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 "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.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Meathead Knit-along

I mentioned awhile ago that I signed up to do Larissa Brown's Meathead Knit-along. (I'm linked on her web page as "gail & daughter." Cassie never did get inspired with the embellishment, but she does love taking the photos.) Larissa is doing a book about knit-alongs and knitting communities. For those of you that know flickr, you can view photos of participants' meatheads under the group meathead06. She will select a dozen or a dozen & a half of the hats (based more on color coordination than style) to actually be in the book.

The deadline is November 30. I got my photos posted with hours to spare.

It fits and has an antic little peak, but I wish the hat were just a bit deeper. I'd add a row or two next time. The pattern uses one skein of Lambs Pride Bulky, 2 strands held together on size 15 needles so it's a quick knit -- I spent less than an hour and a half from cast-on to ends-woven-in.

I've never done a knit-along before (unless you count my injured reserve in the Knitting Olympics.) This was fun but was over practically before I started. Since I'd used the color Mossy Oak (a medium bronzy brown), I thought about decorating it with cream colored I-cord for a gingerbread look, but settled on a peacock feather lashed to a bar pin with matching yarn, leaving the ends dangle and adding a few more ends for good measure. Oliver loves it. He REALLY wants this hat. I gave him the rest of the peacock feather to play with but being the wool lover he is, he wants it all.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad

The top ten things about my Dad:

He was handsome.

He liked to go places, not to get away but to go places. He'd be happy to take you along if you wanted to go, too. He took me along all over the western half of this country.

He had a sense of humor.

He always remembered my birthday. This might not seem like a Herculean task, but for some reason my actual birth date is harder than normal for people to remember. My own daughter thinks it's the 22nd. Even though he didn't sing for any other reason, Dad always sang "happy birthday" to his kids. As teenagers we groaned, but I saved the answering machine tape of the last time he sang to Cassie. I like remembering I have it.

He liked to surprise us, whether a doggie sweater for Christmas, a tiny wooden piano or showing up at the airport disguised with a wig and an eyebrow pencil moustache.

Would you hand your child to this man? We kept our purses clamped to our sides and almost flipped when Bob handed his baby to him. It was hilarious and it was all caught on tape.

He loved his kids and he loved their kids.

He could hypnotize a chicken. (Unfortunately I don't have a photo for this one.)

He loved my Mom

from beginning to end.

(I'm not sure why I like this photo so much, but I do. Maybe because of the way Dad's looking at Mom.)

You may have noticed that's not ten. I could go on and go way over 10 like I usually do when I make a "Top Ten List," but when I came to the last one, I thought, "That's it. That's the best thing about Dad."

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you.



Sunday, November 26, 2006

Dear Pat,

Does this look more like a High Country Knitwear cowboy hat?

It really is a fast knit. If the felting & blocking go well (I have every confidence they will in spite of the resemblance to Dumbo's ear), I will certainly do this pattern again.

Pat, the designer of this pattern left a comment two posts ago. My first celebrity comment! It feels great to know someone read my blog who isn't related to me. (Not that I don't appreciate the friends & family support. I do. You're all the greatest.)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

One Way to Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Taking a tip from Monty Python and "Now For Something Completely Different," we went camping in the central mountains of Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving. Yes, I realize it's November and no, I am not crazy. We stayed in a camper with most of the comforts of home and at least one extra.

Since the camper has only a tiny oven , we had a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey and skipped dessert altogether. Surprise, surprise! No one missed it. Instead of stuffing down pumpkin pie, I did the dishes in a sink smaller than Barbie's hot tub. Meanwhile the less glamorous parts of the turkey simmered for stock. I threw in the carrot sticks I'd brought for snacking on the drive up, the leftover mashed potatoes for thickening & a few noodles and had the best turkey soup I've made in years. (An onion would have made it perfect; I was just glad to have an easy lunch ready for Friday.)

Cassie had resisted the whole idea, shopping being her favorite contact sport and believing we wouldn't be near a mall on Black Friday. But, dear child, it's all in the attitude. We just had to get up a little earlier than 5 AM to accommodate the drive and her diligence was rewarded with the perfect pair of chocolate brown suede boots. After 6 or 7 hours of shopping (but not much spending), we trotted back to a nice lunch of turkey soup and spent the rest of the afternoon recuperating.

Cass & I (and even more critically, our deer-colored, almost-deer-sized dog) came back to Virginia before hunting season starts on Monday. Vince stayed to stomp around the woods with 6 or 7 guys in orange.

And that "extra" I mentioned? The moon phase was new on November 20. The nearest city big enough to throw up any light pollution was 20 miles away. On Thanksgiving night we celebrated a sky filled with stars from one edge of eternity to another. You should have been there.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Does it look like a hat yet?

Yesterday I shook off my ambivalence and cast on for the Blaze Orange Cowboy Hat from High Country Knitwear. (Theirs is not blaze orange. How could they have missed that?) I'm enjoying the pattern except I think I missed something about going to the larger size. Oh well. I fall back on the gaugeless knitter's motto, "It will fit someone."

Since it is orange -- and it is really MUCH oranger than it appears here -- I had to post a photo of it specially for Claire, so on Thanksgiving she can be thankful that she's not knitting it. She does not care for orange. ( HA! I can almost hear her choking with laughter at that understatement.) As for me, I find it cheerful. The red-orange is the hatband; after I finish the crown, I pick up stitches around the bottom edge and knit the brim.

I'm a little behind schedule. The season opens Monday.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Lunch with the President

If you could have lunch with any two Presidents (or Prime Ministers), dead or alive, who would you choose? Why?

I think about this kind of question all the time -- just looking for interesting, intelligent people with which to have lunch. They might as well be imaginary. Unfortunately the group is really pretty homogenous when you think about it. White. Male. Late-middle-age to just-plain-old. More or less well-educated. Not a wild Bohemian in the bunch. Don't you wonder if some of these guys are picky eaters? Would lean over his plate of Bare Burrito at Baja Fresh and say, "What is this stuff? I am NOT eating this."

I don't think Thomas Jefferson would say that. I think he'd be curious and interested. We could talk about The Big Picture and his house (Monticello is my favorite historical house.) I'd like to have lunch with TJ and with Jimmy Carter. If I knit a charity baby cap while I was having lunch with Jimmy Carter, do you think he'd be offended that my hands were busy? Not a bit. He'd ask me what I was working on and maybe have an idea or two about charity knitting in general. He's my idea of a good public role model. Love that Habitat for Humanity connection.

Guys with ideas and passion; guys that won't quit until they're dead. Cool lunch partners, eh? So which president would you want to meet for lunch?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Larissa's Knitalong

I am fascinated (and frequently comforted) by the community created by blogging. True, it lacks the actual "touch" part of the personal touch, but it has an immediacy that makes up for a lot.

For example, check this out: Larissa -- an artist in Portland -- is writing a book about blogs and knitalongs and has set up a real knitalong for use in the book. Go look at her "meathead" hat. I'm thinking of going for it. I'll do the hat; Cassie can be in charge of embellishment. Could be interesting.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Armistice Day

November 11, 1918 was the end of the War to End All Wars. I remember every November 11th in grade school, we stood up at 11:11 AM along with everyone in every classroom across the country. We stood to honor not only the 9 million veterans killed in World War 1, but also to honor those before and the millions since.

My kids don't stand in their classrooms on November 11th. They have a day off and everyone goes shopping.

I might bemoan this loss of tradition, fear that when my kids are running the world, they won't remember the terrible cost of war. But then, we all stood in our classrooms and still, we forget.

We need to remember. We need to think about our soldiers and vets every day, not just on Veterans' Day and Memorial Day. Would that it had been the war that ended all wars. But it wasn't. Whether we're for the war in Iraq or against it, we need to choose carefully and wisely, with thought and deliberation. We need to be careful spending the currency of these military lives. We need to honor them.

This isn't much of a photo. In person, the crowd of flags and big sign was very touching. I think the Clifton Baptist Church has a real handle on Veterans' Day.

The sign says, "Thank you, Veterans."

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wookie Wool

When I saw this photo of Cass taken on a recent shopping excursion (they only got kicked out of two stores...), I thought, "How would Wookie wool spin?" I think it would make good rug yarn.

The cat bed I've been working on has gone through the first pass of felting (not yet ready for its photo shoot) so I'm knitting a dishcloth (the knitting equivalent of potato chips) while I'm between knitting projects. That doesn't count the UFOs and I only have four of those. A lacy purple & green mohair scarf that I've grown to dislike, a pair of socks and an autumn-colored shawl I've posted about, and a Fair Isle hat that's pre-blog. ) I may pick up the socks, or I may knit a blaze orange cowboy hat from this pattern at High Country Knitting. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I am so glad today is Election Day. The political advertisements were beginning to wear mighty thin. My personal favorite sound bite of the season was: (he's) been accused of "ethical sloppiness."

Ethical sloppiness? He left his ethics in the sink with the dirty dishes? He has ethical pizza boxes scattered in front of the TV? It's so wonderfully ambiguous. How could you argue against that claim? You could probably label any of us with "ethical sloppiness" at one time or another in our life. I think the comment was an observation against George Allen, but truthfully, the airwaves are such a miasma of barbed attacks, I'm not really sure.

March, drag, fly or skip out to the polls and cast your ballot. Besides doing a good thing, they'll give you a little sticker.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stitches, East

A fine time was had & too much money spent by all on our field trip to Stitches East at the Baltimore Convention Center.

I saw a lace shawl style show and met the wonderful Jane Sowerby, author of Victorian Lace Today. (She was gracious late in the afternoon on day 4 of a 4 day extravaganza of knitters. That's character.) I was so charmed, I bought her book to have it autographed and paid RETAIL. (Those that know me and my "you can find anything on the used market eventually" theory know I was commemorating the event, not buying the book.)

Caps to the Capital has collected 17,000 caps so far. A small bit of their goal, but still, a LOT of baby caps.

There were a bunch more behind on another table and in boxes. My little one is the blue with white stripes. It looks less lumpy in person.

The most beautiful skein of yarn in the entire place (and there were at least 10 long aisles with vendors on each side) was this:

The one of blue and gold and green and brown and cranberry in the middle. It's dyed by Mountain Colors in the Bitterroot Rainbow colorway for Caryll Designs. This gorgeous, subtle, perfect, 300 yard skein of laceweight is the result of dying over the soft brown of quiviut. By comparison, as pretty as Mountain Colors yarns are, it looks downright gaudy over wool. I went back to visit the skein several times. I wanted a whole shawl of it, but decided a wimple would do nicely. I can't tell you how much it costs. You'd faint.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Nerd Queen Lives!

Remember a few months ago when I had such a high score on the Nerd Quotient?

or in Jeopardy parlance:

Me: I'll take Exam Results for 150, Alex.

Alex Trebeck: The answer is, "A Perfect Score."

Me (buzzing in quickly): "How well did Gail do on Exam 2?"

As I was doing my happy dance around the house today, Cassie observed wryly, "Oh Mom, you are SUCH a nerd."

Why, yes I am. And to celebrate my nerdiness, tomorrow I am going with a carload of Woman to Stitches East. Unfortunately I'm not enrolled in any of the classes (I mean, seriously, Kaffe Fassett!) but I plan to have an extraordinary time shopping anyway.

I'm off to work on my Caps to the Capital cap. I'm hoping to finish it in time deliver in person to Booth 110 tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Exam 2

Our second written exam (of 3) is tomorrow. It covers the Microbiology third of the class and I feel much less confident on this section than I did on the Anatomy/Physiology of the first section.

Microbiology seems to suffer from excessive use of words like "most," "some," and "rarely." I just can't get a handle on "most." I start to wonder about those cases that are the exception and get pulled off onto some marginally related tangent. And how often is "rarely?" For some of the things we've been looking at (bacteria, parasites, fungi, viruses & prions), once would be too often for my taste. It's all interesting but I'm afraid "interesting" may not translate into a great grade. I'm not expecting anything that would cause me to fling myself into a volcano, just not great.

I do feel well prepared for the essay question. I've been doing plenty of research. OOOH I do love the internet. Did you know when you read enough articles from medical journals, you actually start to understand them? It's like learning a foreign language through immersion. Unfortunately, no matter how many times they say "neonate," I know they're talking about a real mother's baby in a heart-breaking heap of trouble. I've cast on a baby cap for Caps to the Capital as the antidote. It's the most wonderful shade of medium, almost-periwinkle, blue. Very satisfying, even if I did start over 3 times.

Lastly, I've got two words for any grown up trying to study in a house with two teenagers who thrive on action, sound and sibling conflict. Ear plugs.