March 29, 2006

Mrff.

No postings on Friday or next week, Dear Readers. We will be winging our way to California for a bout of Surreal Meet-Ups with Complete Strangers Who Share Our My Love of Knitting and for, of course, the Wedding of the Year, and then we will happily be playing hostesses to Rachael and Lala as they, in turn, swoop through our neck of the woods. I’m not sure Seattle is ready for this… News at 11.

(Remember my description of “Princeton Hugs" (me) vs. “Italian Hugs” (them)? Well, pray for me, Dear Readers, because, since TMK grew up in San Jose and still has molto famiglia there, I will be descending smack-dab into the “Land of Scary-Big, Bone-Crushing Italian Hugs.” I just hope my spine is strong enough to stand up to those arbitrarily administered, vertebrae-splintering squeezes.

On a brighter note, I do not believe I will be encountering any of the dreaded Cheek-Pinching Aunties, whom even TMK fears. Go near her cheeks with your fingers held in pinch position, and she will blanch and flee from the room. (Truth: TMK very rarely gets mad at me but if I make the cheek-pinching gesture at her, she goes all Exorcist on me, no lie.) And TMK, do not, now, immediately call every member of your famiglia enorme and tell them to pinch my cheeks when they see me. I know how your mind works.)

While we’re gone, Frankie will be staying at “Doggie Disneyland,” otherwise known as her dog-walker’s house. We just pray that when we pick her up again, she has as much of her schnozz as she had when we dropped her off. But we will love her all the same, even if all she can say is, “Mrff.” (TMK, are you thinking “Travels with Charlie?” I know I am.)

bluebar.gif

On the knitting front, I finished all the pieces for the Wing and a Prayer Sweater, so called because it’s a crapshoot whether I have enough of either of the yarns I picked to knit it with, a reassuringly huge ball of jewel-toned Wool Pak and a less-reassuring half-ball of purple Encore for the ribbing. I now know I had enough of the Wool Pak, thank you, Jesus; now the question is just the Encore, since I have the neckband and ribbing still to go.

woolpaksweater.jpg

(The purple is a much darker, grapier purple than the photo shows, and the variegated colors are much more jewel-toned. They are both, in a word, yummy.)

In the meantime, however, I have been mightily distracted by the most fun yarn I’ve ever knit with, this stuff handspun by Melinda:

melindayarn.jpg

This yarn is an outrageously kicky and giddy combination of super-bright variegated neon and a luscious, dark plum, dark liver-brown color. I am absolutely convinced that anything made out of this yarn will make the Mongolians go weak at the knees.

I don’t want to waste any of this yarn, and it demands of me that I knit Just the Right Thing, so first I knit The Tentative Beginnings of a Hat...

melindayarnswatch.jpg

...which ended up too small, even by Mongolian orphanage and kindergarten standards—and would have used up just the wrong amount of yarn, leaving me with too much yardage to throw away with a clear conscience, yet not enough to knit something else—so I frogged it, bethought me of knitting a scarf, but decided it was just that-much too scratchy for one’s tender neck skin, and am now thinking, mittens, yes, definitely mittens.

I do believe this is the only ball of yarn I have carried around with me for no reason other than that it makes me happy. If you’ve seen Wendy’s entry about her cat carrying around a piece of Styrofoam, then you understand how I feel about this yarn.

Toodlepipski until later, chums!

(P.S. Pam reports that all of the Prince Edward Island yarn has found new homes. Thanks for everyone who helped take the yarn off of her hands! Now, you Chicagoans, hie ye to Becca’s Knit-In!)

Posted by Ryan at 10:56 AM | Comments (14)

March 27, 2006

Dulaan Angels

A relatively quiet weekend, if you don’t count the fact that the dog’s nose fell off.

Now, on to the latest Dulaan news…

What? What's that you say? Oh, you want to know more about the dog’s nose?

Okay, yes, I do exaggerate just a wee bit. Her nose still looks pretty much like this…

frankienose.JPG

...but ten days ago she had to have a biopsy on said schnozz. After the biopsy, various and sundry bits of her nose needed to be stitched together (with stitches that were black and long and which made her look like Charlie Chaplin’s red-headed and black-mustachioed love-child). For some reason the stitches didn’t take, and this weekend, much to our surprise, the various and sundry bits fell off. Yes, eeeeeeeuw. I couldn't agree more. In fact, I don’t even know why I’m posting this stomach-turning bit of trivia except that what blogger worth his salt could resist writing, truthfully and with impunity, “The dog’s nose fell off.” Very Cold Comfort Farm, for those of you who have read the book.

Okay, now on to Dulaan:

I received a couple of very interesting emails this morning which I promised I would share with the Dulaan Brigade.

The first comes from Becca Boland of Chicago. I first heard from Becca when she wrote to me in early February, saying:

“I started a graduate leadership class this weekend, and we are required to do a project that helps someone or improves something and uses the leadership skills we are amassing throughout the class. The professor suggested we do something that we had been wanting or meaning to do, but haven't found the opportunity for. The Dulaan Project was the first thing to come to mind [Ed. Note: How cool is that?!!]. I am going to try and arrange a Chicago-wide get together, wherein everyone who comes brings something they have knit for the Dulaan Project.”

Dude.

And today I received this email from Becca who, true to her word, is plowing ahead with a city-wide Chicago Dulaan Knit-In/Drop-Off, and wanted me to help spread the word:

“Stop by the Logan Square Public Library (located at 3030 West Fullerton Avenue in Logan Square) between 2pm and 4:30pm on Saturday, April 22nd. Bring a hand knit you've already finished, start a quick project at the meet-up, or simply click your needles together and cheer on those busily knitting away. I will be sending the projects collected out at the beginning of May, so if you don't think you'll be finished with your project by April 22, talk to me at the library and we can work something out to get your knits where they are most needed.”

If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me at rebeccaboland@gmail.com. Please put Dulaan in the subject line so I can get back to you as soon as possible.”

Please, go, support Becca in this wonderful project!

Now we shift our attention northward a fer piece to Nova Scotia. This morning I received an email from Pamela Donoghue who writes, “I'm an occasional knitter in Nova Scotia, Canada. One of my neighbours went to an estate auction and bought me some yarn. Uhhhhh, a fair bit of yarn. It's in skeins, it's 100% wool, most of the colours are chocolate brown, a light grey, a varigated grey and cream colour. It was spun at a mill in Prince Edward Island and it's a bit lighter than worsted weight. The good news (I hope) is that it's 100% wool, no acrylic content. There are probably 20 or 30 skeins, closer to 20 I think but there may be 30. I don't want it. I want to give it to a good cause. I am happy to mail to wherever you tell me to mail it. I searched "Dulaan" and this led me to your email address. Would you like this wool? It's nice stuff. My donation will be giving the wool and, as I said, I'm happy to provide postage (to anywhere in the world, just let me know). I hope you can help me with my spring cleaning.”

I repeat, “Dude.”

So, if you’re interested in getting some great, free, Prince Edward Island-spun yarn in shades of chocolate brown, light grey, variegated gray and cream for your Dulaan knitting, please email Pamela at pddns@hotmail.com.

Thank you, Pamela and Becca, for being Dulaan Angels and for the amazing, unique ways in which you are supporting our project! Please keep us posted on how your Dulaan adventures go.

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

For those of you who are fans of "swell foop," try this one, my all time favorite: One time, instead of saying, "hypodermic needle," my sister said, "hypodemic nerdle." And I've never been able to say it right since.

Posted by Ryan at 11:10 AM | Comments (14)

March 24, 2006

In Which I Learn I am a Cleaning-Weenie

Because one can never have enough neuroses, along with my new tuteurphobia, I recently developed a sudden, rabid, deep, and all-consuming jealousy of Hercules, in particular of his cleaning of the Augean stables. The mythophiles among you will remember that Labour #5 was to clean the vast stables in one day, so, being All About the Shortcuts, Herkie altered the route of two rivers so that they would sweep through the stables, scouring them clean. Voila! Done, with enough time left over to enjoy a double-tall latte, a biscotti, and a leisurely perusal of the sports pages.

In comparison, when I was cleaning my house last night, I vacuumed my area rug.......and developed blisters. A scant three minutes of pushing and pulling, and I develop blisters. What a total unHerculean cleaning-weenie! So now, the lazy princess in me has decided to go the more direct route, has opened all the doors and windows, and is busily trying to find a local river to divert through the house, although the only thing nearby is a pathetic little creek, half of which struggles lamely along under a mall parking lot. That, and, to my surprise, I seem to be encountering great resistance from the EPA along the way. I’ll bet if Hercules had to deal with the EPA, the dude'd still be shoveling giant-cow poop and wouldn’t be quite the he-man he is considered to be today.

Because this is apparently going to be a “smokescreen” day where I ramble on about neuroses, Greek gods, and governmental agencies, and nothing I write about has anything to do with knitting, here, an article about the ten most annoying alarm clocks.

And, here, the web site of an artist who creates wooden goblets using your profile for the base.

And, here, something you absolutely should not look at if you are currently in the clutches of a mind-altering substance (has music).

yarnbasket.GIFOh, wait, watch! I can squeeze out one small mention of something knitting-related! I discovered yesterday that the Dulaan "Suggested Patterns" Web site was sorely out-of-date and many of the URLs were obsolete, so I've deleted old links, updated whatever URLs I could update, and have added new patterns (the Danny Sweater I (smaller sizes), the Danny Sweater II (larger sizes), the Ski Hat, the Quick Knit Ribbed Hat & Reversible Rib Scarf, and the Cross-Country Chullo).

Happy weekend, everyone!

Posted by Ryan at 01:07 PM | Comments (9)

March 22, 2006

Tuteurs, Part Tu

Monday afternoon, after my posting, TMK and I had a heart-to-heart about the abrupt and spontaneous manifestation of tuteurs and she has now agreed to, at the very least, give a shout-out before new tuteurs appear. We’re thinking she should holler, “Fore!,” like golfers, or maybe, “Look out below!” or my personal favorite, “Fire in the hole!!!” Any other suggestions, Dear Readers?

And, Sweet Caroline, thanks to your enthusiastic demand for more, more, MORE! information, TMK has agreed tentatively do a "tuteur tuteurial" but it may not happen for a while because she wants to document the A-B-C of it as she builds a new one. She says she can’t give instructions on how to build this one from last year (which long-time readers may remember)…

complete_tuteur.jpg

…because it’s from a magazine and all copyrighted and stuff—and we understand how that is, don’t we, knitters?—but she will give instructions on how to build this one, because, although it’s based on last year’s, it’s different enough and has been TMK-i-fied:

trellis1.jpg

In the meantime, to tantalize you, here is one thing she did which I thought was just genius. She built only three sides of the tuteur, then she put it around the very unruly honeysuckle vine, and then she put the last side on. Me, I woulda put the whole thing together and then thrown my back out trying to lift it up over the top of the vine, and then I woulda crushed all the new spring growth on the vine as I lowered the tuteur into place.

bluebar.gif

For those Doubting Thomases among you who find it hard to believe that my knitting guild is as large as I say it is, I bring you proof:

guild.jpg

Yes, that is a typical meeting: 70, 80, 90 women in one swell foop, all plying needles and string...and that’s only a third of the actual members.

One of the spiffy things about Guild is that they are always coming up with creative things to do during our meetings. Last Wednesday’s event, during which the above photo was taken, consisted of mini-classes conducted by Guild members. This year’s topics included, and I paraphrase the titles here, Crocheted Edges, How to Use a Lucet, Mosaic Knitting, Magic Loop, Different Ways to Cast On, and more.

I sat in on Karen’s Fair Isle knitting class, despite the assertions of the other Feralites that I was taking a Mickey Mouse class to get an easy “A.” I say to them all, au contraire, mon frère (or mes soeurs, in this case)! I learned a lot at Karen’s session like: How to use a 16” circular needle to make a swatch with a test steek to cut; that knitting in the round makes your stitches more even because you never purl, so your stitches are always consistent in size and tension; knitting the edges of your steek in the same color as the button band so the button band and the steek edge blend together; and more about why it matters which hand you carry your colors in. Thank you, Karen, for such a fun class, especially since, amazingly, you had just gotten off a flight from Florida a few hours before! And, ahem, I could hear you fine, wink, wink.

And, a shout out to all the Guild-ers who came by my table to find out how they could get ahold of the Cloud Hat pattern. Thanks for your interest in Dulaan, and I hope you enjoy knitting the pattern!

P.S. I've already received one inquiry about Dulaan as a direct result of the article in Vogue. Way cool.

Posted by Ryan at 10:48 AM | Comments (11)

March 20, 2006

Attack of the Killer Tuteurs

sunshine.gif
On sunny days, especially those first few gloriously warm and bright days of spring, TMK barrels out the front door as if she has a jet-powered rocket-pack strapped to her back. It goes something like this: 8:00am—she wakes up. 8:01am—she’s outside, weeding. There is no stopping her; she becomes the Ultimate, Focused Gardening Juggernaut and nothing else, not me, not food, not water, not Frankie, not the end of the world as we know it, registers on her radar. Over the years, I’ve reconciled myself to the fact that nothing I have to offer will entice her inside, that the sun is, effectively, “the other woman,” and that I could never hope to bitch-slap a ball of molten lava that is 900,000 miles in diameter and whose inner core burns at 10 million degrees.

Since TMK recently learned that her yard has been picked to be part of a local gardeners’ yard tour, things have gotten markedly worse, with this weekend’s gardening activities bordering on the extreme.

Knowing that I had lost her to “the other woman” for the weekend, I went about my lonely, scorned-woman’s business. On Saturday, I went home and then to the store. We’re talking a total of two hours, tops. When I arrived back at her house, this greeted me in the front yard:

trellis1.jpg

Yes, in less than two hours (in one hour, to hear her tell it), she had built a tuteur and installed it to hold up her local hummingbirds’ favorite fly-by dining spot, the honeysuckle vine.

On Sunday, I went to a Dulaan Knit-In (more about that later) and when I came home, this greeted me in the back yard:

trellis2.jpg

Because of the way these wooden structures just keep appearing, I’ve now developed tuteurphobia, the fear that a wood trellis will suddenly plow up from under the ground, beneath my feet, tossing me a mile and rendering me unconscious.

It could happen.

bluebar.gif

This weekend I went to a small Dulaan Knit-In, hosted by Neighbor Melinda, she who lent TMK her Louet.

Melinda_Dulaan.jpg

I never cease to marvel at how knitters who are complete strangers can, in ten minutes, feel like old friends. While I knew Melinda and Elaine, Dorothy and Nancy were new to me—but, hey, whutevuh. With the aid of some hot tea and lovely cookies and snacks, in no time at all we were chatting up a storm.

I think my favorite part of the Knit-In was the moment when I realized everyone, including me, was knitting a Cloud Hat—except for Melinda who was, however, knitting a Cloud Sweater!

A couple of pictures of the things we brought for Dulaan:

dulaanmelinda.jpg

dulaanmelinda2.jpg

(P.S. Denise in Kent wanted to know which Vogue the Dulaan article would be in. Denise, it'll be in the Spring issue which, according to Vogue Knitting's web site, will be on sale March 28.)


Posted by Ryan at 11:40 AM | Comments (18)

March 17, 2006

Fragmented-Topic Friday

shamrock.GIFHappy St. Patrick’s Day, Dear Readers!

This morning I learned how Seattleites differ, in yet another way, from the rest of the American citizenry. Being half-Irish, I was compelled to bring in to work today three boxes of celebratory doughnuts and, as a nod to the more health- and calorie-conscious here, although I was sure it would be mostly ignored, a bowl of celebratory fruit salad. Within half an hour, the fruit salad was gone…and the doughnuts had barely been touched. I suspect if I had brought in a bowl of cold, bland, slimy tofu cubes, they would have been gone even before the fruit salad. And a plate of dry rice cakes would have caused an out and out riot. I think I’ll open up a business selling horsehair shirts; it should do well.

bluebar.gif

You know those college fraternity pranks where, under the cover of darkness, the over-testosteroned and slightly inebriated men in Group A steal the mascot from over-testosteroned and slightly inebriated men in Group B and convince themselves they are men among men for having done so? Something similar to that, only without the men, the cover of darkness, the testosterone, or the alcohol has happened here. Washington has stolen Janine back from California! Actually, she came back under her own steam but, in an effort to feel like men among men, we Washingtonians have convinced ourselves we’ve conducted the knitting equivalent of a mascot abduction.

Janine, we are so happy to have you back! See you Monday at Ferals, and be prepared for me to start leeching that Fair Isle information out of your brain again like, for you Red Dwarfers out there, an emohawk.

bluebar.gif

A coupla entries ago, I wrote “[S]peaking of Dulaan, stay tuned for some exciting and fun news about the project!” Now that the cat is officially out of the bag, I can share!! Thanks to Lee Ann of Fuzzy Logic Knits, there will be a full-page article about Dulaan in the upcoming Vogue Knitting.

The most amazing part of all of this: When Lee Ann contacted me about writing an article about Dulaan, she said that Vogue had given her half a page, approximately 700 words. However, once she wrote the article and once she showed the Vogue editors the pictures of the Mongolian children that she wanted to include, they bumped her up to a full page and didn’t cut any of the pictures. I’ve spent enough time in publishing and marketing to know that that is unheard of. If anything, you lose space, you lose pictures, you lose words; they never give you more.

So, Dear Readers, keep an eye out for the article. You can’t miss it; the fabulous title, dreamed up by none other than Cuzzin Tom himself, is “Dulaan To Others.”

Thank you, Lee Ann, for making this happen!

bluebar.gif

To wrap up this rather fragmented entry, a Kooky Kraft. Last week, major newspapers carried articles about this freaky, newly discovered lobster. And, because crafters cannot and will not be stopped, someone has already made a stuffed-toy version.

Oh, and Carrie, the Wool Pak didn't have its band with it, so I can't help ya'. I even tried to look it up online but couldn't find that specific colorway. Sorry, punkin'.

Posted by Ryan at 11:09 AM | Comments (19)

March 15, 2006

Science Question of the Day: How Well Do Convertibles Float?

I was thoroughly amused by everyone’s expression of horror at the idea of a cement bridge that floats on water, disintegrates in winds over 40mph, and is one of the city’s main commuter routes. Perhaps I should also mention that even winds of, oh, say, 30mph will send water splashing up over the sides of the bridge onto your car—not gentle, dewy, refreshing sprinkles but, instead, robust and manly waves which fall onto your car from great heights, drenching your windshield, and making startlingly loud percussive sounds on the roof of your car. I kid you not.

But, Christina is, apparently, a True Washingtonian because in her comment she said, and I quote, “I laughed when I thought about the huge traffic difficulties it was going to cause for everyone.” As a True Washingtonian, Christina knows that disintegrating bridges are business as usual, that all you can do is roll your eyes and smirk, and that commuters will not take offense at your amusement. After all, let’s not forget Galloping Gertie:

- .avi version
- .mpg version
- Quicktime version

Or our second floating bridge, I-90, which sank in 1990 because someone, essentially, left a door open.

Or our third floating bridge, the Hood Canal bridge, which sank in 1979.

Or the Monorail, the two tracks of which were built too close together for the monorail trains to pass each other, which is why this happened recently.

Or the time they repaved one of the major downtown intersections with decorative bricks but decided—why, Lord, why?—not to use any mortar which meant that, mere days after the reopening of the intersection, large and deep undulations formed, which immediately filled up with one to two feet of water, hundreds of bricks popped up and out, and the road was rendered impassable.

Like Christina, TMK and I consider this all a great source of amusement, because what can you do, citizens of Washington, what can you do?

You can knit, that’s what.

Since I had so much fun knitting this, I immediately started on another one. I am using some VSY (Very Special Yarn) donated to me specifically for the Dulaan Project, a fantastically gigantic ball of chunky Wool Pak in rich, deep, variegated jewel tones of deep purple, mauve, tangerine, peach, pink and magenta. I am finding, however, that because the yarn is chunky, and the pattern calls for worsted weight, I'm following the instructions for the medium size but am getting, not surprisingly, a sweater which would fit a small football player.

yummycolors.jpg

reallyyummycolors.jpg

Note to Naomi: Per your request in your comment, I've changed the Naomi on the list to "Naomi Kate" and added another "Naomi" to make sure everyone in my army of knitters gets credit for his or her hard work! Thank you to you and the "other" Naomi for your participation!

Also, you asked where our 2006, seemingly arbitrary goal number of 4,518 came from. You're right in that it was based on last year's number of 4,517. When F.I.R.E. and I decided to do Dulaan for a second year, I really wrestled with what our new goal number should be. On the one hand, we had more time before our deadline this time around, but, on the other hand, I didn't know if Knit for Kids was going to contribute hundreds of sweaters the way the did last year, so I wasn't sure whether the number should go up, down, or stay the same. Then my dear friend MaryB suggested 4,518, a mere one item more than the year before, and I knew instantly that that was the right number.

Question to everyone: I have been getting a few comments lately from readers who say they try to comment but can’t. If you’ve been experiencing this, please let me know.

Posted by Ryan at 12:09 PM | Comments (23)

March 13, 2006

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle...

A word of advice to those in search of a mate: Physical attraction and a compatible personality? Pshaw. Highly overrated. Look, instead, for someone who likes is as obsessed with gardening as you are with knitting. A case in point: My dahlia bed. Two weekends ago, it was a weed-infested, grass-choked, quasi-Amazonian jungle. At night, if you stood near it and were quiet, you could hear the hoots of monkeys, the screeching of exotic birds, and the rustle of rapidly growing vines. By the end of this weekend, however, it looked like this, weed-free, blanketed in a thick layer of fertile mulch, and ready for the dahlia tubers which are wintering over in the garage:

weededgarden.jpg

And, lah, I didn’t have to lift nary a manicured finger. What did I have to do in return? Buy TMK a $2.00 latte. Score!

(Note, however, the suspiciously weedy greenery under the rose bush. TMK said, emphatically and with arms akimbo, she draws the line at weeding near attack-roses with sharp thorns and, besides, that was all my measly $2.00 was going to get me.)

And I suppose this story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning that, after this, she did my taxes. She rocks.

Now, lest you think I'm just a natural-born “taker,” remember this?

euww.jpg

Also as of this weekend, thanks to TMK’s and my combined efforts (see, I'm only 95% a taker), it now looks like this:

roomhorizontal.jpg

No question, the room has “issues,” not the least of which is a wall so badly bowed out—and back in again—that the chair-railing had to be screwed in; a drapery rod with an “open/close” mechanism that quit working the instant we hung the drapes; and a gigantor night table that could be half the size and which needs a drawer, but we are still smugly pleased with the results. As is, as you can see, the dilettanteish Ivy.

And as is Frankie, now that she has discovered that the rug gives her enough purchase that she can jump on the bed by herself. Occasionally, however, she does miss and we are treated to the site of two huge ears, a puzzled and slightly startled face and two scrabbling paws disappearing below the edge of the bed. Those are the moments we live for.

bluebar.gif

Knitting Knews

What is the perfect antidote to a stranded-knitting sweater that is as fussy to tink as it is to knit up?

A Cloud Hat, of course! The simplest of the simple. The inane knitting to beat all inane knitting.

This weekend, after a thoroughly enjoyable stash-wallow—which, to an observer, would have looked much like a pig in a pig wallow, only cleaner—I combined some bright lemon-yellow Plymouth Encore with some carrot-orange mohair and, in 3.5 hours—or, in TV time, one watching of "Harry Potter: The Goblet of Fire" and of a coupla home-renovation shows—I churned out this, modeled by Ivy, whom we were able to lure away from her satin sheets and her bon-bons with the promise of her first modeling gig:

ivymodelshat.jpg

This hat looks very much like the surface of the sun during extreme sunspot activity. In fact, this weekend, everywhere I went with my knitting bag, cell phones and internet connections shorted out, car alarms went off, and automatic garage doors opened up. I have had a lot of explaining to do.

brighthat.jpg

bluebar.gif

An Introduction

I am thrilled to note that we have had a lot of new readers recently, especially since we posted the pictures of the Mongolian children receiving their knitted items. Which means, however, that some of you may be puzzled by the recent comments by some strange dude calling himself “Cuzzin Tom.” Now, you old timers know who Der Cuzz is, but for you newbies, here’s the 411:

Cuzzin Tom really is my cuzzin. In fact, here we are together during TMK's and my trip to Arizona last year: ryanandct.jpg

He is a Buddhist monk associated with the Kunzang Palyul Chöling monastery in Maryland, and is a devoted follower of Jetsunma Ahkön Lhamo.

Last year he had the opportunity to spend some time in Mongolia, working with the Mongolians as they rediscover their Buddhist roots after many years of Russian Communist rule.

During that time, he started his blog, Dreaming of Danzan Ravjaa.

Most importantly, however, he was the mastermind behind the Dulaan Project. The idea of getting knitters from all over the world to knit items for destitute and orphaned Mongolian children was 100% his brainchild.

Not to mention that, despite being a monk, he is a silly, silly boy who leaves wonderfully sarcastic, irrevent and thoroughly enjoyable comments on the blog.

Oh, and speaking of Dulaan, stay tuned for some exciting and fun news about the project!

Posted by Ryan at 11:44 AM | Comments (19)

March 10, 2006

Thank You, God!

The squirrels are breeding like…well, like rabbits:

manysquirrels.jpg

Jeezaloo, but this is a slow knit! I repeat what I said mid-way through the Olympics: “A Norwegian-style stranded sweater in 16 days, even a 3-month size? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, heee, heee, heee, heee, heee, ho, ho, ho, har, har, har!!!!!” It doesn’t help that I had to tink the third row of squirrels for an imbecilic reason that even other knitters would pooh-pooh but the problem (an unintentionally slipped stitch, c'est tout) had gotten under my skin and Would Not Let Go. And, yes, the squirrels did shriek and cry in anguish in as they were reduced to nothingness, sort of like the witch in the Wizard of Oz. It was not pleasant.

Nor does it help to learn now, 3/4 of the way into the body of the sweater, that the color you want to have stand out more, in this case, the gray, is the color you should hold in your left hand. Guess what I’ve been doing?

However, may I say more fervently than I have ever said in the last five years, thank you, thank you, thank you, God, for knitting, and above all for arranging it so that I had my knitting in the car with me during the Wednesday afternoon rush hour, when, immediately after I had merged my car onto the highway and had inexorably committed myself to going over the bridge to get home, the chirpy chicky-babe on the radio announced, “They’ve closed the bridge due to bad weather,” and it took me three hours to drive the 12 miles home, three hours which were made marginally better by being able to tink squirrel butts.

(Non-Washingtonians, what you have to understand about the bridge is that it is a floating bridge. It rests directly on the water. This means that on stormy days, it bounces insanely around on the choppy water, making it theoretically possible to get seasick while driving on a state highway. And during a real doozy of a storm, the bridge will literally start to break apart. This has happened on more than one occasion, no lie. The fact that they opened it?—ultimately a wise decision, even though I aged considerably between 4:30pm and 7:30pm that night.)

So, while I go look for a meme to send to Norma, I leave you with this insanely adorable site of a woman who makes silver replicas of children's drawings.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who expressed interest in a Dulaan Day. I will mull over the logistics of this and keep you posted.

Posted by Ryan at 02:07 PM | Comments (18)

March 08, 2006

UFOBOB

How to make yourself feel fat:

1. Get into your car and then use the seat-adjuster system to raise your seat up absolutely as far as it will go, until, in fact, the mechanism starts whining and grinding in protest.

2. Lift your butt up.

3. Pull up on the seat-adjustment button again.

4. Feel the seat easily and smoothly rise up another four inches.

How to make yourself feel good:

Read this number: 996.

Read it again: 996.

Say it out loud.

Clap your hands together and smile.

Do a little dance.

Grab a complete stranger and hug him until his face turns blue and he is gasping for breath.

That’s the number of items that F.I.R.E. has received so far!!! Way to go, y’all!!!

How to make yourself feel motivated:

Realize that we still need 3,522 items to be sent to F.I.R.E. before July 1 to reach our goal of 4,518. The good news is that I know that a lot of people are knitting feverishly out there, and that the number of items destined for Dulaan took a huge leap upward during the Olympics. That, and I, personally, have in my garage a large bin of items that have been given to me that I have yet to mail. (Yes, in my garage. It’s all part of the scam, folks, all part of the scam.)

Although I haven’t picked a particular day yet, I have this idea percolating in my brain that sometime during the next couple of months I should propose that a particular day be Dulaan Knitting Day and ask interested participants—which may well end up just being me—to start and finish one item for Dulaan on that day. Would you participate?

Speaking of Dulaan and hats and things that could be knit in one day, for me, one of the most satisfying and rewarding parts of Dulaan is discovering that knitters have designed patterns specifically for the Project like the Dulaan Easy-On Kid Mittens and Ken's Dulaan Hat and the Double-Thick, Super Warm Dulaan Hat and, now, thanks to Kay of Mason/Dixon Knitting, The Corrugated Dulaan Hat pattern (pdf). Thank you, Kay! What a kick those hats are!

On the non-Dulaan knitting front, I would like to propose a new acronym for an Unfinished Object, the UFOBOB: UnFinished Object Because of Buttons. Personally, I think a UFOBOB—a knitted item that is 100% complete except for the sewing on of the buttons—is infinitely worse than your garden-variety UFO because There’s Just No Excuse. I mean, you’ve done all the grunt work: All the pieces have been knit, they’ve all been seamed together, all the yarn ends have been woven in, all you need is ten frickin’ minutes, the buttons, and a needle, and—voila!—your UFOBOB will be converted to an FO, a finished, wearable, useable garment. Case in point: Remember these sweaters destined for the grandtwins of a co-worker?

sweaterbits.jpg

They have been languishing in UFOBOB status for, oh, 1.5 months now. I’ve even had the buttons all that time. Shame, Ryan, shame. But, phew!, this weekend I finally broke through the UFOBOB barrier…and, ta-dah!

greenpurplesweaters.jpg

Here, the silver star buttons on the purple sweater, in almost an electron-microscope close-up, thanks to TMK’s super-duper camera:

starbuttons.jpg

And, in another electron-microscope close-up, the pearl buttons on the green sweater:

pearlbuttons.jpg

Now, however, the sweaters are languishing in FONGTRBYWTTTTGWISAWA status—Finished Object Not Given To Recipient Because You Want To Take Them To Guild Which Is Still A Week Away. I did take them to work and wave them in front of the recipient but then snatched them away and said she could have them on March 16, the day after Guild. I have gone from being shameful to being heartless—definitely a lateral move.

Posted by Ryan at 11:06 AM | Comments (32)

March 06, 2006

Where Is Dr. Phil When You Need Him?

Over the last few months, I’ve discovered an instantaneous way to provoke The Mysterious K:

Put a pink bow on the dog.

frankiebow.jpg

Despite being sad and limp and frayed and raggedy, this bow is the closest thing Frankie has to a party dress so, whenever we have a special occasion, I slap it on her. (As you’ve probably figured it out by now, I’m not, by my very nature, someone who puts twee little outfits on her dog so, yes, I do this sophomoric thing specifically to vex TMK, not to pretty up the dog who, by her very nature, remains ever clueless.) Needless to say, this all quickly devolves into some good-natured eye-rolling, and as soon as I leave the room, TMK takes the ribbon off. And when TMK leaves the room... Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Unbeknownst to me, however, there has been a secret conspiracy afoot that recently tipped the pink-ribbon scale heavily in my favor. The Secret Pink-Ribbon Conspiracy all started when Elaine and Leslie came by a couple of weekends ago. Of course, the event very much qualified as A Special Occasion so on went the pink ribbon. When they arrived, Elaine and Leslie, who are dog people to the core, oohed and aahed over the ribbon, despite TMK’s loud and vehement protestations. We’all went on to have a high old time, knitting, talking and eating, they went home, and that was that. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to yesterday. Elaine and Leslie dropped by TMK’s to give me this, some beautiful hand-dyed yarn from Patti...

handpaintedfrompatti.jpg

…and to deliver this:

harlequin.jpg

TMK, I so win.

(What Elaine and Leslie did not see, however, was what happened thirty seconds after they left.)

bluebar.gif

On the knitting front, I am pleased to present The Higgledy Piggledy Hat, spun by TMK, and knit by yours truly.

handspunhat.jpg

There is one odd thing about the yarn—it is extremely springy and sproingy. The part knit in stockinette is as stretchy and elastic as the part knit in ribbing! Eh? What gives, spinners?

Posted by Ryan at 11:32 AM | Comments (25)

March 03, 2006

Scraping the Bottom of the Knitting Barrel

(Please, God, tell me that some other knitter has done something as ridiculous as this or, preferably, worse… Whoever it is, I will love him or her with an undying love until the end of my days.)

About a month ago, I decided to knit one of the sweaters for Guidepost’s Knit For Kids charity knitting program because they had been so generous to Dulaan. (Remember these children wearing KFK sweaters?) True, this is like taking coals to Newcastle, especially since KFK might simply turn around and donate the sweater to Dulaan, but it was a symbolic gesture I felt compelled to make. Since the single sweater pattern that KFK uses is tres basic—garter stitch, followed by garter stitch, followed by, hey!, more garter stitch—I felt multi-colored stripes would greatly up the entertainment value. However, I didn’t have enough different colors in the same yarn in my stash to make enough of a variety of stripes...

Gulp.

I can do this...

I can make this admission...

Which is why I knit the multi-colored sweater. Not to make something for Dulaan. Not to knit a sweater. Not to knit that particular pattern. Not to use the Quatro. Not to have something to knit in the car. But in order to generate more leftover balls of yarn. To generate more half-used stash. On purpose.

I feel so ashamed.

The only thing I’ve done that even closely matches this inanity was the time I put a ball of yarn, which had fallen into some garden mulch and which I had carefully picked clean, back into the mulch just to get a picture for the blog. Yes, it’s that sort of thing.

By the by, for those of you who are interested in knitting the multi-colored sweater and are planning on stash-diving for the yarn to make it, I made the 12-18 month size and I used about 1/2 to 2/3 each of three balls of Cascade 220—so, don’t quote me on this, but I would say you need about 110 to 145 yards each of three colors of worsted weight yarn to knit the largest size of this pattern. The back of the sweater and one of the front panels are the same color so you will use more of one color than the other two, hence the 2/3rds and the 145 yards vs. the 1/2 and 110 yards.

bluebar.gif

Quiet weekend planned. Tonight, we’re going to play pool and snack on ‘burgers with friends (although I have to say, these occasional visits to the slightly seamier side of town have lost a lot of their attraction ever since Seattle banned all indoor smoking. When you go to a bar, when you go to a “pool hall,” you expect to walk into, you anticipate walking into a room filled with a gray haze, a place that smells at least a little like underbelly, a little sordid, a little disreputable. That’s half of the fun, half of the pull. But, no, you could eat off the floor of this place, partly because it’s brand spanking new, and partly because of the ban. It’s just not quite the slummin’ we're used to. But at least they make up for it with the best day-um burgers in town.)

The rest of the weekend will be spent picking away at the house and the garden because we will be having Very Special Visitors during the first week in April—Rachael and Lala, the soon-to-be-newlyweds! They will be schlepping down for a few days during their stay in Vancouver, B.C. I suspect all four of us are thinking, “How slightly weird is this? We don’t even know each other!,” but I also suspect Janine, who has bounced back and forth between Seattle and California, has vouched to all of us for all of us. Besides—and I keep forgetting this—by the time they come up here we will know them because we will have been down to California for their first ceremony.

Now, I’m sure Rachael’s thinking—because she has, in fact, said this to me—don’t clean the house on our account but, Dear Rach, if you could see how much moss has grown on the driveway this winter... I refer you to the name of this blog. ‘Nuff said.

Posted by Ryan at 01:40 PM | Comments (17)

March 01, 2006

Of Sports and Spinning

Hear me emit a giant “d’oh!,” and see me pound my fist firmly against my forehead, leaving an unattractive red blotch. I can’t believe I forgot to post about this even though I’ve known about it for weeks: The Mariners’ “Stitch & Pitch” of last year was such a success that the Seattle Storm (our local women’s basketball team and the 2004 WNBA Champions!) has jumped on the sports-and-knitting-combo bandwagon. They will be hosting the cleverly named “Stitchin’ Up a Storm” event on Wednesday, June 7th, 2006, at 7 p.m. For complete information and to obtain tickets, see this pdf file.

But, in your pell-mell rush to get Storm tickets, don’t forget this year’s “Stitch & Pitch,” which, according to the Mariners’ site, will be held on Tuesday, July 25. (MaryB, you suggested trying to get Dulaan displayed on the “monster board” again this year, but it occurs to me that the Dulaan deadline will have come and gone by this time. Pooh.)

bluebar.gif

As I continue to churn away on the Higgledy-Piggledy Hat (squirrel sweater? What squirrel sweater?), TMK continues her Holmesian sleuthing into the world of spinning. On Friday, she would have told you unequivocally that her navy blue singles would forever represent the culmination, the apex of her spinning skills. On Saturday, however, she discovered (dum-dum-duuuum) blue faced leicester. And was a goner. In fact, she spun with it for three hours Saturday afternoon…and spent Saturday night wolfing down Ibuprofen to combat a severe case of bluefacedleicesteritis, commonly known as a kink in one’s back. But let the results speak for themselves:

BFL2.jpg

BFL_yum.jpg

Which'all makes it all the funnier that CarolineF left this link in a comment. Caroline, TMK’s blood-fiber limit is already 0.9, definitely above the Washington state legal limit of 0.08! No enabling, you naughty woman, you; no enabling!

And, yes, Anj, that is the BFL you sent TMK for...er...my birthday, which I still don't get. ;-)

We have also been collecting this, the ultra-rare fiber, Red-Faced Frankie Fur:

corgihair2.jpg

Methinks we still have some more collecting to do. Here, doggie, doggie, doggie! (Update: TMK just called and told me Frankie had herself a big ol' roll in some raccoon poo. Perhaps the brushing will have to wait...)

bluebar.gif

I want to send a heartfelt thank you, merci beacoup, gracias and danke out to all the people who made Dulaan knitting their goal during the Olympics. Whether you met your goals or not, thank you for helping F.I.R.E., Cuzzin Tom and me spread the word about the Mongolian children and their needs, since that is half the battle! Here is the list of names I found on Stephanie's Knitting Olympics page, plus more names I was able to find through some judicious surfing (be sure to click on the links; some show photos of wonderful Dulaan abbondanza):

Annie
Childe
Heather W.
Isela
Julia fc
Kate
Kay
KnitDad
Lavender (2 hats over her goal of 16!)
MaryLee
Nancy
Paperclips
Peggy
Shelley
Tish
Tracey
Wendy K.

Posted by Ryan at 11:23 AM | Comments (16)