July 30, 2004

Trippin'

No postings next week, Dear Readers. It’s vacation time again but, this time, at least for the first two, three days, The Mysterious K, Frankie and I are actually Going Somewhere. We will be heading to the shore and staying near the ocean in a town called—wait for it—“Ocean Shores.” (Lest you think all Washington state town and city names are this banal, I dare you to try to pronounce some of these: Stillaguamish, Skykomish, Sammamish, Snohomish, Swinomish, Stehekin, Steilacoom, Quillayute, Lilliwaup, Quilcene, Kittitas, and The Two Town Names Only Washingtonians know how to pronounce, Puyallup and Sequim*, and my fave, even if it's not so hard to pronounce, Humptulips.)

I’m starting to realize TMK’s approach to trips and mine are distinctly different. TMK becomes Scarily Efficient. In fact, last weekend we had to have a “family meeting” to discuss what food we were going to bring since the room we will be staying in has a kitchenette. And then we had to figure out what food we had, what food needed to be purchased, what utensils and plateware we had and what utensils and plateware needed to be purchased, and who was going to do what, and when. These meetings always smack a little of goals, task assignments, resources, and project milestones, and they make me roll my eyes, but I participate because I know She's Right. TMK also starts packing, at least mentally, days before the trip. And this all culminates in what she calls the “get-away wiggles” where she becomes all excited and restless and impatient to get on the road (which she is entitled to indulge in, I suppose, since she has been so Scarily Efficient that she has gotten everything Done). Me, other than the family meeting, I started having my first thoughts about the trip last night at about 11:30pm and managed to get one or two items thrown into my travel bag before bedtime, my nightie and a bra, I think. No, no “get-away wiggles” for me, just a big, final, frantic flurry of activity and I’m out the door leaving at least 50% of the Things I Needed to Bring behind. However, I take some comfort in knowing that, thanks to my childhood, I can climb into an airplane and fly around the world without batting an eye (except for the fact that I'm terrified of flying, that is, but I could do it, I could!).

While I’m gone, I’ll leave you with—after a long absence—some Kooky Krafts! First, courtesy of my sister, R-rated embroidered toilet paper. And then I stumbled across this artist. Don’t miss the knitted TV and plant!

*I'll let you in on the secret: Puyallup is pronounced "pew-AL-up" and Sequim is pronounce "skwim."

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 AM

July 28, 2004

Having a Dam Fine Time!

Today we segue from Canis domesticus, Canis lupus, and Canis mixedbreedus to Castor canadensis. Don't have a clue what Castor canadensis is? Here's a hint:

beaverfaces2.jpg

Your Official Blog Photographer, The Mysterious K, took this last week. Is this not, yet again, a fabulous photo? Even more fabulous is the fact that it was taken five blocks from my very urban, in-city home, in a restored, renaturalized and rebeavered park. There are nine beavers, including three snookum-wookums babies, living in a huge and still-growing dam built right up against the walkway. They can be seen early every evening, like clockwork, appearing from and disappearing into the bowels of the dam, motoring to and fro across the pond, gnawing down aspen saplings, towing them from Point A to Point B, and settling in for a big munch. TMK decided this would be a good place to try out her fledgling photographer’s skills, and I think she did a day-um fine job.

This pond and stream is also home to salmon, kingfishers, great blue herons, a variety of ducks, way too many crows, and a coyote (or so the informational sign says)—and is surrounded by humans, some of whom came in one night last month and vandalized and graffitied all the artwork and the small seating area where people come to hear free music recitals. Sigh.

Knitting Knews
Eleven more rows, or, more exactly, 1463 stitches to to go on the pillow! I'm concerned that it's starting to look as if it has no intention of turning out square but I'll deal with that when I come to it. Hopefully somebody will have really pissed me off right before I block it and I will take great delight in torturing it into a square-ish shape. Anyone want to volunteer to annoy the crap out of me in a few days?

The beaded stitch markers continue to demonstrate that they have minds of their own. All knitters know that it is a cardinal rule that once lost, a stitch marker is never found. If a stitch marker is found, the world will immediately tilt off its axis and life as we know it will come to an end—that's how important this rule is. Unless it's one of my stitch markers. Remember the one I declared lost last entry? It turned up in Jessica's bag. I don't recall my knitting being anywhere near Jessica's bag—which means that the marker climbed off my knitting, walked across the floor, and climbed into her bag. I can see it now: The sequel to "I, Robot," "I, Stitch Marker."

Posted by Ryan at 10:09 AM

July 26, 2004

A Wolf in Wolf's Clothing

Still on the subject of dogs, this weekend I had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Oh, pooh—nix that overly melodramatic statement. The truth is it's more likely going to be a frequently-in-a-life experience since I know the people involved well and see them often; who'm I kidding?

Said friends had been muttering something on and off about adopting a particular rescue malamute through our local malamute rescue organization. They decided to proceed with the adoption, passed the house inspection and picked up “Thunder,” now “Harley,” a week ago. Turns out Thunder/Harley was not, in fact, a malamute but a wolf hybrid!

Me, I more or less pooh-poohed the idea of anyone I knew owning a wolf hybrid—until they arrived at a small birthday party we attended yesterday, opened the back of their van, and out jumped…a pure white wolf. My opinion? There is very little hybrid in that dog, just lots of wolf. He had the skinny ground-covering legs and large snowshoe paws of a wolf, the big, strong, muscular head of a wolf, the gold eyes and far-away gaze of—say it with me now—a wolf. And the most laidback and mellow personality I've seen on any dog, wild, domestic or otherwise, even when the other three dogs cornered him and called him a “girlie man.” The highlight of the evening came when we were all watching a video, and I was sitting on the floor with a huge wolf head and one huge wolf paw on my lap.

Why no photo, you ask? Because, unfortunately, a goodly portion of the evening was spent trying to get poor Harley to walk. The big boy, who had already injured his leg one time after his adoption, fell on the slippery hardwood floors yesterday and aggravated his injury more. He had to be carried out of the house on a blanket. Not a good photo op, by anyone’s standards. Keep your fingers crossed that this beautiful animal recovers! He has a great life ahead of him with two loving mommies and five acres to roam.

Knitting Knews
Okay, okay, I went a little crazy. I present to you the beaded stitch markers:

The Blues
The little leaf and the darker oval bead are both a beautiful opalescent navy. The oval one is remarkably smooth and cool to the touch, so much so that you just want to caress it and rub it endlessly, like a Greek worry bead. This does not make for much progress in one's knitting.

purpleSM.jpg

The Reds and Clears
I made the white marker specifically because it would show up clearly against dark yarns. Of course, these puppies are a good 1"-2" long each; you can't really miss 'em.

redSM.jpg

Blacks
Because I am not a big fan of black, I more or less forced myself to buy these beads and make these two markers just to broaden my horizons. Of course, the "RYAN" one turned out to be a total hoot (once I fixed the "functionally illiterate" version which had the "N" on backwards) and the other one turned out more attractive than I thought it would.

blackSM.jpg

Terra Cotta Sparkle
These are made out of something called goldstone that looks like cat's eye. As a person who is half magpie (or so Big Sister would swear), gotta love that sparkle!

copperSM.jpg

Transparent Aquamarine-ish
The marker on the right is actually my favorite of all, but the fish and turtle versions are growing on me...

fishyturtleSM.jpg

Thank you for taking the photos, Mysterious K!

Feral Knitters tonight! Only half of one peerie and the second repeat of the knot pattern remaining on the pillow. Methinks I'll actually finish it this week so, Janine, be on standby for steek and finishing questions!


Posted by Ryan at 10:42 AM | Comments (14)

July 23, 2004

Crankie Frankie

I know some of you come to the blog to read about knitting, some to see what inane Gratuitous Story of the Day is going to come burbling out of my brain, some for the gardening photos, some for the natural dyeing, some because we’re fambly (hi, Big Sister Wonka, Cousin Sal, Cousin Tom, any other fambly members out there!), some because we’re—ahem—“family”…and some because you are big fans of our Frankie.

Well, Frankie Fans, this picture may make you change your minds:

frankieball.jpg

I’m betting on the dog; how about you?

Actually, there is a lot more to this photo than meets the eye but you’d have to know The Mysterious K and MizzFrankie to suss it out—but, fortunately for you, I am, as always, more than willing to spill the beans.

First, in between running her own business, gardening, woodworking, being The Best Cook Ever, swimming, biking, reading, video games, managing her pestiferous diabetes, and fawning over my knitting when I shove it in her face and say “Look! Look! Look!,” TMK is now taking photography lessons, and this is one of her first photographs using her newly acquired knowledge. I think it’s a fantastically dynamic and expressive photo myself, especially since the ball seems to be floating in the air even as it moves along at a fast clip. And then, of course, there’s the loving and amiable expression on Frankie’s face.

Secondly, despite appearances, there isn’t an ounce of this kind of meanness in this dog. The vicious grimace is a by-product of her thinking that if she opens her mouth wide enough she can actually get ahold of the large, smooth, stiff, slippery, fast-moving ball. She is wrong. (And she will continue to be wrong until that inevitable moment when she shoves the ball against something sharp and pointy, the ball makes a sudden, sad “pthththth” sound, and quickly and mysteriously becomes much more pliant.)

Thirdly, since infancy, Frankie has been trained not to go into the flowerbeds. (She has taken this rule so much to heart that one time she stopped so abruptly at the edge of one of the beds that, although her sturdy front legs stopped and stayed firmly planted, her hind end flew six or seven inches into air with the sudden loss of momentum. And when you are only 12" tall, you're talking borderline doggy handstand.) All by herself, however, Frankie decided that the inviolable Flowerbed Law applies to All Things Except Her Two Mommies. If another dog heads toward the flowerbeds, Frankie will race around in front of it and herd it away. And she does the same thing with balls. In this picture, Frankie has just made a sharp u-turn in front of the ball and is blocking it with her body to prevent it from going into the bed. I suspect her motives for doing this are more selfish than altruistic since, if the ball does make it into the bed, she's up a creek until Mommy or Mommy retrieves it—which may or may not happen, depending on how lazy we're feeling and how many dadblasted times we've already gotten the ball out of the bed.

And, lastly, if you’re wondering, yes, that is a SpongeBob SquarePants ball. And no, Anne, this does not make anywhere near as good a Victorian gazing ball as last year’s ball did.

Knitting Knews
It's perversely satisfying to report that I have already lost one of my beaded stitch markers. Took them to Guild, put one on the Janine Pillow, drove home, retrieved the pillow from my knitting bag, the stitch marker was gone. See? See? See?!

Wednesday night's Guild was a mixture of blah and fantastic. The "blah" part came mostly from the fact that we were in a temporary location, which turned out to be a cramped, hot and musty church basement. Personally, I was amused by the sign pointing into the room which said "Casual Worship Breakfast." I envisioned a bunch of congregants shlumping around in shorts and t-shirts saying, lackadaisically, "God. Jesus. Heaven. Salvation. Whatever."

But the "blahness" was tempered by the opportunity to mingle and chat with Feralites, Soirettes, a kind and dear neighbor who was a first-timer, and the usual assortment of other fun and funny knitters. And things got even better when, after the meeting, another first-timer, Jessica, who recognized me from the blog, came up and introduced herself—always a brave thing to do. I was tickled. After we had shot the breeze for a while, I got wind of the fact that Jessica and two other women (one of whom, Marti, I already knew) were going to continue knitting together at a local bookstore and all of a sudden, manners be damned, I found my hand waving frantically in the air as I begged to be invited along. I think if I had been a puppy I would have peed on someone's shoes in excitement. But they graciously invited me to join them and we spent another nice hour getting to know each other, knitting, eating, and laughing. The perfect Knitter's Evening Out!

(Side note to my Texan Dear Readers: 95+ degrees here today and tomorrow. Difference is, no air conditioning. Ack!)

Posted by Ryan at 09:34 AM

July 21, 2004

That's Entertainment!

Reminder to all Guildettes: Guild is at Lake City Presbyterian Church
3841 NE 123rd Street, tonight only. Melinda, you need to come meet me there! You've run out of excuses now!

-------------------------

Had some downtime at work yesterday. More specifically, in an attempt to avoid garroting myself out of pure ennui, I was trying to stretch as far as possible my current, two-page-long technical documentation task (two pages, and due in March 2005). This meant that, in between spurts of working on “How to Process Deposits Using the Cashiering Module” (big yawn…), I indulged in my occasional habit of surfing the net for information about strange and rare diseases. Now, before you start thinking I’m completely psychotic, Dear Readers, it’s not so much that I have an interest in freaky diseases, per se, as I have an overarching interest in extremes: the best, the oddest, the tallest, the shortest, the strongest, the fastest, the smallest. Get me near a book of trivia or a Guinness Book of World Records (or, as we all know, an Olympics broadcast, preferably with records being smashed right and left) and I start to purr and knead my paws. After finding "Jumping Frenchmen of Maine" and "Happy Puppet Syndrome"—both real, legit diseases—“alliumphobia,” the fear of garlic, and "anablephobia," the fear of looking up, I felt entertained, refreshed, and ready to tackle the next sentence in my dreadfully dull document. You gotta love the 'Net.

Knitting Knews
My least favorite blog entries are those in which you are forced to confess something, especially when you are forcing your own self to confess The Thing. This would be one of those entries.

Long-time readers will remember how last September I kvetched about stitch markers in general because they are always sproinking off your needles and disappearing into some Knitting No Man’s Land, and beaded stitch markers in particular because they, too, would sproink into the No Man’s Land—only they represented the loss of real, hard-earned money. Weeeeeeellll, soon after, it occurred to me that maybe beaded stitch markers wouldn’t fall off quite so readily since they have a little heft and weight to them...and then I learned that my new employee was seriously into beading...and she offered to bring in some beads, wire and tools...and one thing led another...and we had a lunch get-together yesterday in one of the conference rooms...and now I, the Whingeing, Kvetching Beaded Stitch Marker Hater, am now the proud owner of 11 beaded stitch markers. Photos next week. (There. That wasn’t too bad. About on par with ripping off a Band-Aid.)

So that I don't leave you completely photo-less, here is an artsy-fartsy picture of the Oak Leaf Scarf in its current state:

scarfprogress.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 11:29 AM | Comments (10)

July 19, 2004

Miscellany...

First, if there's any question in anyone's mind that I embellished the story about The Embezzling Boss, here, thanks to the magic of the 'Net, is the actual auction listing for the sale of her possessions. It seems to list mostly clothes, but I know there were other things as well. It boggles the mind, don't it?

Now, on to our weekend, and all I can say about that is we were bad. So, so bad. We got a new video game (Pitfall) which meant—how do I put this—I got lots and lots and lots of knitting done. No, I don’t think you understand—LOTS of knitting. No, really, LOTS.

In our defense, every time we hauled our overstuffed selves out of our overstuffed chairs and went outside to the garden to do something, anything, to assuage our couch-potato guilt, the weather was so hot and so oppressively humid that we would melt into puddles within five minutes. The Mysterious K would march outside, full of enthusiam and good intentions, ready to battle her guilt demons, and then slowly wind down until she was standing slumped in one spot, saying "Oy." Back to the overstuffed chairs, the game, the knitting, and the air conditioning we went.

I suppose I should clarify (and I think other knitters out there will relate), I did lots of knitting; that doesn’t mean I got a lot of knitting done. The Oak Leaf scarf continues to be a fun project but progress is hampered by the the fact that stitches seem to come and go with startling swiftness. I counted one row six times and got counts of 41, 39, 40, 42, 38…and 41 again. Apparently the knitting pixies were in fine fettle.

I did, however, reach a very satisfying point in the Janine Pillow, the end of the middle medallion. A coupla pictures:

pillowpatterns.jpg

pillowcloseup.jpg

If you want to see an astonishingly ridiculous photo of Yours Truly actually wearing the pillow on my head—and not like a hat either, just slapped right onto my forehead in a way that defies the laws of physics—go to this FiberRavenSoiree entry. Fortunately, I was not alone in my moment of humility. Take a gander at the picture of Dear Reader MaryB. What do you think? Did (a) her head expand or (b) the hat shrink?

Actually, the hat was one of the highlights of the Ferals meeting. The dark yarn is in fact a sparkly, grape-colored yarn that makes the hat beyond kicky and cute.

Once you get past the silly pictures, have a good look at the other things being knit by other Ferals—some very inspiring stuff, especially Katie's Luskentyre.

Here's hoping everyone else had a cooler weekend than we did!

Posted by Ryan at 10:35 AM | Comments (17)

July 16, 2004

A Little Too Close To Home...

I make it a point to avoid discussing the Fleeting Media Gossip of the Day in my blog since I can usually count on its being hashed and rehashed ad nauseum by others, but the news about La Martha’s sentencing made me relive an event in my own life that happened about five years ago and which I and The Mysterious K treasure as The Best Piece of Gossip, Ever.

I was the technical trainer for a large local law firm and worked for an IT department of about 24 people. About 8 years into my 10-year employment there, a new IT director joined the department—moved into the office next to mine, in fact—a slim, attractive, high-cheek-boned, unusually nattily and expensively dressed woman in her 50s. Our department was extremely self-sufficient and self-managing, thanks to a corporate culture introduced by a wonderful and much-missed previous director, so we didn’t pay much attention to the fact that the new director was rarely around. She would occasionally sweep in, call us all into a meeting, grandly proclaim that if we didn’t do a better job she would fire us all, and sweep out. We would all look at each other with raised eyebrows, ignore her, and go on with our jobs. That is, until two years into her tenure, when we came in to work to find our offices swarming with FBI and IRS agents trying to track down the $2 million she had embezzled.

Long story short, she pled guilty, went to jail for 41 months, eventually was sent to a half-way house, and committed suicide by drowning herself in one of our local bodies of water. Due to the embezzlement and, in fairness, other factors, the law firm very quickly—literally in a month—went kaput after having been in business for 108 years, and 400 of us found ourselves out of jobs.

The investigation revealed that the same woman had also embezzled $1 million from her previous employers (which that company never realized until the FBI told them) and that she was a borderline obsessive-compulsive hoarder. They found in her upscale home hundreds of dresses still in their original plastic bags, hundreds of shoes, multiple VCRs, too many bicycles for any one person to ride, three cars... TMK went to the IRS auction of her possessions, and could probably tell you more.

As for me, I still really miss my job at the firm, and would be there to this day if fate had not intervened. What a mess, eh?

Knitting Knews
My “Janine Pillow” is getting an interesting assortment of reactions from different people. So far I've encountered:


  • The folks who see the pictures on the blog, think “Pretty. Me like.” and comment accordingly.

  • The folks who see the pictures on the blog but are too kind to comment because they’re actually thinking “Ugly, too bright, and kind of busy. Me no like.”

  • The folks who see the pictures on the blog, think “Ugly, too bright, and kind of busy. Me no like.” but then see it in real life and say, “Oh, it’s actually pretty. Who knew?”

  • The folks who see the pictures on the blog, think “Ugly, too bright, and kind of busy. Me no like.” but then see it in real life and still think, “Ugly, too bright, and kind of busy. Me still no like.”

I’m somewhere in the middle. There is certainly nothing subtle about the pillow, and the contrast between the Prussian Blue and the pastel colors is a little over the top, but I'm pretty happy with it as a first attempt.

On a brighter note, everything has come together for the Oak Leaf and Acorn scarf. The new merino yarn is the perfect weight and color and the lace effect is coming out not too loose and not too tight. Dare I say it? Sure, why not: "It's a good thing." Smirk.

Posted by Ryan at 10:44 AM | Comments (9)

July 14, 2004

Be Afraid; Be Very Afraid...

A warning to anyone who plans to come within fifty feet of me between now and the end of August, including Feralites, Guild members, family members, and even complete strangers: I am starting to show signs of Olympic Fever, including a certain single-mindedness relative to anything Olympics-related, a general distractedness relative to anything not Olympics-related, and an explosive, unpredictable temper. Yes, indeed, Olympic Fever is like PMS on steroids—not pretty.

I don’t know what it is about the Olympics but they make me c-r-a-z-y. Do I watch any of the sports during the “off” years? Nope, except maybe occasionally gymnastics and men’s figure skating. But when the Olympics come around—Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, I don’t care—you will find me with my nose glued to the TV for the trials and for the real thing. And The Mysterious K will testify, hand over her heart, that I become insanely rabid. Eons ago, when we were just getting to know each other, we played a perfectly harmless game of something—cribbage, rummy, Scrabble, I don’t remember (but not Monopoly, though, because we all know that that game has caused more divorce than all incidents of infidelity ever, combined. I think it even caused my mother to throw an ashtray at my father once, and we were not a violence-prone family.). TMK won the game…and I threw her out of the house. Literally. I sent her home. I was irrationally mean, cruel, rude, spiteful. I didn’t know why I did it, she certainly didn’t know why I did it—and couldn’t believe it was happening, even as the door slammed behind her—but after some discussion, and some soul searching on my part, we determined it was our first encounter as a couple with Olympic Fever. The Americans had lost some now-pointless competition that afternoon and I was still residually twitchy from the loss, and poor, unsuspecting TMK caught the full brunt of my disappointment.

We survived that day, obviously, and the incident has become One of the Stories We Tell At Parties but I think, to this day, TMK is still a little guarded and jumpy around me when she knows the Olympics are around the corner. This time, for the first time, however, we add knitting to the mix; maybe I won’t be quite so pissy…or maybe this time I’ll just be better-armed.

(For the record, TMK is not completely immune to Olympic Fever. Get her in front of the TV when the luge races are on, and she gets a little bit of that same deranged look in her eyes. She will deny it to her grave, but I know, I know the truth.)

Knitting Knews
Decision #1: I have abandoned the periwinkle alpaca and settled on a beautiful new yarn for the Scarf for A Very Special Person, Jaeger Matchmaker Merino* in a unique, rich, medium rose, rosier than the picture shows. Not a color I would wear, but still beautiful, a joy to knit with, and perfect for The Very Special Person.

roseyarn.jpg

Decision #2: Because of what Dear Reader Melanie said about one edge having a scallop and the other not if I knit straight from top to bottom—which the scarf designer herself had mentioned at a recent presentation at the Guild and I had just forgotten—I decided it would, indeed, be best if I started from the middle and knit in both directions. I also decided to use Robbyn’s suggestion that, to avoid the squashed-slug, conjoined-acorn effect in the middle of the scarf, I insert a little stockinette instead. I’m doing a minimal amount of stockinette, .5" in each direction, and this seems to be working just fine. Thank you everyone for your input and suggestions! They really helped!

Lastly, and for no reason except perhaps to bring a smile to someone's face, a picture of a sunflower from the dye garden. This small but determined thing only grew 4' tall in a row of 9' and 10' giants. Happy, happy summer to all my Dear Readers!

shortsunflower.jpg


*This is the same yarn I used early in my knitting days when I learned one of my cruelest knitting lessons: Not all yarn is good for socks. I used double-stranded Jaeger Merino to knit a pair of socks, wore the socks twice, and both of the heels developed holes.


Posted by Ryan at 09:30 AM | Comments (15)

July 12, 2004

Beepbeepbeep!

I don’t own a cell phone. Never have, never will. Or at least that's what I decided when I thought—silly me—cell phones were for making phone calls. Lately I’ve noticed that cell phones are becoming So Much More. When Big Sister and Brother-in-Law were visiting, whenever they needed to know the time, rather than look at their watches (trop passé), they would whip out their cell phones, flip ‘em open like a Star Trek communicator (does everyone hear the StarTrekian beepbeepbeep in their heads every time they do that, or is it just me?), check the time, flip ‘em closed and put them back in their pockets. So James Bond; so suave. And this weekend, when The Mysterious K needed to set the timer for grilling some chicken, rather than use one of the numerous timers in the kitchen, she whipped out her cell phone, flipped it open like Star Trek communicator (beepbeepbeep), tried to set the alarm, failed (new and confusing phone; what can I say?), flipped it shut, and crammed it back in her pocket. People use the phones to send messages, take photos, tell time, set alarms, play games, maintain addresses... What’s next, and how long will it take me to feel like such a lame-o that I’ll have to get one?

Of course, perhaps I’m just reacting to the new Too-Cool-For-Words TMK. Between her new haircut from her new stylist (who replaces the one who literally made her look as if her hair had been cut with a bowl on her head (if you're a Red Dwarfer, think Duane Dibbley)), her new sunglasses, her new rimless regular glasses, and a phone that she can flip open like a Star Trek communicator (beepbeepbeep), she’s gotten just too spiffy for us plebeians.

Knitting Knews
From this:

patternscribbles.jpg

To this:

celticpillow.jpg

You are looking at, obviously, just part of the pillow’s surface. It has a steek in the back that I’ll cut later to give me the full width of the pillow. Oddly enough, it’s the steek that’s been giving me the most trouble. In fact, it has become the Area 51 of my knitting. Things mysteriously come and go. Stitches that I thought were there in one round are missing in the next. Colors that I thought were there turn out not to be. The checkerboard pattern that I so carefully try to maintain disappears then reappears later with no explanation. The rest of the pillow, theoretically the “hard” part—not a stitch out of place; the steek, theoretically the simple part—completely out of control. Could be worse, I suppose; could be the other way around...

Now the problem is that I've run out of blue. Sheila, if you're coming to Ferals tonight, could ya' bring one skein of whatever blue it was I bought at the Soiree? (Thought I had the ball band with me, but nope. Have the ball band for all the other colors, of course...)

Gardening Gazette
Not much news on the gardening front but I wanted to share this photo taken from under a 10’ sunflower in the dye garden:

sunflowerleaves.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 10:28 AM | Comments (17)

July 09, 2004

'Tis a Puzzlement!

As Robbyn would say, “Now for something completely different!”

I have no Gratuitous Story of the Day today or even any Kooky Krafts to share so I present instead the first ever Mossy Cottage Fiber Aficionados Word Find! (You’ll need the Adobe Acrobat reader to view the puzzle. The box around the puzzle prints kinda wonky in its pdf format but whatevuh. I don't think I could get away with asking one of the technicians here at work to figure out why...)

If you want to create a Word Find of your very own, go here. Once the program has generated your Word Find, copy it to Word, tweak it a bit to get rid of extra spaces, and change the font of at least the puzzle part to Courier or Courier New to keep the spacing between the letters even. Slap on a graphic for that little extra zing, and Bob's your uncle! Great for work, church, entertaining the kiddies, car trips, or romantic interludes (okay, maybe not that last. Althoooooough, spice it up with a few risqué words and who knows? Wink, wink.).

Knitting Knews
I’m still dinking around with what pattern I’m going to use for the scarf for the Very Special Person. The periwinkle alpaca, although obscenely heavenly to the touch and clearly the pinnacle of yarn evolution, has little halo-y fibers that obscure every design element I’ve tried, like eyelets, or stitch patterns, or cables, or beads, so it’s frustrating the crapola out of me. (Oh, wait; does one get banned from the Pan-Universal Interstellar Interplanetary Knitting Federation for dissing alpaca? Yoiks!) At my LYS, however, I found this pattern and this pattern (I have lusted after the latter for months now) which were added to my knitting library posthaste.

Last week I did a swatch of the Oak and Acorn scarf, using a terra cotta Lorna’s Laces from El Stashola Grande. This pattern is a total lark! The oak leaf pattern is easy but has pleasantly long repeats (24 rows) and is chock full o’ leafy detail, and the finished swatch was so soft and silky it slid right off my fingers. (Note how the swatch has been so professionally and artfully posed on a piece of (perhaps even used) paper towel.)

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Which leads me to a question for you purists out there: The pattern calls for me to use a provisional cast-on and knit in two directions from the center. I’ve done this before so it’s no big but, particularly in this light, lacy pattern, it makes for an ugly bidirectional, conjoined-oak-leaf “hiccup” right in the middle of the scarf. I’d rather just knit the scarf from one end to the other even though the acorns end up all facing the same direction and, when you wear it, half of them are “upside down.” Is this "okay," or am I, yet again, on the verge of being booted out of the Pan-Universal Interstellar Interplanetary Knitting Federation?

Posted by Ryan at 10:40 AM | Comments (16)

July 07, 2004

Two Hot Mamas!

Since this is proving to be a very sunny, very hot summer, this weekend, The Mysterious K and I each treated ourselves to a new pair of prescription sunglasses for toolin’ around in the convertible. TMK was quite giddy about owning for the first time a grown-up, sophisticated pair of sunglasses. No more for her the round, darkly tinted kind that make you look like a demented housefly. I knew she liked her glasses but I didn’t realize quite how much until I found her in the kitchen…standing over the garbage can…shucking corn…in her sunglasses. I suspect she even slept in them that night. Oy.

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On a completely different subject, and harking back to my entries about What I Did This Summer, courtesy of Big Sister, here is a photo of me with Little Niece and Little Nephew. I had just arrived at their hotel room and we were all flushed and crazy from a big round of hugs 'n' giggles.

Happy Belated Birthday to Little Niece who just turned 10!

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Knitting Knews
It’s not often laypersons like us, ordinary citizens who are not neurologists or psychologists by trade, get to glimpse the inner workings of a troubled mind but here, for my Dear Readers, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see a physical manifestation of a brain exploding.

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Oh, but I had such good intentions. See how at the top I started by nicely writing the name of the pattern, followed by, in clear, calm penmanship, the finished, pre-blocked size of the pillow? But soon after that—kablooie!

Most of this insanity comes from figuring out how many rows to knit to reach the 15.5” unblocked height of the pillow (initially 155 rows—and then 140 when I really checked my gauge instead of just farting around), what size of design element to use in the center of the pillow, what size peerie to use to separate the different design elements, and trying desperately to remember what page of the pattern book each design element and peerie was on. But, despite the lingering smoke wafting out of my ears, I’ve got it all figured it out, and have actually started on the pillow. Pictures soon.

Gardening Gazette
Here is a photo of my most favorite plant in my entire yard, my miniature white-and-red variegated rose. This little beauty is only about the size of a half-dollar, no more. Amazing, no?

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(And, yes, this is a different flower from the George Burns rose. Similarly variegated, yes. Similarly insanely striped, yes. But the George Burns is yellow and red and hybrid tea rose size; this one is white and red and much smaller.)

Posted by Ryan at 10:06 AM | Comments (13)