Monthly Archives: October 2008

A One-Ghoul Halloween

The Other Ghoul of the Household left before dawn to go to Madison, where she is rehearsing all day and into the evening tonight, preparatory to singing in a state Honors Choir tomorrow.  (Do the people that organize these things think that middle schoolers don’t care about Halloween?  At least in the case of middle school girls, they are SO wrong.)

Well, Older Ghoul (RockStar) did get to dress up on Wednesday for a costume contest at school (Wisconsin students have been off school the last two days for the state teacher’s conference).  She was Wednesday Addams, which was a great idea.   (This, however, necessitated ME raiding my closet Tuesday night when she made her final decision because of course she had nothing suitable.  Shirt – Mom’s.  Dress – Mom’s.  Belt – Mom’s.  Striped tights – purchased.  Shoes – hers.  Black hair spray-on dye (wash-out) – purchased.  At least it wasn’t an expensive costume, though!)

However, I didn’t get a picture, nor even see the complete ensemble with hair and makeup.  (I go to work before her school starts.) And she was apparently late to school with last minute primping, so got a detention.  I think her first in middle school — maybe the second.  Oops.  Oh, well, I think she still hasn’t had to talk to the principal, or more accurately in middle school the vice principal, which is a whole lot better than elementary school, where she was practically on a first name basis with the principal, and not for good reasons.  My wild child.  Sigh.

So today there was only one child to dress up and send off on this beautiful, clear, unseasonably warm Halloween day (here it was at dawn):

Our city does hold to traditional trick-or-treating on Halloween itself; 4 – 8 pm.  Little kids go out before it’s dark, and the big kids later (or the whole 4 hours, in the case of the Gothlet).

Holding true to her nickname, here’s the Gothlet ready to go forth and conquer the candy:

I’m not sure whether she’s a Goth vampire, or a punk one, or her own unique combination.  But she is way cool.

Gotta make sure the lip ring is right before heading out, though.

The Goth Vampire Adjusts Her Lip Ring

The Goth Vampire Adjusts Her Lip Ring

Gnome Sweet Gnome sends me a lovely prize

Before I go any further, you must go see this Gnome, Sweet Gnome.

Back now?  Isn’t he incredibly, edibly cute?

Well, I was fortunate enough earlier to be the first (and correct) guesser as to what little Mr. H’s Halloween costume was going to be based on some clues, and so he and his mother the Yarn Pirate sent me a prize, which arrived earlier this week!

Sorry for the slightly blurry picture, but the Tricky Kitty is particularly delightful.  Yes, he poops jelly beans as he walks.  (Cola and butterscotch.)  Plus some yummy jack o’lantern mints, and a skein of awesome Yarn Pirate Halloween yarn!  That one, I got a somewhat better picture of:

Monster Mash!  How cool.

(Of course, now I have an earworm.) 

“They did the Mash; They did the Monster Mash!”

Hope you have equally good luck with treats tomorrow; or at least, that your tricks are no more tricky than Tricky Kitty!

U is for Un-imaginary Friends

The kind who came out of my computer to play at Rhinebeck!  Naturally, said friends and acquaintances were never all in one place at one time, so I get to cheat again with a montage:

Definitely click to embiggen!  (May take a while to load, though….)

First, my roommate extraordinaire and chauffeuse, Lisa.  She happened to mention on Ravelry that she was going to Rhinebeck and was just in the process of getting a room, just as I had decided to go.  (I co-moderate her group on Rav, so we knew each other a bit and knew we had some things in common.)  I put shyness aside and boldly asked if she would mind a roommate.  I’m so glad I did!  After a missed connection involving a dead cell phone and a wandering Starbucks (did you know there are ten Starbucks within three blocks of Grand Central Terminal?) we finally rendezvous’d in Hyde Park where our room was.  In the picture, she’s holding my and her Socks that Rock acquisitions as we’re in The Fold‘s line waiting to pay (mostly mine, truth to tell, though I think making a sweater from the heavyweight STR was her suggestion, really!)  A cozy armful of STR!  She looks happy to hold it!  And longer arms help to hold more, we decided.

Next across, CeCe found me in that line, and how she knew I’d be there when I didn’t know myself, is a mystery!  The woman just KNOWS.  That beautiful baby bump was too little to see, pretty much just numbers on a piece of paper, back when I met CeCe in April at BMFA Sock Camp.  I love seeing her so happy in this pregnancy and getting closer to a December delivery, even though she was taking a break from a very difficult situation and even though, of course, she’s in the part of pregnancy where nothing is comfortable any more.  We had our first Rhinebeck Artichokes together and decided that the line was totally worth it.  Even though CeCe could only be there Saturday, and not all of that, we kept running into each other all over Rhinebeck that day.  This was one of the nicest hugs I had all weekend.

Third on the top row, me and Allison (kaydgirl on Ravelry) and Lisa, Knitting Physicians at the Ravelry meet-up Saturday.  I needed a hat like hers for warmth as well as identification factor.

Fourth, Heather (zuzusunshine on Ravelry, sorry, I know lots of these Ravelry folks by their Ravnames!) with cupcakes!  Hooray!

Last on the top row,the Very Longest Thread from Ravelry is made corporeal and visits Holiday Yarns’ booth, with the Tsock Tsarina and Pixisis from Ravelry.

Second row!  Two awesome Twisted scarves meet in one place! I was waiting in line for Franklin’s book signing (more on that in a moment), and I saw this gorgeous and very familiar scarf go by, which I had seen on line.  I really AM usually rather quiet and reserved — but I reached out and detained the scarfwearer as she passed by!  Turns out Mel had posted on the Twisted discussion board on Ravelry (yes, there’s a Ravelry theme here, got a problem with that?) that she was coming and she’d wear her scarf, after I’d mentioned mine, but since I left at the ungodly hour of 4 am on Friday (and had no internet access thereafter), I didn’t see her post.  But I sure saw her scarf!  It was fun to have a brief mutual Meg admiration society, there in barn 31, and her Fortune Flame scarf is AMAZING in person.  Believe me, the warmth of merino/silk was very welcome on this most chilly weekend, too!

Second, back at the Holiday Yarns booth (the former VanCalCar Acres: home of Flock Sock yarn and Tsock Tsarina kits and TsockFlock Sock Club), Stephanie Pearl-McPhee pays a call when I was there, here conversing with Lisa the Tsock Tsarina on the left, and Jennifer/Gwynivar, yarn maven, who is on extremely good terms with the FIber Fairy, not to mention being the mother of a talented young dyer as well.  The Yarn Harlot is also seen in the fourth photo, considering yarn and kit choices carefully, while in the center on the previous day (but in the same place) TheGeorg, who is The Tserf and also a peer (how’s that for a dichotomy?).  I’ll just leave it at that.  Last on the second row is me, Lisa the Tsock Tsarina and Jennifer/Gwynivar at the end of a long but productive (for them) and happy (for all) weekend.

Third row!  Still with me? First is a snapshot of Julia, one of the wonderful people behind the Twist Collective, an idea whose time has definitely come and which I am so glad to see.  (Direct from the designer for-purchase patterns, in a nutshell, along with pattern previews and a magazine.) I got a Twist button.  If you had a Twist project on or a pattern, you could get a measuring tape! : )  We were in the aforementioned artichoke line…. Second, back at Holiday Yarns (my hang-out place for much of the weekend), Lisa is demonstrating that there is INDEED something up her sleeve, though you can’t see it yet (I missed taking the picture of her investigating the inside of her shirt looking for it) — namely, a fluff of the lovely fiber she is drop-spinning, which she had stashed about her person.  Notice the lovely York and Lancaster fingerless mitts.  In the direct center, a party in the corridor outside Holiday Yarns, no doubt blocking traffic: starting at 9:00 and going clockwise, first Jesh who had the most gorgeous spindles for sale in the booth; Glenna who has a secret identity as the Yarn Pixie; um, someone I can totally not see; Pixisis again (different day, different outfit); Cyd, who took the train from Canada, and who has a Ravatar she drew herself, which looks more like her than most photographic or all other cartoon Ravatars I’ve ever seen (I recognized her instantly); and, back to the camera, Dan Brewergnome, who learned to spin with a spindle practically before my very eyes (already accomplished with a wheel, he was selling his Gnomespun from the Holiday booth also).  (Two skeins whispered my name….)  Lisa and Dan are spindling in harmony in the last pic on that row.  Too bad it’s cropped and you can’t see his kilt…  Finally, in the fourth spot is me and Franklin!  Franklin Habit‘s first (but not last!) book, “It Itches”, debuted at Rhinebeck.  I happily stood in line a bit, in most congenial company, to have my copy signed and say ‘hello’ to a fellow Midwesterner.  The book is hilarious.  Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and get a copy if you haven’t yet.

Fourth row — over half done! Lisa (LadyLungDoc), my roommate Lisa, that is, displaying the gift of knitted lungs presented to her at the Ravelry party Saturday night.  (She’s a pulmonologist/respirologist.)  Such a deal!  And her birthday was Sunday!  In token of which, when prizes were given out later at the Rav party, and no one had a birthday actually that day who was there, she was awarded an early birthday present of a sweater’s worth of yarn, courtesy of WEBS and Ravelry!  Next door to that is me and the third Significant Lisa I hung out with this weekend:  Lisa Knitnzu, who thinks I’m short.  (I pointed out that I am the height of the average American woman.  Just because I was hanging out with tall knitters all weekend!  Made them easy to find, I must admit…) As with CeCe, Lisa and I never said good-bye, because (after meeting early on, then hanging out in Franklin’s book-signing line, chatting) we saw each other about eleven times without trying, so there didn’t seem a point to it.  But suddenly, it was closing time…. Next to Lisa, you may recognize Ann and Kay from Mason-Dixon Knitting, who gave a casual and enjoyable talk about how their blog and their books came to be, whilst wearing their handknits from the new book (and grateful for it too, in the chilly temps!) then signed their second book afterwards (yep!  I’m all autographed & stamped with that one too!).   Then, the series of five portraits following are from a chili party Saturday night — no standing in line in the cold waiting for the start of the Ravelry party for us! First, Carole (Carole NJ on Ravelry) invited Lisa (roommate) and I to what was a reunion of some of the BMFA Sock-Camp-Bus Sock Stars and whipped up a wonderful batch of ‘real’ and toned-down chili to warm everyone up.  (The alcohol didn’t hurt either. ) Carole made an awesome Twisted Ravelry scarf that she finished in time to wear Sunday.  And she gave me Sock Star m & m’s!  Thanks, Carole!  Continuing on with the portraits, Susan (misknits) (when I was linking Susan’s blog, I found to my surprise a picture including me from Sock Camp!  See the October 12 entry for the happy ice cream savorers), Joan (jmcmjoan) (blogless but by no means yarnless!), Alice (MissMalice aka socktopus of socktopus.co.uk! from whence she brought me some Malabrigo sock yarn in my favorite jewel tones without even knowing, wow!) and last but not least, organizer extraordinaire, Sam (samro) of KnitQuest and also frequent contributor to Lime & Violet’s Daily Chum.  She’s also someone who was nice enough to award me a second “I Love Your Blog” award recently.  (Since I already passed on the happiness once, I won’t do so again, but I feel loved!)  So, after warming up inside and out and putting on our long underwear (at least, I put on my fine merino footless tights that I wear at ballet, under my pants!), we all went to the Ravelry party, too late for goodie bags, but not too late for fun!  or Free Drinks!  Or the Raffle Prizes!  The last pictures is, of course, for those familiar with Ravelry, Mary-Heather, Jess, and Casey at the mic: awarding prizes.  I won a big bottle of Soak wool wash plus a bunch of little sample size Soaks in a variety of scents.  Awesome!

Some people I met are not photo-documented, either because I forgot, or the time didn’t seem right.  At Briar Rose, I saw and talked briefly to Anne Hanson, she of the amazing and lovely Knitspot designs (she told me to say hello if I saw her!), together with Kim and David.  I showed both Anne and Chris of Briar Rose my nascent reknitting of the Coulee Shawl (Ravelry link), being knit of addictive Briar Rose Glory Days Blue-Faced Leicester DK-weight yarn.  This yarn practically knits itself.  (I, however, have frogged the start I made, as I decided to start the shawl a different way.)   I also saw and said hello to Cara and Meli, who is if possible more beautiful in person than in photos.  Despite seeing Lucia every time & more that I saw Lisa (Knitnzu), I don’t have a picture of her, nor her charming and sage daughter who correctly suggested that I might find my missing Vintage leaf earring in my bag!  (if you biggify the mosaic, note that one earring is missing in the picture with CeCe, but I don’t know it yet…but there they both are in the Twisted scarf picture with Mel in the next row.  Whew!  That was after I scoured the floor of the first vendors’ area I was in….then turned my knitting bag inside out.) And not documented in the Holiday Party above are Mardi Nufflebutt and Kathe Knittingfiddler, as well as Marcy Habetrot, and I *know* I’m missing some other Ravelers who were visiting and whom I met.

And some people I really wanted to meet, I didn’t!  Wah!  Like Norma, Margene, and Sandy!

Well — I guess the prospect of meeting more Unimaginary friends is what will bring me back to Rhinebeck another time, eh?

Friday Eye Candy from the Hudson Valley

The view from the Metro North train, coming up along the Hudson River exactly a week ago — en route to Rhinebeck.

Wow.  After a profound sleep deficit the night before (as in, precisely zero sleep) and then leaving home at 4 am and dozing on the flights and part of the train ride, I awoke to see this out the window — somewhere along the Hudson River.  Fall colors were at their peak, the sky was huge and gorgeous, the geologic formations and occasional architecture the train passed were fascinating.

On the way down, at least I was awake all the way: it was equally beautiful.

Sorry for the radio silence this week; it’s been a bit tough.  (Warning: Prolonged Whine ahead!) I thought my allergies were just kicking up a bit at Rhinebeck; I felt fine until I was traveling back home Monday (twelve hours door to door: rental car to taxi to train to bus to two plane flights with a long walk in between to taxi to home….) and feeling sicker and sicker as the day went on, with head and chest cold symptoms.  Then the next morning, I had to get up at (once again) 4 am to take my husband to the airport, to fly down to pack up his father (who has had recent health problems and now needs assisted living) and drive him up here where he will be living from now on.  Something about the virus/time change/whatever triggered a migraine too, and that led me to miss work Tuesday, because the combination of coughing and migraine made me feel as though I was actually in a Whac-A-Mole game, yes, as the Mole.  But I really couldn’t miss any more work; no one else can quite do what I do, and I’d already been gone.  So back I went Wednesday, dragging my tail, coughing into my elbow, using alcohol hand gel constantly and trying to stay away from people.  As well as being a (temporarily) single parent with all the usual evening activities plus some extra this week as the Gothlet had dress rehearsals for a city-wide choir performance.  Oh, this was an ill-timed virus.  And every night, I am waking up trying to turn my lungs inside out.  (At least, seriously, it’s me and not one of the kids.  I’d feel terrible if they were sick; we’d both be up all night; and I don’t know how I’d manage it if one of them were home sick right now.) This afternoon, I found out I also have a middle ear infection.  Not just for toddlers any more….

End o’Whine.

How about some good news?!  I don’t work tomorrow.  The only thing I have to do is take each girl to a dance class (I’m going to skip mine, seeing as I’m wobbly just walking down the hall, and my ear hurts when I bend over!), and take a package to the post office that I mailed last Thursday and they just delivered back to me yesterday for no apparent reason.  My husband just called from where they’ve stopped for the night (Peru, Illinois, if I heard right — granted, my hearing is questionable right now) and he will be back home tomorrow afternoon.  Tomorrow night, I will see the Gothlet perform, as one in a sea of small faces, but still, it will be fun (and they perform in concert with a very good college show choir).  I have definitively finished a blog-silence project that has been in the works since February, that I am looking forward to telling you about soon-ish.

And tonight, both children are accounted for and settled at the moment.  Which means I could go up and take a long, hot bath if I wanted (which is a rarity these days). High humidity and elevated body temperature are supposed to discourage viruses!  I have hot herbal tea by my side.  I have the books I brought back from Rhinebeck: all of which I’ve dipped into, none of which I’ve finished: the Yarn Harlot’s newest collection of essays, Franklin’s hilarious book, “It Itches”, and the latest Mason-Dixon compendium (the latter two signed at Rhinebeck!: I never caught Stephanie signing, though I saw her three times, once to talk to briefly). Sounds like a recipe for a pleasant evening.

So to finish on a high/Eye Candy note, let me show you the sugar maple that I saw and just had to take a photo of, the afternoon before I left for Rhinebeck (this is a block from my house, in front of my friend and colleague’s house):

And the sugar maple I saw two days later, over a thousand miles away at Rhinebeck:

The Sisterhood of the Sugar Maples, all across America.

Love it.

Signs of Rhinebeck

I went to Rhinebeck pretty much to see my innernet friends.  Which I did (almost all).  But it’ll take a while to get all their pictures together and linked.

In the meantime, here are Signs of Rhinebeck!

Saturday Sky at Rhinebeck

There was, hmm, a little more to see than just the sky, as beautiful as it was.

However, I seem to have come home with a New York virus as an additional souvenir, to accompany the yarn in my suitcase, so the details will need to wait a bit to be shared.

I promise, I did take lots of pictures, though!

Hollyhock Eye Candy Friday

From my parents’ back yard.

But I’m not here to admire it any more; I’m taking plane, taxi, train and rented car to Rhinebeck today!

I hope to see a few of you there, and I promise to take pictures….

Midweek Knitting Update

Quick update of a couple things on my needles (at least, what I can show you):

Baby hat:  (No, CeCe, this one is not for the Little Guppy!)


 (Norwegian) Sweet Baby Cap, from Gros Blog.  Ties still need to be sewn on; I made twisted cord ties.  In Sherwood Kabam (bamboo/merino superwash from my favorite Twisted Fiber Art, leftover from the Springtime in Sherwood anklets).  I modifed the pattern to make it a newborn size (I think).

And more of the semi-solid iteration of the Pioneer Braid Scarf: Dream in Color Classy in Ruby River.  I am loving this yarn, and how it works with the pattern.  These garnet tones are my favorites.  Here it is, posing with the mums.

I love how the chrysanthemums make a spiral, as they are starting to unfold.  A quintessential fall flower, they are.

The other two things I have on the needles are stealth projects.   I can’t show them to you yet.  Patience is a virtue!

Monday Miscellany

Bits and Bobs that have built up.

  1. Jeanne and Lisa spotted with their sharp eyes the little brown blob in the back of Carny the Goldfish‘s bowl.  Yes — my husband (the pet-scoffer) actually BOUGHT a pet, but only as a live cleaner for Carny’s bowl.  So it’s really an accoutrement instead of for its own sake.  Apparently it’s a plecostomus catfish (algae-eater).  It was dubbed “Typhoon” after a ride at Oktoberfest.
  2. Unfortunately, Carny bit the dust sometime today.  So Typhoon is alone now with his algae.
  3. There are a lot of orange pets I had forgotten about, that you guys think I should have.
  4. I have been knitting stealth things and working on a third stealth project/pattern.  Besides working all weekend and into the evenings.  So I have little to show you.  I can perhaps show you one semi-stealth project tomorrow, since the recipient doesn’t read my blog that I’m aware of, if I get home during daylight.
  5. Thank you for all the nice words about the Pioneer Braid Scarf!  And the coreopsis (which indeed are blooming away, Nora, though the echinacea are gone).
  6. The Yarn Guide for colorwork, to carry two colors (or more) over the left finger, which I showed you in the last post, is not working for me at the moment.  I could use it, but it required some left thumb manipulation to position between one color and the other, which my thumb complained about.  So not in the cards right now.  We’ll try again some other time.
  7. It was a gorgeous weekend.  After work Saturday, I went to Ewetopia Fiber Shop in Viroqua to pick up some Louet yarn which Kathryn, the owner, had kindly ordered in for me, and also some other local yarn may have followed me home.   The local yarn may be earmarked to see the world, or at least New York. . . . On the way home, I had time to take some gorgeous Saturday Sky/Coulee Region pictures.  I was a little bummed going there that no one could come with me, but at least that meant I could stop the car and get out and take a picture any time I wanted. Here’s a sampling:

Lastly, in the midst of all this beauty: life sucks, and sucks big sometimes.  I have nothing to complain about, but some of my friends are hurting.  May they get through hard times as gently as possible under the very difficult circumstances.  And may they find moments of peace and beauty even in the middle of pain.

T is for Technique

Not a very glamorous Topic, True.  But Terribly important to any knitter, new or experienced.

When I learned to knit, I learned ‘English’ style, the way the majority of American knitters do.   But my mother and Elizabeth Zimmermann convinced me to Try Continental, and I wanted to feel comfortable with this Technique before I started my first colorwork project.  (That was also the project I learned the Technique of grafting, or the Kitchener stitch, incidentally; I learned both from “Knitting Without Tears”.)

I still love to use both Techniques Together for colorwork.  I just started a new winter hat for the Gothlet, one I had mentioned earlier, the Bathat (Ravelry link). (BTW, thanks to Lisa [Knitnzu] for turning me on to the Bathat.  She thought, correctly, that the Gothlet would like it, as I recall.) The Gothlet picked these colors out.  The chartreuse gives a new meaning to the word ‘fluorescent‘.  Here I am carrying the Dale Falk Neon in my left hand to knit those stitches Continental, and I am just wrapping the black yarn English style to make a black stitch.  It’s like painting — painting by number, I suppose, but it’s very fast and easy to switch from hand to hand; I don’t have to think about it, just look and see neon, neon, neon, black, neon….and my fingers take care of it.

Well, once I got my feet wet, or my finger wrapped, rather, I never looked back from Continental knitting.  I can Teach people either style, but I go faster doin’ the Continental, especially with my preferred knitting in the round.  I have Taught my daughters to knit (more than once, actually); The RockStar knits English, but the Gothlet, who also crochets (Thanks, Grandma, for Teaching her!) prefers Continental too, since she carries her yarn the same way as with crochet.

Thinking about Techniques Turned me philosophical.  Why do English and Continental knitters sometimes argue about which is better?  Passionately! Fiercely! With unsupported allegations and inflammatory rhetoric!   Granted, Elizabeth Zimmermann was pretty vocal in her advocacy of Continental knitting, though of course at the time she was a lone voice crying in the wilderness (semi-literally, being in rural Wisconsin) and also took a certain amount of satisfaction, I think, in calling herself “The Opinionated Knitter”.  I do have a contemporaneous book to EZ’s, Barbara Abbey’s “Knitting Lace”, and the author (a friend of EZ’s) earnestly states essentially that Continental knitting is not well suited to lace knitting.  Fascinating!

Once again, I realize that I am a lumper, not a splitter; a peacemaker, a “Can’t We All Just Be Friends?” Pollyanna kind of person.  English and Continental both have their strong points.  For example, until Two days ago, I was wearing this mini-Iron Maiden 24/7 for my left Thumb issue

(and will probably need to continue to wear it on and off).  With no ability to move my left Thumb base in the brace (that’s the whole point), it’s very difficult to purl Continental, but it’s do-able (slowly) English-style.  (Purling is generally recognized to be a little easier English-style than conventional Continental style, in any case.)  And then, if we’re talking Techniques, there’s ‘combination’ (also called Eastern Uncrossed, which name appeals to me somehow) knitting, which Technique I have Tried, knit a couple projects using, and learned something from (though I usually choose Continental as I mentioned, as I wasn’t significantly faster with combination.)

When I was at Ewetopia Fiber Shop earlier today, though, I picked up This:

A yarn guide for carrying both yarns over the left finger (see the little diagram).  Elizabeth Zimmermann’s daughter Meg Swansen, a self-confessed “Time and motion freak”, prefers this method of knitting colorwork.  So when I saw this gadget, given that I had just started a colorwork project, I thought I’d Try a new Technique. And next on my list of Techniques to Try is Steeking!  (Finally.)

Because (even if you’re a project knitter) knitting as a whole is a journey, not a goal that one achieves.  I am an experienced knitter, True.  Almost 25 years of semi-obsession, curbed primarily by lack of Time.  Have I done every Technique there is?  Not on your Tunisian crochet hook, I haven’t!  And I’m excited that there are more Techniques to Try! It’s not about what’s intrinsically ‘better’ — usually.  It’s about what works for you, or for me, or for this particular project/yarn/what have you.

And it’s about being a lifelong learner.  Because if you stop learning, you stagnate.  And stagnation in nature equals decay and death.  (For us, we actually lose brain function if we stop using our brain to learn new things.  Use it or lose it.)

Besides which, stagnation smells bad.

SO:  T is for Technique.  Try a new one soon!