Fingerless glove

looking for what's missing... I'm a knitting, spinning, mother of teenagers with a big dog, a small cat, minus the lovely rabbit Meliflua.

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Location: Virginia, United States

Right now I'm listening to "Peace Is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh, reading "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan, knitting mittens, and thinking about casting on a hat.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What kind of knitter are you?

I’ve been reading Knitting Heaven and Earth by Susan Gordon Lydon. So far my only disappointment is the absence of the author’s photo on the cover. I want to know what she looks like because she tells so much about herself and what kind of knitter she is that I feel I know her.

What kind of knitter are you? Do you glory in the ever-changing light and dark of hand-dyes? Are you soothed by the endless, epic (relentless?) nature of a fine lace shawl or prefer the quick fix of chunky mittens or baby bootees? Are you plagued by Second Sock Syndrome (or second mitten or second bootee) with a series of lone socks languishing in your basket/bag/closet? Do you knit baby things for charity with secret delight in warming a small heart? Do you love the well-thought-out and accurate pattern or plunge fearlessly on with a bit of a swatch, a big idea and a few scratchy notes? Big needles? 0000’s? Easy-wash acrylic or quiviut? One project at a time or a near endless stash of UFOs?

I am a little bit of all of these, but mostly I am an experimental knitter. Small or large, I love to try something new. As I write this, a baby blue and white 7” x 9” rectangle sits next to me under the lamp. I can’t wait to get back to it because it’s an experiment in “Shadow” or “Illusion” knitting (Thank you teacher Karen Friely & writer Vivian Hoxbro). Like a mystery novel, I can’t wait to find how it all turns out. 7 x 9 rectangles are perfect for little experiments and you can hand them off like a relay at a guild meeting to be turned into a cozy afghan.

It doesn’t matter what kind of knitters we are. We all gather our own personal joy, blessing, relief or triumph from it. The Knitting Olympics are over. Kudos and “medals” to all who took up the challenge, struggled and maybe thought a bit about what kind of knitter he or she is. It’s enough that we knit.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Michelle Kwan, my Knitting Olympic hero

Because she & I both figured out this was not our year. Just as we were all happy not to watch the spectacle of her struggle, I will not bore you with the details (except to say that M & M's in the VaporRub is the tip of the iceberg). Maybe the Summer Games...

As you've surely noticed the lack of photos of my Olympic nonknitting, I'll distract you with the really imaginative stalling I did (mostly finishing so I still managed to feel virtuous.)
I finished the knitting on my pink alpaca breast cancer fundraiser shawl and it's not even due until June. (Grafting the hem on this slippery, tiny stuff is giving me fits. Any suggestions?)
Rectangles for Warm-Up America afghans
Sewing in ends for the baby sweater I finished knitting last summer
A fuzzy sweater for a homely bear

And lets not forget the Green Tequila Sunrise Felted Wool Hat I did on the airplane. The teacher was delighted and wanted to wear it immediately until her students reminded her, "NO HATS IN SCHOOL."

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Do you know when you started to lose your cool?

I started to become uncool in 1987. Ask me how I know this? I've been listening to the local classic rock station (WARW) play their "30 years in 30 days" (1966-1995) series. 1987 was "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" (brought tears to my eyes. Maybe not a great president, but he was certainly Presidential. He had some style going, that's for sure) and the scandal of Jim & Tami Fae (forgive my spelling; I was never a fan). I've been listening off and on since I got back from Texas, and rockin' to most of the songs when I hit 1987, and got the "That was hit? Where was I?" feeling.

So 1987 is when I started to lose my cool. I know, I know. Now men of my age prefer girlfriends who were still in high school in 1987.

WARW started playing 1988. My hit recognition got worse, but a miracle happened! I had wallowed for a few days until they got to 1990 and I recognized songs again because all the good stuff was a cover of earlier coolness. Suddenly it hit me. The music lost it's cool, not me. I am as cool as I ever was.

Which isn't much, but I've still got it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I'm not claustrophobic, I'm Catholic

I learned something about myself today. I am not claustrophobic. Apparently an MRI is the supreme test and I had my first one today. Not even a quiver. My boss advised, "Just remember you can crawl out either end." My sister advised, "Don't wear underwire." (I was prepared. I was completely metal-less & didn't have to change out of or into anything) When I glided (why isn't it glid?) into the tube, I had a brief mental image of Star Trek -- the smooth curved surface inches from my nose, the low light. 6 Our Fathers & 48 Hail Mary's later I was out. We all have our own coping mechanisms and mine are working very well right now thank you very much.

So I'm not afraid of small spaces, but the thing that's scaring the daylights out of me is that she immediately sent me for x-rays as well, which my doctor hadn't ordered. She says, "Oh, they do that all the time." Who knew?

The quote for the day (courtesy of Cassie) is: "To be daunted by no difficulty; to keep heart when all have lost it; to go through intrigue spotless; to forgo even ambition when the end is gained -- who can say this is not greatness?" -- Kit Snicket

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Happy Birthday Cassandra

Dear Cassie,

I will always love you.

Ever since you were tiny you've had a big circle of people who care about you

and watch over you from heaven.

You are my shining star.

You've brought peace and joy into our lives. (and lots of other stuff, too)

Rock on.

Love, Mom

Saturday, February 18, 2006

What I learned on my winter vacation

I learned San Antonio is hard on your skin. From the moment I stepped off the plane my face felt tight. By the time I flew home it was taking on the texture of a well-loved briefcase. Still, a little sun-brightened pink in your cheeks makes up for a lot-- sunscreen salesmen and dermatologists be damned.

I learned I am lucky enough not to be allergic to Western Mountain Cedar pollen.

I learned Texas men are the most shameless, charming flirts. (Not to be confused with the wolf-whistling, oggling, "Hey, baby!" semi-predatory guy you find everywhere. That is not flirting.) In Texas I am a "Miss" instead of a "Ma'am", or was he just angling for a bigger tip?

He got one, by the way. Minimum wage for tipped employees in that area is a paltry $2.13/hour.

I learned "A Tale of Two Cities" is not the best choice of book on CD if the woman sitting next to you on the plane wants to chat, and people will want to chat more if you're knitting lace in a pleasant shade of pink than if you're knitting a chunky grim harvest gold hat.

I learned it's much easier to sit on the tarmac in an airplane for over an hour waiting for your gate to open up if you're already at your final destination, not helplessly watching the minutes tick away as your connecting flight to some wonderful exotic place takes off while you grind your teeth, snap at the flight attendant and heave monstrous martyr sighs accompanied by dramatic eye rolls. (which doesn't help)

I learned the best food in San Antonio is at my sister-in-law's house. For those of you not lucky enough to eat ribs there, you can eat Bar B Q at Rudy's. The atmosphere is phenomenally awful but the brisket is great.

And lastly, sometimes in February you just have to use your car's air conditioning. (OK. I admit it. Now I'm just trying to rub it in.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." -- Albert Einstein

When I came across this quote, I thought "Right on Albert!" I've been watching the Olympics and whooping it up for the winners, but can't help but feel every crushed dream as well. Time to hit my internal RESET. So what if it is a metaphor for life? It's still a game.

The Curling competitions have been my surprise favorite. You get to see more of the athletes and for a longer time period than you do in say, downhill skiing. Maybe I like it because it's not necessarily over if they get "in the glue." (I cannot bear to watch the figure skaters. One tiny edge caught and they're done for.)

On to more important things. This is what I'm supposed to be turning into a winter jacket with twined-knit sleeves. The Olympics are almost half over and I've cast on and frogged twice. A net gain of zero. Sigh. I'm always slow out of the blocks, but I've thought about it enough that when I do get a good start I'm convinced it will be smooth skating the rest of the way.

In my defense, I've been distracted. The weather in San Antonio has been bikini-warm in the afternoons and in the mornings there were things to explore. Like yarn shops, rodeos, 300-year-old missions and such.

The Yarn Barn has a Fabulous book selection (including some out of print but alas, not The Principles of Knitting I pine for).

You can tell a bit about where you are by the yarn they stock. You do not find an endless selection of sock yarn in Texas (in the summer it's too hot and in the winter your cowboy boots cover them up?) You do find plenty of yarns that felt, a wool purse being less seasonally handicapped here than a wool sweater would be.

The owner was charming, gave me a tour of where everything was and I felt right at home because she had posted the spiral scarf article from the Washington Post's January 8th Sunday Source. (If you haven't seen it, it's a great example of irony. The writer was looking for the perfect, unique scarf. Now that she's written about it, everyone else is knitting the same scarf in the same yarn.)

Now that I'm back home in Northern Virginia, I couldn't get my own dog to pose with the Tequila Sunrise Felted Wool Kool-Aid Hat. He's much less cooperative than Max was. So here it is, after the application of much hot water and 4 packages of Berry Blue Kool-Aid. (Person included for scale. )

Hardly recognizable as the same piece of knitting shown on my last post, thank goodness.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Guilt is a useless emotion

Does this look like a twined-knit sleeve?

Here are my first blog photos and they're certainly not of Olympic caliber knitting. To make up for that, I've included my lovely sister and Max enjoying the early morning Texas weather.

I am fixated on the weather because hours after I left Northern Virginia, snow in what is for that area an EPIC quantity was dumped. And I am running around in the San Antonio sunshine. I'm trying to feel guilty but I'm too busy doing my happy dance.

I had every intention of doing my Knitting Olympics project on the airplane yesterday. Instead I knit a Tequila Sunrise Felted Wool Kool-Aid Hat so I'm trying to work up a tiny bit of guilt about that, too. I just can't. I've always loved trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (we're going to the Stock Show & Rodeo tomorrow) and this thrift store harvest gold vintage wool yarn is the sow's ear of yarn if ever there was one. No one on the airplane even asked me what I was knitting; it's that bad. Stay tuned to see how it comes out after some hot water & Kool-Aid.

Speaking of airplanes, there were TWO of us in row 20 yesterday from two separate traveling parties. Whoo hoo! Educating the public, one flight at a time.

PS Yes, I am the Gail from the Prince William Purlers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Am I the only one?

Am I the only one who has a key on my keyring that I haven't used in a year?

Am I the only one who tests pumpkins to see how long they'll keep? I think I'm going to go "Tootsie Pop" on Valentine's Day. Remember the old Tootsie Pop commercials -- how many licks to the center? Lick, lick, crunch ? How many months will a smallish, unblemished pumpkin remain unblemished on your kitchen counter? 3.

Am I the only one who feels a bit uneasy when I finish something epic, like I'm not quite sure which direction to take next? Or like I just got home from a trip and the house is still a mess and the dog is pretending he doesn't know me? For me this is true of books, knitting, sewing, yardwork... Stop laughing! I finish things sometimes. For example I did eventually finish Bubba's second mitten. Truthfully, those in the know could cite a list of my unfinished projects as long as the shawl I'm almost finished with. But now that I've reached the end of Amy Tan's fabulous, multi-layered novel Saving Fish From Drowning, what do I do now?

For those who have tried to leave a comment, try again. I think (hope?) it's fixed.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Blue skies smiling at me

I'm following the suggestion on Grace's Poppies (via yarnharlot, via creating text(iles)) to post blog poetry on this, the Feast of Bridgid/Groundhog's Day/Feast of the Presentation in the Temple/Last Day of Christmas. In other words, I still haven't any photos of my impending knitting project to post.

Here's the only one of my poems I've ever shared; it's intensely personal yet too vague to give away my secrets. More importantly, I don't care if anyone reads this one. I love it the way it is.

I thought of you today, under a sky
Azure as my grandfather's smiling eyes
The blue still there though hidden by disguise
A soft veil of gray mist and tears uncried.

God's splendor hemmed in twilight's roseate cloud
Winter silhouettes of trees fringing black
The diamond glitter blue that's stealing back
Transforming earth's night star-embroidered shroud.

Frozen waterfalls weep down mountains coal
Arrested betwixt love's treacherous bliss
And honey'd hell, courting warm spring's kiss
To free the paralyzed breath of my soul.

Your lost note wakes my truth beneath his lies,
Bids me remember sapphire mountain skies.