on. Don't you just want to scrunch your fingers in that fabric? The yarn was a birthday gift from L – so I call these Birthday Socks.

posted by Bess | 6:27 AM


How exciting for you and BD!!
I'll bet everything will look very cool on the show. Do you get a DVD or something, too? Eh, I guess probably not, but it would be nice. I mean, since they even give people pictures of their insides now when you have medical tests run...

By Blogger Carolyn, at 8:48 AM  

Whoo-hoo! PBS celebs! I watch PBS up here via KSPS in Spokane. D'you think they'll carry it? It'd be almost like meeting you and BD in person!


By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 9:45 AM  

Yes Carolyn - they will send us the show on dvd. I don't know when but I'm so looking forward to it. And if you want to "meet" BD on dvd, check out National Geographic's doccumentary "Nightmare at Jamestown". He's one of the talking heads on the main featuer and he's on even more on the special features part about the National Water Trail.

By Blogger Bess, at 10:15 AM  

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Saturday, February 23, 2008  

After a bit of a rocky start yesterday morning, my day blossomed into one long stretch of interesting times. There was ice on the roads when I left, but only a thin layer that was cracking up fast as the angle of the sun spread out across the earth. Schools opened late, so the buses and I drove in together and I passed clusters of bundled children awaiting transport. Normally I travel this length of highway solo but it's a divided road – it was an easy trip into town.

My morning was taken up with a budget committee meeting; productive, but lengthy. We have a new board president and though each year I explain to the whole board our unique budget process, this was her first up close and detailed look at how it works. It is legal and it is effective, but it's weird and not something I share at gatherings of librarians because it would take too long to explain it. We are the sole hybrid library in Virginia, organized on a couple of promises and handshakes. It works and that is enough.

But I hurried home before 1 o'clock, because we had guests coming!

Yep. Maryland Public Television is doing a documentary on the National Park's John Smith Water Trail and they needed to interview Mr.Jamestown.

My den is going to be on T.V.!

Well, so is my BD, but what makes me chuckle is that this corner of the house with all the books and room enough for a chair and with at least a glimpse of the Virginia countryside ... well... those books in the background are all my knitting and spinning books! I love the magic of television.

The whole process was interesting and fun. Everyone wanted to get in on the action, particularly Scamp, the newest of our dogs. She was sure viewers wanted to know what a great place this is for dogs. Jack dropped in but he panted so heavily he was banished to the back porch. Socks doesn't like strangers in her house or even on her property and has a hidy-hole where she spent the afternoon. Priss, alone, was the perfect hostess, greeting everyone when they arrived, then retiring to watch Dog T.V. (the fire in the wood stove).

It was a grey rainy day – which is why the filming was done indoors – they had originally wanted to film outside along the riverbank. They were finished about 4:30 and we spent the rest of the evening talking about it – and watching an old movie. I'm not sure when the show will be broadcast but when they let us know I'll be sure to post the date and airtime here.

posted by Bess | 7:52 AM


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posted by Bess | 7:34 AM


So sorry about the ripping out of the lace -- it was very pretty. But I love that with knitting, all you've lost is a little time -- the yarn is still available for another use. Not so with cooking or sewing -- once those ingredients have been physically or chemically altered, there's no turning back. Here's hoping you aren't discouraged by the process. It was just a swatch, just a swatch, just a swatch. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 10:22 AM  

Oh, I love curries so very much.

I may just have to treat myself this weekend (it was a rough day today).

Mercury or whoever is in retrograde better get the heck out of it, because everywhere I go really obnoxious things are going on.

By Blogger Amie, at 4:35 PM  

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Friday, February 22, 2008  

Lawsee – I don't know what has come over me these days but I just haven't been inspired to write down anything. Sometimes the literary flow is stopped by true lack of time, or travel, or guests; real life things that rank higher than finding self expression in wordplay. Other times, though, little nagging issues just sap the will to share, most especially with myself - for blogging demands the truth.

Not necessarily all the truth, mind you, nor truths that I share with other people. Admittedly, I prefer to keep a record of the Good Things in my life, and to push the bad stuff behind me as fast as I can. And now and then there are monumental types of bad things that have a place on a blog. In fact, it's never the Big Things that trip me up – or halt my endless flow of words. It's those naggy, pissy, irritating things, those slightly shameful because they're so insignificant things that can just sit on my shoulder like bad crows and dry up my loquacity.

Things like (“Ah ha!” you say. “She's going to whine now”) a funny little email about the bleeding hearts pattern that just sucked the energy out of my lace knitting efforts. It shouldn't have, because it was informative, not critical, but I'd been struggling with that durn pattern so much already that I just set it down, and when I picked it up last night, the stitches had reproduced in some bizarre fashion, not mathematically logical, just randomly increasing along the needles. I am going to rip that stupid thing out and do something else with the beautiful blue silk. I bet it wants to be crochetted.

There are other issues – like the ___ty pounds I put back on and haven't lost yet, except for the 5 that I keep reeling back to me every time they slide away.

And the checkbook register that is screwed up, easy to fix, but still unbalanced, all these months after Christmas.

Or that issue with my neck and left arm that no doctor seems to be able to diagnose.

Or the boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff from my parents house that I still have to go through.

And here's the rub – here's why I'm going to blame this all on the eclipse and stars and planetary line-ups. I've cleared away a LOT of those boxes. I've shipped some off to one sister, left some for another sister to pick up when she visits in a few weeks. Real progress has been made. Of course, the real size of the job has also been brought into sharp focus, but truly – I could be celebrating how glad I am to have cleared away an enormous pile of stuff. I should be.

I suspect what I need is a down time, veg-out, no responsibilities vacation – and I just don't know how to wangle it right now.

Okay – enough whining.

This week the Creativity Jar wants me to

Knit 2 Nicky Epstein flowers.

This is good because I already did knit some and got over my Fear of Flower knitting. I have her first book with flower designs in it - Knitted Embellishments. I have lots of odd bits of yarn, some novelty, some sock yarn, some just ordinary yarn - but be sure, there is lots of green for leaves and i-cord stems.

Last week's adventure into Indian cooking involved stopping at the good organic food store in Richmond to get some of the more unusual spices. The resulting dining experience was transportingly good. I used the basic curry recipe out of this book:

This was such a hit I am prowling the used book markets for my own copy of the book. I can't wait to try more curry recipes.

So. May your weekend be creative.

posted by Bess | 7:12 AM


That little girl looks like trouble! :-) What a cute little sprite-like face. I bet she was heck on wheels! :-)

By Blogger Nerdy Knitter, at 7:26 PM  

well if you don't mind roughin it
you are more then welcome to ride out the storm here

we got food.....pretty much anything you would want for a winter meal
(no fish though)
including homemade from scratch hot cocoa

and if we get snow... ( which i don't believe until i see it on the ground)

we can make icecream too


By Blogger vi, at 9:02 PM  

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008  

For Vi – It's from the BW3, the pattern is called Bleeding Hearts and it's on page 156.

And I didn't knit another stitch on that lace because I suddenly remembered that I was going to a meeting in Richmond today and I could swing by Dad's and one of my away sisters is visiting the weekend after this, and though I won't be able to get up to see her, if I could just get myself moving, I could have a huge box of her old photographs, letters and videos that I took home from M&D's last summer. Saves me the postage and gets piles of things off of my porch. So I spent the rest of the day sorting sorting sorting. I made no effort to organize anything other than 5 big piles – one for each sister and one that I will make copies of, to share with all family members. I did also save out a tee tiny bit of stuff to send to niece and nephews just because they're grown up now too and ought to have some memories.

I'll head off to the city about the same time I'd ordinarily go to work and drop these off at Dad's.

I'm about two thirds of the way through the sorting process and have reduced the number of boxes on the back porch correspondingly. At this rate I shall have all the preliminary sorting done by the end of the month and can begin the slow process of making up the family history to share with the whole. This, though, has no deadline on it. My own descendants, should there be any, are free to throw it all in the trash. They just mean something to me. I do believe I shall make up a sort of scrap book/photo album for Mama to look at when she's feeling blue – and maybe a photo montage for Dad.

So. With about half an hour of morning sunlight left, I believe I'll run off to play with that blue lace. Does this look like the future owner of three spinning wheels?

posted by Bess | 7:26 AM


Oh, what a bummer! But I enjoy the beach on a winter day too, just watching the waves is a nice break from the mundane. Maybe I need to drive to the coast for a few hours this week and sit on the beach with a book. Hmmm...

By Blogger Catherine, at 2:21 PM  

So disappointing! At least you enjoyed the drive even if there were no whales at the end of it.

By Blogger KathyR, at 4:29 PM  

My family (members of which all have the same quirky sense of humor I do) has a long standing joke about the Vet Clinic of Greater Annapolis (and other like-named businesses).

We feel it would just be silly to take our pets to the Vet Clinic of Just-so-so Annapolis.

Sorry you didn't get to see whales. Glad you got time with your darling - he really is precious.

By Blogger Amie, at 10:50 PM  

thank you so very much


By Blogger vi, at 6:56 PM  

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Monday, February 18, 2008  

Here is where we went to catch the boat to go Whale Watching.

This is what we found when we got there.


This is what the so-called gale force winds looked line on-shore.

But there you have it. We talked to one of the crew of the boat and he said this had been a bad year for weather and for finding whales, with only 3 sightings so far this winter. Last year had been a banner year, he assured us, with whales 98% of the time they went out and hardly any cancellations.

What is for sure is that I am not making the drive back down there on a such an iffy chance. It's too far – a 3 hour drive – and even with a cell phone I don't want to be at the Coleman Bridge when I get the call.

But it is always fun to tool down the road with BD. Our first date was an 18 hour car trip and we have been enjoying them ever since. We can have fun just being quiet together, but we also love to make up word games and play them. Yesterday, after seeing a sign for Urgent Care on a building we challenged each other to find antonyms for other complicated adjectives. What do you think is the opposite of Urgent care? Lackadaisical care? Unnecessary care?

Besides, the ocean is always a treat to see. Good to observe a force that is just so much bigger than we are.

So. On to the knitting part.

If you only ever do what you know how to do, then you will probably never do anything interesting. And if you only ever do what you don't know how to do, you will probably never do anything successfully

This is from MrHoroscope and it certainly applies to my journey into very fine silk lace knitting. I must admit it's something interesting and I am just barely touching the edge of success at this point.

I've completed 2 repeats of a 10 row repeat and I have finally flipped back to see just what that double decrease symbol means – a duh! simple purl three together – would have saved me a lot of trouble to have looked first.

This is not my first lace knitting by a long shot, nor is it even my first silk lace knitting – but it is my first very fine silk lace knitting and it's truly a challenge. The last silk lace I knit was a sock weight yarn; obedient, ever so slightly sticky the way silk is when there's a lot of it, and using a pattern that was quite easy to read. This pattern is not one of those lace patterns that have you purl back on every wrong side row, nor is it a garter stitch thingy - it's different every row, which is what I shall blame for my difficulty in comprehending it's rhythm. No. Of course it's not my aging brain with the blank spots in my super power regions. The yarn is like a pearl cotton thread only softer, of course and a tad bit slippier. It was dyed by J at Spirit Trail Fiberworks.

Let's see if I can do the dime thing.

It would be really fun to crochet but I am determined. It shall be knit. I am going to add this skill to my repertoire.

It's 11:40 now and I am still in my pajamas. Got to love a Monday holiday. But my eyes are screaming "enough already – go look at something else!"

Which I shall.

May your Monday be blessed.

posted by Bess | 11:25 AM


Have fun whale-watching! I've only done that in Hawaii, didn't realize it was possible just off our coast here....

Thanks for the Elizabeth Bennett reminder. I get to see her and Mr. Darcy tonight in Part 2 of P&P on PBS. :-)

I sure hope your lace struggles won't be blamed on that beautiful color!

By Blogger Mary, at 10:17 AM  

Oooo, whale watching! Something I have yearned to do for many years but have never been able to justify the cost. Yours seems so much more affordable than over here, even with the exchange rate taken into account. Greatly enjoy!!!

I love the colour of your silk and can't wait to see your results!

By Blogger KathyR, at 12:20 PM  

Frustrating, but it sounds like you're just on the cusp, and you'll have it on the very next try. It may be easier to keep track of what's going on on the size 3s, as well; for me, things seem to stay a little more organized-looking when the loops are smaller. Here's hoping the next round convinces you you're a born silk-lace-knitter! (And thanks for the moral support on my sweater. :)

By Blogger cathy, at 12:22 PM  

Ah yes, the pattern that you can't quite figure till you repeat and repeat and repeat it. I've just finished a cap for which I had to do that in the first 10 rows -- 5 times. Finally the rhythm kicked in, and I was off to the races. May your next start at the lace bring you that blessing!


By Blogger Marg, at 8:25 AM  

bess, what pattern is that?
i know itis from a bjw treasury
and it's charted...( fourth?)

i am knitting some spirit trail lace weight silk that i got at rhinebeck, this past.....

you just have to get used to it

and you will

i have the other spirt trail lace weight that i won ( hey and saturday i won the lottery....a whopping 7 bucks! how about that!)

i am thinking of doing something with tulips in it as it sooooooo looks like bright dutch tulips


By Blogger vi, at 6:04 PM  

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Sunday, February 17, 2008  

I spent the day in hand to hand combat with some blue lace weight silk and a Babara Walker stitch pattern.

I actually spent Friday night and most of Saturday in this struggle and at the last of the day, when triumph seemed at hand, I managed to stumble once again by somehow dropping a PSO on the purl side.

This is not a difficult lace stitch, but it took me a long time to get the rhythm of it. Six times I cast on and lost my way on row 1 then on row 2 and then on row 2 again and again. The next to the last time the brain went click and I grasped the YO,K,YO cadence – that place in a lace stitch when you can reassure yourself that your stitch count is correct, without having to count every stitch on the needles. The lace weight silk is finer and slippier than anything I've ever knit with before – a yarn that defeated me last year when time grew short and responsibilities weighed more heavily on me than they do this year.

But I have always believed I could knit silk lace. I've always thought one of these days I'd knit some silk lace edging and sew it on something beautiful I might wear; a silk nightgown, a silk slip, ruffled into some extravagant silk sleeves. And I am enough my mother's daughter to believe that if other people can do it and I want to do it, I can do it.

Sometimes materials or activities prove me wrong – sometimes I must accept that there are just things I can't do – but not usually, because most of the time the things I can't do are also the things I don't care to do. To paraphrase Miss Elizabeth Bennet, “I have always thought it was because I would not take the trouble to practice as I should”.

Yesterday I took the trouble. And all is not lost, even if I must once again cast on a multiple of 12 stitches plus 1 plus the edge stitches. I have at least completed a pattern and know how many inches I'll get if I continue to use the #5 needle. I believe, though, I shall swatch yet again, using a #3. If I were using a similar weight mohair I would stay with the #5's, but there is no fuzz on the silk to fill in the gaps of lacy holes. I think this will do better for being knit a little tighter.

Not today though. Today we are going here to do this.

And tomorrow I will spend time with these
as well as with that pesky blue silk lace weight. Tomorrow. At Tara.

posted by Bess | 8:01 AM


hey i have a few of those books!
i got the lace book and the ribbon book, i can't see the others

you'll master that lace bess......
there isn't much you can't master
and after all....lace is just yo and decreases
(then join me in that kal for morocco.....)

By Blogger vi, at 3:42 PM  

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Friday, February 15, 2008  

Yesterday MsHoroscope warned me not to let work overwhelm romance – heck – it's even been overwhelming my blogging. The BigProjecct that I knew was going to subsume creativity, energy and time is in its early stages and we held our first meeting about it yesterday. And it did run over by 45 minutes, but it was a good meeting – everyone was engaged, participating, glad to get down to work.

We're going to overhaul all things technological at the library, from hardware to integrated library system, peripherals, Internet access – the whole shebang. There is a lot of inventorying to do, a lot of product analysis, a whole lot of planning – and eventually, some serious shopping. It's fun, but it's also scary – and involving a committee means that, for me to get what I want, I have to really know what I want and really really want it, so that I can convince the members to agree with me. Of course, having them means they bring different insights and thoughts and opinions into the discussion so that all sorts of things I might have missed, or overlooked, or forgotten, get brought up – which is why I asked them to help me to begin with. As this week progressed and I began to grow anxious about my own preparation and to doubt what the heck I was starting, I just lost the ability to do anything else well. I'm sure that's why I screwed up the sweater sleeve knitting on Tuesday.

ENFP moment here ... Thank you, Kucki68, for the great tip about pinning the sleeves together – it's so smart I think I'll give the 2 sleeves at once thing a second try!

This is a major effort that is in addition to the ordinary library day, so I'm sure there will be times when I'll be distracted by things technological, that I will cram for them, much the way we crammed for tests in high school – not learning, but remembering just enough of the buzzwords that we could fool the teacher into giving us a B. Originally I thought this process would take about 4 months, maybe 5 but, as is the way with the world, OtherThings from the outside, this time good things that involve more $, have laid a claim on the time frame and now it won't be finished till the fall. Happily, we will be so far ahead of the game by starting our work now, that we really will be finished by the fall, instead of sort of just starting up.

But, though werk came before play yesterday, there was sweet play afterwards. I'd promised BD a special valentines dinner (salmon stuffed with shrimp) and we had the cutest old movie to watch afterwards – Three Smart Girls staring Deana Durbin. And a good glass of wine, and the littlest box of chocolates, with only 3 pieces in it. It was a perfect Valentine day.

This morning the Creativity Jar offered up this activity.

True to the purpose of the Creativity Jar, it doesn't have to be Indian cuisine. I can make it any ethnic meal I want – I just put down Indian because at the time I made the list that was as far from the traditional Christmas Dinner as I could imagine with any hope of finding the ingredients needed at our local WalMart. I'll go through the cookbooks at the library this morning and pick out something different and challenging, but still possible, to cook this week.

This was a fortunate pick since I haven't been doing too well with the design-a-sweater activities. I do have a few ideas – but they're not on paper yet – just floating about in my brain. I'll try to sketch them out this weekend – a lovely 3 day one – and if I'm pleased with them once they're on paper, I'll share them here. They don't have to be good, you must know – they are intended to stretch my brain, not impress the world.

posted by Bess | 7:17 AM


I see my evil plan is working -- my love and admiration for all things blue or teal has rubbed off on your normally orange-and-brown loving self! Carry on! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 11:58 AM  

I cannot wait to see the outcome of these my favorites of colors!

And I agree about the sleeve thing. I'll never do it again. I swear it took LONGER!

By Blogger Alice, at 4:22 PM  

I pin my sleeves together with a saftey pin, so that they are "one" piece where I just need to drop one yarn and pick the other up in the middle. Not entirely foolproof if you leave of in the middle, but a bit better than just two pieces of knitting. Especially if you do it on circular needles.

By Blogger Kucki68, at 6:14 AM  

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008  

No photos. No real news. Just more inches of teal blue sleeves. I believe I have 2.5 inches to go on those sleeves – and I don't think I will ever knit two sleeves at the same time again.

The idea is that you knit both sleeves at the same time and you'll know they're both the same length and increase at the same places and the tension will be the same on each. The reality is that I forget which sleeve I've just knit – they are, after all, identical blue swaths of the same stuff - and just keep turning my knitting after one sleeve. Last night I had to catch up 6 rows on one of those stupid sleeves. I just don't have the focusing power to knit two of anything at once!

The two front pieces are the smallest – and there is hope I shall start them this weekend. In the mean time I am thinking about lace. Silk lace. Blue silk lace. This blue silk lace.

I'm off to pour over my stitch dictionaries. Happy Valentines Eve to you all.

posted by Bess | 7:02 AM


White oak? Snore.... I'm with you -- sugar maple! Or maybe a black gum -- they have gorgeous leaves AND pretty blue berries....

By Blogger Mary, at 9:53 AM  

Oh, yeah ~ sugar maple's way better :-D

Hey, thanks for the Make My Day award! Somehow, I missed that post! You make my day, too xxoo


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:46 PM  

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Monday, February 11, 2008  

T(re)e Deum

Look what the wind brought us -

2 major droughts in 5 years were too much for this lovely maple tree. Sigh. I know they are shallow rooted and I did try to water it this summer, but it was not enough. Farewell lovely forest spirit.

I want to plant another maple – one of those vibrant red sugar maples. The D's want me to put a white oak there – and I like white oaks, but.... I really want one of those glorious maples. Well, we shall see. Not putting anything in there right now – maybe not till the fall. We've had some rain, but it's still dry.

Still knitting on cable prototypes. Probably won't show them for a while – and I didn't knit a stitch all weekend on the Teal Blue Milan Sleeves. Baaaaaaaad Queen. Sigh. I need a retirement.

Busy week that is all stirred up and different from what I planned it to be last week.


posted by Bess | 7:11 AM


Thank ya kindly, Miss Bess! You make my day every time I get to read your stream-of-consciousness on the blog! :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 12:03 PM  


You make my day by being in the world, love.

I've seen the "salt crust" thing done for several meats/fish/poultry. Everyone raves about it, but I haven't done it yet... yet....

By Blogger Amie, at 10:57 PM  

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Sunday, February 10, 2008  

About that avatar ... Not only is it a she, it's supposed to be one suffering from avoirdupois! And Jack is off chasing squirrels, I am sure. I think this meez is fun, but I only fiddle around with the free stuff.

As for the prime rib cooked in a crust of rock salt, I can only say

Oh My Goodness. Oh. My.

It's as simple as can be to cook. You just take that enormous hunk of beef - a boned rib roast - and literally pack it all over with rock salt - the sort you make ice cream with, though if you can find the smaller crystals it's best. I could only get the big chunk size - and do NOT use Kosher Salt, for its crystals are way too small. The rock salt is too big and hard to melt into the meat, but instead forms a crust around it, sealing in much more juice than dry roasting. The fat will drip off and remain unsalty, so you can use it to make your Yorkshire pudding, but you will have the sweetest, melt in your mouth tender, prime rib you have ever tasted. I will only ever cook it this way from now on.

I made somebody's day and she was kind enough to say so. I am embarrassed to have dawdled so long about responding to this meme but I shan't wait another day. Here, in alphabetical order, like a good librarian does, are some of the folks who make my day.

Bossy Little Dog - Catherine and I have had so many parallel experiences we think we are long lost twins – separated by some 6 or 7 years. She's a Cancer and I'm a Virgo but when it comes to life coincidences, we are straight out of the twilight zone.

Few Sheep Shy of a Farm – Well, really I just log on hoping to see more photos of the munchkin – cute enough to smother in kisses – but don't miss all the fiber links on this blog

Fillyjonk's Progress – Another cybersister, Erica opens up with some serious thoughts coupled with some of the most whimsical knitted toys & animals.

Knit Dad – Here is the stash I would love to spend a week with, owned by one of the dearest of people with an enormous .

Knitters Review – it's not a blog but it is how we all met – and it's also where Missy Clara is likely to be every day, since it's her baby and she takes good care of it.

KnittingSister – Real life friend, phenomenal knitter, and someone you want in your corner when things get tough.

Mary's Virgin Wool - We share more than a love for fiber'n'flowers'n'folk art schools, we share an alma mater!
No Idle Hands - My Canadian Virgo Sister who also quilts and embroiders.
Rose by Any - She understands about dogs - about how vital and important they are - about how you really should move over and make room for them up on the big bed.
Spirit Trail - My bud, who gets me in behind the scenes at fiber festivals. We've taken trips, taken classes and taken the long way home through the woods even.
Yarn's the Word – Proof that there is real knitting in the south – and llamas, and parrots, and studios and master spinning.
Well, the trouble with a list like this is I could just go on and on - I don't even have all my favorites listed on the sidebar yet. I would call this a smattering of the folk who make my day - and I thank you all.

posted by Bess | 7:04 AM


Aren't you beautiful and Valentine-y over in your sidebar - but how come Jack doesn't get to wear a tux?

By Blogger Amie, at 9:04 PM  

Gorsh! I thought that Sidebar Person was a...ahem...fellow! (blush) Lovely Valentine's Day outfit...

Beef in *rock salt*?! Looking forward to hearing how it turns out.


By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 12:23 AM  

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Saturday, February 09, 2008  

I'm trying to tidy up the side bar on TheBlog, so there will be changes over the next few days. Or not, of course, since life often has a way of interfering with serious blogging activities. I've got a new February Goal which has nothing to do with the body but does have to do with the spirit. When I helped clean out my parents home last summer, as a good librarian should, I brought home all the letters, diaries, sketchbooks and photos, to sort through and put where they belong – mostly in the hands of the authors, photographers and children who ought to have some of mom's sketchbooks. This is an emotional activity not only because it causes me to look backwards, but because the clutter of it on the porch is making me unhappy.

So. Here is the Before Photograph.

We shall have to wait till the end of the month to see After.

Guests are coming for dinner tonight. P is going to teach me how to cook beef roast in a crust of rock salt. She's coming early in the afternoon to cook so I had best go clean house (which I skipped last weekend) for guests. Tomorrow you shall hear how the cooking (and dining) went.

And here, for no other reason than that I love adoring dogs

“Take me with you”

posted by Bess | 7:07 AM


Love me some cables! Looking forward to the big reveal. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 9:44 AM  

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Friday, February 08, 2008  

Bird Thoughts

When last week I seriously cut my finger (folks have asked – the short answer is ... I spanked a nail.) and got all gloomy about it and couldn't hold a pencil or pen or knit or be nice to anybody
I couldn't find our Norton's Anthology
I was actually inspired by something else I was reading, (And of course, Put It Back In Alphabetical Order Virgo TheQueen wouldn't let herself just go ahead and write down this design! La I am so predictable!!)

I decided to put that slip back in the jar for another time, pull out something for this week, and get to my other knitting – some of which has a bit of a deadline on it.

So. What do I pick out? Indulging the mythical thought that everyone wants to know, the creativity jar provided these instructions:

"Select a photo from Smithsonian Magazine and design a project inspired by it."

Sounds so impressive doesn't it? But remember! It didn't say Design a prize winning, show stopping, blue ribbon project. Just a project. I have to constantly keep reminding myself that this is supposed to be fun. Not something that produces guilty feelings of inadequacy. It's supposed to apply just enough discipline to get me to do some of the things I think of doing – I want to do – I talk about doing. It's not supposed to turn every one of those things I want to do into a scolding finger wagging under my nose.

My first reaction was “Ack! I don't have time to be creative this week” and to toss the slip back into the jar. Only. The next thing I picked out was “Knit socks for Ed”, which I ought to do, and all, but, I have LOTS of other knitting clamoring for attention, including the above mentioned deadlineish project. Plus – I'm not sure I have any sock yarn I want to give to him. I mean, I love to give him things, but all my sock yarn has my name on it – or someone else's. So I'd have to buy more yarn, which I could do, but which would cut into the 2 weeks of knitting time I allow for this, and besides, I've spent all my play money for February, and besides. I don't want to start another project even if it is socks. I have completitis, not startitis, right now.


So I shall see what I can come up with in the inspiration part of my brain, and I will jot down the real creativity project I came up with last week too.

What? You want to know what the deadlineish project is? Here is a sneak peak.

posted by Bess | 7:00 AM


Do they still print Norton's Anthology??? I remember those from college lit class. I wish I hadn't given it away.

A painted warp comes to mind when I see that talking teal bird. I would love a painted warp, tencel would be fine. Heh.

By Blogger Alice, at 9:25 AM  

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008  

The New Moon eclipse today brings you opportunities to make changes regarding your health and daily routines. The key to both is to be 'regular' - ie: draw up a timetable and stick to it.
The Full Moon eclipse on February 21 promises you're being singled out by the heavens for special attention. Worry less about others and use February to get very clear on what you want for yourself. It's your turn.

For my Virgo Sisters - let us be healthy and selfish!

(Where are those smiley ikons when I need them?!?)

I'll have to get up in the wee dawn of tomorrow and drive to the city with BD who has to see doctors. Perhaps he's the one that needs the eclipse in his health stars. For sure there will be no time to post in the morning.

I must confess - I never did fulfill the Creativity Jar activity this week. Several things conspired to prevent me:

Bandaged finger all last week -blue, crabby, clumsy and bad tempered all weekend
Lots of anthologies and Norton publications, but not the book I was intending to use - academic publishing can fool you
I was inspired by another book and may still have an literary pattern to share anyway - just not from the directed source.
Very fractured and unfocused. Didn't settle down to real productivity till today

So - I will put that slip of paper back into the jar and draw something different tomorrow. Remember - this is supposed to be fun first, and everything else is a bonus.


posted by Bess | 9:03 PM


It's going to be 85 here today, and my unfinished wool sweaters are not calling to me, but the garden center IS - must spruce up the dead planting areas and put down fresh mulch, and weed.

I'll be casting on something light this week, I think. Possibly a tank.

By Blogger Catherine, at 8:45 AM  

Love Daphnes and Viburnums. I've killed a couple of Daphnes, but I have a Viburnum that is tough as nails -- still young, though. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden has some gorgeous Viburnums, and there's a fantastic snowball Viburnum outside the door of the business school building at VCU. I, too, am usually not in any hurry for spring, but thoughts of yummy-smelly flowers might hasten those feelings. :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 10:31 AM  

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008  

The mornings are so much brighter when I get up these days. You can tell the earth is tilting its face back towards the sun. Often, February brings us a spell of unseasonably warm weather to remind us that we really are in the south, even if we think we ought to get some snow between Christmas and St. Patrick's Day. We actually might get some snow yet. One of the prettiest, thickest, deepest snowfalls I remember fell on a cozy March Saturday back in the late 1970's. But hope begins to wane as the days slip by and today's promised high of 73 degrees will turn our thoughts to springtime and flowers and the sweet scent of Daphnes
and viburnums.

These flowers smell a lot like hyacinths but they grow on shrubs. The viburnum that I love the best is the Viburnum x burkwoodii which I discovered growing in the parking lot of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. For several years in the 1990's we went there on our April wedding anniversary and it was always in bloom, always perfuming the shaded grounds. Its scent became intertwined with happy anniversary expectations till I finally planted 4 of them in my own garden. I've let my poor garden go to such wrack and ruin that one is seldom tempted to venture down the paths any more, but in early spring, that clear fresh perfume beckons and the viburnum path is still open enough for you to sit on the bench in the dappled light and imagine you are in some exotic place without a care in the world.

My. Who would have thought I'd betray the last of my snow dreams for thoughts of April and flowers and short sleeves. And me a knitter!

No progress on the Milan sweater yesterday. I spent it with family, driving around Richmond doing a chore or two for Dad, having lunch with sister – and of course, stopping by a couple of knitting shops. But I see there is another hour before I must start my work day – I think I'll go knit a spell.

Happy Stitches Out of the Finger Day to TheQueen.

And Happy Tuesday to you!

posted by Bess | 7:03 AM


Beautiful photos! Looks like an idyllic day, bright and peaceful.

By Blogger cathy, at 10:14 PM  

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Monday, February 04, 2008  

I'm off today at Crack-0-Dawn to help sister do some family bookkeeping for our folks. We are all so far away from this time last year! Whew! Somehow driving to the city always seems a good enough excuse to have a Day Off – which I shall.

Yesterday was very mild and I went down to the pier to have my lunch. I had lots of company. Priss and Scamp (new dog – used to be LD's) love to play in the mud and water, but Jack takes his job as Mama Guard too seriously to run off like that. The canoe was full of water and I took half a dozen photos trying to capture the droplets flying through the air as I bailed, without getting the camera or my bandaged finger wet.

Success at last.

Don't you get any of that stuff on me!

Girl dogs scampering off to play. Priss is the dot just to the left of center – eventually they swam across the creek to explore.

Still no photographs of the Milan sweater – just some more inches of teal blue stockinette sleeves. Maybe next week.

Woops. Time to go.

posted by Bess | 5:29 AM


Happy belated bloggiversary, Bess! I cannot believe it's been five years since you began this. Time, it is a flying. I'm extremely relieved that your finger will be ok and that you're able to knit again. Happy early early spring to you.

By Blogger Clara, at 9:53 AM  

So glad you and your finger are feeling better and that you're able to knit again!

So.... what's in store for the The Next 5 Years...? :-)

By Blogger Mary, at 10:32 AM  

Glad you're mending, dear Bess! And I love that picture of the sand and stones. Something about it reminds me!

By Blogger Jane, at 12:23 PM  

I too am relieved that your finger is out of its 'casing' and that you can knit again.

I *love* your spring-y photos -- we're covered in snow here still. Our Canadian groundhogs -- one in Winnipeg and 1 in Ontario -- did *not* see their shadows (likely due to snow and cloud cover!) so we are *definitely* looking for an early spring!!

Now, may I have your permission to copy the 'creekbed' photo? What a wonderful inspiration source for some stitchery!

Thanks and hugs,

P.S. Your sweet remarks on my blog have me blushing.

By Anonymous Marg in Calgary, at 5:04 PM  

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Sunday, February 03, 2008  

The Next 5 Years

I have been released from the gigantic bandage and can knit again, though my typing leaves much to be desired. The stitches in my finger will come out on Tuesday and I will be less squeamish about things manual, then. The worst part about an injury that requires a doctor (in my case emergency room since Queenly BooBoos tend to happen at night and besides I needed a tetanus booster) is how depressed they leave you. And there was a lot of blood. And it's better now, so I'll shut up about it.

I swear it – I didn't even cheat with this week's Creativity Jar project.

Do you even remember Norton's Anthology? Do they still even use it in college? We have one edition at the library and a different one at home. I think I'll use the home edition since that is where I am today and I have time to work on it.

Yesterday, though our groundhogs all saw their shadows and have dived below to wait out 6 more weeks of winter, other Signs of Spring are indisputable.

(looks like the leaves of 2007 are paying homage to the dandilions of 2008)

Winter skies remain, all full of turmoil and instability – but beautiful.

I've been obsessing a lot with colorways inspired by nature the past few days, in particular the more subtle ones. We had blessed, drought relieving rain on Friday, which left us this exercise in neutrals.

I am thinking of one of those Three and One stranded colorwork patterns that Elizabeth Zimmermann used to knit up.

Well - it is good to be able to post again but it is even better to be able to knit again. I'm half way up two-sleeves-at-once on the Milan. I have decided to ditch the portrait collar - I am just too matronly shaped for it - and will knit a band of the spur stitch in Brown Sheep Hand Paint's English Garden around the neckline, matching the front band. No photos right now since all there is to see is teal blue stockinette, but soon, soon.

Happy Sunday to you all

posted by Bess | 8:19 AM