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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


My lace knitting has been stalled since Sunday.

Last Thursday I noticed that I had accidentally knit into the stitch below, not usually a glaring error except that it was smack in the middle of an otherwise smooth stockinette diamond. I really hate ripping back lace. It fills me with anxiety that I will never be able to hook it back up correctly, that I will just have to rip the whole thing out and never want to knit again. I tried ignoring it for a few days, but it didn't go away. I sighed, gritted my teeth and laddered back a two-stitch wide swath to the offending stitch. The stockinette was mended in a jif, but the lace took me two days.

The first day, I just looked at it. Georgia O'Keefe said, "to see takes time like to have a friend takes time." So I took time to look at my lace.

The second day, I charted on graph paper, the exact section I was working on and followed it like a road map. I think the repair is accurate, but if knitting needles are our magic wands, why can't we just say "Repairo"?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Spring is Bustin' Out All Over

After days of rain, suddenly all the green came out to play.

The azaleas are starting to flag, even at the house with the most impressive azaleas in the world (not MY house). Those are huge banks of azaleas. I know the photo doesn't do them justice. Just know that this place actually exists.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Go metric

When I was in grade school, My Weekly Reader proudly proclaimed the US was going metric. The U.S. Metric Study figured that, oh, in about 10 years or so, we would predominantly be using the metric system. Sigh. Ten years later would have been 1981. Why are we still struggling with eighths of an inch? (I blame Ronald Reagan for cutting off the funding.)

I want the metric system. I want it like a teen-aged boy wants a fast car, and I have a theory on how to get it. Pick a date: I like May 11. Culvers Frozen Custard has proclaimed that "Eat what you want day." (I may not have a Culvers nearby, but I have their tempting calendar in my kitchen. By the way, the flavor of the day today in my hometown is Chocolate Caramel Twist.) So warp "Eat what you want day" to "Have what you want day." On one single magical day, take away all our rulers, speedometers, measuring cups, scales, road signs and 2 by 4s (they are NOT really 2 inches by 4 inches anyway). Magically replace our yardsticks with meter sticks, mark our food packages in grams and liters, list our speed limits in kilometers per hour. Without doing the conversion, we would adjust in no time. The speed limit says 60 km? Fancy that! Our speedometer says 60 km. Who cares how many miles per hour that is?

We are afraid to go metric because we are afraid we are too dim to do the conversion math. But we do not have to convert feet to meters. Just take your measurement in metric from the beginning.

American knitting needle manufacturers could lead the way by labeling our knitting needles in millimeters. The US system of knitting needle designation is vague and arbitrary. What exactly is a 10 1/2? Where is size 12? A size 2 might be 2.75 mm or 3 mm. The metric system tells us how big our needles are if we want to know.

And about those gauge swatches... If patterns asked for 20 stitches over 10 cm instead of 5 stitches per inch, maybe we would stop trying to measure our gauge over little, inch-wide strips. (Don't look at me that way. I would never do that, just saying some might. I am of the "it will fit somebody" school of thought. That is why I knit shawls, scarves and potholders. No issues with gauge.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blue Horizon (AKA Down the Rabbit Hole)

About a month ago, I saw the cover of the book Kunststrik II by Sonja Esbensen while randomly surfing blogs with pretty lace shawls.

Kunststrik II is a collection of doily patterns. It is in Danish.
I do not use doilies. I do not speak Danish. I had to have it. (While I was at it, I bought the first Kunststrik, too. More doilies, but this book has been translated.) I used the logic that I should buy them now before the exchange rate with the Euro gets worse.

Then Knitpicks put their Alpaca Cloud yarn in the color "Horizon" on clearance. If you go look at the link, you won't see this color. Gone, gone, gone. Except at my house. I have plenty. It is a lovely shade of light sky blue. As soon as I thought I would not be able to get it anymore, I had to have some. After my first order came, I was so delighted with the color I ordered another round.

One pattern, Knud III, leaped right off the pages and into my heart. On bigger needles (twice as big! Monster US size 2's instead of 000's) with laceweight yarn instead of thread, it looked as if it would make a lovely christening shawl, not too lacy for little fingers to get snagged.

There are no babies anywhere on my near horizon.

I cast on anyway. So now I am knitting from a book in a language I don't speak on a shawl I don't need. It is unspeakably wonderful fun.

I took this photo of the first 40 rounds, 2 days' knitting, on Sunday. After 2 more days, I am on round 83, and those rounds are considerably longer. Like I said: down the rabbit hole.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First Dandelion of Spring

I have always thought dandelions were pretty. Maybe it was the way Mom accepted bouquets of them with as much grace as if they were long stemmed roses.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, Leonardo

When I mentioned to Cass that today is Leonardo da Vinci's birthday, her response was:

"Send him a card."

Most of the 3,500 pages of sketches and notes Leonardo left behind are written backwards, so they would have to be held up to a mirror to appear normal. Scholars wonder why, but I know: because he felt like it. For the first few years that Vince was learning to write, if you put the pencil in his left hand he would mirror-write without any conscious planning. He just felt like it. No one ever told him it had to be any other way.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dear Barbara Kingsolver,

When I read a book that touches a chord, I sometimes write an imaginary letter to the author to thank her. The operative word here is imaginary. When Carly Simon titled an album Letters Never Sent I thought, "See! I am not the only one." I usually keep the letter in my head instead of committing it to paper and embarrassment. Now with the advent of blogs, theoretically the author could see how delighted I am with her book, and I can embarrass myself without feeling like a stalker.

I have been listening to Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. It is a well-reasoned, well-researched, enlightening, personal record of one family's year of eating only locally produced food, cutting out the excess fuel calories. The book covers more issues about what we eat and how it is raised than I ever imagined. The small portion on our country's farm policies made me angry to the point of tears, but most of the book is a hopeful, happy feast, highlighting the care and attention that goes into raising good food without down-playing the amount of work involved. Barbara makes taking bananas off the grocery list not an act of deprivation but a doorway to a richer way of eating. She eloquently defends an omnivorous diet while refusing to eat meat raised under the cruel conditions of CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). The book has left me feeling something I haven't felt for years. The miraculous pleasure of keeping a garden.

I laughed out loud at the idea that Barbara appears as #74 in the 2005 book 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America by Bernard Goldberg. What is revolutionary about eating fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables? Supporting the local economy -- your friends and neighbors -- instead of foreign economies? Protecting bio-diversity? Cutting down on needless fossil fuel use? I checked out Goldberg's book. It turns out Barbara made the list for an unrelated reason. She wrote an essay suggesting that the hurt and rage acted out under the guise of patriotism following September 11, 2001 could lead to "intimidation, censorship, violence, bigotry, sexism, homophobia and shoving the Constitution through a paper shredder." Smart woman.

I am especially charmed when a book is read by the author (as long as she doesn't have a whiny, smokey wheeze for a voice. Barbara doesn't. Her voice is mellow and has a smile behind it.) The experience of hearing her words in her voice with her inflections makes the book an even greater pleasure.

So here is my fan letter to Barbara. I think your book will change the way we eat. At least, I hope so.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Barbara!

Friday, April 04, 2008


"Diplomacy is the art of letting someone have your way." -- Daniele Vare

Do you think maybe Daniele is a middle child?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Half Done

I thought about calling this post "more of the same," but that did not convey the delight I am getting from this pattern. (Neither does half done, but I am in a verbal slump and the season has barely started. Baseball. You know. Opening day? Never mind.)

Here again is Sivia Harding's Angel Pearls Beaded Scarf in Blue Sky Alpaca's Alpaca Silk, color 138. I know I am half done because I started my second ball. (Elementary scarf math. Knit until you run out of yarn.) Coincidentally, I have completed my 6th pattern repeat of 11 so I am right on track NOT to run out of yarn, finishing without fevered yarn shortage adjustments.

(This photo's color isn't accurate. The top photo's is better, although this yarn appears to change color depending on the light. I think it's the silk.)

This pattern is such a compelling knit; I am considering Sivia's Diamond Fantasy Shawl for my next project because it has a bit of the same mood.