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.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

What I learned this week

I learned a bit about how to extract DNA, extract RNA, sort proteins, BLAST a gene on the internet, and make & stain slides of small mammal duodenum to view with a microscope.

But I also learned that fully 50% of all women on the metro are traveling in footwear that insults their feet. Flip flops offer no support, are hazardous on long escalators and don't protect your toes in the crush of rush hour. Towering heels are bad for your ankles, feet and spine. My feet could never be models in a magazine (now there is an understatement), but I love them. They take me places and when they're happy, I'm happy. (Get a foot massage and tell me this isn't true!) Women, be nicer to your feet.
I learned that nobody looks up. If you do study the architecture above eye level, someone will immediately peg you as an out-of-towner, but that is OK because he might be helpful and tell you all kinds of things about the neighborhood.

I learned that finding things in the city is trickier than knowing what street it is on. In the suburbs, when you want a grocery store you just look for the nondescript building with the big sign in the huge expanse of blacktop. I kind of like the absence of monster parking lots, but it makes finding shops more of a serendipitous challenge.
I learned that the International Monetary Fund building has the best fountains -- balanced yet quietly imaginative and not too gushy.

I learned that the Red Cross has a lovely monument on the corner of E street and 20th with the following inscribed:
"I believe in the ideals of democracy and
the concept of universal brotherhood.
I acknowledge no barriers of country, race, class or creed.
I believe that service to others is the obligation of mankind,
that every right I claim imposes a responsibility,
and every possession implies a duty.
To bring comfort to those who are in trouble,
to alleviate suffering, and to conserve life is my mission.
Wherever disaster calls
there I shall go.
I ask not for whom,
but only where
I am needed."

and this:

Knitting. The bench around the monument is polished granite with a chronology of the Red Cross etched into it. This panel about World War I says "Volunteers knitted over 11,000,000 articles of clothing for American troops." Eleven MILLION.

Have a nice Memorial Day weekend and remember that some troops give it all.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cliche of the Day

The cliche for the day is, Misery Loves Company. From the moment I set foot on the train dragging a big suitcase during rush hour (sure to draw frowns; almost as bad as a stroller when you are packed in like sardines) it has been that kind of day. You would not believe how light-hearted I felt when a young woman dragging a bigger suitcase squeezed in next to me.

Or how relieved I was to hear one of my classmates say that during lunch break she sat in a quiet corner of the plaza praying to get through today's lab. It was a tough one, made worse by all of us underestimating the number of supplies we'd need. (By the end of the day we couldn't remember why we thought it was hard.)

As for me, when it gets a little hairy, I knit a few rows on my pink-alpaca-I-can-do-this-scarf. It's a lace pattern from a German pattern book -- they think it's tulips, I think flames -- with twisted stitches and yarnovers on both sides. I'm pretty sure it's the most complicated pattern I've done, but that's probably the I'm-only-6-rows-into-it talking.

I say to myself, "If I can do this, I can do anything."

Sunday, May 20, 2007

An Auspicious Start

Tonight we had an introductory meeting -- complete with pizza -- for the internship I'm starting tomorrow. It's too early to tell much, but the TAs are nice. And I cast on 67 stitches for my pink alpaca commuting scarf. It doesn't look like much yet but give it time.

And the auspicious start? Never underestimate the power of a good hair day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Toddler exercycles? Cass & I went babysitting for a group of 8 last night and I am here to tell you, they do NOT need exercise equipment to stay fit.

Monday, May 14, 2007

It's Decidedly So

I have a Magic 8 Ball I use to advise me on all the important things. (Which means I keep asking my question until I get the answer I want. Isn't that what everyone does when they seek advice?) It tends to answer in the positive, which suits me fine since I tend to ask questions I subconsciously or otherwise would like answered "Yes."

I asked it if my upcoming summer internship (starting next week) would be one of the top 10 experiences of my life. It answered, "It's decidedly so." Who can argue with that?

They put a brief blurb in the college newsletter, complete with a photo taken by my patient daughter. Can you tell I'm excited?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Chunky Monkies

With a nod to Ben & Jerry:

Doc Martens. Anti-Crocs -- Not bright, not light, but the soles are oil-, fat-, acid-, petrol- and alkali-resistent plus they're wonderfully comfy to stand in, except the whole clog/sandal style? A bit of a paradox on a work-shoe sole, don't you think? They weigh a ton and look much less svelte in real life than this photo would have you believe. Who but a monk (and me) would love these sandals? They'll be an excellent opportunity to show off hand-knit socks (if I ever finish any).

Monday, May 07, 2007

Happy Birthday, Jenny Joseph

On this day in 1932, Jenny Joseph was born. She is the woman who wrote "Warning."

Still don't recognize the name? "Warning" is a poem that begins:

"When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go..."

What's especially cool is that -- now that Ms. Joseph is approaching "old" -- she doesn't wear purple, says she can't stand it. Not only did she inspire legions of women to wear purple if they wanted to, we are equally free to wear not-purple.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

This little Sheepy went to Market

or "Are we having fun yet?" We went to Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival yesterday.

It was a little crowded* (understatement. It was the most crowded I've ever seen. Crowded enough that even though I had a good day and bought several skeins of lovely yarn, next year this little sheepy might stay home. Crowds wear me out.)

We went early to try to catch the Koigu mill ends at the Koigu booth. They've always been sold out by the time I'd worked my way to the main barn so this time I headed in a beeline to A19 hoping for shades of red. No luck. We heard several rumors about why she wasn't there but the fact was, she was not there. I was disappointed, but it's OK. As much as Koigu has legions of devotees and the yarn is nicely spun, maybe it is destiny and I just need to accept its absence in my life.

On the other hand, a woman from Arizona tipped me off that Mountain Colors sells their mill ends at fiber shows in Oregon and one in Seattle. I'm thinking about a road trip... If you put 57 skeins of hand dyed yarn in a pile, I bet I'd fall in love with the Mountain Colors skein.

I gushed a little to Melanie from Pink Lemon Twist (she had posted how to spot her and I couldn't help it. I think her stole patterns are gorgeous. Especially this one.)

Cass couldn't find anything to spend her money on, but we took a felted flowers make-and-take class sponsored by the Maryland Make it with Wool folks and had fun.

We cut petals out of intentionally felted thrift store sweaters, sewed 10 into a string and voila:

fuzzy red felted thing. (It looks better in real life.)

And of course, unrepentant omnivores that we are, we availed ourselves of another thing sheep are good for. Gyros. (Although we could have had lamb sausage, lamb kabobs, lamb stew in a bread bowl, lamb chili, lamb burgers ... )

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I am IN

For those of you who have been listening to me fret since April 1st when I applied for a summer fellowship working with top flight professors at George Washington University doing research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, I am IN. We start with a workshop week May 21, then for 9 weeks I'm in the lab. In a word, I am THRILLED, if a little scared. I feel like when I went off to YCC camp at 15. Who knew I would have such a knack for woodchipping trails? I expect this to be the same kind of unimaginable vista-opening opportunity, except with fewer mosquitoes.

The projects are here, if you want to look.

How does this apply to knitting, you ask? I've already got a new project mapped out for my commute: a pink alpaca lace scarf as a "thank you" for the professor who put me onto this project and wrote the Letter of Recommendation to End All Letters of Recommendation [I am confident it is why I got in]. She looks great in pink and I feel safe in blabbing about it because I'm guessing she's not a heavy reader of knitting blogs. And after next Monday's meeting, my beloved Prince William Purlers won't see me until August.

I was planning to start dying my hair again (just when the gray has grown out!) to fit the undergraduate student stereotype a wee bit better when Cassie said, "Don't. Your life is like a river. You were flowing along toward college and you took a different path with work and family. Now you're swimming back upstream to go back and get your degree. It's cool." (or something to that effect. She left me feeling like I'm being a good example.)

The only down side? I sure would love to tell Dad. He would think it's cool, too.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Sometimes you just have to rewind and start fresh.

Claire and I went to a lovely botanical park yesterday and I was surprised to see the bleeding hearts were out already. If there had been any in the shade, I might have taken a better photo, but it was such a luminous spring day I hardly care how the picture turned out.

This is the hat to go with the scarf with the 43" tail that replaced the invisible scarf that we shall not speak of (since I don't remember where I put it.) There is a small, neatly rewound ball in the center taming that floppy end-of-the-skein feeling I get, especially when using fine yarn. I was so proud of myself for actually rewinding it instead of struggling along for the last 30 yards or so, being annoyed with every tug. (Smooth-feeding yarn is one of the under appreciated aspects of knitting. We only notice when it doesn't.) I have a modified spool on my ball winder (OK. I admit it. It's a toilet paper roll. Not glamorous but it works. My ball winder came from a thrift store in Chambersburg PA where I'm not sure they knew what it was. It was missing the spool, but the price was fantastic.) I stuffed my whole knitting project in the center and wound from the knit end so I still have a center pull -- although smaller and neater -- ball to work from.

The hat is almost my own design. I can hardly call it original when most caps "cast on, knit on circular needles, decrease a bit and pull the tail through the last stitches on the needle." From the inside it looks a little like Lucy Neatby's scrunchie hat (scroll down when you check out the link) or Stitch 'n Bitch Nation's Beehive hat, but the real inspiration was the cuff on a pair of baby booties I knit 15 years ago, a kind of sideways ribbing of stockinette & reverse stockinette that should fit almost any size head comfortably.

I'm not sure yet what to do for the top. It depends on how soon I get tired of the plain knitting. I've got this lace project percolating in the back of my mind and it's a bit like being taken over by aliens. I may not be able to stop myself.