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.

My Photo
Location: Virginia, United States

Right now I'm listening to "An Irish Country Village" by Patrick Taylor, reading "Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake" by Anna Quindlen and knitting Wisconsin Wintersocks. And casting off the lace shawl I've been working on since I last posted.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Holy Catfish, Batman!

Cass & I drove home from Richmond in the second worst weather I've ever driven in. Rain doesn't usually fall in the same category as the snow & sleet of '82. That was so bad I had to stop twice in a 10 mile drive to clean the ice off my windshield wipers. But then rain doesn't usually fall in unremitting torrents. Bull Run -- the little river closest to my house -- was low last week. This morning it was over the old bridge piers. I've seen it to the top of the piers only once since I moved here. We got between 7" and 10" of rain in 24 hours. (Gee, how much snow would that be?) and we've gotten more since then. But we got home safe and sound after a very busy weekend at Grand Assembly.

I was so disappointed that none of my photos turned out very well. Then I realized the advantage. This photo is so blurry I can post it! Cass is in green, standing next to the girl in purple. The green fabric is actually more sage colored, not nearly so lime. You can't really see the dress, but you can catch something of the impression of a roomful of girls in matching formals.

Each one of these dresses is made up of 45 individual pieces of fabric, if you count lining and underlining as well as the main fabric. Interfacing adds 7 more pieces. One woman said it took her 40 hours to do each of the 5 dresses she made; another woman flew through a dress in 10 hours. I'd guess I spent about 35. I love doing it for Cass, but I never volunteer to do anyone else's dress.

This shows the dress a little better, even if you can't see the pointed v of the dropped waist. Cassie was prepared to hate the dress, but it turned out well. She liked that the lining was fabulously soft and silky. Besides, she was glad she didn't have to wear pink.

She's been given the position of Grand Patriotism (indigo of the seven colors of the Rainbow) for next year, a nice part and quite an honor for her age. She did a beautiful job leading the Memorial Service. She also found out she won first place in her age group at the ritual competition held last April. Add to that the usual late night pizza party, karaoke & making new friends and you have our weekend in a nutshell.

My Pink Alpaca Breast Cancer Shawl brought in $80 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The woman who bought it wore it to the banquet and it matched her pink dress perfectly. I was so tickled.

Next year's charity is the Shriner's Hospital Transportation fund. I'm not inspired yet but I'm sure something will spring to mind.

PS Did you know if you misspell kaoroke, spell check tries to replace it with Kerouac? I suppose they are kind of the same thing...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Shawl is on the block

I wish I had something pithy to post but I'm just too tired. The Dress is done and I even have a photo to prove it. Unfortunately, the photo is in the camera and the computer here has a 5 1/4" floppy instead of a slot for my camera card. (I exaggerate. How quickly I've gotten spoiled.) I am happy to have computer access at all; I'm posting from the hotel's business center.

But back to the dress. While Vince is on a scout canoe trip in the rain, Cass & I are at Virginia's Grand Assembly. I've never before seen how my seamstress skills compare with a group. Here are 30 or so girls (of various shapes) in the same dress pattern in the same fabric. Cassie looks fabulous. It was worth staying up until 3 am to finish all the *&^%$?!!! hand work.

And my Pink Alpaca Breast Cancer Shawl is on the auction block. It's early yet, but the bidding is up to $50.27. I'll let you know Monday how it turned out.

PS I didn't know it at the time, but I had a brief conversation this afternoon with a pro football player (#20 from the 49ers). Anyone know him?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

stuff… including automatic grammar, music i like, and summer

(Disclaimer: This is Cass's guest blog. I had hoped that blogging (Cassie has a MySpace & a Xanga) would be a benefit to teenage writing skills. Sigh.)

Grand assembly is this weekend! Man, I wish microsoft word would stop capitalizing my sentences. It takes away from the laid-backness. ha-HA! the office assistant has betrayed his creators and told me the secret of how to stop the involuntary grammarization! I have excellent grammar, but I choose not to use it unless someone who cares is likely to read whatever i’m writing. I do, however, have excellent spelling all the time. I even spell the words I make up correctly.

I like hoobastank’s new song, If I Were You. mom ought to put music on her blog. snot hard. yeah, that’s what i said. snot. as in “is not.”

i am addicted to myspace. don’t worry, I’m not one of those stupid girls who friends a 50 year old man and gets kidnapped. I don’t friend anyone I don’t know. that would be stupid.
I have a banana layout. its pretty cool.
this is darn cool. los parientes y el hermano have gone to a boy scout function, so I can play my muzak real loud and sing along equally loudly.

I’m listening to the click five. I like them, ok!?

other good songs:
move along, by all american rejects
the remedy, by jason mraz
you and me, by lifehouse
bom bom bom by the living things
the puppy song by harry nilsson

yay! its summer!


Since I've been spending all my spare moments (and some not so spare) working on Cass's dress for Grand Assembly this weekend, I have proposed Cass return the favor and do a "guest blog."

I'm afraid. She seemed to like the idea a lot. Watch this space.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


I cast on this pink stole last August on my trip to visit my friend Chris. For 6 months (to the day) it was my quiet companion, although I finished a few small projects in the meantime -- dishcloths, hats, booties. It languished in the closet for 4 more months, waiting for me to graft up the hem and block it. (The grafting had two false starts before I was satisfied. That's why it took 4 months.) 85 hours and 79,810 stitches later (more or less), here is my Pink Alpaca Breast Cancer Shawl:

Cass paid me the ultimate teen age compliment, saying simply, "It's pretty."

Last June, while happily knitting away on baby booties at Grand Assembly with Cass, the idea percolated that if I was going to knit for charity at her Rainbow functions, I might kill two birds with one stone and knit for a Rainbow charity. This year's charity for Virginia is the Susan G. Komen Foundation. My shawl will be auctioned off at Grand Assembly next weekend (finished with a week to spare), and the money raised will be donated for breast cancer research.

I have to confess. Even though it's pink (which I enjoy working with but not wearing) I've grown rather attached to it. I may bid on it. I also have to admit that when I was about half-way through I figured out exactly why I would knit 79,810 stitches. Each one of them is a silent prayer of thankfulness & hopefulness. I don't have to search far (1 in 5 women) to hear breast cancer stories.

And just to show it's versatility, here's Cass doing a take on her favorite super hero:

She really wants to see the new Superman movie in Imax.

( "Lace Dream" designed by Eugen Beugler, from Knitter's Magazine #42, in "Peppermint" Alpaca Cloud from KnitPicks, slightly modified [1 repeat wider, 1 repeat shorter] and blocked to 23" x 70")

Friday, June 16, 2006

Green satin ribbon

I've been listening to Are You Somebody?, a memoir by Nuala O'Faolain. She describes having been given an exercise once to write about the turning points in her life. Start with the sentence, "I was born" as number one. Number two for her was, "I learned to read." She illuminates well how reading has colored everything she's done since.

For me, I think my second sentence would be, "I learned to tie a bow." Doesn't sound lofty or earth-shaking (or even very promising), does it? But I remember the exact moment I first successfully tied a bow -- not in my shoelaces (this was pre-Velcro when sensible shoes tied and buckles were for dress-up), but in the green satin ribbon of a bolero jacket my Grandma had made for my Barbie. I was not yet 5 and sitting in the sunny open front door, dangling my bare feet over the sill and it came like a flash: that first bow worked carefully in the miniature that is everything about Barbie clothes (have you seen those snaps?) and the beginning of Independence. No more waiting on the pleasure of others. I could do this myself.

Maybe that's the root of my long romance with thread, yarn, string & rope. My macrame career may have been brief, but I have a shelf full of books on knots accompanying my shelf of sewing books & shelves of knitting books. (So maybe reading is number 3?) Is it the holding things together that fascinates me or the labyrinthine path the cord follows to a miraculous conclusion? Or maybe I just believe everything is connected and yarn is a fine metaphor for that.

How about you? What's your second sentence? Or third or fourth?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Knitting mohair is like childbirth

You love the end result with all your heart, but in between projects if you didn't develop amnesia you just might never do it again.

It's practically impossible to frog and the fibers creep along if you don't keep a light, delicate touch. Maybe knitting mohair is more like making pie crust...

The green flashes in this yarn don't show well in this photo, probably because of the greens around it. Razor Shell pattern 49 stitches wide in Crystal Palace Kid Merino in "Violets" on size 9 needles (I was feeling loose.) It's moving right along. I cast this on yesterday, and I'm just knitting until this one ball is gone. This yarn has only been in my stash since "Knitters' Day Out" last Fall. Pretty quick for me.

P.S. Don't ever use your bare hand to brush dust off the bottom of an old Fiberglas kayak. What was I thinking? Coating my palm with peel-off face mask seems to help.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Day Lilies in the ditch

Every one of the flowers I love is favored for a sentimental reason, not because of its color or scent but because of the person it represents to me.

Even though Grandma Fraleigh had a whole bank of hydrangeas the size of basketballs, I think of her for pansies, poppies, and bleeding hearts. When I think of Grandma Schmude, I think of gladiolus, morning glories, strawberries and

day lilies.

I'm especially fond of these because even though my yard looks like a mulched parking lot and I am stubbornly not trying to rehabilitate it, these troopers come up year after year. In the ditch. Just like at Grandma's house (although her ditch was magnificent. Mine's wimpy.) Today I saw my first blooms of the summer.

Looks deceptively pastoral, doesn't it? The traffic was being held up by the school bus just around the corner.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Anne Frank

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Anne Frank. If she hadn't died at Bergen Belsen in 1945, she would have been 77 years old. It never occured to me before, but she was only a year older than my dad. It puts into perspective for me how young she really was; the same age when she went into hiding as my son is now.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Filius Bonacci part 2

I have faith in felting. Even though these yarns were from at least 3 different companies, they felted quickly and smoothly. I wish I had stopped knitting about 2 inches earlier so I didn't have to turn up a cuff, but over all, this antic look is what I was aiming for. I also wish 'Livia was here to model it, but I can't have everything.

Check this out! Here's another Fibonacci hat but done from a whole different angle. I really like the idea, and am plotting what colors I'll use. Maybe I should do a Fibonacci hat series... It's a plus that I found out about this hat in the alternate universe because a new person left a comment! Whohoo!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'm in love with a dead Italian mathematician

It all began with knitting a hat for the "colorful" category of our guild's Caps for Kids contest. (By the way, I missed the contest deadline, but I'm not fussed because a child can still wear this come next winter.) I started with my newly-acquired-from-a-thrift-store, plastic, double-pointed needles in the exact shade of green the bathroom fixtures at Grandma's house used to be (not quite so turquoise as this photo shows, more medium leaf green -- very 1950's), somewhere between US size 10 and 10 1/2 :

Add yarn from my stash -- not just any yarn but vintage wool yarn of the most unrelenting color scheme; yarn that moved from the sheep's back, to a maniac dye master who said, "What happens if we do ... this?", to a dime store when we still had dime stores, to the home of a 1960's Crochet Diva, to the previously mentioned thrift store, to me, at the bargain price of a buck a bag. Extra points for colors that Do. Not. Go. Together.

Cast on 72 stitches. (3 x 27. Seemed like a good number at the time. Lots of 3's.) Stir in the magic of Fibonacci and his rabbits . (If you start with a pair, and * when they are a month old they breed and produce a pair the following month; repeat from *, how many rabbits at the end of the year?) If you use the same sequence for the number of rows of knitting in a series of stripes, it is strangely appealing and fun to knit besides.

After the sheer cleverness of the math begins to lose its charm (or you reach 10"), decrease 6 times, evenly spaced around. This is where I found out I'd only cast on 70 stitches so I faked it. Don't look closely. Keep decreasing until you have only 3 stitches and knit on those for 5" or so.

Get jiggy with a darning needle,

then hope all these yarns felt, and I'm not saying I hope "their feel-bad hurts." If the wool won't felt, this huge hat may become a purse, but I'm betting that in 1960, "washable colors" did not mean "superwash". Stay tuned. I'll let you know tomorrow after a visit with My Favorite Household Appliance.

I've always loved making something from next to nothing (kind of like an engineer obsessed with perpetual motion) and this comes pretty darn close. The needles were 90 cents, the dollar's worth of yarn is enough to make at least (I just couldn't use the word 'conservatively' with these colors) five more hats, and the time was stolen -- otherwise-wasted TV time and car trip time, so neither one counts.

I also love garish colors (but not for me to wear) and throwing wool in the washing machine to intentionally shrink it. I wonder what Freud would say?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


I've heard that my blog has not been accepting comments very well. Since you'd have to be able to comment to tell me my comments aren't working, who knows how long this has been going on? And since I dearly love getting comments and wouldn't want to miss a single one, feel free to email me at g_fraleigh(at)yahoo(dot)com. I'm working on my sidebar so people can email me with a click instead of making a comment but I'm not there yet.

Can you use the word "comment" in every sentence of a paragrah, too?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

There is no dog in this picture

When the photos of the finished firehouse murals arrived in my email box, the first thing I noticed was:

there is no dog in this picture. The Dalmation for which I was lobbying must have run around the corner to whiz in the woods.

Lola would be willing to stand in for the Dalmation.

She (sadly) has to find new digs. Her owner, who is the second biggest dog-lover I know, just can't face burying another dog right now. I won't sugar-coat it: she has two bad habits (not counting a bark that sounds like you just ran over her tail. She doesn't use it often -- just when she really has something to say. ) She likes to be held and will lie still as a sack of rocks as you're carrying her the 1/2 mile home after chasing her cross-country because she is ... an Escape Artist. Oh, yeah. That's one of her bad habits. She's excellent at finding any weakness in a fence & exploiting it to the max. That's what makes her high-risk for the doggy cemetery. She doesn't watch for cars when she crosses the street. She is definitely a leash dog, although I firmly believe she would be a dream to train. The first command on the list would be "come." She's just curious, is that a crime?

Her other bad habit is trash can tipping but if you just keep the kitchen trash can on the counter, that problem is completely solved.

OK, so she has a few quirks but for some odd reason, I've fallen for this dog like I haven't fallen for a dog in years. And this after I spent yesterday afternoon chasing her through the neighborhood & carrying her home. Thank heavens for the border collie who herded her toward me instead of him. He was so silent it was scary.

Maybe I like her because she's not pushy and doesn't play any of the Alpha Dog games. Plus she's just the right size -- small enough to be portable but big enough to bite a bad guy -- and the perfect size for wearing a hand-knit doggy sweater.

And then again maybe I just have a soft spot for the underdog. Anyone looking for a young beagle to adopt?

Monday, June 05, 2006

When I grow up I want to ...

Once again Lene has sparked some thought with a post, this time about Life Lists -- things you hope to do before you, um, die. At first I could think of nothing, feeling wonderfully content by design & coincidence from my recent trip to Wisconsin.

Then I remembered, "Oh, I want to learn to sign. "

And to speak Italian; although I have no real desire to visit Italy. I don't really want to visit anyWHERE. I like to visit people more than places. I would like to live in some new and interesting place, but I'm not a very good tourist. I'd rather have a family cookout in Mom's yard than go to Paris.

I want to go to the top of the fire tower again, this time with someone who doesn't cling to both hand rails like we're on the Titanic and all the lifeboats just left. (I should give more credit to the kids. They did make it to the top, even if they were a little spooked.)

I'd like to see a PostSecret exhibit. They're going to be at the Reading Public Museum on June 17 -- which would have been Michael D's 44th birthday. He would have loved PostSecret. I think I should go.

But mostly I want to do something that helps other people. It's about time I do some career planning, don't you think? What can a middle-aged (don't laugh; we live to be quite old in my family if something doesn't intervene), intelligent, compassionate woman accomplish? I'm considering end-of-life nursing -- visiting nurse, maybe hospice. Dying well is hard and a person needs all the help they can get (and I do NOT mean Jack Kevorkian). People keep warning "burn-out!", that there is less than no glamour in it and very little money, but I really truly deep down believe I might be good at it.

Then again maybe I'm just being idealistic. We'll see if I can get into a program and rustle up some financial aid. I figure I have 4 years to get it together (that's when I expect the Young Man to go off to college.) In the meantime, I'm planning a new shawl-- this time of my own design in a lovely soft shade of light moss green alpaca. That'll tide me over.

What do you want to do?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Happy Birthday, Doug

What's missing from this photo?

The youngest of the clan, Doug.

Always ready to chat, especially with a pretty girl,

the guy who smiles so big his eyes close,

the wild child.

All spirit and charm; a beloved son

a treasured brother,

a favorite uncle,

and a father (you'll have to send Aunt Gail more photos).

We just wouldn't be complete without you.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Knit in Public!

Did you know that Saturday, June 10, 2006 is World Wide Knit In Public Day? For those of you in Northern Virginia, you can go knit around the fountain at Reston Town Center between 11 am & 2 pm. Check out this website for details (and rain location) or check out the main website for WWKIP day for other gatherings. Cool, eh? Some of us do it in public regularly, but it's even more fun to do it in a group. Knitters Unite!


or did I mean stunned?

Here is the missing basic training photo from my Memorial Day posting. You can see why I didn't keep a copy, but my dear mother --through the magic of the internet -- has provided it for our amusement. I always hated the hat in this photo (after I wore it for a few months, it got squashed down into something more manageable), but Mom remembers this as "the photo with the crooked bangs." Funny I'd never noticed that before. (We had a hairdresser in our flight. She had a tidy little business on the side keeping our haircuts from driving the TIs crazy. I can see now why she was looking for a new career. In fairness to her, there does seem to be a little wave on one side but not the other.) The baggy jacket wasn't mine, and I really want to reach out & straighten the wrinkle in my collar & the right US emblem, but the flag looks nice, doesn't it?