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, February 28, 2010

Prettier Every Day

Since the vest is not quite ready for its closeup, Mr. DeMille, check out how well my roses bloomed:

This photo is actually from February 23. I had to finally pitch them today, but almost two weeks? What an excellent run for Valentine roses from the bargain bin. They were the perfect counterfoil to a stressful February.

And I didn't even tell you about the plumbing issues.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How can I keep from singing?*

This morning I woke up at 5:10 AM. Zero five ten. O dark thirty. No alarm blaring me awake. No dog barking me awake. No snores buzzsawing me awake. This morning I woke up to the sound of Boy singing, not at the top of his lungs, but easily heard on the floor above. He was up early to help with a blood drive and he was singing. Not sniping, "Don't talk to me." Not oversleeping. Not stomping up stairs and slamming doors in adolescent oblivion.


I could not be grouchy about it, even when I had not intended to get up for another two hours. It reminded me of my own teen-aged years and Dad cheerfully proclaiming, "Good morning, Sunshine!" (My reply was not always equally cheerful.)

How Can I Keep From Singing is one of my favorite songs. The title says it all.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic Greatness

No new photos of The Vest, just imagine it a few inches longer than before. Meanwhile, go look at some Olympic greatness. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, owner of the fertile mind that created the Knitting Olympics in 2006, is doing the Dale of Norway Whistler sweater as her event. Isn't it amazing? She has knit the entire body of that colour-work sweater just since the torch was lit. (It is spelled 'colour' where she lives so it must be colour-work if she is the one doing it.)

I did a little research, trying to find the pattern. I was thinking of collecting it. You know, like some people collect spoons or those fancy plates to hang on the wall but never eat with because the glaze is probably radioactive and the spoons are too small? Apparently the pattern is sold out.

I found it interesting that I could purchase the entire sweater for $349 if I weren't a fearless knitter. And had more cash than fearlessness. Is fearlessness a commodity?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Miles To Go Before I Sleep

By my calculations, I am an inch shy of being 1/3 done. For the next 8 inches just keep imagining this, only longer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Conserving Energy?

Maybe I'm just hanging back, conserving energy, waiting to make my move in the final laps, but it is not looking hopeful for the Double V vest.

I love this yarn. I am loving this pattern, but I have only done 4" in 6 days. Do you think it will be done by February 28? Don't hold your breath.

I admit some might speculate I am not fully committed. In between knitting sessions, I'm trying to squeeze in a bit of studying for my exam Monday.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Interesting Question

I recently took a personality-type survey. This question made me pause: in an emergency, how many people could you count on?

It is not that the question was hard to answer. A first-grader could count to the upper limit they offered as a choice. Their max stopped far short of the number of people I can count on. At first I chalked it up to coming from a large family, then realized for some people, plentiful siblings does not necessarily mean plenty of people to count on in an emergency.

Of course, there are different kinds of emergencies, but no matter what kind of emergency I imagined, I thought of several people to lean on. That fills my heart with a big THANK YOU to all my important people, not for something you did but for the fact that you would if I ever needed you.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Can't Bear To Look

I accidentally watched Lindsey Jacobellis in her semifinal snowboard cross run. That racing stuff is just too intense for me. Short track makes me just wild and snowboard cross is almost as bad. Biathlon is the Boy's game; he thinks racing through the woods on cross country skis then shooting at something is a sport that makes sense. As for me, I'm all about curling.

The thrill of victory doesn't seem to have the same power as the agony of defeat, so now I'm trying to censor the Olympic events I see. Which leads us to flowers.

One person's tragedy is another's cheap bouquet of roses.

Due to our recent above-average snowfall (I do love understatement -- today is the first time I've seen a patch of bare shingles on my roof since February 4), my favorite store got their truckload of Valentine's Day roses at 7:00 PM on Valentine's Day. They closed at 9. That meant that on Tuesday, they still had lots of roses. Cheap. I don't usually splurge on flowers but couldn't resist this bouquet of yellow ones. I had to put it in my bathroom. Kitty thinks they're for snacking and I'm not sure what the greens are.

It turns out my bathroom is an excellent place for a dozen roses. I see them first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

P.S. Don't fall asleep with the TV on when Kramer vs. Kramer is scheduled for the wee hours. You will wake up to Billy's crying as he gets stitches. It is not restful. Trust me. I know.

Curling: It's Like Something To Knit To

I admit it; curling is my favorite Winter Olympic sport. It has the just right amount of tension -- more in common with bowling than NASCAR. The announcer uses a calm, measured voice. The athletes have solemn grace, if not heart-stopping physiques. There is very little chance I will witness a compound fracture, blood or any other medical emergency. It is unlikely anyone will splat in that way that makes the entire crowd gasp as one.

When curling came on today, my dear son said, "It's like something to knit to." No wonder I like curling.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We Still Have Snow

Yes, Mom, we still have snow:

There is a mid-sized car under there.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Nothing To See Here

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Unless you count my failed sock yarn dying experiment from Abraham Lincoln's birthday:

It started as 100 grams of KnitPicks Bare superwash sock yarn. I took a strand from each end of the ball and made my own double-yarn sock blank with one of those kid's plastic crank knitting machines from a yard sale, the kind for making Barbie clothes and skinny scarves. One of the problems was that, being a tube, the blank was two layers thick. The machine is supposed to be able to do a flat piece back and forth. It doesn't.

On the negative side, it was hard to dye the underside evenly. I had hoped the dye would blend better. I should have used more colors and narrower stripes.

On the plus side, I will have two identical socks, one from each strand I started with, and I really like the Fire Red. If I do some two-color knitting with a white strand, it could still make interesting socks. I love experiments. Even when they do not turn out the way I had hoped, I learned things I wouldn't do again. That's progress!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rooting for Bode Miller

We are well into the 2010 Knitting Olympics. In 2006 I didn't get very far. I was identifying with Michelle Kwan. She was out with an injury before the competition started.

This year is different, but it is not going well. You know how sometimes right in the middle of a ski run, the athlete flies into the air and careens down the slope, ass over tin cups? It is breathtaking and heartbreaking. A split-second catch of a tiny edge sends him tumbling after years of training. (For a similar reason, Dad could not bear to watch figure skaters.)

I did the knitter's version of cartwheeling spectacularly down the slope from a little error, and it is not like it was on a double black diamond run. More like the bunny hill. When joining my 228 stitches for circular knitting, I twisted. I caught a little edge and flipped.

But it was just a training run! Plenty of time to start over.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Citius, Altius, Fortius: Take 2

During the last Winter Olympics the Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, got this amazing idea to hold the Knitting Olympics at the same time. She encouraged knitters to chose their own event -- anything that challenged their knitterly skills -- and go for the gold. We cast on during the opening ceremonies and would hopefully bind off before the closing. Thousands of us knit, perching on the edges of our seats, watching the athletes compete. I did not do well. I let my ambitions get ahead of me without adequate pre-Games training.

This year I have a better plan:

Meg Swansen's Double-V Vest in Berroco's Ultra Alpaca color 6257 (from the stash, even!) I have had my eye on it since issue #77 of Wool Gathering arrived in September of 2007. You know how sometimes a pattern just catches your attention and you cannot forget it? Don't ever let anyone convince you that love-at-first-sight isn't real. (It was the same way for the Schoolhouse Press Shawl Collared Vest.)

Swifter, higher, stronger, that's me!

Happy Birthday, Abe

I do not know where this sense of familiarity comes from. I cannot imagine being on a first name basis with any President, let alone a great one.

Still, happy birthday, Abe! In your honor I chose red, white and blue for my dying project. I have had the sock yarn soaking in a bucket in my bathroom since the Big Snow, ready to dye at a moment's notice. You would think that after days of planning, I would certainly take a few photos.

Nope. The thought never crossed my mind until the mess was all cleaned up. You will just have to take my word for it: I spread my yarn out on plastic wrap, splotched it with dye and vinegar mixed in squeeze bottles I had saved from hair dye projects (Reduce! Reuse! Recycle!), then rolled the thing up like a Red Dye #2 (banned since '76 -- I remember years and years without red M&Ms even though M&Ms didn't use red dye #2, but I digress) cinnamon roll to steam it.

Now I am waiting for it to cool before I rinse it. I am disappointed at the overlap between the red and blue. I was hoping for a nice purple. I tried two different reds and two different blues. I think all the possible combinations came out muddy. We shall see.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Adding Insult to Injury

More snow. Today's storm put us over the top; this winter's snowfall set a new record for the most in the DC area in a single season, breaking a 121 year-old record. And for a bonus, two of our storms were in the Top Ten. Last week's snow was dubbed Snomageddon or Snopocalypse. Today's? Snoverkill.

I concur.

Here is my latest photo of Azucena. If I knit another 33 rounds, this shawl will be as big as our snow is deep. That appeals to me. It has a certain balance. I just hope we don't get any more snow this winter.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Good knitting weather

If you've been listening to the news at all, you have heard that the Washington, DC area had a bit of snow last weekend. Here is what 23" looks like (I measured):

I have been stalled on my latest circular shawl because I had to decide how to enlarge the doily pattern I am using as a jumping off point. I think I have a plan, but first I have to do a little shoveling.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Would you drink this?

This stuff is probably very good for you. Green is THE buzzword lately in more ways than one. Eat kale and broccoli every day and you might live to be 120; I don't know. It's never been done. Green Plant has a wonderful, slightly exotic mango-thing going, but I think it needs a better name. And maybe a dark glass bottle. Opaque, even. Or drink it in the dark. With a blindfold on. It reminds me of when we used to swim in Lake Poygan during the eco-uninformed 60's.
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are just that: opinions. They are not meant as an endorsement or bad-mouthing of the above product. More like a comment on the weird lengths to which I've gone in search of fulfillment and inner peace.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Converting to Metric with Thomas Merton

I have always felt a little cheated that the promise of the Metric Conversion Act of 1975 never came true. (Here's proof.) The metric system is intuitive; it is the converting back and forth to "English" (and even the English do not use the system anymore) that causes the problem. Conversion is hard work requiring a shift in how we think.

Now I am working on a little conversion myself. I want to convert from a life complicated with too much stuff to one of serene, unfettered simplicity -- but I will settle for one slightly less cluttered. I am a bit of a collector (OK, "ten pounds of sugar in a five pound sack" springs to mind), but I can still be inspired by Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, who said, "Give up everything, give up everything!"

I know that is not going to happen. I have a beautiful, carefully curated yarn stash and eight tall bookcases that are not likely to disappear, or even shrink, but the rest of my life is loaded down with its fair share of meaningless miscellany. Knickknacks, jimcracks, and whimseys; old perfume, mom jeans, mateless socks, and did I mention fabric?

Vincent Van Gogh's phrase "The best way to know life is to love many things" has long been my motto. I fall in love with all kinds of things. The trouble is, loving a thing is no guarantee that it enriches my life.

Maybe hanging onto a broken CD player is symbolic of my hopeful outlook on life. Don't you think that one day it might just start working again? Not likely.

So I'm working on thinning the woodlot, getting rid of the obvious cement overshoes to a sleek, well organized life. I keep chanting "Give up everything, give up everything!" Somewhere between being buried by an avalanche of affluence and becoming a Trappist monk lies a comfortable medium, one that won't leave my heirs saying, "What was she thinking?"

I think I will start in the refrigerator. Do you think it could be as easy as throwing out the yardsticks, quarts and pounds; going cold turkey?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Teddetonka Fire Chief

When you drop a pin on your kitchen floor, do you intentionally drop a second one to help find the first one? I swear it works, although it is chancy. If it doesn't work, you have two pins to worry about stepping on barefoot instead of one.

Life is full of little risks that way. I was messing around with pins because I was blocking a felted knitting project, a fireman's helmet. In this case, a firebear's helmet. The pattern is heavily modified from New Knits on the Block by Vickie Howell . (Heavily as in more-like-inspiration-than-following-a-pattern.) I bought the book specifically for the felted fireman's helmet and was just looking for an excuse to knit one. Since there are no toddlers on my horizon, enter the Prince William Purler's charity project: dressing Teddy bears for the local police officers to give to traumatized children.

It is so easy and fun to knit cute little girlie things that little boys (and big ones) sometimes get the short end of handmade love. Searching for balance is one of my goals this week, so this one is for the little boys.

Meet Chief Ted of the Teddetonka Fire Department.

I am not sure if he will even qualify for the knitting guild's contest because his coat and the crest on his hat are sewn. Truthfully, making the pattern for the coat took as long as sewing it, and the crest took as long as the coat (all that zigging and zagging). Yes, the stripe on his coat is reflective so he can be seen in heavy smoke. Did I mention there is a contest? Nothing like a little competition to bring out the over-achiever gene. I do not care if he qualifies for the contest or not. I only hope that some little boy who is having a very bad day feels a little better when he gets to hug this bear.

P.S. The guild graciously provided the naked bears in three colors: brown bear, polar bear and blond bear. I would have liked a polar bear but then his fur would have gotten dingy from the smoke.