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


Hi - I have a question on the » Jamestown­­Scotland Ferry -- can you drop me an email ..... or message me on Facebook or Ravelry??

Please - we leave Wed very early am ...

By Blogger rho, at 4:54 PM  

Yep, it's not only kids the benefit from a little time out now and then! I should know as I have a little knitting project (or three) thinking about its bad behaviour right now.

Have you tried talking to yourself as your knit the border? I don't have a dyslexia problem but when I'm working on something a little complicated, or things around me are getting a little busy, I will repeat the pattern to myself as I work either out loud or in my head as the situations warrants. It seems to help me concentrate better. Good luck when you go back to it!

By Blogger KathyR, at 6:59 PM  

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Monday, August 31, 2009  

Flummoxed. Stymied. Halted in my tracks.

Thanks, KathyR - I do seem more like my old self. I am going to put my crankiness down to a summer of sickness.

As for that shawl border, for some reason I just can't seem to knit it onto my shawl. I can't seem to knit such a long pattern without making errors - or worse! - seeing errors that aren't there and ripping back anyway. After a weekend of trying I have nothing to show for my work.

The French Trellis border that looks so lacy on the blue shawl in the Victorian Lace Today book is, alas, I think too heavy for this project. It's heavier and thicker than the shawl itself and I rather think borders ought to be a bit lacier than the shawl body. A perusal of the book found some lacier borders that still fit mathematically in both row and stitch count. Combined, they're a little longer – 62 vs 51 stitches, but longer is not a problem. The problem is – this is an easier border and I'm still making errors in my knitting or else my counting.

I was also struggling with the actual knitting because it seemed I had only the one #6 circular needle and trying to knit the border with the same needle that held all the shawl stitches was quite difficult. Around dinnertime on Sunday I packed that shawl up and walked away from it. I'll pick it up again, maybe this evening, maybe later in the week. But I know well, the seamstress' Rule of Three: After 3 mistakes, put it down and do something else. It stood me in good stead for decades of fine sewing. I'm sure it applies to knitting as well. And happily, I found another #6's circular in a box in my stash, so when I do pick that shawl up again, I won't have the ergonomic issue to deal with – only the brain-o-nomic one.

Also – I'll chart out the entire pattern on a large piece of paper. I can tell that my problems stem from a mild dyslexia I've suffered all my life. Finding things with my eyes has always been difficult. How I wish I had someone to read the pattern to me. I do so much better with my ears. In fact, I am seriously thinking of reading the chart out loud into a recorder and then playing it back to myself.

So. It is Monday again. The Monday that begins the last week of summer vacation for most folks, but it is also Birthday Month Eve. Already I can feel my spirits lifting and my body responding to the song of the crickets, the nip of cooler air (weather dot com guys are promising us perfection all week, after a little rain today) and the energy of the Holiday Months of Autumn. I wish I could stay home all day and play with toys – but more important, I wish us all the joys of a fresh new day, a fresh new week, and a fresh new month coming tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 9:38 AM


It is so good to hear you sounding more like your old self! Yay, too, for birthday cameras - a whole new realm of learning experiences for you. I know as I recently bought a new camera and still have heaps to learn about it.

I don't know how you are set up for chart knitting but when I knitted a lace shawl last year I did't have a magnetic board and markers to help me keep my place. Instead I used a line of post-it notes and placed them right across the page ABOVE the row I was working on. Above, because it is more important to see where you have been than where you are going. This really helped to block out the confusion of seeing all of the rows at once. I know that you can do it, though, and can't wait to see pictures of your progress!

By Blogger KathyR, at 6:39 PM  

So happy you are finally feeling better and up to your regular schedule. The pictures are lovely, and especially the castle!

By OpenID verachou, at 10:21 AM  

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Sunday, August 30, 2009  

Wide Open Sunday

That's just what today is - open and free and delightfully cool. We had rain like God's faucet was turned on Friday night - so heavy it made the view of the fields a blank white screen. Yesterday dawned hot and hotter and humid and humid-er (humidier?) and altogether beastly. Every spider in 4 counties had spun a cobweb between any two points they could find in my house. I was determined. This was turning out to be the first weekend I've felt well enough to clean house in weeks and weeks and by golly, I was going to do it.

Happily, BD was out of the house all day helping the New Boat Owner and his friends pack up the sailboat. Happier still, my birthday camera ( Oh didn't I tell you? A new Panasonic Lumix ZS1 with a fast shutter and a 12x zoom) was on a FedEx truck coming from Ashland. I had no idea they delivered on Saturdays or I might have put my home address down for them to bring it to. But staff was on duty and had instructions to sign for it and call me when it came in. So. With everything set, I began with broom and mini-vac (for the window sills) and vacuum and static cloths and soap and water ... in my bedroom, which is at one corner of the house... and scrubbed, swept, vacuumed, and cleaned all the way to the den ... which is the diagonal corner. Of course, I will always be finding More Cobwebs ... in fact, I see one now, between the back of the printer and the back of the computer ... but I got 80% of 'em and that is enough to fool people, including me, into thinking the house is clean.

It started out wickedly hot and damp and I'd decided to eek out the last of my clean underwear and do laundry in the middle of the week, when suddenly a dry cool breeze wafted through the house. Whoa! Brought me up short and before I could begin to doubt, the clouds broke up and the breeze grew stronger and within an hour the whole world had been transformed into a bright blue day with puffy clouds and playful breezes. Into the washer when the dank stuff that didn't get dry last Saturday. Eventually three loads made it to the clothes line, by which time the sky was pure celestial blue with nary a cloud in sight. What a transformation! What pleasure! as if the gods had decided to reward me for Doing My Doooty.

Of course, all this took all day - at least, I wasn't ready to go to town to pick up my Brand New Birthday Camera till about 2:30 and while I was at it I slipped across the river to get some good fruits and vegetables from the folk who have a stand in Warsaw. I had not bothered to clean up after the sweaty Saturday chores and sure enough, a friend was at the fruit stand - but since she is a friend, not just somebody who recognizes the library director in all her scruffiness, she just laughed when I pulled a plastic bag over my head...too late to protect my identity but not too late to be silly.

So you are all thinking, well and good, but what about the shawl and the wide border and knitting? And I am getting there, I promise. Because you are not to think that I was using housecleaning as an avoidance technique. TheCastle really was in desperate condition. But - and there always is that but, no?

You see, a 51 stitch lace border pattern is a lot harder to knit than a 48 stitch pattern that has built up slowly and is easy to read. I actually cast on the border on Friday night - about 6 times - using provisional cast ons - first the ones in the book and then my own, which is a long tail cast on with waste yarn. Maybe not the most elegant, but surely the one that gives you the most stable foundation. Of course I was thinking I would want to knit with the needle that is already holding the shawl so that as I came back in from the outer point I would pick up the shawl stitch hanging on that left needle and K2Tog.

Well - that is as clumsy as it can be. I may learn, after a while, to do it with ease but I haven't done so yet.

So I cast onto a #5 double point and knit the first row.

Ugh! It took me forever to knit those 51 stitches. I kept losing my place on the chart and having to count stitches and graph paper boxes and I am sure I started that row over at least twice. and then it was time to knit back. And that's when I realized that there are shaping stitches on the purl side too.

Now - I can shape in knit and in purl and on front and on back - but not when it's a dank Friday night after my first full week back at work after a fried fish supper. No. That is just asking TheQueen to do Too Much. I set everything aside, promised myself I would enlarge the pattern (which I did on the library copy machine yesterday) and wait until I could be in a calm, tidy, clean pretty comfortable setting - in other words - after the house was clean, on Sunday.

And so - today I have the whole long day in front of me with no other demands on my time but to eat delicious fruit and knit delicious cashmere. It is my intention to have Border Lace Photos tomorrow, taken with a Birthday Camera - but for today - here are the first experimental pictures, taken on the automatic setting, from the Birthday Camera.

First off - here is the true King of the Castle - Captain Jack Haile.

"What do you mean I'm covered with seed ticks?"

Here is TheCastle on a misty Sunday morning.

This is a close-up using the macro button but still on automatic.

This is a close-up using the marco-zoom function. I'm standing maybe 20 feet away from these Four-O'clocks who's inner timepeace is way off. They're not supposed to bloom in the morning!

And here is the lace border pattern - enlarged so I can follow it more easily.

Off I go right now - to knit border to shawl. Happy Wide Open Sunday to you all.

posted by Bess | 8:08 AM


Hoping you can fix your home connectivity issues somehow. I remember what a drag dial-up could be. (And yeah, there were times I couldn't get blogger to work on dial-up - it must be connection speed).

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 8:17 AM  

What I have now is satellite connectivity - it's very good on clear days in the early mornings. Not so hot on cloudy evenings. But always better than dial-up, thank goodness. Still thinking about switching my host but I realize I will always be chatting and talking so I probably will always be blogging too.

By Blogger Bess, at 11:04 AM  

See, I thought you were on hiatus and didn't visit because I thought there would be no posts. Glad to see you have decided to come back :)

By OpenID verachou, at 10:14 AM  

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Friday, August 28, 2009  

Thank You

Well my dear friends - Thank you for the kind and encouraging comments. I really wasn't fishing for them but I admit that yours have helped me as I work out my issues with blogging in general and Blogger in specific. I tried logging onto Blogger at work with the newer faster better machines and the speedier Internet access and had no trouble at all - which meant I really owed it to LtQ to see what I could do with my home machine. A bit of time fiddling with the computer's settings and lo, this morning the page opened up with all options, including the photo posting options.

It still doesn't let me cut and paste text into the box - but I am able to load photos, format text and, most important of all, check my spelling. If you ever saw the raw input of one of my posts you might wonder if I was even literate. The curse of the aural, dyslexic Virgo - born to talk under Mercury's influence.

Which is the other heavy weight on the scale balancing the question Should One Bother To Blog at All? - in this age of Twitter and Facebook. There is only so much computer time available to the normally healthy person, but MissLoquacity is probably incapable of not chattering on somewhere and only on a blog is there enough space in the text box to say everything that wants to gush out of her mouth - or off the tips of her fingers. I had forgotten that the reason I started a blog to begin with was that it seemed I was hogging enormous space on a knitting forum and I began to be a little embarrassed about it.

Blogger and I may not be able to repair our relationship - but if we can't, I will simply move to another host and put a link between the OldCastle and the New.

But as a reward for your continued interest - Photos!! Of the Sleeveless Sleeves in your Pi Shawl - at the point where I shall begin the knitted on border.

Here is a somewhat fuzzy closeup of the traveling stitches reversing between the diamonds. This was something I added to the design, along with turning the triangle into a diamond to begin with. While knitting it I was worried that the extra design element was overkill but now that it's done I like it a lot.

And so this weekend I begin the knitted on border. I haven't been this excited about knitting since I cast on Flidas. (not the part where I had to struggle to complete Flidas - but the first happy knitting part - in what? 2001? - in the Pre-Blog era)

It is supposed to rain this weekend - and cool off a bit. now - doesn't that make for a perfect opportunity to knit a cashmere lace border onto a cashmere lace shawl?

Again, my friends, thank you for your input as I wrestle with technology, rural Internet access and that greatest partner of all - Time. You are very kind and I appreciate your encouraging words so much.

Happy Friday to you all!

posted by Bess | 7:01 AM


You are still on my "must read" blog list even thought I seldom comment.

By Blogger Linda, at 1:09 PM  

Oh dear, I really MUST comment, even though I seldom do. I really find it difficult to butt into someone's "private" life albeit an online one however this time is an exception.

Your blog, dear Bess, is one of my very favourites. Most mornings when I sit down at the computer and begin reading the blogs, yours is the very first that I turn to. I have followed your life for a number of years now - since even before you were working on your elusive Flidas (sp?). Like The Queen was one of the blogs that inspired me to begin my own very humble (and extreme neglected - yes, I am ashamedly one of those) blog.

The thought that maybe your wonderful words will no longer be waiting there for me when I turn on my computer makes me rather sad. I do understand your frustration with the technology side of it, though.

In the end, this blog is yours, your time is your own and you must choose the level of frustration you are willing to accept in your life. Whatever you decide, I would like to sincerely thank you for all the hours of pleasure you have given me by allowing me to share a part of your life through the years.

By Blogger KathyR, at 5:58 PM  

I, too, would miss your blog if you decide to stop posting to it. I have my blog at and that might be a good option if you want to start a different one. I come to your blog not only for the knitting content but also the art and the library content. If you leave, you will be missed.

By Anonymous Charlotte, at 6:17 PM  

Add me to the list of people who read, but perhaps don't comment as much as they might.

And I would miss you if you stopped blogging altogether. I enjoy your posts, even if they are by necessity infrequent.

If you do move to another host, I will follow you.

Maybe this fall, when the weather turns cooler and things settle down a bit, you will feel energized again? I know it has been a difficult and stressful summer for you.

By Blogger fillyjonk, at 2:40 PM  

I've been at that very crossroads before, last year I think. Blogger was driving me crazy with its lack of cooperation and I just didn't know if I had anything to say anymore, of if anyone cared. I stopped for a while, than I found that I missed writing. I started an English blog on Live Journal and enjoy it, although I do not post often, and lately I started a French blog as well, this time with Word press and I really enjoy it too.

The important thing is to do what feels right for you. You don't have to abandon the castle, you can just leave it for a while, go on a retreat, and come back again when you feel like it.

Your readers would miss you of course, but you must take care of yourself.

If it might cheer you up a bit, or inspire you, there is the Red Hot Swap on Ravelry ( I put my name down for it, it looks like fun.

Take care Mrs. Queen :)

By OpenID verachou, at 8:28 PM  

Dear Bess,

You must do what's right for you, of course. But please let it not be for an assumed lack of interest. Your distinctive voice is a treasure. Summer is a busy time when a lot of people focus less on knitting. I read you, when I have time, rather than catch up on famous blogs. I've also dipped my toe in Twitter lately, and it's lots of fun but plays quite a different role from my blog. As for having something to say, I've certainly enjoyed your missives, even when they're just about a slice of daily life. And there are times when your writing has taken my breath away. I hope you'll do whatever you need to do, but I surely hope we'll continue to hear from you in some form somewhere!

By Blogger cathy, at 1:23 AM  

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Saturday, August 22, 2009  

Moving On

No lace progress to report. Not even any lacy sock cuff progress since I made a mistake the first round out and will have to rip back on that sock I was working on Tuesday. Instead, I worked 3 8 hour days this week and on the two half days I was quite physically active. Of course, this is good - to think I could be physically active at all. But the ensuing tiredness did put a crimp on lace progress. Would you believe it? I fell asleep while Elizabeth and Meg were discussing the Pi are Square shawl on television last night - sometime around 7:30!

No lace progress means no photos, alas, but I can't get the photo loading option to display in blogger anyway - which brings me round to a discussion on blogging that has long been forming in my head.

It seems to me that fewer and fewer people are blogging these days and those of us who do are sketchy posters at best. Some of my very favorite bloggers have just ceased to post at all and I find myself writing less and less. I always suspected that the interactive/comment/connectivity aspect of blogging is what kept me inspired. My blogging seemed to connect me to a greater society, mostly made up of other fiber folk, in a way that made sharing what was going on both fun and worthwhile.

I felt like I had something to share. I felt like there were people who were interested. I was inspired to post, to reach out, to continue sharing. Lately though, I haven't felt any of that - and as I have found myself starting to repeat thoughts ... after all, how many elegies about the turning of the seasons, the serenading of crickets in the hedgerows, the pale fog of autumn becomes too many? ... I've begun to notice that only the famous bloggers are still blogging and I don't read them. I read the blogs of folk who connected with me and those folk, with a few exceptions, aren't posting any more.

Have Twitter and Facebook and other mini-burst communication formats taken the place of blogger? I certainly keep up with most, if not all, of the folk who used to follow TheQueen on Facebook. Twitter continues to elude me, refusing to let me log in or register, and in a way I'm sort of glad. My goodness, Facebook sucks up enough of my time as it is.

And now - Blogger just doesn't want to let me do anything any more. It won't let me cut and paste from a .doc file. It won't let me load photos. It tells me repeatedly that it's "Done with Error on Page" but it never lets me know how to correct the error. It is too big to move to Blogger's newer format so it is difficult, if not impossible, for peole to link to it via RSS feed or any other of the mysterious connectivity tools out there. It constantly wants me to log on with my google account but of course, LikeTheQueen was made with a different email address so I can't post from that.

This blog is over 6 years old and I am wondering if it is time to bid TheCastle adieu and either start a new blog (maybe somewhere else) or cease entirely. I have always liked the name of this blog, which is one reason I've been reluctant to shift to a newer or easier blogging option - but I think technology, and I'll admit it, the lack of interest from others, has pushed me to the point of decision. And so - over the next week or so I will do just that - come to a decision and move on.

posted by Bess | 7:12 AM


Just catching up. I'm so sorry. I'm glad time and knitting are helping. The lacework is beautiful.

By Blogger cathy, at 4:59 PM  

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Monday, August 17, 2009  

Is Blogger wonkey today or is it me?

I can't get the posting page to display editing options or even photo uploading. I uploaded these photos yesterday and saved the post to write this morning. Still and all, I'm going to take a chance to show Progress Into Uncharted Knitting.

Here is a detail photo of the Pi Shawl. Notice where the diagonal fagotting changes direction and the diamond begins to narrow to a point. That is New To This Pattern. This part actually looks pretty good. What is not so elegant is where the pattern repeats begin - another straight fagot that has an unbalanced bit of stockinette stitching. eh. Nobody will notice. All anyone will want to do is scrunch her fingers into the lofty cashmere. This is not for competition - since I've come to know that competition knitting has gotten so good you have to add Original Design to your entry to win a prize.

I will read and study and even chart some more and learn how this is done so that the next time it's Closer to Perfect.

And just for fun - here is the Other Lace Project I'm fiddling with. It looks awfully loose to me - especially compared to the photo on the KnitPicks webpage. I may block this just to see. That's the fun of knitting, isn't it?

posted by Bess | 1:39 PM


i started the fall knitting
socks right now
to be followed by cowls, hats, mittens

still in the midst of the endless studio reorganization
i can almost..... almost see the light

it all has to be done before october as we heat with wood and right now the woodstove is completely covered with stuff such as paints, watercolor paper, woolen hats, knitting needles........
you know the stuff of life

take good care bess


By Blogger vi, at 8:51 AM  

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Sunday, August 16, 2009  

Lace on the Brain

I must thank all of you for your kind words of sympathy, posted and emailed to me over the past week. Each of us in my family is finding her way through this door, but I have had the help of friends and I count you all among that list.

Another great boon for TheQueen has been her knitting. Taking a cue from Elizabeth Zimmermann, I have been Knitting on, with confidence and hope. And not just any knitting either - for I am in the throes of Lace Fever and can't stop knitting it, thinking about it, looking at books on it, borrowing More Books about it and even charting my own lace.

I've knit a little lace over the years - slipping in bits here, a cuff there, and last summer I began exploring Evelyn Clarke's lace triangles (Thank you Clara) I found that knitting lace in August is particularly pleasant. There's natural daylight long into the evening. Lace is lightweight, even when you're knitting wool, so it doesn't fill the lap with heat. And lace is just plain fun to knit. Much like fair isle and other stranded colorwork, it is always changing - there is always some surprise floating off your needles if you just knit one more row. Well, alright. Maybe two more rows.

At my first Stitches event in 2007 I registered with Hunt Valley Cashmere for their Great American Aran Afghan square of the (every-other) month club. I had admired their yarn for a long time and I had thought I'd like to knit that afghan. Turns out I LOVE their yarn but am indifferent to the afghan so I just began stockpiling the yarn as it came in every 8 weeks, figuring there would come a time when inspiration would inflame my passion and I would cast on the right project.

Lace shawl kept floating through my brain and Knit Lace in August thrummed beneath like a basso continuo. August drew near and, though I had intended to knit Only Socks this summer, I told myself, finishing 3 pair of socks was enough. Knitting is not supposed to be something I punish myself with but something that thrills me with pleasure. Discipline has no virtue in and of itself - but is to be used as a tool to make your life better. And there was this beautiful Sleeves in your Pi shawl (see August 3 post) and I cast on and here are a few photos:

Here is a closeup of the center part of the pattern.

As I mentioned earlier, the cashmere knits up much smaller than the yarn used in the original design so I'm going to have to enlarge it - and a few weeks ago I fiddled with charting an additional outer ring. I am now only 4 rounds away from beginning my own chart - I plan to get there today. I'm still on self imposed medical R&R this weekend, with great hopes that I will be well enough to do a full day's work tomorrow.

I can't say enough about the joy of knitting lace with this yarn. Normally I am a springy bouncy merino fan and rather avoid inelastic yarns, but this yarn is different. It is pure joy to work with, it makes me happy when it touch it, it inspires me to keep on knitting. It stays put on the Addi Lace needles and if it splits, a gentle tug in two directions after fixing the split restores it to smoothness.

It also seems to hold up well as a fabric. Mind now - I am well aware this is cashmere. It's a delicate fiber and is expected to pill over time. But even knitting with these delicate fine fibers can sometimes create signs of wear and I am seeing nothing on my shawl yet. This shawl is going to be heavenly to own and to wear. And buying the yarn slowly, over time, has made it affordable for me. I think it comes to $22 a skein (though I don't have an invoice before me - there may be a shipping charge) and that is something I can afford every other month.

Another interesting thing about this yarn is how it knits up on different needles. Here is a project I started because I am a true EN - look a bird - FP and can never resist TheNextThing. While pouring over discussions of pi shawl techniques (needed if I am to expand a spoked pi shawl) in Meg Swansen's Gathering of Lace I got to wondering if this cashmere yarn could be knit up into those lace gloves .... and guess what! It can! See?

Not sure I'd do this more than once, because I find that when I knit an inelastic fiber on size 0 needles I grip them so tightly I bend them. This is definitely not relaxing knitting, though it's not tense knitting either. I just grip too tightly. I wish I had wooden zero's because, though I might still grip tightly, I wouldn't bend them. Of course .... I might break them - so I have resisted ordering More Needles.

The happy surprise is that this yarn, knit so tightly (a photo of the palms would show this, but alas, I don't have one) is still supple, soft, a delightful texture and a pleasure to feel. It will make the most luxurious gloves I will ever own and I'll probably wear them only for dress-up. (remember "dress up"?)

And lest you fear I successfully resisted purchasing any new lace knitting treasures, I assure you that an order went out to KnitPicks for Anna Marie Jensen's Rona Lace Shawl and a couple of skeins of their Gloss yarn in a color called celery. Well. I had to try those new acrylic needle tips, didn't I? And once I had an order started, what's a pattern leaflet and a few skeins of laceweight?

And yes. I cast it on and have knit about 25 rounds. Just a bit of knitting. Just to see. Because that's the way it is when you have Lace On The Brain.

May you all knit on, with hope and confidence, and find rest on the other side.

posted by Bess | 8:03 AM


I am so very sorry for your loss. You are right, without time, we would be stuck in very painful places. With time, sorrow becomes softer and is integrated into a sweet memory of a loved one we can recall at anytime and can hold as a precious gift placed in our hearts by the people we lost. Where grief is concerned, time is a healer, I do agree. When I feel the need to remember someone I hold dear and to cry sweet tears of love, I like to listen to this song:
I don't know who sang it originaly, but I do love Eva Cassidy's voice so much.

Sending you a great big hug.

Audrey xox

By OpenID verachou, at 5:46 PM  

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009  

Time Is Your Friend

It has been a difficult time at TheCastle. A week ago, at the height of the eclipse, my young nephew let go of life, unexpectedly. His had not been an easy one but it had its richness and its deep value. We are still trying to find our way through the veil of sadness, each of us on our own pathway.

Life, though, that pulsing wave of EverythingElse thrumming all around us, continues - as anyone who has suffered great loss knows - and we aren't oblivious to it. There were several Other Events that crowded into a weekend underlined with grief and TheQueen and her family muddled through them with determination. They helped because they made demands on me, blunting the first piercing of grief, but now that a week has passed I am glad they will diminish and eventually fade away and it will be just the immediate household of TheQueen and BD and her dogs.

And perhaps her health - which seems to be returning at last after a month's absence. The third visit to the doctor began a different course of medication - this time for asthma - which, after a week - is finally kicking in. Last night I slept for 3 hours straight and did not wake up coughing out my lungs. A first in a month. This is good. It may be I will be All Fixed before you know it, because the funny thing about getting well is that you feel rotten for so long that when you finally feel good it seems as if it happened all of a sudden. At least - that is what I am counting on.

The other comfort I have had over the past week has been my knitting - which has proved to be enormously soothing. Two projects - a little cashmere - a little cotton/lycra - soft but resilient. Yes. That, too, has been good.

I am into the wind-down of summer now that The Reunion is over. Even if the days are hot, the nights are longer so they cool us down more. People are away, trying to fit in the last bit of vacation time before school and autumn and holiday activities crowd in. Tappahannock, my little town, is something of a vacation place. The county falls along a wide tidal river and there are lots of vacation cottages. In June and July, the vacationers who show up at the library are kicking back and want books to read. But in August, the vacationers are more frenetic - in the water more, swimming, boating, doing - and the traffic at the library slows down a bit. August is when staff an take vacations. Not This Staff since I've been out so much sick that I now have a backlog of paperwork on my desk. But other staff - so I'll be out front more, chatting with folk, helping people find things.

The turning of the seasons makes itself felt in other places too - goldenrod is blooming along the road and the sweet gum leaves are turning orange. They're always the harbingers of autumn and I will begin to daydream about colorways and fair isle sweaters and cuddling up in the big green chair to knit scrunchy warm things. One day there will be a flock of geese overhead, calling out instructions and directions to their mates and I will know that it's time to get the winter clothes out of the attic.

Right now, with the loss of my nephew, I don't want to see the circle roll around, but eventually the sadness and loss will tamp down into my being and synthesize with the essence of myself. And then I will again savor the fact that we are always moving and flowing and circling and I will be glad. I once knew a couple who loved to argue about time. Is time your friend or is it your enemy? They played this game throughout 50+ years of happy marriage. The first time I heard about it my reaction was "Oh it's your friend!" and as I sit here today I know this to be completely true. Eventually, time smooths everything and as I still feel the prick of grief, I am glad I know this. Thank you Time. You are my most welcome friend.

posted by Bess | 6:43 AM


I don't know who you are, but thank you for posting the beautiful lyrics, and making sure that there is a trace left behind. You're right, it does hurt terribly.
Linda (a friend of the family)

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 PM  

Omigosh. The man was a month younger than my son. I can only imagine the pain. May his family and friends be comforted, and know that God is holding them in the palm of His hand.

By Blogger Marg, at 1:52 PM  

oh bess dear,

it is so hard for us left behind to understand, and keep going when all we want is for time to stop
to stay where the person who's left us is still with us

it doesn't seem right that the world keeps on spinning when it is obvious that it should by rights STOP

maybe it is a good thing that it keeps on spinning?

every day is a new first with a short stab

i am not religious dear, but i truly believe that this isn't all there is
that we or the essence of who we are lives on and reunites with the people we love that left before we did

so all i can say is when a loved one goes on early..... they count on us to continue

we are to live and enjoy our lives
and hold experiences and stories for when we rejoin later after it is all over
and then we all sit around and tell each other those stories and laugh and hug and just be

love from vi

By Blogger vi, at 9:23 AM  

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Friday, August 07, 2009  

James Franklin Kaye
July 12 1985
August 5 2009

It's a lesson too late for the learnin'
Made of sand, made of sand
In the wink of an eye my soul is turnin'
In your hand, in your hand

Are you going away with no word of farewell
Will there be not a trace left behind
I could have loved you better, didn't mean to be unkind
You know that was the last thing on my mind.

by tom paxton

Oh God, it hurts.

posted by Bess | 6:16 AM


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Thursday, August 06, 2009  

Thank you both for the compliments. Those socks are warm and they're really not difficult to do. Diann - I am in awe of you for knitting intarsia. I love it so much and have been daunted by its complicated handling. But even as I type that I realize that I could do an intarsia garment. I am always just doubtful about my own ability to finish what I start. Knitting that KipFee sweater on #3 needles did a lot to boost my confidence in actually coming to completion with big projects. I bet an intarsia sweater would be the same type of challenge ... I should just do it.

I will not, of course; at least not any time soon. I am knitting away on the shawl and the baby gift. I did succumb to temptation yesterday when I had a chunk of knitting time with no obligation to please anybody but me and cast on the lace gloves in Meg Swasen's book Gathering of Lace. I just wanted to see. to see if they were tricky. to see if the 4 ply Hunt Valley cashmere yarn would knit up on size zero needles (it does and the fabric is still silky soft). Just to see.

And here is what I saw - and wondered about ....

1. The cashmere does make a luxurious fabric even at this tight gauge
2. I am gripping hard on those thin metal needles which makes my hands tired
3. It also bends the needles. I wish I had zeros in wood, but I don't.
4. I don't think I'd make a bunch of luxury gloves for friends with this yarn because of item #2 above
5. I wonder what some of the thinner sock yarns or springier lace weight yarns would look like knit into these pretty gloves
6. I wonder if springier yarn would be easier to knit this pattern with

Well. I am only going to fiddle with this project this month. Just to see. Just when I am looking for something different to do with sticks and string. My true concentration will be on the baby gift and the shawl.

And the reunion - which is Saturday. And the girlfriend - who flies in on Monday. And the parents - who are missing me. And the sister - who I want to play with at least once this summer.

So - Happy knitting to you and may all your ponderings lead you into New Adventures.

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posted by Bess | 6:36 AM


Oh wow! That's a beautiful sock! Must admit that fair isle scares the beejeebers out of me...I've done intarsia and a tiny bit of fair isle on a baby sweater, but am afraid to commit to anything larger.

You are my hero! Hope the chest thing / allergies get better soon.

By Blogger Diann Lippman, at 12:51 AM  

Hope you feel better soon. Those socks are amazing! Not only are they beautiful, but they must be so warm too!

By OpenID verachou, at 11:58 AM  

Lovely socks, Bess Dear. And you've used some of my favourite colours -- all that pink and turquoise, sparked by the yellow! I must admit, I've never knit Fair Isle socks -- but I have plans for a pair in neutrals. It's just that I'm too busy with lace ones and cabled ones and 'plain vanilla' ones...


By Blogger Marg, at 1:48 PM  

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009  

Fair Isle Socks!

Here they are .. or at least, here it is. My first... oh I just remembered. I once did a stranded colorwork pattern on a sock cuff. I used a plain wool, though, and eventually it felted to small to wear any more.

Anyway - here is the sock. The heel flap and it's join are very rough. I'm at the heel flap section right now on the second sock and I'll do a better job of that one. When I pick up socks again - later in the month.

I'm still not well yet and this is the beginning of the 4th week so I pushed my dr. to give me an appointment tomorrow early. We will have to find Something Else to deal with this awful chest thang. Hope there is New and Better Medicine for me tomorrow.

posted by Bess | 12:31 PM


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Monday, August 03, 2009  

Sigh. No Photos

And yet there is so much knitting to brag about. Ah well. I will have a camera soon enough and in the mean time I shall try to paint word pictures.

I spent all my free time this weekend knitting - blissfully industriously knitting away on two projects: the Pi shawl and the baby outfit. I am determined that these will be FO's by September - so after I post this I am going off to put in a little knitting before work.

First the shawl. It's my first circular shawl and I'm using the pattern from the Sleeves in your Pi shawl, only I am not putting sleeves in. Since the yarn, Hunt Valley Cashmere 4 ply, wants to be knit up at 6 stitches to the inch, 5.5 if I stretch it, the pattern only knits up about half a shawl. I've spent a week pondering how to extend the design, somewhat daunted by charting a big lace pattern of my own. I've charted out little 6 and 10 stitch repeat patterns, but this one will begin with 36 stitches and go up to about 50.

Also - I am too lazy to go read anything about either making pi shawls or charting lace designs. I have the urge to KNIT, not to do knitting math. So I sat down with some graph paper and began filling in the little blocks, extending the triangles into diamonds and making the traveling stitches go in a different direction. It works out okay, though I have to add a LOT of traveling stitches to get enough circumferential stitches to divide evenly by 16 ... the number of rows in the lace edging pattern.

So I am thinking of adding More Triangles to the outer rim. But as I began to chart it out I lost count of the stitches and their directions. This is a spoke shawl so you increase 2 stitches every 4 rows. Every row is always an even number of stitches, too, so it's sometimes difficult to "see" the center stitch of any segment. My flighty ENFP brain and my kinesthetic fingers grew restless once I'd turned the triangle into a diamond and refused to focus on doing the math needed to add the new triangles.

"What's the point in this. Just start knitting. You'll see what you need to do when you get there"

"I am bored"

"When will we get to knit?"

That's the sort of thing the old brain was doing, and since I do understand that what I am naturally inclined to do I am likely to do well, I gave in and began knitting. After all - I'm still knitting the part Gayle Roehm designed. I'm finishing up the last round of 330 stitches and have about 18 more rounds to do before I start knitting TheQueen's design. Here's a rough schematic of what's going on. The black is the original design, the red is the part I know will work, the green is still a bit iffy:

As for the baby sweater, the back is just about done - so I have a 13" square. I'll do the shoulder shaping before work today. I couldn't bring myself to knit the 6 month size, even though the sweater is looking awfully big. But the baby is due in September. This is really a cool weather outfit. When winter comes it ought to fit.

I never did get gauge. I figure "It's a baby and a boy. He won't care that much." Besides the yarn is extremely stretchy cotton/lycra blend. It's's version of fixation and it makes a rather plush fabric. Boring to knit right now, but the result will be very cute.

And now it is Monday. I am coughing less, dripping less, sniffling less - but I am still coughing, dripping and sniffling. I will be SO glad when all this allergy stuff has moved on down the road. In the mean time - happy knitting to you all.

posted by Bess | 6:58 AM


The pie shawl is gorgeous! I am with you on the fair isle. When I started knitting, I thought I would never be able to knit in many colors at once. Now that I can do it, I wish all my projects were fair isle. I always want to knit one more round of fair isle :)

By OpenID verachou, at 11:56 AM  

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Saturday, August 01, 2009  

Sifting my stash, Indulging in dreams, Coming to conclusions

I have been out sick with severe allergies for most of this month. Now and then I've dragged myself in to work when there were things only I could do, but the rest of the time I've slumped around my house listlessly. Since I cough less when I'm upright there has been a lot of knitting going on and this down time has also given me an opportunity to have a look at (some of) my stash.

On a productivity scale, this summer has been up there. 3 pair of socks are off the needles, releasing 3 pair of Addi Turbo's from captivity. I also started a 4th pair (though there are 4 more unfinished pair lingering in zip-lock bags behind the big green chair). My first fair isle socks, photographed below. I've finished the first sock - though it shows all the rough edges of a First Timer, and am ready to start the heel flap of the second. It was while knitting that sock, though, that I realized in an even more profound way, that stranded colorwork is the type of knitting that fuels all other knitting inspiration in my fluttering little knitter heart. It was what got me knitting in the first place, lo those decades ago - it is what has brought me back to knitting time and again, and it is what totally thrills me now. I can always "Knit One More Row" if it's stranded colorwork. It doesn't have to be fair isle, or Norwegian or Estonian or any other ethnic version, just so long as there are two colors of fine yarn looped over my left index finger. It completely, totally and fully satisfies my hunger for color, pattern, texture and design.

I'm so grateful I actually finished that KipFee 2 years ago because that has given me the assurance I need to go ahead and start other fair isle projects, but what I have discovered in my stash is ....


Lots of worsted weight and even some heavy worsted weight yarn. Sweaters and sweaters' worth of it, in glorious fibers: alpaca, Blueface Leicester, silky soft merino, scrunchy bouncy new wool - each cache of yarn with a design already in my brain, waiting to be knit up swiftly on a good #7 needle or even a #9. In short - yarn I am not yet ready to sell or give away.

And have I mentioned ... I live in the south? And I am, as Alexander McCall Smith would say, "a traditionally built woman". A bulky sweater on my traditional build is not going to be the stuff of chic stylishness. Of course, I am always promising myself that This Month I Will Lose that 20 lbs and now and then, I actually do. Probably not a good thing. Had I never succeeded, perhaps I might someday quit trying. But I am sure there is a slimmer Queen waiting to wear that Happy Yarn cardigan knit of purple and orange and lime green alpaca and ready to chase away the worst winter doldrums. I think I heard her whispering to me to put down that third taco last night.

Of course, just looking at stash is enough to make me imagine, in addition to the Imam Body,

(Queen with Iman Body waiting for those bulky knit sweaters)

that I have infinite hands and endless hours and the sort of stick-to-it-iveness of an ISTJ, instead of the flighty personality of an EN- look a bird-FP. I am prepared to cast on all 20 projects stashed away and knit them all this week! ... or at least I am lusting to.

Fortunately, I am capable of overriding my natural tendencies. I have not cast on any of the sweaters waiting patiently to be knit up. I am a little tired of the endless sock knitting and since I've finished so many pair I don't feel obliged to keep on knitting them when I don't want to. I have a baby gift I want to finish this month, for a girlfriend's' October baby which I began this week. I also began some inspiring knitting for TheQueen - a cashmere shawl.

Yes. I am making myself (the lady who lives in a wood heated House-0-Dogs in the country) a cream colored lace cashmere shawl. I joined the Hunt Valley Cashmere Great American Aran Afghan Square of the (every other) Month club almost 2 years ago. I knit the first square and fell passionately in love with the yarn, but was left sort of uninspired by knitting a bunch of squares. I've tried to pick another one to knit and just haven't felt the love. Instead I decided to stockpile the yarn as it came in and when there was enough, to make a shawl.

I've cast on a Sleeves in your Pi shawl by Gayle Roehm from the winter 2000 Knitters Magazine.

Of course, that is knit in a bulky mohair and I am using a sort of dk weight on #6 needles. I'll have to either add another big section after the shawl is done or a very very deep border. I'm inclined towards the latter because it will be easier. I'll just have to wait and see how big this thing is when I've knit all the pattern.

It's a pleasure to work on because even though this is summer, the cashmere is very light and feels like nothing on my lap. The soft silky fluff of it against my fingers is a sensual delight. It requires a very light hand which makes for very relaxing knitting and the 12 segments make it easy to keep track of the stitches.

So it turns out that July has been a wonderful month for this knitter. August looks to be much busier and more social, so let us hope I can lick this allergy stuff soon. And when I am done with some of my already purchased sweaters, this is the garment I plan to cast on.

posted by Bess | 7:51 AM