January 30, 2006

Feeling Squirrely!

The question of “blue or black” has only gotten murkier since, over the weekend, I looked at the button on The Mysterious K’s much vaunted Mac—and it still looked black to me so, ultimately, we've decided to blame this all on aging eyes. Anyway, smooches to everyone who said the button was black, and double-smooches to those of you said it was blue first and then backpedaled like Lance Armstrong after unexpectedly encountering a bear in the Alps. Ya’ kill me.

Despite the hullabaloo over the first button, again thanks to TMK, I have added another Olympics button to my sidebar, one which will make sense to my long-time readers.

The perceptive among you will notice that something is amiss: I haven’t officially declared that I am participating in the Knitting Olympics. Miscellaneous buttons just seem to be popping up on the blog without any discussion of the why’s or wherefores. In fact, if you were to hie yourself over to Stephanie’s site, you wouldn’t even see my name on The List. That’s because:

(a) I haven’t completely committed myself to the Olympics. I’ve never been much of a follower of popular fads. Two cases in point: I have yet to read even one of the Harry Potter books, and I managed to avoid watching “Titanic” until three years after the fact when it was the only thing even faintly entertaining on TV; and

(b) I’m immersing myself in the idea one toe at a time, not making a dramatic Polar Bear plunge into the icy waters of complete Olympics commitment.

Which does not explain, however, why I have decided what I'm knitting, obtained the book that has the pattern, decided on the colors, ordered and received the yarn, and made a swatch.

Oh.

It seems suspiciously as if I’m going down for the third time, doesn’t it?

What: A Fair Isle sweater, specifically the Squirrel Pullover from "Small Sweaters."

Yarn: Cherry Red and Granite Jamieson’s Spindrift purchased from here.

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The Swatch, for which I had a slap-on-the-forehead genius idea and knit using heretofore useless leftover balls of Jamieson’s Spindrift from an earlier project because I’m a mite worried about having enough yarn.

If you look at the bottom of the swatch, you can see two of the squirrels, although the one on the left seems to be missing half of his face.

Oh, and that reminds me. I have a question for Fair Isle knitters out there. If you look at the squirrel on the left and then a little to the right of his head, you’ll see a two-row blue smudge where I had long floats and had to weave the blue in behind the peach. Any suggestions on how to prevent this kind of show-through? (TMK says no one will notice; I say it’s yucky.)

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The Majorly Weenie Cop-Out: Because I don’t seriously believe that I can knit an entire Fair Isle sweater, sew it, steek it, weave together all the pieces, weave in the ends, and block it in 16 days, I’m making the three-month size. That, and I’ve set up a medal-ratings system for myself, although the Official Rules say only gold medals are allowed:

Bronze Medal: Get all the pieces knit.
Silver Medal: Get all the pieces knit and the steeks sewn and cut
Gold Medal: The whole ball a’ wax.

To my surprise, this weekend I also discovered I have a Knitting Olympics training coach, otherwise known as TMK. Last night she firmly instructed me that, now that I have the swatch done, I need to get a small project bag, put in it the yarn, the pattern, the swatch, the needles and any other knitting accoutrements I might need, and carry nothing else around with me during the 16 days of the Olympic Knitting event. And she seems to be believe I’m actually going to do this because she said so. Personally, I think she’s just trying to get me to the “kiss and cry” area.

Posted by Ryan at 10:58 AM | Comments (37)

January 27, 2006

Hooray for the Red, White and Black!

TeamUSAButtonSmall.jpgThe Mysterious K, the Master Mistress of Blog Buttons, has made a button for the US Olympic Knitting Team. Purloin at will. (P.S. She reassures me that the button is red, white and blue. My monitor insists that it’s red, white and black but, when I tell her this, she goes into a long song and dance about how she has a Mac and I have a PC and Macs are the ultimate in computer technology and PCs are pieces of poo-poo and her Mac is Calibrated and my PC isn’t Calibrated so her Mac must be right and my PC must be wrong. So, in short, I make no guarantees about what color the button is. But if you want to stay on my good side, you’ll all leave comments saying things like, “Most assuredly, the button is red, white and black.” Or, “Indubitably, the button is red, white and black.” Or, “The black on that button is the blackest black I've ever seen.” Or, “The colors of the American flag have been red, white, and black for as long as I can remember. That button couldn't be any more accurate.”)

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Thanks to a gift of various mohair yarns from my friend June, I have been compelled lately too churn out more Cloud Hats. I swear, these hats are like the potato chips of the knitting world; you can’t knit just one.

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The two above were made from a ghastly pastel-variegated worsted yarn and bubble-gum-pink mohair. The worsted was on its way to the garbage can (Seriously. It was too prissy and too namby-pamby in its colors to even give someone; it had to die) but, at the eleventh hour, I rescued it from Death Row and combined it with the pink mohair to see what would happen. The results were surprisingly cute, kicky and colorful. The coyote-ugly worsted striped itself in a pleasing way and the mohair added some fuzz, and some depth and “punch” to the pastel colors. And that, my friends, is what makes these damn things so addicting.

(Mongol Lee was placed artfully in the picture to try to prevent the two pink hats from looking so much like two little boobies, but it didn’t work. Now they just look like the boobies of a woman who happens to carry a small Mongolian bactrian camel around in her cleavage.)

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This Cloud Hat is double-fuzzy, having been knit out of a fuzzy, cream-colored acrylic and orange mohair. It came out looking exactly like an orange popsicle and I salivated quite unattractively the entire time I knit it (a new way of wetting and blocking as you go, I suppose). As per usual, you can attribute the funny shape of the hat to the fact that it is sitting on one of TMK's FoodSaver canisters. I assure you, the hat will fit perfectly well on a round-headed child. Which is good news, since I doubt there are many children in Mongolia who have heads shaped like FoodSaver canisters.

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As a final part of this Friday morning ramble, I'm pleased to present TMK's latest spinning efforts, 4 oz. of the sage roving spun up! I haven't seen it in person yet but I'm thinking it looks pretty spiffy for someone who has been spinning for only 2 weeks and who is stubbornly determined to learn 99% on her own.

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And, since, when I asked TMK to send me a photograph of her spinning I also asked her to take some impromptu photos of other goings-on in her house, this is what else I got.

A picture of a very cheerful primrose to brighten up our currently endless winter gloom:

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And a picture of Frankie doing her imitation of Goya's Maja (the clad or unclad version I leave up to you).

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Posted by Ryan at 11:43 AM | Comments (41)

January 25, 2006

Woodworking? What Woodworking?

The Mysterious K has gone completely looney tunes. Otherwise, how do you explain this?

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Yep, you’re looking at an entire frickin’ pound of roving. A pound. 8 oz. of a beautiful medium sage green, 4 oz. of a yummy navy, and 4 oz. of a rich variegated with hints of the navy and the sage and a few other colors thrown in for good measure. (Note to locals: Village Yarns & Teas now sells roving…although, thanks to TMK's kamikaze raid, they now have considerably less than they did. I have to admit it was rather fun to watch TMK's eyes grow wider...and wider...as she started to realize exactly how much a pound of roving is. It’s weightless, diaphanous fiber and air, girl; what’d you expect?)

And why, the sane and clear-thinking among you ask, would TMK purchase an entire frickin’ pound of roving when she doesn’t have a frickin’ spinning wheel? Because she frickin’ has one now, yo, thanks to Dear Reader and neighbor Melinda who left a comment saying she had a Louet TMK could borrow. So Saturday morning we went to Village Yarns & Teas and bought The Roving That Ate New York; Saturday night we picked up the wheel; the ever-handy TMK fixed a few things on the wheel that needed fixing; she predrafted some of the sage roving, all with great ambition and gusto…and spent the rest of the weekend knocked flat on her keister with the nastiest, juiciest cold I’ve ever seen. I had no idea spinning could ruin your health so fast. Somebody should’ve warned us.

(Okay, here’s a question for you spinners out there: What’s the difference between roving, top and sliver?)

As for me, now that I’ve been dumped in favor of a pile of dyed sheep fleece, I sulk and knit on. Apparently I was serious about wanting to, needing to, having to knit a mango scarf like Sedie’s because that day I left work at 4:30pm, swung by my LYS, and by 5:30pm had this on the needles.

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At 5:31pm, however, I remembered I look like the walking dead in anything yellow or in the yellow family so this is on its way to the icy cold city streets of Ulan Bataar or the snow-plains of Pakistan.

Speaking of Dulaan, thank you to everyone for your wonderful comments about the MongoLEEa photos and for getting the word out that the photos were posted. I was especially tickled to get comments from readers in Scandinavia! Rumor has it there are more photos to come. I’ll post them as soon as I receive them.

Lastly, while still on the subject of service to mankind, I was especially impressed with this, which I found on the Lion Brand web site:

"Starting today, all Lion Brand patterns are offered in three versions. In addition to our standard version that includes images and text, each pattern is now available in two versions specially designed for members of the Lion Brand community who are visually impaired. Every pattern includes two new links at the top:

  • The first link formats the pattern to be read in large-format type or by text-to-speech browsers;
  • The second link formats the pattern so it can be read by devices that produce Braille.

We've also added color descriptions to all our yarns and added special features to patterns and the pattern directories that are not visible to sighted readers but that make it easier to understand the patterns when they are read by text-to-speech browsers."

Rock on, Lion Brand!

Posted by Ryan at 10:18 AM | Comments (33)

January 20, 2006

An Inadequate Thank You

(Super Bowl, Shmooper Bowl. Although we do have to say to Ms. Pittsburgh Steelers, "Yo' mama."

That being said, I'm leaving this entry up for another day so as many people as possible can see the photos. See you Wednesday!)

Picture-heavy post, Dear Readers, but well worth it...

There is no way, truly, that I could sufficiently thank each and everyone one of the knitters and blanket-makers from the United States and around the world who participated in last year’s Dulaan efforts. However, I hope today’s entry, which features photos of the Dulaan Brigade’s knitted items being distributed at a kindergarten and an orphanage in Mongolia, will go a long way towards showing you what all of you have accomplished, and will reward you in a way that I cannot.

As I warned the other day, have your hankies ready. Seriously. No, seriously; go get something, anything—Kleenex, toilet paper, a paper towel, the hem of your shirt, the hem of your office-mate’s shirt, I’m not picky. The pictures will both uplift you and make you misty-eyed, guaranteed. I know this because the photos have been trial-run past a few people and, to a person and despite feeble attempts to deny it, they all became farklempt. Even TMK called me and said, in a nod to the little pink girl-squid in “Finding Nemo,” “You made me ink!”

If you see anything you knit in the photos, please let us know! Local knitter MaryB reports that she has espied an item or two of hers, which is not surprising since she knit 50 (50!) items for the project.

Okay, on to the photos:

Per Meredith, the Executive Director of F.I.R.E.:

“[This first set of] images was taken at Kindergarten 59, a particularly poor school. We arrived with our hand-knitted items on the day of the first snow. Most of the children were under-dressed. Being under dressed for school in Mongolia is a big problem. If you are not appropriately clothed, you will be sent home. These children refused to take off their new hand knitted clothing. They were so excited they wore it all day in a very hot building.”

(Editor’s note: It is supremely important for me to mention at this point one of the Dulaan Project’s biggest benefactors, Guidepost Magazine’s “Knit for Kids” project. Month after month, this remarkable group of volunteers simply churns out hundreds, even thousands, of sweaters for children. As a result, they were able to donate hundreds of sweaters to the Dulaan Project which is why almost every single child in these pictures has a new sweater, and why some of them are sporting “Knit for Kids” stickers. For me, that alone was enough to get the ol’ waterworks going.)

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Again, per Meredith:

“This was an orphanage called the Lotus Center. You can see in one of the pictures two kids fighting over a hat. [Ed. Note: In another picture, you can see who won!] The items were received with a combination of shock and awe and pure excitement. The hand knitted items were so beautiful and warm that people could not help but feel extra special for receiving it. Although there was always the question of "why." Why would be people go to all this trouble just to help us? Because we can, is what I always say. As much as they appreciate our gifts of love, they have trouble grasping the concept of doing good for others, just for the good feeling it gives you.”

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If you know of anyone who knit for Dulaan but doesn't usually read this blog, please send them the permalink (which can be obtained by clicking on this entry's date and time) or somehow share the photos with them. It's important to me that as many people as possible learn what a difference they made in the lives of these children as well as in the lives of the adults who take care of them.

Posted by Ryan at 11:39 AM | Comments (55)

January 18, 2006

Rumpelstiltskin's Got Some Mean Competition!

(Update, 1:31pm PST) Part II is up!)

Today’s posting will take a different approach, Dear Readers, in that it will arrive in two halves. First, I’ll post a picture and a question. Then there will most likely be some intense marvelling at and speculation about the picture (if I know my Dear Readers), and then I will post The Rest of the Story.

Part I, The Picture:

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Part I, The Question: Who can tell me (1) who this is, and (2) exactly what about the picture tells you who it is? (Elaine, Bling, and the folks at Ferals on Monday—no fair guessing, since you already know the answer!)

Part II to come once the Mystery Spinner has been identified!

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Part II, The Answer: Yes, indeed-a-rooni, that’s The Mysterious K in her telltale red Converse tennies (longtime readers will remember the tennies’ eye-searing debut), not just larking around on a spinning wheel, but actually spinning some cranberry-colored merino roving we had purchased at Weaving Works the day before. The Super Sleuth Award goes to Big Sister—who emailed me the two correct answers within seconds of my posting the entry—followed closely by Nina and Melinda.

Part II, The Rest of the Story: Despite four, almost five years, of my incessantly waving needles and yarn in front of her face, TMK continues to have not a single iota of interest in knitting. Spinning, however, has intrigued her ever since the day three years ago at the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat when we stumbled across some women from my LYS huddled in a lovely little communal group, spinning with great gusto. TMK was entranced, enthralled, hypnotized. She looked like a cat watching a bird on the other side of a window. If we hadn’t been in public, I suspect she would’ve made that strange staccato, chittery noise cats make when they see something they want desperately but can’t reach.

Fast-forward three years and TMK’s interest in spinning all of a sudden comes to a head and, about three weeks ago, her conversation starts to be littered with words like “treadle,” “roving,” “carding,” “plying” and “niddy noddy.” She seemed to be in the clutches of a weird case of ASF (Acute Spinning Fever) which, however, couldn’t be cured because, hey, guess what?, neither one of us owns a spinning wheel. Badda-bing. So, out of desperation, I asked new friend and new spinner Elaine, if she would come over with her Louet and let TMK take it for a…er…spin. As women are wont to do, we turned it into A Social Event involving spinning, much nattering, brie (without rind!) and crackers for pre-dinner noshing, pizza, salad coffee, soda, some of our famous tofu chocolate pie, and, in the middle of it all, showing Elaine’s partner Bling how to use the PlayStation II so that she wouldn’t clutch her chest and fall dead on the floor from an overdose of fibery yakkity-yak.

So, you’ve seen TMK and her Converse at the spinning wheel. Here, more proof that she was actually drafting and spinning!

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The bobbinful of yarn in all of its uber-thick-and-thin glory:

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Elaine’s hands as she got ready to ply the yarn for TMK. (Unlike TMK, Elaine does have a head; it just didn't make it into the picture.)

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Elaine and TMK triumphantly holding up 15 yards of two-ply handspun.

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The skein of yarn all twisted up like a real, grown-up one.

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The yarn wound into a ball.

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The skein of yarn knit into a swatch by Yours Truly.

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However, Dear Readers, don’t go getting all excited about TMK’s future as a master spinner because observe: The Great Spinning Event took place on Sunday. By Monday, TMK had bought a new book on woodworking and was back to talking excitedly about routers, dadoes, joins, chamfers, tenons, mortises… Do you hear “treadle,” “roving,” “carding,” “plying” or “niddy noddy” anywhere? Nor do I. Sigh... My brightly shining vision of her spinning some sock-weight yarn, my dyeing it with coreopsis from our garden, and then knitting her some socks out of it has died an abrupt death.

Despite this, I have to ask, since TMK even went so far as to pick out the wheel she would buy if she took up spinning seriously (and confessed to me that she did spend part of this morning surfing the Web for roving): Does anyone have a used Ashford Kiwi they want to sell? Anyone? You there, in the front row?

(And to all those conspirators out there who are saying to themselves, “I knew Ryan would spin one of these days; I just knew it. It was just a matter of time,” I say, as always, “neener-neener.” I spun nary an inch. Didn’t even sit at the durn thing. Granted, I did pre-draft some of the roving but that was it. No spinning cooties on me, no sirree!)

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Everybody please be sure to swing by on Friday. I will have Dulaan photos from Mongolia!!!! (Be sure to bring Kleenex. The photos are happy but they will still pull at those old heartstrings, trust me.)

Posted by Ryan at 09:53 AM | Comments (34)

January 13, 2006

The Land of Oz

(No posting on Monday, Dear Readers. Vacation day! Yee-haw!!)

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Why is it that, on the day when your mind is a dune-and-wind-filled blogging wasteland, your partner says, “Make sure you blog today. And soon. And make it good!” “Good?!” She’s lucky the crap I ramble on about even half-way makes sense, and now she wants good. Mamma mia!

Sadly, TMK’ll and all’a ya’ll will just have to settle for mediocre, if even that. I have no photos, and it’s been a quiet week, thanks to a variety of odd malaises interspersed with bouts of colonic house-cleaning (for new readers, that means extreme housecleaning, from the inside out, hence, colonic. Har, har; I kill me.) and really annoying things like, oh, having to meet with one’s financial advisor. Blech. I’d rather have a wisdom tooth pulled without anesthetic. An impacted wisdom tooth. Pulled while a vicious dog is gnawing on my ankle.

And I can’t even write the next chapter of "Dick & Jane’s Adventures with Frankie" since—again, thanks to malaise—I’ve seen m’girls for a total of two hours in the last two weeks.

Hold the phone; a solution has just presented itself to me: Smokescreens. That’s it! Smokescreens! I’ll just send you elsewhere for entertainment and then you can just ignore the weird little (wo)man behind the curtain.

Smokescreen #1: Cuzzin Tom’s most recent entry about the adventures of a robe-clad Buddhist monk among conservative Christian Oklahomians. I love this entry; one of my faves ever. In fact, I believe he should get a blue ribbon for actually using the phrase "woodgy-woodgy." I think it rates up there with the time I was able to sneak the phrase "urinal cakes" into one of my entries.

Smokescreen #2: Speaking of blogs, my dear and fiber-y friend LindaK has started a new blog in which she is describing her adventures during her current three-month stay in India. Lots of photos but well worth the download if you are interested in exotic climes.

Smokescreen #3: Eye-candy for those of you who are interested in that sort of thing. Now, before I creep Big Sister and Cuzzin Tom out and, heck, even myself, you should know that this handsome fella is also a cousin of mine, albeit once removed, I think (son of my mother’s cousin). And for those of you who aren’t that interested in eye-candy of the male persuasion but who are interested in good music (you know who you are), Tuey is a very talented jazz musician who plays all over the East Coast. Here are snippets of his music; here are his appearance dates and locations. Go see him! You won’t be disappointed.

Smokescreen #4: One of the comments from Monday was from new reader Sedie. I popped on over to her blog and was rewarded with finding an indescribably cheerful Irish Hiking Scarf knit in a bright, mood-lifting, mango-colored yarn. Go have a look for yourself (scroll down to the bottom and click on the last photograph). Must. Duplicate. That. Scarf. Must. Duplicate. That. Scarf. In fact, Must. Buy. Yarn. Tonight.

Smokescreen #5: The miniature to end all miniatures. I don’t have the vaguest idea why, but I was surfing the Web for information about miniature baskets and discovered this. That’s a nickel, people, a nickel. (Note to TMK: Coincidentally, this is here at the Burke Museum!)

Smokescreen #6: More talk about Dulaan.

1. Thanks to all the new Brigade members who asked to be added to the list. If I’ve left anyone’s name out, please let me know, and I’ll add it quick-like.

2. Don’t forget, we are selling items with TMK’s famous Dulaan logo on them through CafePress. All the profits from the store will go directly to F.I.R.E. I have ordered some of these things myself and have been really impressed with the quality.

3. I’ve had a couple of questions about getting the tax receipts from F.I.R.E. Meredith does tell me she is working on it. I believe, legally, they have until January 31st to get the tax receipts out, so it should be done by the end of this month. If you have any more questions, you can contact her directly at fire@fireprojects.org.

Smokescreen #7: Someone is going to be commenter #5,000 today or tomorrow. (Update: I lied. We're at 4,955, not 4,995 as I thought. But soon, my pretties, soon.)

And there you have it, TMK. For today, long and so-so will have to do. See you tonight. And dinner better be good. Wink.

Posted by Ryan at 11:15 AM | Comments (13)

January 11, 2006

Dulaan!

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Woot! I feel all sorts of fresh, new-year Dulaan vibes bubbling up around me! They tickle like little nibbling fish! Hee-hee!

First, coinkidental to the fact that I planned on talking about Dulaan today anyway, Minnie asked what the deadline for Dulaan is. Although TMK was kind enough to answer prontissimo in order to relieve Minnie’s aching brain, just to remind everyone, the deadline for all items to be received in the F.I.R.E. office in Arizona is July 1, 2006. That’s only 170 days, people!! One. Hundred. And. Seventy. One hundred days, followed by a measly seventy more.

Next, I heard from Meredith, the Executive Director at F.I.R.E., and she is working on getting some photographs of their 2005 Mongolia trip ready for us. I know, I know, MaryB; you’ll believe it when you see it, but I have my fingers crossed!

Meredith also tells me that F.I.R.E. is now trying to provide clothing and services both to Pakistan as well as to Mongolia, so some of the knitted items may be going to Pakistan. I don’t know if they will be sent specifically to the earthquake-ravaged area but, personally, I’m excited to know that by sending our items to one location, we can help two countries that are both recovering from natural disasters—the earthquake in Pakistan and the severe zud winters in Mongolia— and yet which, in a good year, still have extremely cold winters. Meredith said she will send me more details about the Pakistan plan.

In an attempt to catch up on my own personal Dulaan knitting, with—get this—only the buttons to attach to the two baby sweaters, I did a sharp and sudden 180 and started knitting Dulaan hats instead. Sheesh. Apparently I have lost complete control of my vertical and my horizontal. Anyhoo, between Monday and yesterday I churned out two modified Cloud Hats, using 48 stitches instead of the 60 or 66 called for in the pattern, very girly pastel variegated worsted wool, and flerfy pink mohair. They turned out saccharinely cute and perky, but some little dark-haired and dark-eyed girl will love them.

Lastly, and maybe most importantly, I have our current count of items received:

492!!!!

You are all awesome. Awe. Some.

Posted by Ryan at 11:56 AM | Comments (17)

January 09, 2006

Fun at the Doctor's Office!

An extremely short entry today since my day started late thanks to a doctor’s appointment in the a.m.

All I will say about that is, the only thing worse than having the plastic cone thingie stuck up your nose is having the plastic cone thingie stuck up your nose by someone who has a tremor. Yes, indeedy—he rattled that thing around the inside of my nose right smartly.

And then he rattled it around the inside of my ear.

And then he reached for the tongue depressor. ‘Nuff said.

Hopefully I’ll be more on more of a knitting track on Wednesday with photos of the finished green and purple twin sweaters. Even more importantly, I hope to have some Dulaan photos from Mongolia for you soon!!!

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who suggested ways to resurrect The Scarf That Destroyed the Universe, but anything that makes me yell, "Bah!"—which is a sound I've never heard come out of my mouth before—becomes a scarfa non grata swiftly and completely. In fact, the scarf is well on its way to the landfill by now because, while The Mysterious K is usually just bemused by my knitting antics, by the knitting up, and the frogging back, and the knitting up again, she stamped her Red-Converse-and-handknitted-woolen-sock-clad foot and said, "Nyet!" to frogging the scarf. It seems that the idea of my frogging a scarf made of yarn which was 75% acrylic anyway, and which was knit in stripes so I could only resurrect short, barely useful pieces of yarn, and which was a stupid idea to begin with was more than she could handle. So landfill it is.

medal.GIFLastly, a big, warm, Mossy Cottage "hello" goes out to Marie and her husband who join the Mossy Cottage Gold Medal List of people who have gone back and read every single entry. Smooches to you two guys, and welcome!

Posted by Ryan at 02:03 PM | Comments (8)

January 06, 2006

Order Has Been Restored

Between The Scarf That Destroyed the Universe and The Piece of Angry Pie, things have been quite unpredictable in Mossy Cottage Land lately. Fortunately, however—and this will assuage those Dear Readers who were concerned about the fact that we had 2/3 of a pie left two days after Christmas—the pie is now long gone, as is an entire container of Calm and Content Cool Whip. And, yes, that includes the piece of Angry Pie, consumed by The Mysterious K herself—although I wasn’t around to witness the emotional explosion, if there was one, that occurred afterward, and nothing appeared in the Seattle Times the next day about a woman running amok in the streets of North Seattle threatening innocent passersby with an empty Pyrex pie plate, so I think the worst of it is over.

And the Scarf That Destroyed the Universe is gone as well. True to my word, I did knit a second, identical scarf and attempt to sew the two scarf sides together, but they were both so determined to curl—so determined—they just made a large cannelloni-like tube, not the flat, double-thick warm scarf I had envisioned. About half-way into sewing two halves together, I just shouted, “Bah!” and threw the whole thing on the floor. The kid got a book. (Which he immediately attempted to rip apart. He must've had a piece of Angry Pie.)

(BTW, I can’t tell you how much I loved the comments on the Angry Pie entry, especially Aven’s story of slapping her rhubarb pie. Who knew this blog could make people confess their deepest, darkest culinary secrets?

BTW #2, I confirmed with TMK that she does indeed put nutmeg in her pie. Apparently this is extremely important to some of you.

BTW #3, for those of you who make pies, for the last two pies, TMK has tried something new which she read about in "Cook's Illustrated" magazine: she sautés the apples a little first. This prevents them from shrinking or turning into applesauce and prevents that large gap that sometimes occurs between the top crust and the apple filling. There; I've exhausted all I know about making pies.)

On a less destructive note, I have continued in my efforts to make things for all the babies that are popping up (I first typed “pooping up." Appropriate, no?) at work. We are now up to six. Ack!

Remember this sweater?

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It was intended for Baby #1 but it is taking so frickin’ long I completely copped out and whipped these out instead:

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I was sure that the mother would appreciate them, at least for their small-sockedness, even if she never actually put them on her child, but I was not prepared for the loud “Squee!!!” she emitted when I presented them to her. Apparently her daughter, even at the young age of umpty-ump months, has overly large feet and these socks—which I thought would fit a two or three year old—fit her now. So Maw and Paw, both of whom work here, were very happy, although Paw did not say, “Squee!!”

I also continue to work on the sweaters for the twins, green for the girl, purple for the boy:

sweaterbits.jpg

And I am determined to get item #13 on the needles for Dulaan this week, although at this point I haven't the vaguest idea what it's going to be. After all, as I said, things have been a leetle unpredictable.

Posted by Ryan at 10:58 AM | Comments (8)

January 04, 2006

Emotional Eating

For almost 20 years I’ve suffered under the delusion that The Mysterious K enjoyed making our Thanksgiving and Christmas apple pies. Because her pies are so picture-book perfect, I was convinced she shared at least some nano-portion of her soul with the gingham-clad, ruddy-cheeked, cheerful grandma of old and that she lived for the moment when she could place on the counter a golden-crusted, sugar-dusted, steaming, sweet, cinammon- and nutmeg-laced fruit confection and wave away the mischievous but sweet street urchins who were determined to steal a slice.

This year, however, I actually watched her make a pie, and learned The Awful Truth. First, she does not whistle or sing gaily while she joyfully dusts the counter with flour, and bluebirds certainly do not tie her apron into a plump bow around her waist and then sit on her shoulder and twitter in delightful harmony. Nor does she throw open sweet little cottage shutters to let buttery sunlight flood the kitchen, nor does she twirl around the kitchen in shiny Mary Janes, nor does she do a little Irish jig while she rolls out the crust.

Instead, I learned, she is scary-efficient. The oven gets turned on. Apples get peeled. Crusts get made. Crusts get chilled. Crusts get rolled out. The pie gets assembled. The pie gets baked. The pie is removed from the oven. The pie is placed on the counter. The pie gets covered. The dishes get washed. She leaves the kitchen.

I could have dealt with all of this—truly—until the moment when she got angry at the pie. No gingham apron, I could handle. No cheerful whistling, I could handle. No twittering bluebirds, I could handle. No sprightly two-step, I could handle. But angry? Angry at our pie? Good God, what blasphemy was this?!

In her defense, there was a reason for it. She made two identical crusts. Identical. I-D-E-N-T-I-C-A-L. The first rolled out beautifully, the second was dry so it tore, forcing her to make a third. To TMK, this was inefficient. It was not linear. And it was so dad-blasted illogical that two identical pie crusts would behave so differently that it made her mad.

At this point, in fear for our Christmas dessert, I reminded TMK of the movie “Like Water for Chocolate,” in which all the food made by the main character absorbs the emotions she’s feeling while she’s cooking, and then it imparts those feelings a hundredfold onto the people who eat it. If she’s feeling…er, amorous…orgies break out. If she’s feeling sad, great bawling, beating of chests, and tearing out of hair ensues. You get the idea.

I hinted to TMK that perhaps, as in the movie, her anger was going to cause her to bake an angry pie. Tongue-in-cheek, she agreed that that might, indeed, be the case but that I needn’t worry since all of the anger would be contained in one particular slice and, to avoid the problem, we just wouldn’t eat that slice. Problem solved.

Two days after Christmas, TMK drove to Eastern Washington for her mother’s retirement party and I stayed at TMK’s to dog-sit. And this is what I discovered waiting for me in the refrigerator:

pie2.jpg

I had been warned.

Posted by Ryan at 09:59 AM | Comments (29)