Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's Magic, One Way or Another

Yes, Virginia, there is a Dumbledore ... er, Santa Claus. One or the other, I'm not sure which.

A lovely friend ... and I can't name her to thank her because I don't know her name ... has sent me a skein of --Drum Roll, please--Opal yarn, Dumbledore color. There's only one clue, well, aside from knowing that I would LOVE Dumbledore and don't already have it.

That clue is that the package came from Kay Mather who is a member of the Wednesday night Noble Knitters group and has recently opened a fiber business. That means that it's likely that my generous benefactor is one of the Nobles.

Thank you very much to whichever of you lovelies was so generous with me. I LOVE Dumbledore, and can't wait to cast on with it.

(I guess the fact that it came by US mail and not by owl suggests that it's Christmas magic, not the Harry Potter kind. Another clue.)

Again, thank you. I love all of you and am very grateful to know you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Knee--Progress to Date

Several kind friends continue to ask about Mr. Pug and how he's faring with his new, improved, highly technological knee. Well, it varies from day to day and sometimes from minute to minute. I've seen every variation--some of them I wouldn't mind seeing again, and others I hope will vanish forever.

Some days he's a happy camper:

On these days, he's full of hope and expectation and promise. On a day like that, life in the Hundred Acre Forest is good--all Disneyish songs and dancing among the tiny forest animals.
Then there are the blue days:
On these days, Mr. Pug sees only the cloud--no silver lining at all.
Yesterday, he felt wonderful, like a young man who could tackle the world:
But today -- today is one of the black days when I would cheerfully leave home:
Yes, we're in full Grizzly mode today. Grrrrrr!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Do ... I Don't

Okay, this whole togetherness thing is waaayyyy overrated. It appears that one of the major precepts of marriage, critical to the Judeo-Christian way of life, is a lie.

You know that whole "till death do you part" thing? That whole walking into the sunset, holding hands, with maybe a Viagra moment or two to break it up thing? It's a lie, a damned lie.

That stuff works fine if you have a job and go to work, oh, say, 40 hours a week. With commute that brings it up about 50 or 60. Throw in sleep, knitting groups, book groups, a trip to the grocery or two, and maybe an hour or two in the pedicure chair every so often, and that brings time with your spouse (or in this case, semi-spouse) down to about 49 hours a week, or really the time spent on another job. Hell, you can blow most of that playing solitaire on the computer or blogging or some other useless task.

Do-able, right? Well, yes, in some parallel universe, I guess.

In the olden days, when men had prey to hunt, crops to plant, animals to feed and milk, trees to chop, they were off doing things most of the day. The wife could go about her business of keeping the house and children without too much interference. In our own time, men can go out into the woods with other men to kill defenseless animals or hit balls around a golf course or ride motorcycles or attend sporting events with other men.

This is the glue that holds relationships together. Apart time.

I really do understand why the gays and lesbian groups are fighting for the right to marriage--civil marriage or religious marriage, who cares? I get that you need legal connections and some of us need spiritual connectivity to another person. But we still need apart time. We may need our spouses attached on paper, but the bottom line is, we need space, room to breathe, quiet time, whatever you want to call it. Or I do.

No, I'm serious--I do! I have had a man--Mr. Pug--joined to me at the hip for over a week now. It feels like he's joined to my jugular vein, and he's bleeding me dry.

Where I go, he goes.

What I do, he does ... or at least he comments on.

If I eat it, he wants some too. Or wants to tell me why it's not worth eating. Or how he could have made it better on the grill.

If the phone rings, he assumes it's for him. On the rare occasion it's for me, he wants to know who I'm talking to, what's going on in that person's life, who they voted for, and what their view on the auto bailout is.

If I take the trash out, he reminds me to keep the lid closed and that it really shouldn't go to the street until Thursday morning and that it needs to be brought back to the house promptly on Thursday afternoon. It wouldn't hurt to wipe it off with a damp cloth.

If the dogs seem fussy, he advises me on how to properly feed them (open can, dump, add dry food, put food bowls down and get hands out of the way).

If, God help me, I read a book, he asks questions about what I'm reading. If it's the newspaper, he has already read it and left it crinkled and crumpled.

If the mail has come, he wants his right away. If it hasn't, he's fussing about why the mail lady is 17.3 minutes later than she was yesterday.

If I'm knitting, he wants to discuss the intricacies of the pattern (what is that curved implement and why are you pushing it into the yarn--it's a cable holder, for God's sake! Shut up!) or the dying process that causes the yarn to be different colors--it's a miracle, I say, a miracle!

I have received helpful critiques on my driving (wow, you really hug the right side of the road, don't you? watch out for that red light! there's a cop up ahead--you might want to slow down), laundry techniques (if you fold the towels in thirds, you can get more onto the shelf), cooking (that last bunch of cookies was a little crunchy, hon--maybe if you took them out earlier?)

The one place he's uninterested in is the computer. That's why you'll find me here--blogging and knitting and pretending I'm single and live alone. I'm not hiding. I'm in here breathing all by myself in blissful silence. Ahhhhhhhh ....

Is this what retirement is like? If so, I'll be working until I'm 90 (or in woman's years, 75).

Friday, December 19, 2008

My House's Secrets

Have you gleaned from my postings yet that I am incredibly spoiled? That I am accustomed (rightfully so) to being the queen in my house, with a small but active cadre of servants to do my every bidding? Okay, there's only one--Mr. Pug.

And he's sort of out of the picture, service-wise, these days. He's very much in the picture annoyance-wise, but that's another story.

But I am nothing if not resilient. I've lived alone several times in my life and have really enjoyed it--I think I'm really well-suited to be a hermit, emerging from my hovel only on rare occasions to forage for food and yarn. My point is that I am fully capable of caring for myself, handling my own affairs, and taking care of my own hovel--er, abode.

So I'm puttering around my house and realizing I really don't know much about where I live. For instance:

  • Flashlight. Where does the darned thing live? Why can't I find it? Where are the batteries for it, because when you DO find it, it's dead?
  • Buddy's hiding places. The other morning, while Mr. Pug was still in the hospital hooked up to God only knows how many good (legal) drugs, Buddy disappeared. Completely disappeared. At 5 in the freaking morning. And I couldn't find him--this isn't a big yard--it's the back yard of a half-acre lot--where the heck could he be? I walked the whole damned yard, in the dark, without a flashlight (see bullet above), checked all the gates--three if it matters--called his name with increasing shrillness, offered treats and kisses and every other desirable doggy option I could think of. Did I find him? No. Did I call Mr. Pug and ask him to come home--right now, dragging an IV pole if necessary--and find the darned dog? No, but it was very close.
  • What does he do when he's hiding? Fifteen minutes later, he strolled through the doggy door. I swear his breath smelled like squirrel poo but I could be wrong.
  • Bird Feeder. What idiot put it on top of a pole that is 3 feet taller than any of our ladders? Where IS the ladder? Okay, we seem to have six ladders. Which one is the appropriate one for the job? Are ladders like knitting needles--do you somehow have to get gauge? How are you supposed to carry a tub of seed and two suet cakes to the top of a ladder, assuming you're not scared to death of heights, which I am, and somehow pull open a rusted suet holder to slip in the suet cake while simultaneously grabbing the suet, clutching the large tub of seed, trying not to lose your hold on the ladder which is shaking and quivering? Then do it again, because there are two suet holders, each one more rusted than the other. That is definitely a four-hand task and I somehow have only been issued two.
  • Gutters. Who is shaking these trees and filling up those stupid gutters? And who knew that when they fill up, water oozes in through the fake stones in the fireplace? Is it going to require finding the 12 foot ladder to fix this problem? If so, we're all going to be wearing raincoats and carrying umbrellas.
  • Christmas wrapping paper. Yes, I know I said this was the year of Grinchification, but I still needed to send off presents to the grands in NC. I know we HAVE wrapping paper, because every year I buy 10 or 12 rolls and use small scraps from 6 or 8 of them. That should leave a lifetime supply of partial rolls of wrapping paper, SOMEWHERE in that garage. (Not in the red-topped Christmas Wrapping Paper tub because somehow we always forget to buy one before the Home Depot runs out of them.) So, yesterday I went to the store and bought 5 more rolls (because it's such a lean Christmas), the remains of which will disappear into the vast Black Hole of the garage by next year.
  • Once-a-year-kitchen equipment. What do I mean? You know--the roasting pan you only use for a Thanksgiving turkey or to make Chex Mix, the KitchenAid stand mixer you only use for Christmas cookies, the over-the-burner griddle you use for Christmas breakfast, that big white oval platter, the extra ...that stuff. Where is it? Where could it be? It's big, for God's sake. Do you have any idea how big a KitchenAid stand mixer is? It's like having the Tower of London on your counter without the Crown Jewels--which is why it's stored SOMEWHERE.
  • The pantry. Actually we have two pantries, which is good because both of them are approximately the size of a smallish diaper bag. I suppose if we'd bought a full-size house instead of the midget variety, but we didn't.... One holds canned goods, some of which have been there since the Jurassic age and have the expiration dates to prove it. The other holds (a) whatever won't fit onto the kitchen counters, which were built for the Oompa Loompa family, (b) anything Mr. Pug thinks we won't need any time soon (see bullet above), and (c) his wallet, his keys, his extra shoes, coins from his pockets, old receipts from Publix, recipes that aren't good enough to save and we don't even like the ingredients but are too good to throw away, etc. It's like a giant junk drawer which we would have one of if we hadn't bought the dollhouse-size house.

Finally, there's the yarn problem. Yeah, yeah, I know that's sort of a me-problem that can't be blamed on him. Well, the fact is ... there's rather a lot of it. But I'm one of those people who are frightfully disorganized but still know where everything is. You know--the person who can look at a 3 foot tall quivering stack of papers on a desk and pull out the 1996 state tax return because she knows at which geological level it resides? That's me.

And that's the way my yarn is ... organized. Yes, let's call it an organization system. That's so much better than the reality, which is that it comes home in bags or mailing pouches, sometimes after months of ripening in the car trunk. Said bags/pouches get stuffed into various crevices where they can remain in relative hiding. Sometimes the yarn gets placed into one of the dozens of decorative baskets I've bought to hide ... er, store ... it. These baskets, bags, etc. supplement the nice storage shelves that Mr. Pug built to hold the wall-o-yarn in the office which were filled up within a week of their erection.

So anyway, when my kids were coming for Thanksgiving, I had to shovel out the bedroom. I probably should have done it over a period of time, keeping good records on where various things went. But I didn't. I got to the day before the arrival and started shoving, pushing, hiding yarn and projects everywhere. In closets in the office. In closets in Jake's old room. In my own two closets, under things. (The one place I didn't use was the garage--I knew I'd never see any of it ever again if it went in there. Abandon all hope, and all that.)

You know what's happened, don't you? I can't find any of my projects--those UFOs that I'm really going to finish someday. Or that yarn that I brought home and am really, really going to make something out of any day now. Well, the day is here--I'm home and ready to knit. Where the heck is the yarn?

In the distance I hear a grinding noise. I'm terribly afraid it's the sound of a KitchenAid stand mixer filled with Socks That Rock yarn and with the dough hook going. Oh, no!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can't Resist Noro

Why is Noro irresistible? After the ugliness of my very public breakup with Noro Silk Garden Sock, you'd think I'd run from Noro screaming.

So here's where I admit that I had the same problem with my first husband--couldn't live with him, couldn't let him go. That ended (thank God!) with marriage to #2, but there were days when I wondered if we'd be tied forever.

Whew! That felt good to admit, if a little embarrassing. But back to Noro.

There's a new term floating around Ravelry--Viral Knits. It's really about addictive, public relationships with yarn, and frankly, it sounds gross but it's kind of fun. Kind of like group sex but without the divorces and STDs. It's about those patterns that, one day, you've never heard of them and the next, everyone and their sister is wearing one. Except me. I'm always last to adopt a Viral Knit.

Come on-- you know the ones I'm talking about. Remember when EVERYONE made a Clapotis scarf? Not me.

Then we ALL had Monkey socks? Not me. Pomotomous? Knot ... er, not me.

Central Park Hoodie? My So-Called Scarf? Icarus? No, no, no.

The latest is the February Lady sweater. When we were at SAFF this year, there was a positive buzz around the fairgrounds about the FLS. (Overheard at the Brooks Farm booth: "Did you see that February Lady?" "Yes, wasn't it gorgeous?" "Yeah, which of your yarns would you recommend for that pattern?")

Of course, I'm always the last to know and I couldn't figure out what the heck they were talking about. Finally, I saw two people walking near each other at the front of the building. They weren't together but their outerwear had a certain similarity and, good news, I knew one of the wearers. Could it be? I quickly stopped her and said, "Wow! I really love your ... (pause)" and she said, "Oh, my February Lady. Thanks!" Then I knew. Once again, I was behind the trend.

So, one of the big Virals this year is the Brooklyn Tweed Scarf by Jared Flood. And, of course, he used the dreaded Noro Silk Garden to make it--three separate colors, for God's sake.

But I'm just getting over being jilted by NSG. Could I try again? What if he ... did it to me again?

Let's just say, I'm in love, again. And, yes, it's my ex, Noro. And who wouldn't love him? And, yes, my friends are talking behind my back about my lack of control. Who cares? We're in love!

To prove my sanity, however, check this out. Dream in Color Smooshy (Pansy Golightly)--how gorgeous is that! My lovely friend Ellen gifted me with a skein of this last week and we had to wind it immediately--talk about the siren song! Then once I got home I HAD to cast on--it's my old friend Spring Forward socks, but toe-up this time.

(It's a fact--when you're going out with Noro, you gotta have someone on the side!)

And, yes, I do have yarn picked out from my stash for the February Lady. Unfortunately, by the time I get it made, there will be some new hot Viral and I'll be a HasBeen again. Oh, well .... c'est la vie.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Knee, Same Old Brain

For those of you who have been kind enough to inquire about the status of Mr. Pug and his knee surgery:

Surgery (last Thursday) went well. The surgeons used a nerve block that worked like a champ. No pain, no swelling. With a few glitches which simply constitute TMI and won't be described here, he was soon walking the halls with the physical therapist and the walker.

The original plan was that he would go to 3-5 days of rehab in the hospital, but the workers compensation folks, who had agreed to pay for that, suddenly remembered it wasn't important and that was out the window. So, here we are at home. And life is exactly as I knew it would be.

So, what are you complaining about, sister? (I'm not talking to myself--I'm responding to my friend who told me to "put on your big girl panties" and suck it up. She thinks I'm whining because I'm having to nurse a whiny little old fart. Nope! Not even!)

You don’t understand—my problem isn’t that Mr. Pug is whiny or in unbelievable pain or requiring me to wait on him hand and foot. No, thank you, he’s doing very well.

In fact, my problem is that he’s so active that I’m scared to death that he’ll (a) trip over a dog and fall down the stairs—yes, he’s practically running up the stairs, down is a little slower, (b) throw a clot because he’s walking around without his brace or his “clot-preventing” stocking, (c) fall and pop his stitches because he’s not using a walker or a cane—just wandering around, 6 days after surgery, or (d) burn himself cooking dinner because, well, because he can. (So far he hasn't ventured to the grill in the back yard or gotten up on the ladder to clean out the gutters, but I'm sure that will be today's contest.)

He’s so busy proving he’s the biggest, baddest bear in the forest that he’s driving me nuts. “Must take care of woman—especially that woman who’s clearly incompetent to take care of herself.” And "must not ask for pain medicine--that would show weakness. Must get it myself, even if I groan all the way to the prescription bottle."

So, we get home on Monday night, about 6 pm. (Yes, they did say to come at noon to pick him up. Yes, they did say it would take "a little while" to get the discharge coordinated. Yes, he did decide there was no point in ordering lunch since we'd be on our way soon. Yes, the guard downstairs did tell me to park my car in the "30-minute pick up and delivery of patients area--we will tow your car at 31 minutes." (I'm not that stupid, thank you!)

Anyway, we stop for the obligatory McDonald’s snack and then he, the man who didn’t eat even one complete meal in the hospital, comes home and wolfs down spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread. I finally convince him to go to bed, with only one dog. Then about 11:30 I hear a noise downstairs—I race down and find him (and the dog) standing with the walker in the kitchen fixing a big bowl of ice cream. He and dog eat ice cream. Get him back to bed, with the dog (Lucy, if it matters).

1:30 AM – noise downstairs. I run back down the stairs to find him, standing without his walker, letting dog out onto the back porch. Back to bed, with dog. No brace, no stocking—they were irritating him. I’d like to irritate him!

7:00 AM—go to kitchen. Find man and dog in chair waiting for me to bring coffee and paper. Fix him his coffee. Resist impulse to throw coffee on him. Why waste good coffee?

9:00 AM—watch him sprint upstairs. No walker, no cane, no stocking, no brace, no nothing.

11:00 AM—leave, in high dudgeon, swearing never to return. Cell phone not working—I remind him to call 911 if he falls or if the “big one” strikes. I rehearse what I will say to police when they tell me where to pick up his body. "I just went out to get more pain medicine for him," I will say. "Poor guy," I will say. "I'm sure it was quick, that he felt no pain," I will say.

2:00 PM—I call. He’s napping with dogs. “I’m fine, thank you. Have fun shopping.” Hang up cell phone, throw across car.

4:00 PM—I return. He’s fine. Has eaten the lunch I left out for him. Has not started cooking dinner because he’s afraid it would make me mad. (No s&*t, Sherlock!) In the meantime, he’s moved back upstairs permanently, has his special pillow set up (thank you, Whit!), and is settled in there.

Fast forward to today—the visiting nurse is coming. He slept upstairs last night with all four dogs, came downstairs twice with them (I know because I slept on the couch to make sure he’s okay). He’s had his coffee and read the paper—he didn’t go to the street to get it when he got up because “I was afraid it would set you off again.” Good thinking, sport. He’s showering now, just told me to “come downstairs with a scraper if you hear a scream.” Whatever!

Now, for those of you who think I'm over-reacting. Yes, I'm happy that he's so resilient. Yes, I'm thrilled that he thinks he's the Bionic Man. Yes, yes, yes.

What you don't understand is that, in almost 25 years with this man, I've seen him do this before. But, of course, he was 25 years younger. (I was 35 years younger--that's one of the prerogatives of being a woman.)

So I know that the end result will be that he will heal very quickly, he'll stop doing his exercises early because he's so strong and invincible, and, finally, he'll go back to work long before he's actually ready. Then I'll start hearing how the surgeon must have screwed something up, because he's got pain in his knee. Within a year we'll be doing the other knee, which will have gone bad trying to overcompensate for this one.

He's (splutter, curse, splutter) fine. Today. As for me, I'm a nervous wreck--I haven't had a full night's sleep in 7 days and I'm just dreading the day he thinks he can drive--probably tomorrow.
I'm not a nurse--I'm a prison guard. An inept prison guard, inadequate to the job.

Okay, he's returned from the shower, struggling for breath but clean and dressed. I told him I was blogging about him and he said, "you can just tell them I'm a stubborn, ill-willed, nasty old man." Done!


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Toe Up ... What Else?

This makes me smile ... hell, it makes me laugh out loud. In fact, I think if it doesn't give you at least a chuckle, you might have a serious problem, like being dead or comatose.

And right at the moment, not much makes me smile. We're in the middle of an economic recession (yes, the same one that our current administration said we hadn't entered yet, that one). Jobs are insecure. My 401(k) could fit into a coin purse. My savings are nonexistent. Unemployment is high, crime is higher, and we're still at war. Christmas is coming and I'm experiencing some serious grinchification.

But that sock would bring a chuckle to the most depressed economist, in my opinion.

It's Opal, of course. And I say of course because, let's face it, Opal yarn is one of the Wonders of the Western World. How could you not love something that's just so outrageously beautiful while also being dependable and knittable and wonderfully wearable and washable. Opal, I worship at your (sock-clad) feet.

And I like it best in a very simple toe-up pattern like the one above. The pattern is my own, adapted freely from the Gospels of Ann Budd and Wendy Johnson, to whom I owe my allegiance.

And what I love about these two women, who do not, I don't think, have any connection to each other at all, is that they are Technique people. And by that I mean that, once you understand their methodology, you can adapt any pattern to it. Ann, of course, is seen quite often in the pages of Interweave Knits. Wendy can be found at (thank you, Jane, for correcting me--you were right!) and has a new book, aptly called "Socks From The Toe Up," out soon.

Go buy some Opal, or dig some out from your stash--you know you have it! Then go to Wendy's blog and knit a toe-up sock. I promise you--you'll never knit one of those bulky slip stitch heels again.

Well, that's probably a lie. The pair of socks I just finished were cuff down and, in retrospect, the only possible reason I would knit cuff down again is to put on a picot cuff. But, since I've never yet knit a picot cuff, and have no immediate plans to do so, that probably won't constrain me in the future.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Today, an amalgam of miscellany. First, and not miscellaneous at all, it's Haley's 17th birthday, which is fairly amazing. Here she is at a recent soccer tournament with her dad. I love this picture! This weekend she's at another soccer tournament, this one in Raleigh, and that's why I'm missing her birthday. Well, I saw her last week so maybe that counts, but it doesn't feel like it.

Next, a picture just because I love it. Brandon, sleeping on the couch while they were all here last weekend, and Buddy, sound asleep atop him. Buddy is a very social dog and wants to be touching someone at all times. Normally, Brandon's good for a petting, but sleep does tend to preclude such things. In this case, Buddy was determined to be close to Brandon even if Brandon wasn't aware of it.

Next, a rare three-fer of Lucy, Lulu and Buddy. It's very hard to get a picture of any one of them and three is magical. In this picture, Bluto is probably trying to get a nap away from the rest of us. (And, yes, those are Mr. Pug's legs on the right. Enjoy the sight of them vertical--after next weeks' knee surgery, you may only see horizontal pictures of those legs for awhile.)

Next, an actual Finished Object. These are Spring Forward from socks out of Trekking yarn. I love the lacey pattern but these socks reminded me that I really hate cuff down socks. Actually, I was fine with them before I learned how to knit socks toe up, but now they just seem like old technology, like playing Pong on an old Atari. I hate kitchenering and I hate having to adjust the instep for the heel height and really ... I just need to make these socks again because I love the pattern but the next pair will definitely be toe-up.

Speaking of finished objects, here are some ... yes, I said SOME ... of the dressed teddy bears donated at this week's Atlanta Knitting Guild meeting. They go to (I think) the Dekalb County police department and are used with kids who've had traumatic experiences of one kind or another. Here are some more.

I never did hear a total number, but I'd guess there were over 200 donated. This has been one of the guild's major charitable efforts for many years and our members (myself excluded) are very creative. Usually it's all I can do to make a simple bear sweater--for some reason I just am not creative enough to figure out how to design around the bear anatomy--but I always enjoy seeing the creativity of others. Good job, guys!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Post-Holiday Blues

Okay, the Thanksgiving holiday is over and I’m recovering. We truly had lots to be thankful for this year, with the house full of daughters and grandchildren and significant others and dogs and granddogs. Lots of food, lots of noise, laughter, a few raised voices but not too many. And now it’s quiet again. Mr. Pug and I and the four pugs are back to our peaceful existence.

So why do I feel like something’s missing?

Well, that’s easy. It’s because I’ve had to learn to use my bathroom by myself again.

Yes, after only a few days of having my family around, I’m back to solitude in the bathroom, and it already feels weird.

I know… all you folks who haven’t had children are wondering if I’ve lost my mind, and that’s definitely the subject of another posting. But you parents … you know what I’m talking about.

Once I had children, a few decades ago, I seldom experienced the peacefulness of a quiet trip to the loo by myself. I would sometimes read about people who took their newspapers to the bathroom for a quick read. Or folks who kept a good book and a candle by the tub for those peaceful moments of relaxation. Not in my house. There always seemed to be a kid talking to me about some critical matter while I tried to find a moment alone.

And grandchildren kept up the tradition. How do people who don’t even live with you somehow know they can pop in to ask a question just as you’re turning on the hair dryer or stepping out of the shower?

Now, mind you, husbands and semi-spouses can be trained. You just lock the doors a few times and most of them get the message. Not your kids—mine seem to be able to pick locks or maybe they just wave a magic wand over them. Who knows how they get in? I certainly don’t. One minute you’re thinking you’ve got enough privacy to try out that new eye shadow and the next minute you’re defending your choice of green over brown eyeliner.

So… it’s very quiet. And I’m trying to acclimate myself to the silence. This morning I dried my hair and didn’t have to explain to anyone why I still use such an old school hair dryer (because I like it, that’s why, and besides it still works) and no one asked why I wear granny pants instead of a thong (because they feel good, that’s why) and no one told me that I really should give up using my old cologne and try something newer and no one borrowed my moisturizer.

Gosh, it was quiet. And a little lonely. I hope they come back soon.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Intelligence Without Discipline? What Good Is It?

Your result for The Best Thing About You Test...


Intelligence is your strongest virtue

Intelligence (also called intellect) is an umbrella term used to describe a property of the mind that encompasses many related abilities, such as the capacities to reason, plan, and solve problems. And you? Your brain shines. All 7 virtues are a part of you, but your intelligence runs deepest.

It is likely you're a smarty-pants. And it's likely (but not necessary) that your discipline score is high also. It takes a certain resolve to maintain all those neural thingies.

Intelligent famous people: Einstein, Shakespeare, Da Vinci.

Your raw relative scores follow. 0% is low, and 100% is perfect, nearly impossible. Note that I pitted the virtues against each other, so in some way these are relative scores. It's impossible to score high on all of them, and a low score on one is just relatively low compared to the other virtues.


50% Compassion

67% Intelligence

63% Humility

44% Honesty

0% Discipline

29% Courage

25% Passion

Take The Best Thing About You Test
at HelloQuizzy

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes, We Can

As I watched video footage on CNN of jubilated revelers singing and dancing on U Street in Washington, DC last night I had a strong, vivid memory of U Street in April 1968—ablaze with hot and angry and disappointed men and women, looting and destroying in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination days before. Then, it seemed that hope had died with Reverend King. Now, it seems that hope is alive again.

Is it? Forty years later America has elected its first African-American president.


A huge bloom of first-time voters, young enough that King is only a black-and-white photo in a textbook, young enough that they never saw water fountains labeled “Colored” or restaurants with signs proclaiming “White Only,” stepped up to make a change. And people my age, who do remember the inequities with embarrassment, signed on too. And even some elderly people, some of whom remember the days when women couldn’t vote and some who have had their retirement savings shaken recently, voted for change.


But for me, the most amazing part is that, while race is perhaps the most visible element in this historic election, the election really wasn’t about race. It was about moving on, which is what Americans do best. For over 200 years, we have celebrated and wept, we have been driven to our knees by wars and recessions and even terrorism, and each time we’ve changed for the better.

The past few months have seen an ugly campaign. But now it’s time to move on. It’s time to put aside negativity and celebrate our ability to participate—one way or another—in a truly historic event. Yes, we can.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some People Love Noro Silk Garden Sock

Let me begin by saying, I love Bad Cat Designs. My first lace knitting experience was a Bad Cat Design

Andrea (Bad Cat) is a genius. More recently, Pat and Ellen finished Bad Cat's Summer Sampler and I wish I had a photo of that--absolutely beautiful.

All of which is a long way around saying that when Andrea introduced a new winter sampler, made of fingering weight yarn and touted as easy-to-complete, low stress, I went right to her blog to get more information. Woo hoo! I'm off lacecation! I'm baaaaaacccckkk ....

OMG! The bloody thing is made of Noro Silk Garden Sock! What fresh hell is this? Bad Cat is consorting with the enemy! Can I stand to do another project with this hellish thing? And, of course, the answer is No...this is not the project that will spring me from lacecation.

On a more positive note, my former love, NSGS, has, as mentioned earlier, gone to a new home, where he is more loved and certainly better taken care of. Jolie has turned him around and he's a new man ... er, yarn. She showed him off on Saturday on the bus to SAFF--he's gone from being a backstabbing, fornicating son of a sea dog ... well, okay, I'm still mad ... into a really beautiful holey sort of a scarf. And as of Saturday night, he was Blue! I'm not saying that there's a trend here, but I will admit that my former spouses seem to be happier once they're shut of me. I guess the trend continues.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Well, I Wasn't That Good!

Oh, you wanted to know what I brought home from SAFF?

Everything's relative, after all.
  • Intention 1: spend more time knitting and talking with friends and less time buying.
  • Intention 2: buy no commercial yarn--what's the point when we have all these wonderful shops in town? At the same time, I had two things on my wishlist, both commercial, for which I would have broken my Intention 2 in a New York minute: TyDy sock yarn (darn you, Debra--why did you show me that stuff?) and Malabrigo Sock. Not just any Malabrigo Sock--I've been craving Archangel ever since Jane showed me a sample earlier this summer.
  • Intention 3: take my hand spindle and some roving and spend some time learning to spin.

Okay, so other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Let's do them out of order:

Intention 3: This one never got off the ground--I knew darned well I wasn't going to schlep that spindle around with me.
Intention 2: No TyDy sock, no Malabrigo Sock. Passed up all the commercial yarn, no matter how pretty--only bought indie stuff. Whew! Passed that test (but I can't take credit for that in any way!)

Intention 3: I had a wonderful time schmoozing with lots of different folks and exploring some vendors I remembered or knew about. Missed a couple--I ran into someone I bought a wonderful pin from last year but never got back to her booth. Next year! And I even knitted a good bit. But mainly the point was not to buy a bunch of stuff and I did that, mostly. Here's what came home with me:
Well, you knew I'd come home with a pair of her earrings, didn't you? Everyone needs pumpkin earrings!
Sanguine Gryphon.
Her colors are gorgeous and this one jumped out at me, screaming, I can be a beautiful scarf--I'd love to give all that black you wear a little splash of color!
Brooks Farm Acero.
I knew if I came home with nothing else, it would be Brooks Farm, and Joyce didn't help. She was practically dragging me down the stairs toward their booth. (Okay, I didn't think you'd buy that it was her fault but I thought it was worth a try.) That stuff is simply awesome and you just don't see it everywhere--they only sell at shows (and maybe online, but with colors like this, I want to see and touch it). Several people begged them to come to Stitches South but there's some sort of a conflict and it doesn't look good. I would LOVE to see a fabulous indie producer like Brooks Farm at Stitches--wow!

The yarn is sitting on a great shawl pattern I bought at the same time. Very simple to show off the color changes and the fabulous texture. And the purple!!!!! Who could resist? I bought another pattern too, a modular shawl that looks a little like one of those old-fashioned granny square afghans your grandmother crocheted. Fabulous!

Knit Witch! We met Brittany and her husband at one of the Yarn Harlot events and I thought they were great. It was so much fun to find them in a booth at SAFF, showing off his ceramics and her hand-dyed yarns.

Finally, YarnMammaTwo. I've been thinking of this yarn since Debra and I saw it at SAFF last year. Three colors came home with me,

but I'm hoping one or two of my lace buddies will be as taken with them as I am. Colors are dark rose, tearose and pear! OMG!

Now, don't you agree that I was a very, very good girl? Thank you--I think so, too.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Was So Darned Good!

I love SAFF. Debra and I had the best time last year at SAFF and I've been looking forward to repeating that experience for a year. But 2008 has been, as you may have heard me say 14,287 times, a tough year. Money is tight. I have very little leave from work. And money is tight.

So Debra and I cancelled our fun-filled, allout-yarn-extravaganza. It just wasn't the year for hotel rooms, meals out, stash-building. Heck, I haven't knit last year's loot! But in a moment of Zen, I took the middlepath, and took the bus up for the day with Elyse and Bill and the Only Ewe and Cotton Too folks. What a fun day, even if it did begin at o'dark-thirty!

Lots of old and new friends--Joyce and Jolie and Phyllis (and her beautiful granddaughter) and Cheryl and Jenny and Betty and Elaine and Brenda and Lois and Claudia and HockeyMom and Mary Ellen and ... I can't remember them all, but lots of folks I knew and more that I know better now. And, of course, everywhere I went I ran into folks that I know--how did this happen? How can I know so many knitters?

Forget's definitely not about me. Most of the people we met wanted to talk about Joyce's Noro Silk Garden sweater:

But even Joyce didn't have as many people petting her as did this little baby--a pygmy goat only four days old, one of triplets. Too cute! I would have stuffed him right into my knitting bag if I could have gotten away with it. The pugs would loved him and my neighbors are so over the pugs, they probably wouldn't have noticed!

Speaking of odd animals, the boys (Steve and Lou and Doug, et al.,) were all wearing matching hats, even Rob's beautiful son Michael.

No, that's not quite accurate. Michael's was pink and didn't have all the ... accroutements ... of the big boys's hats:

The male spinner from Charlotte sitting behind us was very pleasant to chat with but definitely not amused. He kept saying that their wives were probably embarrassed--probably not a big issue. That's Steve in the hat and his wife has a great sense of humor, even if she is a crocheter. Hey! We all know that some knitters have skeins and some have balls ... I guess we know now which is which.

Now, for some obligatory knitting content as they say on the Knitlist. No, not mine, silly! The lovely ladies below are Allen Butler of Numma Numma (Toasty sock yarn) fame and a friend who declines to be named because she swears she's in the Witness Protection Program. Fine, whatever, Melissa.

The shawl that Allen is wearing (sorry for the crappy exposure in the photo) is made from her own yarn in a color I'd dye for (a little fiber humor). The shawl itself is a pattern I started and never (of course!) completed called Mystic Light and was knit by Doug--sorry I don't have a picture of Doug in his sheep hat so he could be identified. Absolutely beautiful! (The shawl, not Doug.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Holiday Knitting--Bah Humbug!

Why is it that I never think about holiday knitting until mid-October, and then it's too late to start? What's the deal with that?

Once again, I'm behind the eight ball, wishing I had time to do something holiday-ish and knowing that I don't.

And the real truth is that I really hate the December holidays, which happen in my particular case, with no disrespect to other ethnic or religious preferences, to be Christmas. I'm okay with Thanksgiving and I actually really like Halloween but ... Christmas ... I really don't like it much.

Oh, I want to, but for me it's just one more occasion to be reminded that you just don't have enough money or time or money or money to meet your family's expectations. And you don't feel merry.... or at least I don't.

But I still believe and I want to like it. So, every year I start to think about how much fun Christmas was when my daughters were small and I think ... maybe this year will be different. Maybe this is the year I'll make everyone a knitted stocking. Maybe this is the year that everyone will get a festive pair of socks or a hat or some mitts. Maybe this is the year I'll feel ready when it's time to start decorating.

Then, on January 2, when Mr. Pug is putting the tree away, I realize ... nah, not this year either.

What got this really unproductive, unhappy thinking started? Well, as usual, it has to be with my incredibly dysfunctional family--my sister Debbie in particular. Does she hate the holidays? No, of course not. She loves them ... and why wouldn't she? She's good at holidays. Her house is always festively decorated, her tree is always perfect (and real!), and she never feels pressed about gifts.

So, this is her fault. Because she's making stockings. And I'm sure they're going to be lovely.

In fact, I know they are because I ordered the patterns too (see above). Aren't they cute? Wouldn't they be cute if someone could actually finish them?

Maybe next year. Along with my little tree of knitted tiny sweaters I've always wanted to make but never have.

Hmmmm....what if I made a tiny sweater each time I knit a pair of socks? Then at the end of the year, I'd have ... tiny sweaters for a tiny tree.

Good plan for next year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh, good God! Another List!

This is sort of an interesting list, though, from the Knit Geekery blog. It's a list of knitting tasks and the idea is to identify which ones you've done.

AfghanAmerican/English Knitting (vs. Continental knitting)-(--Yes, I'm a thrower and can't seem to learn Continental to save my life.

Baby Items--Yes, I made a ton when my own daughters were little, but have mostly missed my own grandchildren. Neither of my daughters are very high on "handmade," and this is intimidating. But I'm back knitting for babies (or, to be exact, for Ruby, the most beautiful grand-niece ever).

Bobbles--Yes, in my dim, dark past, but I'm hoping that this means I don't ever have to do another one. They're probably unavoidable if I really expect to make another Aran sweater, though.

Buttonholes--Yes, but not well. They always look sort of lumpy and stretched out.

Cable stitch patterns (including Aran)--Oh, my yes, In fact, husband #2 took his Aran sweater with him when he left--I guess some of you would take that as a compliment. I regarded it as a major betrayal. But I love cables anyway and sprinkle them wherever I can.

Cardigan--Yes, but not in years.

Charity knitting--Yes, especially for Children in Common and a few things for Afghans for Afghanistan.

Continental knitting--Nope, but not for lack of trying. For some reason, I can knit but can't master the purl. And my tension goes all wonky. I need to learn this.

Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers--Yes, loved those Petra mitts and still owe my daughters a pair each. I might even make myself a pair--they'd probably look great in sock yarn.

Darning--Never learned it. My mother had one of those wooden egg thingies and I think I was traumatized by it.

Designing knitted garments--Not unless you count socks. I'm a follower, not a leader.

Domino knitting (modular knitting)--Love this. See Diagonal Vest in progress.

Drop stitch patterns--Nope. Too scary, but I swear I'll try Clapotis this year or next.

Dyeing with plant dyes--No, no, no, never even considered it. Hush, Debra--I'm NOT going to do it.

Dyeing yarn--Ditto.

Entrelac--Yes. I like entrelac and want to make Ann Budd's Anntrelac socks next.

Fair Isle knitting--Never. Terrifies me.

Freeform knitting--No, not even a desire.

Fulling/felting--Yes, a bag or two. It always sounds like more fun than it turns out to be, what with having to knit that house-sized item and them swish it through hot water for hours.

Gloves--Years ago, but not lately.

Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)--Hell, no. If I knit it, it's going to someone who can use it, not into the trash. (I guess this is the fiber equivalent of bookcrossing. I think not.)

Hair accessories--Uh, no. Although if I could knit a handy-dandy root coverup device it might be worth it. Or a honkin' big flower to sit in the ... er, sparser ... places.

Hat--yes, dozens of them.

Holiday-related knitting--No, but I always think I'm going to make cool knitted stockings or maybe a little tree decorated with small knitted objects.

Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies.....)--No. I don't get this whole trend. Hmmmmm....knit something out of nasty Sugar and Cream that tears the skin off your hands, then wash dishes with it? I think not. And Diet Pepsi doesn't need a cozy.

I-cord--Yes, and I like making it. It's the knitting equivalent of making those gimp necklaces we all made as kids.

Intarsia--Once, a Christmas tree sweater for Haley. Not since, although I really want to learn how to do it -- well, I mean.

(NOTE: omg, is this thing never going to end? Who knew there were so many things to do with two sticks and some string?)

Jewelry--No, except for a pair of earrings at a class last year, but I'm always tempted by patterns in books.

Kitchener stitch--Yes, but Kitchener stitch is the main reason I knit toe up these days. Kitchenering is the equivalent of eating bran--probably good for you but who cares?

Bind Off--This is a dumb one. You gotta have done this one.

Knit-on cast on--Yes, I love this method. It's great for lace.

Knitting a gift--Yeah, but I don't make a practice of it. Usually the recipient doesn't like it nearly as much as I do.

Knitting and purling backwards--Haven't learned it but I'd like to--it would make entrelac so much easier.

Knitting for a living--Nope! It would take all the pleasure out of it for me. I'm way too process oriented.

Knitting for pets--No. It's way too easy to get into putting costumes on pugs. I don't want to be tempted. But there might be a doggy Christmas stocking in my future ...

Knitting for preemies--Yes, last year when one of our guild members lost her grandchild. Sad but satisfying. It's absolutely amazing how small those little heads are!

Knitting in public--Well, duh! Who doesn't?

Knitting items for a wedding--Nope. See above. My daughters aren't really the knitted object types. Maybe a granddaughter?

Knitting socks--What else? Socks are my true love, especially for knitting in public.

Knitting to make money--Nah!

Lace patterns--Yes, though I'm currently on lacecation.

Longtail Cast On--Yes, this has been my staple for a long time any time I can use it. It gives a really nice strong edge.

OnMachine knitting--Tried it, bought the machine, hated it, gave the machine away. Good riddance.

Mittens: Cuff up--Yes, back in the dark ages of children.

Mittens: Top down--No, but it sounds really interesting. I guess you'd just start like a sock? And maybe make an afterthought thumb? Hmmmm...

Mitre squares--Love 'em! If I could come back as a knitting designer, I'd be Ginger Luters.

Moebius band knitting--Yes, under the evil influence of Cat Bordhi. (I wouldn't come back as Cat, unless I'd been under the influence of some mind-bending drug.)

Norwegian knitting--Nope. It looks interesting but ....

Participating in a Knit-a-long--Yes, the MS3 shawl. Loved that, but haven't been able to commit to another one yet.

Pillows--Nope. (Do needlepoint and crewel pillows back in the 70's count? I didn't think so.)

Publishing a knitting book--Wow! No, and I don't think I ever will, but wow!

Purses/bags--Yes, a couple. And then there's the Noro Kureyon cabled bag that's hopelessly tangled in one of my knitting bags.

Rug--Nope. No desire to put all that work into something I'm going to walk on. And I'm certainly not letting anyone else walk on my knitting.

Scarf--Well, yeah, over the years, quite a few.

Shawl--Yes, though I'm not a shawl wearer. But they make great conversation pieces.

Short rows--Yes, though it's taken me awhile to get my head around them. I'm perfecting my own version of the short row heel for my toe ups.

--Well, no boleros for this body. A poncho or two for daughters and grandchildren (best forgotten). And I have a shrug pattern coming in the mail--do you think Haley will wear it? No bets.

Slip stitch patterns--Sock heels only.

Slippers--Always wanted to make one of those felted slippers but never finished one.

Socks: toe up / Socks: top down--Helloooooo. Yes!

Steeks--Not in this lifetime, or at least not without strong drink and/or drugs.

Stockinette stitch--Oh, really! But for the record, yes.

Stuffed toys--No. Tried that hedgehog and lost track of the short rows. I need to tear it out and start over--it was really a cute pattern!

Swatching--As little as I can get away with.

Sweater--Yes, but not in many years. Takes a lot of yarn to cover this bod!

Teaching a child to knit--Nope. No patience. I've tried but ... no.

Teaching a male to knit--No male of my acquaintance has ever wanted to learn, but I would if asked.

Textured knitting--Certainly.

Thrummed knitting--Nope. Sounds warm, really warm. Makes my hands itch thinking about it.

Tubular Cast On--Yes, but now that I think of it, I'm not sure I remember how.

Twisted stitch patterns--Yes. Love this for socks.

Two ended knitting--What does this mean? Knitting both ends of something from a provisional cast on? In that case, yes. If not, no.

Writing a pattern--Yes, socks for Children in Common. It's surprisingly time-consuming.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Well, Opal doesn't call it that. Opal calls it "Lilly das Schleckermaul." But to me, it looks like nothing more than a big pile of blue cheese. Needless to say, I love it. There's very little in life that couldn't be improved with a little blue cheese. (Wonder if Schleckermaul is German for Gorgonzola?)

You have to love a yarn to tear out an almost-complete sock and reknit it. That's what I did with this sock.

I started it a couple of weeks ago and have had little time to knit on it--even with my trip out of town. But it was progressing nicely and I was loving it.

Of course, the beauty of sockknitting is that you can try it on as you go, making changes and adjustments. And I've had this one on my foot several times and each time I've thought, "well, just like I like them--snug." I like my socks on the snug side because I like to wear clogs and if the sock is loosey-goosey, the clog doesn't fit. And you can forget getting a sock into any of my shoes with a back, like a walking shoe.

Until the time ... I thought, "oh, my...that heel feels really snug." So I switched to a larger (size 2) needle for the cuff and that helped a little.

But reality reared her ugly head and I realized that snug had become ... tight. Boa constrictor tight. My baby toe was squealing wee wee wee, all the way home. This probably means that my blood pressure medicine isn't working (and you might ask how a medicine that costs $40 a month and doesn't have a generic equivalent can NOT be working, but that's a subject for another day). Anyway, I realized that I was going to hate wearing the sock, even if it did look like my favorite smelly cheese.

So, out it came. And here it is again, same size needle (1) but 4 more stitches, 68 instead of 64.
Knitting--definitely not an exact science. Thank God I'm a process knitter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

While I Was Out ...

For several months, we've had a tree in the backyard that has been exhibiting signs of ... well, let's be honest, it hasn't exhibited anything. It's been dead. As the proverbial doornail.

And I haven't wanted to admit it, because it used to be a focal point of the yard, the tallest oak at the top of the hill, a giant among lesser trees. But, ever the queen of denial, I kept thinking that maybe it would leaf back up--I loved that tree, and surely I could keep it alive with the power of my love. Nope.

So we got a price to take it down. Now, you may remember that I am opposed to the term "put down" when applied to a pet. You put down an empty soda bottle, or maybe a pesky heroin addiction, not your friend. But when it comes to trees, you gotta put 'em down. In this case, "down" is preferable to "on the roof" or "in your bedroom," but it also implies that you don't tear your fence up while you're doing it.

It turns out that this is an expensive sort of a job. We got a couple of estimates, ranging from $850 to $1200. To put that in terms that you might understand, $850 (the low end) is approximately 34 skeins of sock yarn. See? I knew you'd be appalled. (Let's not even go in the other direction and compute what my sock yarn stash must have cost me using those calculations--it wouldn't be pretty!)

So, while it's been on my list of "things to do," it hasn't been high. After all, the deductible if it DID fall on the house would be $500, and the cost to avoid the deductible would be $ do the math.

Anyway, while I was out of town (Macon, for a class), Mr. Pug and I talked about it on the phone and agreed that we'd handle it after the first of the year, or when our investments come back out of the swamp, or after one of us hits the lottery. So imagine my surprise to be shown ... the stump above. It's gone. I've been out in the backyard 10 or 15 times since I returned and ... never noticed the tree was gone. Mr. Pug got tired of waiting for me to figure out how to do it and did it. Men! Way to make a complicated issue simple.

But back to me, since it's (still) all about me. How could I not notice something like that? And the answer is ... that tree was dead to me. I was over it. It had gone from being a love object to ... a yarn money sucking machine.

Anyone notice a parallel between a dead tree and a certain Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn? Yup! Both dead to me.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Oh, if only divorce was that easy. In my experience, and sadly I have a lot, splitting from a mate is painful, expensive, and lengthy. Professionals like lawyers and judges and sometimes psychiatrists and the IRS are required.

Not this time, baby! At Whit's house last night a group of professionals (the XRX guys Benjamin and Rick) and almost-professionals (everyone else) looked at the Sock Who (Didn't) Love Me and the consensus was clear--cut him loose. Sometimes you just can't make someone over into the person you want him to be--or the person he should want to be. Sometimes it's just hopeless.

Okay, it's over. I get it, but now what?

"I want it," said Jolie.

What? Is the crazy? A glutton for punishment? Or does she just think she's more woman than I am?

Who cares? I ripped that bad boy off the circular needle and stuffed it into her hands. As she took it, I swear I heard angels singing.

He's gone. Whew! And as long as I don't have to take weepy phone calls at 3 am from his new girlfriend, things will be fine. Let's face it--even if I do have to take those calls, my life is still better. Did he come home drunk? Have knots in the middle of a color run? I don't care!

God speed!

And, don't judge me--I'm not really a slut, I just have a short attention span--here's the new guy on the needles. Opal.

I cast Opal on last night and I'm already in love, with none of those fluttery feelings in the colon that tell you you've just made another mistake. This is a proven commodity--this time it's really love!

Finally, let's update the recent knitting:

First, the Austermann Step socks, toe up on size 2s. The pattern is my own version of Ann Budd's method. For me, of course. Finished last week. Cozy, comfortable. This has been my carry-in-the-car project and it's been the perfect project to pick up, put down, with no possibility of error.

Next, Emma's socks, made of Skacel Trampoline on 1s, toe up, same pattern but with a 1X1 rib. Finished last week some time.

And, last but not least, Kerrigan's socks, OTN as we speak, made to match Emma's since they have feet just about the same size.

Life is good again.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Disappointed by Love ... Again (or, The Sock Who Loved Me)

I'm the first to admit that I don't always make the best choices where love is concerned. There's a reason that I am still single--or to be more exact, single again, and if you want to be most clear, single again and again. I don't know where the fault lies--with me or with the love object--but I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that love doesn't love me.

So why am I disappointed to realize that once again, I've been deceived, let down, cast aside, and all those other cliches that go with love? And why am I surprised that it's a love that has let me down, etc. before? After all, don't they say that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results?

Here's a picture of my seducer:

Yes, it's that notorious toy boy, Noro Silk Garden Sock. You can probably tell that by the big knot in the foreground. Probably thousands of knitters have suffered at his hands but somehow I thought I could tame his wild ways and be the one he settled down with. It didn't work out that way. But, oh, it was good at first--it always is.

I saw NSGS across a room at a guild meeting, lying coyly on the Main Street Yarn table in a come hither pose. At first it was his color that attracted me--it always is with the Noro boys. They draw you in with their promise and then ... well, you know the story. But it was my fingers that betrayed me in the end, when I drew them lovingly across his beautiful lime pelt. Unlike the other Noro boys that I've been seduced by, NSGS was surprisingly soft--no hint of the scratchy, VM-laden harshness that leaves their lovers with splinters under the fingernails and an itch that won't quit.

No, NSGS was softer than I expected--the silk in his background, I suppose--and green with a hint of gray or black under the surface. I knew I was lost at that moment. I grabbed him from Ruth and wrote a check. He would be mine, damn it! I had to have him, and I could hardly wait to get him home to my bedroom to have my way with him.

Okay, you're right. Yes, I'd heard all the stories about his older brother, Kureyon Sock. I knew that better women, and some men, had succumbed to Kureyon's promise and been disappointed. After all, when the best that can be said about someone is "it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be--no, really, it was ... fine," you know there are some bitter knitters out there. But I honestly thought that Silk, as I called him for short, would be different with me. I thought ... well, it really doesn't matter now. Let's just say, it didn't work. It's over.

What went wrong? What didn't?

Was it the pilling? The knots? His bipolar nature--thick one minute and then as fine as a spider's web? Or simply his puny yardage? Yes, I'm embarrassed to admit--I'm that shallow. Size DOES matter. And he just doesn't have the yardage I need to be satisfied. In retrospect, though, I think it's the color. I hate to say it in this historic election year, and I don't want you to think less of me, but let's face it...this yarn is more black than anything else. It's BLACK with a few hints of green and some blue still hiding in the skein. So I guess it's the same old story--seduced by Mr. Green, and left holding the sock with Mr. Black.

So, let's review:

First, I have a mostly black sock. It's pilling and I haven't even worn it yet. It's got that odd Noro body type--thick and thin--that means there's no right needle size. I'm using a size 2 and 56 stitches because a larger needle would have made a loose, holey fabric, but I'm dying when I hit those giant blobs of thickness.

Second, I'm only an inch and a half above the ankle and I've already used up 35% of the skein. At this rate, this sock is going to have a 4 inch cuff, max. Stunted, stubby, out of proportion.

And third, did I mention the blackness? Well, grayness if you want to be super-specific, but close enough! It feels like I've been knitting since the last ice age, and it's still black. Oh, yeah, I can see some blue on the skein, but bottom line--the sock is black. Still.

Damn you, Noro Silk Garden Sock! The next time I buy you--and let's face, there will be a next time--I can no more resist you than I could resist that Krispy Kreme bread pudding my boss served for lunch one day--you'll be a diagonal scarf. But wait, I hear you asking: why aren't you just frogging that bad boy and starting a sock with yarn that will be faithful? Well, it's because ... the Blue is Coming, the Blue is Coming. And I can't help but think that maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time the sock will love me.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Arg, Avast Ye Mateys, and all that stuff

It's National Talk Like a Pirate Day and it's strangely quiet in the blogosphere. Here's how to join in:

Okay, my work here is done.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A bullet dodged ...

See the gray Altima on the left? That's my baby, all 116,000+ miles of her, and since I still owe an unconscionable amount on her, she's not going anywhere any time soon.
See the tree limb on the right? When I looked out my office window yesterday, my heart gave a little uh-oh jump. But when I got out there to check on the damage, all I found was a few acorns on the windshield and some broken branches and leaves on the hood. No damage at all!
However, since there was a large chunk of tree hanging off the power line right over the car, I moved it quickly. Today the whole tree is gone--that'll teach those trees to mess with me!
Now, given that whole chunks of the United States are fighting off hurricanes and tornadoes, this probably looks trivial to you, and probably it is. But in my world, it's all about me, and I'm grateful not to have to spend another dime on car repair. This hasn't been a good year for that, what with three separate repairs to Mr. Pug's car on my time.
Right now money is very tight, and I'm having to take the ultimate step--no more yarn purchases for awhile. (Note that "awhile" is relative. Hopefully, it will be easier to stay on a yarn diet than my recent food diets.)
In fact, one of the things I need to be putting money away for is $1000 to take a dead tree out of the back yard. Do you think this is a sign?

Friday, August 01, 2008

My daughters don't read this ...

But if they did, one of them would get a big birthday wish today. Kelly, on the right, celebrated yesterday. Jennifer, on the left, had her birthday a week and a half ago. Look at them--don't they look innocent, like they're not plotting? Don't be fooled!
Happy birthday, Kel! You changed my life forever, and I'll always be grateful.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We Hate These Socks

And when I say "we," I mean, of course, my sister Debbie and me. We, the collective, universal, royal We, hate these socks. These hellish, tiny, microgaugish things are the Ravelry Mystery Sock for July, and, in a burst of sisterly love and affection, I talked Debbie into knitting them together, 600 miles apart.

Sorry, Debbie! I'm an idiot. Even if you don't hate them, and you might not, because you're a lot farther along on them than I am, I'm still sorry.

Yeah, she's farther along because she didn't tear hers out three times because (1) there was a glitch in one of the increase stitches on one side that, let's face it, no one would ever see unless I have the misfortune to get mixed up with a foot fetishist; (2) the middle size was going to be WAYYYY too big for my size 10s at 84 stitches; and (3) I can't even remember why I took it out once but I know I did. Just got a wild thread up my sock, probably.

I hereby promise you that I'll never again suggest that it might be oh, so much fun to knit a pair of socks on size 00 needles using thread and insisting on 10 stitches to the inch. Of course, poor eyesight runs in the family, but it really wasn't necessary for me to encourage the two of us to go blind together on this wicked sock. I'm picturing us, dark glasses and white canes akimbo, sitting in matching rockers in The Home, knitting garter scarves with bulky yarn on Size 17s because that's the only size we can manage.

On the other hand, Debbie, check out the Arrow Tip Lace Knee Highs in the new Cast On. It's toe-up, lace, and you certainly wouldn't have to knit the whole thing--I can tell you right now that I'm not wearing any knee length socks but it's really pretty ....

And, by the way, let me say it's not that easy to knit a teeny tiny sock when you have cactus spines stuck in your thumb, so whine, whine, whine.

But, speaking of funny socks and being totally out of the loop--well, I think it's obvious that I'm out of the loop, that's not exactly news--Thong Socks, AKA Flip Flop Socks. Here's a fun pattern by Sivia Harding in case you're as OOTL as I am. Once again the Lovely and Talented Debbie knew about this before I did--she reminded me that only Old Ladies (which seems to include me) wear hose these days.

Finally, Ms Packrat was kind enough to comment about my rather frightening car trunk. But how scary is it that Ms Packrat, who is evidently a woman of Great Knowledge of Weird Things (and we really like people like that!), knows what month Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa disappeared? Ms P, do you feel a conspiracy theory coming on? I think there's a short story in there somewhere.

And to think I wanted to live in Arizona ...


Dumb southern gringa
Thought cactus was her friend. No.
Tweezers please now. Ow.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Is It Any Wonder I Never Finish Anything?

One of my goals for this weekend is to clean out my car--well, I'm not going to get it all done because the trunk is horrific! But I got a good start and it's been an amazing view into My Life And What's Wrong With It.
Somewhere in the southeast quadrant of my trunk, I saw what appeared to be a project bag--not one of my favorites or I'm sure I'd have missed it long ago. Inside: one almost complete sock, instructions for said sock, yarn for the second sock, two sets of DPNs, and a book.

Anyway, back to the sock. It's gorgeous--how could I have forgotten it? It's obviously Mountain Colors and only needs the toe kitchenered. Then the other sock needs to be knit. All the size 1 and 2 bamboo DPNs are there, unscathed, which is a miracle in itself. More to the point, the pattern, almost pristine except for a few wrinkles in its plastic sleeve, includes all my careful little notes about how I changed the pattern:

The sock is Jeanie Townsend's Cascading Leaves pattern. The yarn is gorgeous, the pattern is there, the needles are with the project. Anyone want to take odds on whether I ever finish this pair of socks?

Ever done an archeological dig? I took a couple of archeological history classes in college and one of the things you learn is that you can date the age of an unknown object by the things around it in the same strata. For instance, a penny with a date on it of 1924 means that the piece of pottery buried next to it probably probably wasn't buried before 1924. Anyway, the book contains a receipt (for sushi at Ru-San's if it matters) dated 1/14/06.

This sock has been sitting in my trunk since January '06. I'm so easily distracted that, in all that time, I've never once thought to myself, "wonder whatever happened to that Mountain Colors sock?" Until today, I'd completely forgotten it.

Oh, my. Wonder what else I'll unearth? Hope Jimmy Hoffa and the Lindbergh baby aren't in there somewhere....

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Birthdays ... we got birthdays ...

My baby's birthday is today and she's ... oh, never mind, I'm not going to tell you how old my youngest daughter is. If I did, you'd have to do the math, and then it would be ugly. So let's just say, Happy Birthday, Jen! You're still my baby.

And here's Cooper. He's my older daughter's youngest child--confusing? Sorry. His third birthday was last week and he still thinks it's fun to tell people how old you are. I had a great time in Charlotte with both daughters and all their kids and significant others and you get the picture. I hate being so far away from them.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lace-cation continues ...

But we have socks, and that's a good thing. Here are the Opal Rendez-Vous socks (yarn from The Yarn Grove girls).

And here's the Ravelry July Mystery Sock (Panda Silk from The Knitting Emporium). This is a microguage sock, 10 st to the inch. The needle is a 00 Hiya Hiya. I'm behind, of course, still on Clue 2 of 4. Then there's that pesky second sock problem, but there's time to worry about that later. In the meantime, the microguage means that my poor eyes are hating life and I've got even more squint lines where I don't need them. My lovely and talented sister Debbie and I are working on this knitalong together, although I haven't seen progress yet. Knowing her, she's already finished!

Finally, my do-anywhere-with-your-eyes-closed socks, Austermann Step. This is the stuff that's supposed to contain Aloe, and maybe it does. If so, I can't tell, and the striping is pretty if a little repetitive. But it's a nice yarn to knit with, and the socks will feel good. And since I seem to be in a blue period (when I'm not in a red or a green period), the yarn fits into my current color philosophy. And, believe it or not, it's from stash. What's that about?

Speaking of stash, I need to be organizing it and using it. With prices going up and my income going down, we're spending a lot more carefully here in the Pug household. When our grandson moves out later this month, we'll feel another pinch. So, we're using coupons and loyalty cards and scrutinizing price vs service a lot more carefully. I saw a meter on someone's blog today that showed yards knit from stash this year--my meter would be chugging along like The Little Engine That Could, because I tend to get all ADHD and buy new stuff because it's calling my name. (Do you think I feel guilty because two new yarns from Only Ewe and Cotton Too jumped in my bag recently? Nope--I never feel guilty about buying from yarny friends.)

And for the fish lovers.... I think I mentioned that about three weeks ago we added a bunch of feeder goldfish to the pond. They've been a very successful addition, and we've only lost one or two in that time. They're growing and thriving. And the two missing Koi returned...Mr. Big and Biggy Small. So, here's feeding time at the zoo, as it were. The goldfish are distinguishable from the others because they're... well, they're goldfish, even the three black ones. The Koi are the bigger ones, white with orange and black markings. Mr. Big is at the bottom left, and Biggy Small is near the bottom in the center.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Your Best Friends WILL Tell You

Yup, thank God for friends who will tell me the truth. At least about my knitting.

Just to review, things you want your friends to tell you:

  • Wow! Have you lost weight? You look great!
  • OMG, your hair looks fabulous--great cut and color. Nope, I don't see any roots at all.
  • No, it's not you. It really IS hot in here.
  • I'm sure you're going to get a great job, very soon.
  • Your husband didn't really mean it when he said you have too much yarn.
  • Yes, when you leave him [so you can be alone with your stash], we'll still be here for you.

Things your friends should never say:

  • What were you thinking? You already have a lot of yarn.
  • I just ran into your husband leaving the Motel 6 with his assistant. Wow! She's really young, isn't she?
  • Your dog is so ugly it's almost cute.
  • That color [of the garment you just spent a month making] makes you look greenish, and not in a good way.
  • Have you thought about wearing a foundation garment to fix that?

Things you'd rather not hear but need to:

  • Your gauge is off. That lace thingie is going to be WAY too small. You need to tear it out and start over.

And at least one of my friends did just that. Thanks, Ellen. (As for Pat and Debra, I appreciate your kindness and concern for my delicate self-esteem.)

Now, for the record, I'm out of the lace knitting business temporarily. I'm too stressed and anxious and crazed for lace, which requires at least a modicum of attention and a lot of concentration, not to mention time. I'm deeply envious of the lace my friends are making but I decided I wouldn't put myself in the position of starting a new piece of lace and then not being able to finish it.

BUT ... Bad Cat Summer Sampler. Hmmmm ... not too complex, not too big, several patterns to keep my ADHD mind attentive, clues are somewhat repetitive but pretty. Okay, I can do that one.

First, I broke my own rule and knit a gauge swatch. (Is that the sound of the world coming to an end?) So, sue me, I knit a swatch. Andrea (designer) calls for needle size 1-4, yarn is Lacey Lamb. First, Lacey Lamb is, let's just call a spade a spade, thread. Beautiful soft thread, but definitely thread. Cobweb. But the color--sort of a Jade? Perfect.

So, I'm a little concerned because the swatch is about 3 inches, call it 3.5 stretched, and the designer says the sampler will be 3.4 times the size of the swatch. So, 3.5 X 3.4 = 11.9 inches. I guess I can live with that. It'll be more scarf than shawl but okay. The swatch is on 3s, because I knit tight. Looks fine--okay, try the sampler on 3s. Sampler looks like a big, ugly, mess of loose stitches. Definitely ugly with a capital UG. What will it look like once it's blocked? Poot! Frog.

Cast on again, this time with 1s. By the way, why does this Susan Bates 1 look like a sewing needle compared to my Addi Turbo 1? Whatever happened to consistent needle sizes? But, anyway, it looks okay--great stitch definition. But, unstretched it's 8 inches. And it's so tight I can't imagine how much more it's going to stretch. Pull it to its farthest reaches, and it's about 9.5 inches. Now it's going to be a shawl for an American Girl doll.

Take it to Noble Knitters. Compare it to Ellen's, made of Malabrigo lace. Why am I not using Malabrigo Lace? Am I an idiot? Hers is gorgeous, with beautiful stitch definition, and beautiful on 4s.

Compare it to Pat's, Lacey Lamb on 1s. Normal sized. Beautiful stitch definition, stretches to a normal size. I am an idiot.

Poot! Frog. (Wait, don't frog, it's way too pretty to frog. Save in case I ever want to just fondle it.)

Cast on again, this time on 2s. (Addi this time--those Susan Bates sewing needles are on my list!) All right. Now, we're talking. Somewhat less stitch definition, but stretchable, blockable, you know what I mean. Unstretched it's about 11 inches. I think it can be blocked to about 14 or 15. With a border, it might be wearable. But still more scarf than shawl, especially for a woman of my, er, Juno-esque proportions.

So, thanks for your honesty. But ... this explains why I took a vacation from lace. A lace-cation as it were.