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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

What now?

I am suffering from a double-dose of "Now what do I do?" I finished knitting the blue Wool in the Woods rayon scarf at the same time I finished reading The Used World by Haven Kimmel. I still have not submerged in a new book; I have been skipping along the surface of Thunderstruck and Fatal Flaws and who even remembers what else.
Athough I cannot seem to settle on a new book, I have found my next knit: Angel Pearls Beaded Scarf by Sivia Harding. Of all the things you can do online, my favorite is to order knitting patterns to download. I just punch in my paypal numbers and get a sweet little piece of intellectual property zooming into my computer. Maybe I'm delighted by how clear it is that I am paying a woman for her idea, not her paper and ink and the middleman. An idea is valuable and powerful but has that whiff of the intangible. For some people, that intangibility makes it hard to credit an idea its due.
This time the pattern did not automatically zoom to my computer without glitch, but Sivia took care of it in a flash. Already I love the customer service and, after only 15 rows, the pattern is intuitive. (Charts and written instructions Whooohoo!)




However, you may have noticed the knitting is not on the needles? It's probably better not to cast on for a new lace pattern at midnight.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mom! He's looking at me!


Rocky Gap State Park in western Maryland has an aviary of predatory birds -- survivors of car crashes and other unfortunate human intervention. Did you know when you throw your gum or apple core out the window thinking, "It will biodegrade," that it won't? Before the bacteria have a chance to do their clean-up dance, it will be eaten by wee little beasties.
Then when you think, "No big deal. It's a treat for the mice," you are wrong again. The food chain is a fascinating thing. Where the little things go, the big things follow. When mice start hanging around the highway for its plentiful pickin's, the owls and hawks follow for the same reason. Just as that sharp-eyed owl glides silently down to snatch his snack, WHAM! He gets hit by a 3-ton pick up out of nowhere.
The moral is: dispose of trash properly.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eclipse

In spite of weather late in the afternoon that looked like last Wednesday:




I got to see the moon slip into the earth’s shadow last night. She had quite a party, winking at me, glowing red, brightening the stars around her. And there she was this morning, slinking low in the trees like a teen-ager who had gotten drunk the night before, pretending for all the world that nothing had happened.

See you at the next eclipse.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Does this look red to you?

The lovely red alpaca/silk Christmas yarn from a few posts ago sits coiled obediently on my nightstand, still waiting. I am knitting a scarf. Does this look red to you?

No? Well, it all started with Flylady and her February habit of decluttering for 15 minutes a day. I found this hand-dyed rayon scarf kit buried under who-knows-what, probably a ten-year-old map of Oklahoma. (If I keep this up, maybe I'll find Jimmy Hoffa.) I cast on this because I needed something I did not have to think about too hard. I have never knit rayon before and have to admit, this was a pleasure. But now that I am almost done with this scarf, what will I not think about next?
P.S. Don't say anything about Roosevelt's missing nose. He survived a terrifying dog attack in 1986; he is still sensitive about the scars.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wrong takes a long time

I have been listening to, and thoroughly enjoying, Wicked by Gregory Maguire on CD. The following exchange between Boq and Elphaba really gives me something to think about:
"His voice was as cold as he could make it, and that was colder than he'd ever heard it himself. 'I was wrong to have trusted in your compassion.'

'Wait and see,' said Elphaba. 'Wrong takes an awful long time to be proven, in my experience.'"

I like her attitude. Maybe that seemingly horrendous decision will turn out to be the just right one, given enough time. I get the same hopeful feeling from a quote attributed to Zhou Enlai, first premier of the People's Republic of China. When asked (in the 1950's) about the impact of the French Revolution (of 1789), he said, "Too soon to tell."

No sense rushing to judgment.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Sugar Art

I learned something valuable yesterday. The best candy store in the world is located in the charming old town shopping area of Cumberland, Maryland (just around the corner from the yarn store): Robert's Confections, Sugar Art. No mass-produced drivel fills out the selection, no cellophane wrapped jawbreakers or imitation licorice. They obviously hand make all their confections: glossy, chocolate dipped buttercreams; delightful molded French creams (a flower-shaped, flavored butter cream coated in fine sugar instead of chocolate); and (drum roll, please) chocolate covered orange peel. This is a thousand times better than you can imagine, without a trace of bitterness, but all the magic of the orange-chocolate combination. It is so good I did not go back to buy more because I would eat it until I got sick. Sigh. Sugar art indeed.

Going the day after Valentine's Day might have been good timing, but every single candy I bought tasted fresh and looked gorgeous. The gentleman that waited on me was sweet as well and nestled each treat into the box like he was wishing it Bon Voyage.

Alas, they make candy and wedding cakes, not web pages. You cannot visit them online. You'll just have to go to 74 Baltimore Street, Cumberland MD 21502, phone: (301) 722-004. Godiva will never be the same again.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cassie likes Yellow



In spite of school's icy, two-hour delay today, Cassie's field trip was a huge success.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy V Day

Personally, my favorite holiday this month is Groundhog's Day, but for those of you more attuned to Hallmark moments than wildlife ones (although Punxsutawney Phil lives in a library every other day of the year), I thought I would share a sweet story that also, coincidentally I swear, gives me the chance to show a recently finished piece of knitting. Since Valentine's Day is fast approaching, I give you mystery, romance, knitting and wedding proposals. What more could you ask?
Back in November, my former professor Cindy asked for my help in locating a missing stocking pattern. Not just any stocking pattern, but the one she knit twice 23 years ago for her tiny new twin sons. You gotta admire a woman who, with two boisterous school age boys and a pair of infants, still manages to knit 2 stockings between giving birth in September and the twins' first Christmas. (She's amazing in other ways too, but I found this especially impressive.) Now that the twins are all grown up and one recently became engaged, he asked his Mom to knit a matching stocking for his lovely fiancé. (That's the romantic part. Isn't that sweet?) After a housewide search that would make any CSI proud, she found the pattern she knit for her two older sons. She found the pattern her own mother knit for HER many more than 23 years ago. But the instructions for Michael's:


Gone, gone, gone. Enter Gail and her penchant for knitting mysteries. Since plastering the neighborhood with flyers probably would not have helped, I flashed the photo around to my guild buddies. They all agreed it was a charming stocking.
And they had never seen it before in their life.

I set about reverse engineering the pattern. Seeing as the original is a genuine Family Treasure, having been lovingly hung every year, I could not throw it in my trunk and work on it at my leisure. I needed a plan. Several visits to the stocking and hours later, this is some of what I came up with:


After all that, I wanted to make sure it would work. Besides, I felt a certain sense of investment. This is my version:



Okay, so I finished in February and have a little trouble following directions when it comes to color ...

Epilogue:

Even though today's yarns and the pattern are not a perfect match, Michael and, more importantly, his fiance were charmed by her stocking.

While in the stocking business, Cindy decided her older son's girlfriend of several years had earned a stocking as well. So click, click, click and 2 stockings drop from Cindy's needles in less than a month. Seeing his girlfriend's stocking hanging over the fireplace, her older son realized his honey was a reallio trulio member of the family: a keeper. He proposed. Two stockings. Two future weddings. Just another example of the power of knitting.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Seeing Red

OOOH Doggies! I have been quiet for awhile. Last semester I funneled all my writing energies into an English composition class. It has taken me two months to recover. (I was afraid I'd forgotten how to log onto blogger...)

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee dug me out of my cozy silence with her post "Big Snow, Big Day, Big question." She's been working diligently for over a month (which is a long time for her; she's a fast knitter) on "Vintage," a pair of socks inspired by wine. This pattern packs more into a small package than Victoria's Secret. Oh, the finicky detail! Oh, the 34 individually knit leaves! Oh the clever heel and instep shaping... I'm beginning to get sucked into the vortex just writing about it. It is a good thing the kit is out of my budget. Vintage is not at all my style to wear, but it is very much my style to knit. I love to concentrate, to use a different part of my brain than the rest of my life requires. I do not need to own it when I am finished, anymore than a mountain climber "owns" the Eiger.

So Stephanie's question, and mine, is, "Why would anyone spoil all this knitterly fun by dropping a bomb in her comments saying the socks are ugly?" How does that make the world a better place? Her posting brought a rush of comments -- over seven hundred eleventy eleven in less than a day. Since I am not strong enough to wade through them all, I decided to post mine here.

After working in a fabric store, I learned on a visceral level, thanks to yards and yards of an orange geometric print, that we all have different taste. I will never forget the women who adored that fabric and bought it all. Most people know logically "it takes all kinds" but do not really grasp what that means. We can be mighty lazy on the critical thinking front. It is easier to degrade what we don't understand or don't agree with than to make a positive effort. We're not so much interested in furthering the discussion as we are comforting ourselves with the noise of our own chatter. (Oh wait. Is that why I blog?) There is good reason we have all been told "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."

Enough philosophy. Isn't this beautiful?



My youngest brother drew my name this year. This was my Christmas present from him: absolutely perfect yarn. The perfect color (red), the perfect weight (fine), the perfect fiber (alpaca and silk), the perfect amount (enough to make a generous lace scarf). Don't ever let anyone ever tell you we don't dream in color. Isn't he the coolest?