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.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


My life is just full of magic.

Remember a few weeks ago when I said how much I loved Lamb's Pride yarn in the color Loden Leaf? I'd just used my two stash skeins for this:

High Country Knitwear cowboy hat number 2. I used every bit. This is all I have left -- an empty paper label. (The champagne is for New Year's Eve.)

And the red scarf is to remind everyone that The Orphan Foundation's Red Scarf project is in full swing. Along with mentoring and other programs, the Orphan Foundation does care packages for foster kids who've aged out of the system, but gone on to college without the help of foster care or supportive parents. Since only about 50% of kids from foster care graduate high school, the 18% that go on to further their education need all the help and encouragement and "I'm proud of you"s they can get. Knit a pretty red scarf for them. I'm not so naive to think that a little hand-knit love could keep a struggling young person in school, but being warm as you walk to class can't hurt, can it?

But I'm getting sidetracked. The coincidence -- and my life has it's share -- comes in with the lovely Loden Leaf color. It is, sad to say, discontinued. I asked when I went birthday shopping at Uniquities and Brenda -- purveyor of a good selection of Lamb's Pride -- told me how this color had been forgotten and languishing on the shelf for ages when a woman bought 6 of the 7 skeins just 2 weeks before. The last skein sold shortly after and I came along asking about it just a few days later. A small coincidence, all this sudden interest in a discontinued green, but the big coincidence came when I was working out at Curves, 20 miles away. Three of us started talking about knitting and a woman I'd never met before told a story about the vest she was knitting for her husband and how when she went back to Uniquities for more of the yarn, the last skein was gone. Loden Leaf.

Of the millions of people that live in the suburban Washington, DC area, what are the odds that two knitters of felted Loden Leaf projects would be sweating to Cher songs at the same time? It's a sign. I think Brown Sheep should start making this color again.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The stockings were hung

I've hung this stocking every Christmas of my life (except the first one when I'd just left the hospital after the hard work of being born) -- in 5 states and 2 different countries. Needless to say, it is pretty old. It's just big enough to hold an apple, a tangerine, some nuts and a candy cane.

My Mom made it for me back when felt from the dry goods store was still made out of wool. The hanging loop was replaced with a twisted cord of Red Heart yarn, back when Red Heart was still wool, too. It was leftover yarn from my first knitting project: a red scarf. Cast on 32 stitches with size 13 needles, knit each row for awhile, gather the cast on and bound off edges and finish each with a tassel. Very chic.

We have more glamorous stockings in my house -- gleaming taffeta with a padded smocked cuff, stitched in metallic gold with gold bells -- but I always hang mine. The green patch on the toe? Not ornamental. When I was about 10, I left a walnut in the toe when packing it away after Christmas. An enterprising mouse nibbled through the wool felt to get to the nut. The stitches aren't very even around the patch and the terrycloth cuff is a bit bedraggled. I think the bells were originally on Joan(ie)'s stocking, but some under-the-table trade was made that Mom probably never knew about until now.

Cassie invited some friends for a small party and she's been getting the house ready. It seemed like a good time to ditch some clutter. She is ruthless, hardly a sentimental bone in her body yet she never suggested, "Why don't you get rid of this old thing?" It's been hung every Christmas of her life, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

We each celebrate in our own way

A while ago, when I mentioned my mammogram was scheduled for the morning of the first night of Hanukkah, a friend told me, "We each celebrate in our own way."

I laughed, but after thinking about it, that's really true. When I was young, a birthday celebration meant a trip to the dime store to pick out a present. (I still have my Whitman-bound copy of The Bobbsey Twins.)

We didn't do birthday parties but my eighth-grade-best-friend-and-locker-partner threw a surprise party for me with a glamour doll cake. (One of the advantages of having a birthday close to Christmas: if your friend wants to draw you to a surprise party, she just calls it a Christmas party on your invitation and you are ABSOLUTELY surprised.)

The first time I ever rode in a taxi was to Molly Mahoney's in Biloxi, Mississippi on my 22nd birthday. Or there was the time, 5 years ago, when for my birthday I held one-day-old Brendan. Our family celebrations were warm Norman Rockwell days instead of the frenzied, large ticket bashes many kids demand these days.

In the tradition of birthday photo trips down memory lane, I've posted my favorite photo. I was probably 12. When I look at this photo, I don't feel so different now than I did then. No one ever mentions you won't feel any more grown up when you are, um, grown up. (For those of you interested in the math, I'm a decade older than the yarnharlot.)

No matter how busy the time of year, there was always a cake, many times Angel Food and sometimes with candy canes. Who else in our family got candy on his cake? Just me. Did your Mom ever cut a circle of bread to fill the center of an Angel Food cake, then frost over it for a pretty, smooth top? You knew it was your special day because YOU got to eat cake AND that frosted-bread center. Yesterday, when my daughter asked what kind of cake I'd like, I said, "Ask Grandma to tell you the recipe for the best birthday cake on the planet" and Mom knew exactly which cake Cass was asking about.

Today I celebrated by cleaning the bunny cage, the cat litter box, scrubbing out the water dishes and giving all the animals sparkling clean water. I have a very satisfying sense of accomplishment.

We each celebrate in our own way. Happy Birthday to me.

(P.S. I can celebrate better than just cleaning up after pets. Later I'll go to one of my favorite yarn shops: Uniquities. She gives a birthday discount that grows the older you get. If I live to be 200, she'll give me all the yarn I want. Cool, eh?)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Let's do another one

just like the other one. (Am I the only one who remembers that cheer? Even with my low attendance at high school sporting events, that cheer is wedged in my brain.)

Here is another High Country Knitwear cowboy hat. I love the colors of this one -- Loden Leaf Lamb's Pride (I sure hope they still do this color. It's not flashy but even after knitting 2 skeins worth, I love it. This yarn has been in my stash since sometime between 1993 and 1997.) The red is newer Lamb's Pride and is actually more of a burgundy-red than it shows.

Maybe it's the perfect color selection (great earthy colors), maybe it's that Brown Sheep Company is based in Mitchell, Nebraska (how much more "heartland" can you get?), but if I could only have one yarn for the rest of my life (GASP) I would choose Lamb's Pride. It is not glamorous. It is not lacy. It doesn't have the sensual softness of alpaca or silk, but it does get a nice halo from its bit of mohair and it felts like nobody's business. I like its chunky single-ness. I like that the colors change, have depth, aren't flat. I love that it's cozy, renewable wool.

But if you were to ask tomorrow, when I'm out of my felting phase and have moved on to a new project, "If you could have only one yarn for the rest of your life..." all bets are off. I'll probably say laceweight alpaca. (I'm thinking of taking up with the pink leftover from my breast cancer fundraiser shawl. I'm sure I have enough for a nice scarf.)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Extra Credit

I am not always content with where I live. The East Coast is hard work. Sometimes I'm downright cranky about it. Today is not one of those days. Today we celebrated one of the best reasons to live here. Today we went to see this exhibit.

(And to make it even better, I'd like to remind you that the National Gallery of Art is free. I could go visit Ginevra de'Benci 363 days a year, if I wanted. It's local.)

We went on this little jaunt because one of Cass's teachers offered it as extra credit. After looking at 5 galleries of Rembrandt's etchings, we ducked upstairs to see one of his self-portraits, then did a little sculpture appreciation:

This one is called "Dancer with finger on chin." Really.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Captain Sharpie Makes a Self Portrait

Captain Sharpie says, "Sharpie is really my medium." (although this one also includes Marks-A-Lot.)

Friday, December 15, 2006

what I learned this week

This week I learned that Moms are the human version of virus checking software. (From Vince -- he's so sentimental, isn't he?)

I learned what a "spot compression mammogram" is.

While waiting to find out what a spot compression mammogram is, I found out what "The 40 Top Summer DOs & DON'Ts of All Time" are. (I'm not sure I agree with the "Of All Time" part. Or even the "Top" part.)

I only remember a few, mostly don'ts. DO wear a bike helmet. DON'T wear Playboy Bunny shoes, day OR night. Don't wear a skirt so small people wonder how you keep it up. One DON'T about swimwear mentioned "underboobs", but the other seemed like sage advice: DON'T wear sunglasses larger than your bikini. Or is that DON'T wear a bikini smaller than your sunglasses?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Yippeekiyay, Soaking wet

Still wet (that's why the ribbon & clothes pins), here is my orange High Country Knitwear Cowboy hat. I can hardly wait to felt my next one --in a more traditional color. I have to admit I've grown fond of this one in all it's orange glory. (Did you notice the horse painting in the background? I was going for a theme.)

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Cat Crisis Averted

I haven't written in a few days because I've been totally -- as Mike Myer would say --verklempt. (Don't worry; there's a happy ending.)

Oliver is an indoor cat. He has a dog and rabbit to keep him company, and plenty of odd places to explore. He doesn't get bored, and I don't worry about finding his lifeless body on our busy road. It works for both of us.

Late Friday afternoon, just as I was walking out the door for an Event, Vince mentioned, " I think the cat might have gotten out. About an hour and a half ago." I wandered around the yard a bit in my white formal & heels (since I am pretty much the only one Ollie will come to when called. Food is an amazing training tool.) No cat. At 2 AM the thermometer on the chimney (not the coldest spot outside) said 15 degrees. For every "cats are resourceful creatures" I heard, I could think of a half dozen perils: cars, hawks, dogs, the cold, rabid opossums, street-wise gang kitties... The deer frozen in the water trying to cross the pond down the hill did not make me feel better.

So every 20 minutes for a day and half I poked my head outside & called for Oliver. Vince put fliers in the neighbors' boxes. I called three local animal shelters.

In the wee hours this morning (1:35 AM), Vince went to check on the cause of Eiger's barking. There on the porch was Oliver with a broken whisker, grubby white paws and his pupils as big as Volkswagons. I was not the only one in this house losing sleep.

Everyone is relieved and things can go back to normal. I even felted the Orange Cowboy hat, but you'll have to wait for photos. Use your imagination. Vince says, "It's pimpin'!"

Not quite the look I was going for.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Girl with Scissors

You know how all little girls seem to cut their doll's hair? (or their sibling's? or their dog's?) I can't tell you the number of cute little plastic faces I've seen in thrift stores with unfortunate hair styles.

Cassie never did that. There was that time when she was 13 & baking a cake with a Barbie in the center & the cake for a skirt. Cass did give a judicious trim to that ridiculusly long ponytail of Barbie's so it wouldn't drag in the frosting. But that was for health reasons. Barbie really should wear a hairnet.

Well, all girls have a need to cut hair. It comes out sooner or later. When I mentioned I was thinking of getting my shoulder-length hair cut, Cassie piped up with, "Can I do it?"

Why not? It's only hair. Last night she was in the mood to cut hair, I was in the mood to have my hair cut, and we both had a blast. She was going for a "bed head" look. She wasn't entirely successful with that (thankfully). We're both please with how it turned out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


I saw something Saturday that made me realize I'm being transformed. It was a sad something. No photos for this post.

It was a pile of deer carcasses. Six doe: untagged, gutted, only the hind quarters missing, dumped in a heap on the side of the road in Pennsylvania right next to a pond.

Not many people from Northern Virginia hunt. (They prefer the blood sport of politics). Meat comes from a grocery store; let someone else provide it. Because I live here, I spend a fair amount of time defending hunters. The hunters I know love the land. They love wild creatures & their habitat. They believe if you can't make a clean shot, you shouldn't be hunting. The hunters I know are considerably less cruel than many of the gun control advocates.

This was not the behavior of a man who cared about the earth. I felt betrayed.

But the good thing: As angry as I was over the carelessness, over the display of plain human stupidity & laziness, I stood there, looking. I didn't feel squeamish or grossed out, I felt... interested. I still felt sad, but I looked at rib cages & mandibles & tendons & thought, "Huh. Deer have floating ribs, too."

It's a transformation, I tell you. It's what I was born to do.

Friday, December 01, 2006

NaNoWriMo No Mo'

I missed it again.

November was National Novel Writing Month. If you signed on, the goal was to write an entire novel -- 50,000 words -- in 30 days, quality not exactly being the issue. Just sit down and do it. Every day. I suppose a lot of things are like that.

Maybe next year.