December 29, 2004

2005, Here We Come!

No posting on Friday, Dear Readers. The Mysterious K and I will be busy preparing for our New Year’s Eve PokerPalooza—a process which involves primarily converting TMK’s area rug from dark orange to dark burgundy by vacuuming up Frankie’s hair.

The PokerPalooza may or may not be a success depending on how much time we spend actually playing poker and how much time we spend rescuing TMK’s belongings from the inquisitive hands of our friends’ very ambulatory 18-month-old. TMK has already made peace with the fact that "Little A" may wreak havoc in her plastic-container cabinet. Oh, if he just weren’t so damnably cute! TMK and I are notnotnotbaby people but that little one—you just want to squeeze him until he goes cross-eyed...and then get his mom to change his diaper.

Until then, to all my Dear Readers, I hoist a glass of bubbly in your honor and wish you a very



TMK is very touched that some Dear Readers are floating the idea that she start her own blog, but, being more comfortable with her role as a behind-the-scenes gal, she says she thinks she’ll just keep her day job instead, thanks much. However, that won’t prevent her and her woodworking from continuing to make frequent appearances on the blog. Speaking of which, voilŕ le finished walnut wood poker box. (Psssst, TMK, should I tell them the lid doesn’t actually close when you put the chips in, or not? Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?)


Kidding aside, this box is really beautiful. It has a substantial yet elegant aura to it, and it just calls out to be picked up and admired and for the lid to be opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and closed, opened and closed, ope...

Knitting Knews

As proof that it is possible for someone who is not a knitter to have a yarn stash, I present TMK’s Yarn:


No, CarolineF, you are not seeing things. As tickled as I was to mail you the Lorna’s Laces Rainbow worsted for winning the Ryan/Yarn contest, my heart still smoldered with an unquenchable desire to own some of my own. Alas, I knew—because I had, in fact, been the one that plucked it forth into the daylight—that your skein was the last one on the LYS shelf. Or was it? Heart in throat, I emailed my LYS and was thrilled to discover that they did indeed have two or three skeins lurking in the back room, which they promptly put aside for me, and which I promptly leapt upon like a slavering, carrion-starved vulture. I then washed the vulture saliva off and gave the two skeins to The Mysterious K for Christmas with a promise to turn the skeins into socks. She wants everyone to know it is officially her yarn, officially her stash—I just have to run it through the Sock-O-Matic. Now, in return, she has to give me a piece of wood so I have a stash of wood the way she has a stash of yarn. Of course, she could give me a big piece of wood—and then run it through the Clock-O-Matic...

Posted by Ryan at 10:35 AM | Comments (13)

December 27, 2004

Downs and Ups

Despite a wonderful Christmas and vacation, Dear Readers, I find that the horrendous earthquake and tsunami news has me feeling more than a little blue. I strongly believe that, to maintain your sanity in the face of information overload, it’s crucial to compartmentalize the news, identify what events affect you in a tangible, concrete way (elections, taxes, local traffic issues) and which simply amount to national gossip and should be treated as such (sensationalistic kidnappings or murders that take place 3,000 miles away from your community and sphere of influence), but this... It may never physically or financially affect me personally and I have lost no one, but what a tragedy. Nine countries! But then I remember we live on an unpredictable, still-changing, still-forming ball of molten lava and rock, and I realize that the earthquake would have happened whether humans inhabited this earth or not, and then I realize there was nothing inherently “evil” about the quake and the tsunamis and then I begin, just begin, to be able to wrap my head around it.

Wow. That was not at all how I thought today’s entry would start. I had in mind something much more celebratory and upbeat, but apparently I had to get that out of the way before I could tap into my usual blogging persona. Fortunately, I think I can salvage this entry with two photographs that brought a smile to my face this morning, despite my blue-ish mood, and hopefully will to yours as well. If you’re curious, the stocking contained two tennis balls and some chewsticks. One of the chewsticks has now been consumed and both tennis balls are under the couch, where they will most likely remain.



I am pleased to report that I was treated to more than two tennis balls and a chewstick. A lot more. Suffice it to say, I think everyone who lives in this winter-dreary city should own a brightly and joyously pearlescent tangerine umbrella. And their own tin of Almond Roca. And a copy of Poetry in Stitches. A million thank yous, Big Sister and TMK!

Knitting Knews
A picture of a moment that I thought would never come: Me, sewing in the ends of Faina! When all was said and done, I did the pattern repeat six times, instead of the three called for. Long about repeat 5.5, The Mysterious K informed me that even she was bored with the scarf. Apparently there is an unspoken law that we knitters have an obligation to change yarn, patterns or projects in a somewhat timely manner in order to keep our significant others entertained with what we are doing. Who knew.


And here, one end avec scraggly not-yet-blocked fringe:


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and are gearing up for an even better New Year's! Thank you, Rebecca, for the Christmas card, and thank you, CarolineF, for beating into submission the hundreds of spams that hit the nwkniterati blogs last week.

Posted by Ryan at 09:58 AM | Comments (22)

December 17, 2004

Holiday Giddiness


No posting next week, Dear Readers. From here on out, it’s all tinsel, sugar plum fairies, twinkling lights, flannel jammies, shiny wrapping paper, curled ribbons, sparkling cider, and eggnog!

Thank you from the heart to all of you for the gift of continuing to read Mossy Cottage, and for making me look forward to getting out of bed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday because I know I get to spend some e-time with you. Thank you especially for your uniquely long and thoughtful comments! I am a very lucky blog mistress.

Still on the blog front, if you have a few more blog-reading minutes at your disposal and haven’t done so already, I urge you to go to Rachael’s blog and read her entry about running the marathon in Hawaii. Now that is writing from the heart!


Wednesday night was the annual Guild holiday potluck and door prize/gift exchange event. The many, many door prizes—which are donated by our remarkably generous local LYSs—are distributed via raffle ticket. The gift exchange, on the other hand, is more tit-for-tat—bring a gift, get a gift. Still recovering from the nightmarish Kris Kringle exchanges I endured as an uber nerd in grade school, I didn’t participate in the gift exchange but, for my door prize, I did receive a beautiful sweater kit consisting of a pattern and assorted balls of cream, dark purple and terra cotta superfine mohair yarn, all packaged in a very practical and useful clear plastic zippered bag, perfect for sock knitting projects, methinks. Two problems: (a) The pattern does not include a picture of the finished sweater so I have no clue whether the final product would be breathtaking or best used to line a birdcage and (b) when finished, the sweater would fit exactly one of my boobs. Fortunately, a horde of my knitting friends have formed a cheerleading pyramid on my right shoulder and are gently reminding me that I don’t necessarily have to knit the pattern I was given; I can do whatever I want; it’s owning the yarn that matters. I'm also hearing underlying whispers of “Knit it anyway. It might fit me, hint, hint.”

What fascinated me the most about the party were the social dynamics of the gift-distribution process. At first, the ladies, about 80 in number, acted very demure and garden-partyish, patting their fingertips together, tittering, and congratulating each other in hushed tones as numbers were called. Fifteen minutes into the process, however, their baser selves had taken over. The former patters and titterers were now whooping loudly, leaping out of their chairs and galloping toward the gift tables, spurred on by the equally loud and equally whoopish sounds of encouragement made by the other women sitting at their tables. Think boozy night at Chippendale’s. (One where, in fairness, no alcohol was served, and where the spectators were all intent on their knitting and were reluctant to tear their eyes away from their sweaters, scarves and socks even as Juan and his toned and tanned gluteus maximi came gyrating by.)

The party really was tremendous fun. Thank you to everyone for the gifts and the wonderful food, especially the caramel apple pie (be still my heart).


100 Things-39% and Counting

31. Although I am, by nature, not an organized or neat person, I passionately believe there are infinitely more important things to do and experience in the world than worry about how clean your house is. A few months ago, I went to lunch with two acquaintances from work and I watched and listened in horrified fascination as they spent the first 45 minutes of the meal discussing what they use to clean their kitchen floors. This vast, grand, complicated, bewitching, bewildering and perplexing world—and they wanted to talk about cleaning products. To this day, this still boggles my mind. Is it me?

32. I have a horrendous sense of direction, and it is this characteristic that led me to The Stupidest Thought I've Ever Had. One day, when I was living in New York, I was walking north (or south. I have no idea. See?!) and the Empire State Building was behind me. At one point, I crossed the street, went into a store, noodled around, came back out again, saw the Empire State Building in the opposite direction from where my direction-challenged brain expected it to be, and my first thought was—seriously, no lie, cross my heart—“Wow! They moved the entire Empire State building while I was in the store!”

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that, no, they had not frickin’ moved the frickin’ Empire State Building in fifteen frickin’ minutes; I was merely looking in the wrong direction. Then again, remember this is the same woman who thought that her own car lights reflected in a store window were another car driving right at her.

No, no, Dear Readers, you're not going to leave me dangling out here all by myself. Time to share! What is the stupidest thought you've ever had?

33. I think every American—regardless of his or her politics—should go to Washington D.C. once in their lives, like a pilgrimage. The White House, the Capitol, the monuments, and the museums ooze history like nothing else and engender such deep, bittersweet, conflicting and overwhelming feelings. And the Vietnam Memorial—don’t even get me started. But I can get away with making this grandiose declaration because I’ve been already. If I hadn’t and I were a Dear Reader and I read this item, it would probably annoy the crap out of me.

34. Temper-wise, I have a very, very long fuse but the explosion at the end is awe-inspiring. Think mushroom cloud. I can feel TMK nodding as she reads this. She knows, oh, how she knows.

35. In all of our 18 years together, despite the fact that she is notorious for having a quick temper, TMK has never lost her temper with me. She’s been mighty irked, but has never lost her temper. I find this amazing. Perhaps, at least where I'm concerned, she just has a reeeeeeeeeaaaaallly long fuse—which makes me worry about what’s at the end. I mean, what’s bigger than a mushroom cloud? The Big Bang? If she did lose her temper with me, would she, in fact, jumpstart a brand new universe?

36. I like to read out loud, sometimes even to myself, because I like to feel and hear how words, phrases, and sentences intertwine with and play off one another. TMK likes me to read to her because it makes her fall asleep almost instantly and sleep well. The trouble is, when I stop reading, she wakes up and tells me to keep reading. It’s sort of a Sisyphean thing.

37. My father was a deep sea demolitions expert in the Navy during World War II. To dive, he wore the old-fashioned bell helmet and heavy boots and was tethered to an air hose. I think the fact that he fought in World War II, that he had to wear that dangerous, low-tech equipment, and that he blew up sunken ships is outrageously brave and heroic.

38. When I graduated from college, as a graduation gift, my sister paid for me to have my ears pierced. I’m still not sure if it was a gift or Big Sister's Revenge. (Actually, I do, and 23 years later, I still love my pierced ears. Thank you, Big Sister.)

39. My nickname is Pookie. I have also been called R, Rye-bread, RyRiMo (the first initials of my three names), Ry-noceros, Pookessa, Pickle, and Pukie and Puke. Such lovely names, no?

Merry Christmas, Everyone!


Posted by Ryan at 10:03 AM | Comments (38)

December 15, 2004

Ten More Days Until Christmas--Oy Vay!

Just returned from the post office. Everything went smoothly, the holiday rush considered, but I have to ask: What is with the little old blue-haired ladies who stand so close to you in line that every time either one of you moves her not-inconsiderable, pointy-cornered purse pokes you in the tushie?


It seems Der Blog is feeling the effect of the holiday insanity since there’s bupkus going on in my knitting world. The needles and yarn have been replaced, instead, by lots of shopping, wrapping, mailing and the constant search for packing peanuts clinging to odd and potentially embarrassing parts of your person—none of which make for interesting writing. So, for the next couple of entries, I’ll just keep plugging along on the “100 Things.” (And thank you, thank you to everyone for playing the Name Generator game. Some of the names made me laugh so hard I cried. I mean, how can your day not be brightened by Tiny Potatobutt, Flunky Chucklebrain, Rump-thumpin' Cracka Fool, Ichabod Smurf, Dank-ass Red Snappa, Tiny Lizardkisser, Flunky Wafflefanny, and Rubba-lipped Crab Whacka (my fave)? If you missed the new ones just posted under comment #24, check ‘em out. They’re great, especially the elegant “Peanutbutter Tullamoredew.” Big Sister reports that my niece was as fascinated with the name generators as we were. However, thanks to one of the names that popped up, Big Sister found herself having to explain what “arse” meant. Sorry, Big Sister. Wink.)

Eight more “Things:”

23. I wouldn’t trade growing up overseas for anything, despite the fact that my lack of familiarity with ‘60s, ‘70’, and early ‘80s American pop culture forces me to ask inane questions like, “What’s a Grinch?” And “How do I order pizza?” And “What does Kentucky Fried Chicken taste like?” And “How can I join the Mickey Mouse Club?” In trade for these few moments of excruciating embarrassment, I received yellow orchids growing on the tree right outside our front door; a night spent riding a train down the West coast of Malaysia, watching flying foxes glide through the air; monkeys swinging around outside the windows of our hotel room in Kuala Lumpur; a sister who majored in Chinese in college—which I still think is so cool; a chance to see the ethereal temples of Thailand, their red, blue, green and gold glass-mosaiced walls shining brilliantly in the sun and their bells ringing lightly in the wind; and food that puts everything I’ve eaten since to shame.

24. I have a Peruvian birth certificate, written in Spanish, which says my given name is “Ryan Morrissey y Fry” because in Hispanic countries your last name is traditionally a combination of your father’s and your mother’s. The last time I went to Canada, I hadn’t yet gotten my passport replaced, so I had to use my Peruvian birth certificate. The border crossing guards/customs agents raised a collective eyebrow and debated the certificate amongst themselves just long enough to make me nervous. Before I could go all bantam rooster on them and challenge them to a fight with my good friends the FBI agents, TMK waved her all-English American birth certificate at them, said “she’s with me,” and yanked me through.

25. My sign? Don’t know. Don’t care. Don’t believe in it. Okay, okay, okay, okay—Aquarius.

26. I am in awe of the universe, not the metaphysical, ethereal universe but the real, astronomer’s delight, nebula-laden thing. I can go outside and stare up at the sky for hours, or until I get a crick in my neck, or until my head explodes with trying to understand the distances between the stars, whichever comes first. Fortunately, TMK is also in awe of the universe, so she understands this. We have gone outside together in the wee—and I mean wee—hours of the morn on very cold nights to watch meteor showers. This is a cool thing to do with your significant other. We even have a constellation the way some people have a song: Cassiopeia.

27. Most people who meet me think I’m a b_tch at first. I don’t know why this is, but a lot of people who have subsequently become close friends have ‘llowed as how when they first met me they thought I was awful. Despite this…

28. I love meeting new people. Seriously. If I’m going to a party where there will be a whole bunch of new people, my tail starts to wag. TMK does not understand this.

29. I will always be grateful to my mother for endowing us with curiosity about the world, a respect for education, a love of classical music, a love of fine food, and our senses of humor. However, I will never forgive her for trying to get me to eat escargots or French onion soup.

30. Although I have never smoked or used drugs, I have consumed enough alcohol to know that Alcohol Is Not My Friend. One sip of alcohol and my face flushes bright red and starts to burn. And five minutes later I’m asleep. Yep, cheap date, and no one will ever know if I’m a mean drunk or the smarmy, maudlin kind.

Oh, my God. Is that only #30?

Posted by Ryan at 12:38 PM | Comments (14)

December 13, 2004

What's In A Name?

What knee-slappers your comments on your names were, Dear Readers! It now occurs to me that perhaps humans are like the feline characters in “Cats” who have everyday names like Spot and Tigger and Joe and One-Eye, and then they have their “cat” names like Skimbleshanks and Grizzabella and Bustopher Jones and Old Deuteronomy. Now, if you’re feeling left out because (a) you’re not a Buddhist monk or (b) you have no frickin’ idea what your name means or (c) you don’t have enough energy to make something up, fret not. For your entertainment, today I present Name Generators!

Hobbit name generator. While my plan is to let you'ens figure out and post your own names, I have to post Big Sister’s Hobbit name: Daisy Bracegirdle of Hardbottle. Isn’t that a hoot? Oh, and mine? Tigerlily Bulge of Hobbiton.

Middle Earth Name generator. This link will generate multiple names for you, such as your Hobbit name, your Elven name and, for those who woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning, your Orkish name. Oddly, I enjoyed my Orkish names the most. If I put in just Ryan Morrissey, I got Wurrrárz the Hated. If I put in my full name, Ryan Richardson Morrissey, I got Mortrak the Pillager. Mortrak the Pillager, Mortrak...the...Pillager—I like the sound of that.

Smurf Name Generator. Not quite as amusing as the others, but I posted it because I like saying "Smurf." My Smurf name: Cleft Palate Smurf

Gangsta Name Generator. My Gangsta name: Mad Cow Crack Robba

Silly Name Generator. My Silly name: Grimy Liverjuice

And my all-time favorite, the Professor Poopypants name generator (graphics and animation intensive). My Professor Poopypants name: Loopy Banana Brains

100 Things...
Still plowing along on this list. Here are seven more things:

16. I am a trivia fanatic. This comes in quite handy since Pure God's Gracious Gift frequently calls me with inane and obscure questions like, “What’s the name of that Spanish guy who used to have a puppet made out of his hand?” Anybody?

17. My sister and brother-in-law both used to work at the World Trade Center. This scares me to think about even today. Then again, it probably scares them even more so I should just hesh up.

18. My mother said we had an ancestress named Marcia Lucia Ave Maria Van Pelt Buckingham, but I’m un peu skeptical about this. When Daisy Bracegirdle of Hardbottle was younger, she used to have a large, stuffed toy snake with seven sections, each a different color, and she named each one of the sections after one of La Buckingham’s names. Which meant one of the sections was named just “Van.” Go figure. Actually, I wonder if Daisy even remembers this…

19. I am flaky. This is either annoying or endearing, I don’t know which. Pure God's Gracious Gift can’t decide either. Fortunately I am also Responsible and am able to prevent my flakiness from getting in the way of Things That Need To Be Done.

20. I can say the alphabet backwards. It saddens me that this could possibly be my greatest claim to fame.

21. When I was a child, I thought working hard on your homework meant pressing more firmly on your pen or pencil. I’m amazed I made it through grade school.

22. I am crazy about animals, reptiles, and birds. Oh, sure, I like the usual: Dogs, horses, cats, parakeets. But get me around the rare, the dangerous, and the unusual and I'm in seventh heaven. In fact, last summer when Daisy Bracegirdle of Hardbottle and family came to visit, and we went to the Pacific Science Center, I missed a goodly portion of the activities because I had my nose pressed up against the naked mole rat display.

Knitting Knews
There is no, I repeat, no knitting news, for one understandable (I think) reason and one embarrassing reason. The understandable one: We spent a considerable portion of this weekend fretting about our Frankie, who was sick. I won't go into any of the gory details but suffice it to say a faint yet mightily malodorous green cloud followed her everywhere she went. She is much better now. No more green cloud. Then, Saturday night we went to a Christmas party. During this annual party, all the guests are invited to nosh, drink, socialize and then to walk to a large nearby lake to enjoy the luminarias and the carolers. Those who feel up to it walk around the lake. To my surprise, Pure God's Gracious Gift and the two people we went with announced We Were Up To It. So, yes, we walked around the lake, a reasonable distance of three miles. A reasonable distance if you're not a couch potato. A reasonable distance if you're not the kind of person whose idea of exercise is to get up to change your size 3 dpns for size 4s. A reasonable distance if you had had six months to work up to it. A reasonable distance if you had on durable hiking books, had a tent, pitons, ropes, a sleeping bag, and provisions in case of an emergency. A reasonable distance if you had not just eaten tamale pie, vegetarian lasagna, garlic bread, three cups of hot cider, a slice of chocolate pie and a chocolate chip cookie. Which explains why I spent all of Sunday sleeping. The whole day. And since I can't knit in my sleep, there you have it. Which makes it all the more embarrassing to learn that, while I was snoring and drooling, our Rachael was running and finishing her AIDS marathon in Hawaii.

Ta-ta for now, Dear Readers.

Ryan, aka
Tigerlily Bulge of Hobbiton
Mortrak the Pillager
Cleft Palate Smurf
Mad Cow Crack Robba
Grimy Liverjuice
Loopy Banana Brains

Posted by Ryan at 11:13 AM | Comments (25)

December 10, 2004

Fifteen and Counting!

Because it made both my monk and my stalker (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d write) wrinkle their little button noses, I solemnly swear to never again write anything that includes me, a toilet, and the color yellow. (If this is your first time reading this blog, I promise this is not as weird as it sounds.)

I must say, however, Dear Readers, that The Mysterious K and I both thoroughly enjoyed the dialog about everyone’s Two Things. We want more! More!! And, are you, in turn, ready for more Dribs and Drabs About This Blogger?

9 More Things

7. I grew up in Peru, Columbia, Brazil, the Philippines, Singapore and Switzerland. Yes, Switzerland is all it’s cracked up to be. If your significant other asks you one day, “Hon, would you like to spend vacation at the Jersey shore or, oh, I don’t know, in Switzerland?,” you know the answer.

8. My feet are not ticklish. Go near my ribs, however, and I will beat the crap out of you. In a girlish way, of course, with my arms flailing every way and not really landing any of the blows. But then I will cry because I know it will make you feel bad. Once a princess, always a princess.

9. My middle name is Richardson. This does nothing to help stem the flow of mail addressed to Mr. Morrissey.

10. The FBI has a file on me. I know this because, when I was younger and landed in the United States after a trip to Taiwan, two FBI agents identified me by name, pulled me out of the customs line, and took me to a separate room for my very own personal frisking, ransacking of possessions, and mini-interrogation. This is because I fit the profile of a potential drug runner—a college-age American male (see item #9) making a quick trip to and from Asia. Once they saw I was female, had no drugs, and was just traveling to Taiwan to see my family the way some other college kid might go to Minnesota, it took the wind out of their over-inflated FBI sails and they were reduced to going through lame-o frisking, ransacking and interrogating motions so they didn’t look like total dweebs. They were actually very nice and respectful. I thought the whole thing was cool. I was 18. What did I know?

11. I would love to live in Vermont or Connecticut. But then again, maybe I’m just thinking of the Vermont and Connecticut you see in postcards. Come to think of it, buying a postcard would be cheaper than moving.

12. I have epilepsy but it has been under control for manymany years. Before it was diagnosed, one particularly fun day I blacked out in the shower and bruised every part of my body that sticks out even slightly: The side of my foot, my ankle bone, my calf, my knee, my hip, my elbow, my shoulder, my jaw, my cheekbone, and my temple. Human connect-the-dot! Wheeeee!

Over the years I’ve learned that people are morbidly fascinated by this disease, and it’s interesting to watch their faces contort as they try to figure out if it’s kosher to ask questions about it. The answer is yes.

13. I have never smoked cigarettes, “funny” or otherwise, or used drugs. (Which reminds me that the phrase “recreational drugs” amuses me to no end. For me, it evokes images of someone gathering up vials or hypodermic needles or cocaine spoons or joints and juggling with them. Or kicking them down a field toward a goal. Or playing tic-tac-toe with them. Or, a la Martha, making a mobile out of them or filling up a pińata with them and beating it until they spill out on the ground to cries of laughter and surprise.)

14. I like cleaning bathrooms. Before you ask, the answer is no. Even if you make Shrek 2 Puss-in-Boots eyes at me and promise to pay my airfare. Or bribe me with chocolate.

15. My whole name means Little King, Son of the Powerful and Brave One, Enchantment of the Sea. Damn; now I'm going to start getting mail to Mr. Enchantment of the Sea.

Knitting Knews
I finished the alpaca scarf last night. Tried to put a fringe on it but didn’t have enough yarn left, and ended up with something that looked like a wispy combover. The fringe is so unattractive that it even made the alpaca-obsessed TMK take a step back. I am so keeping that fringe!

Posted by Ryan at 09:24 AM | Comments (34)

December 08, 2004

Life as a Lemming

Because I am A Joiner and A Follower, I toy every so often with jumping on the “100 Things About Me” bandwagon that has enjoyed a resurgence on knitting blogs over the last few weeks. But over on Stephanie’s site, I found The Perfect Reason Not To—a commenter who posted, in response to Stephanie’s list, “Euuuuuww! More than I ever wanted to know about anybody!” I dunno; I just can’t wrap my head around this comment. Blogs are all about the personal, dude! A “100 Things About Me” is a list of 100 personal things about the personal life of the person who writes the personal blog.

I know this rationally but, still, that one comment is enough for me to question the wisdom of doing a "100 Things" list. So how about a compromise: 100 Things About Me Fed to You in Dribs and Drabs When I'm in the Mood, starting with these five six:

1. My favorite food is Italian. No, wait—Thai. No, wait—Chinese. No, wait—Indian. No, wait—Mexican. No, wait—Italian. No, wait—

2. If I could do two things before I die, it would be to see the northern lights and to see a blue whale. Rumor has it you can occasionally see the northern lights from here but in the 20+ years that I’ve lived here, no such luck. And we have a definite dearth of blue whales. (What are your Two Things, Dear Readers?)

3. I am spherical, about 5’4” tall and 5’4” around. I think if someone punched me, I would bounce back up like a Weeble.

4. My favorite color is yellow but it looks terrible on me. The Mysterious K's bathroom is painted all yellow. I wonder if, above and beyond the usual, I look awful while I’m sitting on the toilet. (This is dedicated to You Know Who.)

5. I talk a lot but this is balanced out by the fact that I'm a good listener. I can listen to people for hours and never tire of it. Unfortunately, this draws very odd people to me and causes them to decide we are Best Friends Forever. Being a good listener? Not all it’s cracked up to be.

6. My mother used to say we had royal blood in our family but that it was nothing to boast about because it was a pot pourri of king, queen, prince, princess, kitchen wench, scullery maid, and stable boy genes. I can’t cook, can’t clean, but love horses. Guess whose genes I inherited.

Knitting Knews
I almost finished the Baby Alpaca Grande scarf last night and, with a flourish, a drum roll and great anticipation, wrapped it around my neck—only to discover that my frickin' neck and chin skin thinks the alpaca is itchy! Yo, Ferals! Some of you touched this stuff on Monday. How can it possibly feel itchy?! Argh. (Then again, maybe I’m just floating this rumor to keep TMK away from the yarn. Itchy, TMK. Very, very itchy. So itchy.)

While I struggle with the mysteries of soft yet itchy yarn, here is a picture of the knit-up-to-the-shoulders back of the Homestead sweater. Really loving this project!


Posted by Ryan at 10:21 AM | Comments (23)

December 06, 2004

Family Yarns

Ah, I feel vindicated! True, I was mistaken (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa) to think at first that Cuzzin Tom had an entire blog entry to share with us so, when he declared that all he really had was a “coupla sentence add-on,” I apologized to him. Lamely, but I apologized. Hey, he's family; I don't have to be sincere. But something was nagging at me. In the recesses of my mind, a little voice was whispering, this is Cuzzin Tom we’re talking about. He's a prolific writer; he's verbose, at least in a way that allowed him to hold his own during our three hour phone-a-thon; and, hell, some of his comments are longer than my blog entries. Surely he’ll come up with more than a “coupla sentence add-on.”

And so it was…

Below, Dear Reader, is what our Communal Cuzzin has to say to us. Pay special attention since it is For You and About You:

Dear “Dear Reader:”

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you these past several months. You’ve been very sweet, allowing a non-knitter, and a congenitally smart-alecky one at that, to hang around and comment on the proceedings.

But really, I sense there’s something more between us. Now, I was raised by my mother and two older sisters (and a grandmother and two aunts and eight older first cuzzins, six of whom are women, one a flaming queen, and one a total het outlier like me but not expressing it by taking lifetime vows of celibacy), so I feel totally comfortable saying this — we need to talk about our relationship.

I mean, aren’t you surprised by how close we’ve become so quickly? Yeah, me too. I thought it was just going to be a lark, no big deal. But do you feel what I feel? That there’s something deeper and more significant just below the surface? I know! It’s amazing, isn’t it?

And, well, I’ll just come out and say it. I’m ready to take our relationship to the next level and I sense that you are too. And specifically what I mean by that is that I want you to allow me to exploit you for personal gain.

Oh, come on. I’m a writer. We’re voyeuristic parasites. You knew that.

But seriously, my favorite subject to write about is a subculture devoted to an unusual activity (perhaps because I live it) or, in this case, devoted to a normal activity in an unusual way, especially if it involves a special language using words like “tink, “frog,” “steek” and “roving.”

I’ve become fascinated by the resurgence in the fiber arts. In particular, I’ve been touched by how this gentle art fosters community, with a special interest, of course, in the burgeoning virtual ones. And I’ve also noted with delight that there are those who are making knitting hip. And I’m really interested in those who have picked up knitting as a comforting response to a violent, conflicted world. And the thread of feminism, appropriating the language of patriarchy (“bitch”, “harlot”) as a badge of honor and connecting with wilder instincts (“feral”, etc., even if it’s ironic). All that.

So I want to write about it, and I’d like you to participate.

I’m looking to start with some email correspondence, particularly if you’re one of the following:

  • Someone who’s come to knitting post-9/11, or in direct response to other trauma
  • Someone who’s from a long lineage of knitters and learned it practically from birth
  • Someone who organizes regular local gatherings (or major national ones)
  • Other blog mistresses or masters
  • Someone who is isolated in his or her knitting and only connects with other knitters via the internet
  • A heterosexual man who knits, and not just as a tactic for getting laid
  • Someone under 25, preferably a teenager, who knits
But if you don’t fit these criteria exactly and still feel you’re a special case (you know you are), don’t be shy! Send me your story. Or connect me with someone you know who might not be one of Ryan’s Dear Readers. At this point I’m in wide-open exploration mode. I’ll focus the article later. Email me at

Thank you all, and I’m sorry my supposed two sentences became this utter hijacking. Maybe now Ryan has some Knitting Knews?

Knitting Knews
This weekend would have been the usual quiet two days if it hadn’t been for a bit of marital strife. Mid-last-week I got the urge to cobble together a quick-to-knit, bulky, soft, cozy, navy blue 2 x 2 rib scarf. So, I purchased two skeins of this, a bulky yarn spun from baby alpaca fleece:


At some point I blithely tossed one skein to The Mysterious K to feel—and a strange change came over her. She stopped dead in her tracks. Her eyes glazed over. She started rocking gently back and forth. A strange rumbling came from her throat, which disturbed me greatly, until I realized…she was purring.

And so began the Battle of the Yarn.

My goal this weekend was to make a big dent in the knitting o’ the scarf so I could start wearing it as soon as possible since the Seattle weather has officially turned inhospitable. But, curiously, my yarn kept disappearing. Or the scarf would disappear. Or both. Or, as I was knitting along, I would feel two eyes boring burningly into my hands. And they would keep boring. And keep boring until, to keep peace in the family, I would hand the alpaca over to TMK for a few minutes of playtime, which consisted mostly of kneading the yarn with her eyes half-closed, the way a cat kneads your stomach before it lies down.

During this time, however, I felt a curious undercurrent of frustration woven throughout TMK’s screamingly evident adoration of the yarn. What it meant I didn't know until, at one point, when she was in possession of the yarn, she declared from the recesses of her leather recliner, “Ryan, I don’t think you really understand,” whereupon she got out of her recliner, lay down on the floor, and rolled around on the floor clasping the yarn to her chest. Then she stood up, brushed herself off, and declared “That is how much I love this yarn.” Dear Readers, I am not making this up.

And if you need any further proof of her obsession, hover your mouse over the picture of the yarn and see what TMK, who took and processed and saved the photo, named it.

Posted by Ryan at 10:29 AM | Comments (19)

December 03, 2004

Why, This Old Thing? It's Just Something I Threw Together at the Last Minute

My apologies for posting so late but it’s always satisfying when one has someone to blame, and in this case I get to blame Cuzzin Tom. For reasons that will become clearer next week, he had asked to be today’s quasi-semi-pseudo-mock-virtual-wannabe-sorta-kinda guest blogger but was unexpectedly spirited away (pardon the pun) by his monkly duties before he could get anything written. Which left me with a deer-in-the-headlights look plastered all over my face and nuthin’ to post. I usually spend Thursday night’s treacle-slow commute home and Friday morning’s treacle-slow commute to work mentally drafting a blog entry, but last night and this morning, knowing I had a guest blogger all lined up, I drove to-and-fro blissfully empty-headed (no comments from TMK the peanut gallery). So, see? Nuthin’.

I do know, however, that I want to thank everyone for playing the Mini-Meal Game. Such clever and unique suggestions, Dear Readers, more than one of which had me on the floor! I can't tell you how many times I called TMK or she called me to say, "Did you see the guppy thing? Or the one about the s'mores? Or the Baby Bel idea? Or miniature quiches? Or, or, or?" But, now, as an antidote to all of the sweetness and cuteness, I offer this. Anyone want to play the Mondo-Meal game?

For further excitement, I can tell you that TMK’s neighbor directly across the street came home yesterday to discover that a stray rifle bullet from God-knows-where had penetrated the wall of her (the neighbor’s) house, bounced around in the living room for a while, and exited through her roof. Ack! And double-ack! Before going to TMK’s place tonight, I think I’ll drop by my friendly local Kevlar Vests ‘R Us. And then take TMK by the ear, plop her in front of her computer, and watch like a hawk as she finds a new place to live. And then spend the rest of the evening designing a knitted cover for my new best friend, my bullet-proof vest. What do you think, knitters? Eyelash yarn? Something with a little glitter? Some angora for a little feminine flair? Intarsia'ed gun and bullet motifs?

Until next week, Dear Readers...

Posted by Ryan at 02:31 PM | Comments (13)

December 01, 2004

Meaty Subjects

Our Dear Readers' discussions about Thanksgiving and turkey and tofurkey (and, although it wasn’t mentioned but should have been, the anti-tofurkey) reminded me of The Mysterious K’s and my Carnivorous-Cooking Code. In short, because I was a vegetarian for quite a few years and only reluctantly returned to eating meat (you don't have much choice when you realize you're not big on vegetables either), we cook only Meat That Doesn’t Look Like Its Source. Beef stew meets the Code standards because there’s no such thing as a tiny, cube-shaped invertebrate. Ditto chicken stir-fry because there’s no such thing as a small, white-ish, pink-ish, strip-shaped invertebrate (except earthworms, and let's just not go there). We eat hotdogs because there’s nothing shaped like…never mind. And, at Thanksgiving, TMK makes only a turkey breast because, remove the legs, and what’ve you got? Some extraterrestrial, flat-sided, legless, single-boned creature that certainly never existed on this planet.

Which, in turn, reminds me of one of the most fun things we’ve ever invented, the Mini-Meal. A few years ago, TMK and I stumbled across champagne grapes which are tiny, maybe ˝” across, which led us to realize just how many miniature foods are on the market, which led us to waste a good hour planning an entire imaginary banquet made with real but miniature food. Behold:

Cornish game hens (we ignored the Carnivorous-Cooking Code for this game)
Baby corn
Baby carrots (which, incidentally, according to an article I read recently, are not fresh, young, extra-tender baby carrots at all, just the ends of regular but too-misshapen-to-sell carrots, cut and shaped to fool you, the consumer. Who knew?)
Champagne grapes
Grape tomatoes (you know, those tiny ones that are even smaller than cherry tomatoes)
Baby new potatoes
Quail eggs (How cute would these be fried?)
Pastina or orzo (those tiny little pastas used in soups)
Baby peas
And the aprčs-dinner coffee? Why, served in demi-tasse cups, of course!

Can you add anything more, Commune Members?

Oh, and, Cuzzin Tom, smooches, and let me know if you need help getting Mr. Ear reattached after our 3-hour telephone marathon last night. Yep, Dear Readers, you read right: 3, three, trois, tres, hours, stopped only by the untimely death of a telephone battery. We're family; we hadn't actually talked in ten years; what can I say?

Knitting Knews
I went to Ferals on Monday and trotted out the finished but still-in-pieces Baby Norgi as proof that I still, albeit minimally, qualified as a member of that Fair Isle knitting group. Some of the wiseacres at the table thought they could actually pull off the Janine Pillow trick again and make me cut the steeks then and there, but I was waiting for 'em. They tried, oh, how they tried, but certain Wise Women had advised me that machine-washable yarn, such as the Baby Ull I used, will indeed unravel if you don't sew the steeks first so I brandished this piece of information about as my shield, my sacred amulet, and sent the conspirators scuttling back to their dark holes. But they weren't done, those schemers. Apparently, Janine of the Janine Pillow will be at the next Ferals next Monday, and the Feralites have now challenged me to have the Norgi finished before then. We shall see; we shall see...

In the meantime, I’m still plodding along on Faina. I added an extra repeat but I have a sinking feeling I’ll need to add yet another. Pooh. And double-pooh. And triple-pooh because, like an idiot, I just whipped out my calculator and figured out that each repeat is almost 5000 stitches, 4,819 to be exact. Why did I do that? Why?! Why?!

Posted by Ryan at 10:40 AM | Comments (34)