June 28, 2006

Need. More. Cotton. Yarn.

I’m feeling so smug right now because, well, I’m a bloody genius. I’ve figured out the perfect way to prevent any and all post-operative pain. Just remove the entire back of the heel of your right foot with the bottom edge of the screen door and—voila!—your post-operative pain will be just a distant memory!

If the idea of slicing off the entire back of your heel doesn’t appeal, then try Plan B: Develop a new addiction. You know how They warn don’t try meth, don’t try crack, because one hit and you’ll be addicted for life, and your teeth and hair will fall out, and you’ll become forever sick and destitute and desperate? Well, meth and crack ain’t got nothin’ on knitted dishcloths.

When Mary Lee (Marylee? MaryLee? How do you spell your name anyway, girl?) sent me the Peaches & Cream cotton yarn, with it she included a note that hinted darkly at the addictive properties of dishcloths. It said, “For this, we can either thank or blame (depending on your private thoughts about dishcloths) Kay and Ann. I’m a convert. Love ‘em. They’re fun! Remember those tiny little Avon lipsticks samples [which I don’t, but let’s pretend I do, although I do think I remember tiny candy lipsticks, which might’ve been the same thing. Ed.]. Remember spirograph? That kind of fun!”

Poor Mary Lee/Marylee/MaryLee. I suspect that her teeth have already started to rot out of her head, her hair has lost its luster, her eyes have started to shine with a strange, crazed light, and she’s sitting, twitching, at a major intersection with a cardboard sign which says "Will Work For Cotton Yarn." How do I know this? Because within 24 hours of having received her gift, I had knit this…

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…and this…

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Indeedly-doo, they were borderline meth-like/crack-like fun, and are slated to be sent to “mother-in-law” as a thank-you gift for all her support while I was in the horse-pittle. I am now, however, out of any and all cotton yarn and am starting to jerk uncontrollably and drool slightly from the corners of my mouth.

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And so we begin week three of the Waco-like standoff…

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Posted by Ryan at 04:13 PM | Comments (30)

June 26, 2006

Narcotics Are Not Your Friends

I am sincerely hoping that the effects of the anaesthesia—which a nurse said can scramble the synapses of one’s brain for a considerable while—and the effects of the painkillers wear off soon, since last night I dreamt that, while I was on sick leave, my company demoted me to a taco maker—which is particularly curious since it’s a software company and has never, in anyone’s wildest imaginings, been a fast food joint—and that TMK left me and was dating…a goose. Yes, a goose. I dare any dream interpreters out there to make sense of these quasi-hallucinations about crispy-shelled Mexican food products and a big, fat, white farm bird who lives life on the risqué side. Needless to say, in said dream, I was Not Having a Good Day.

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Because I'm too skeptical of human nature to believe that such arrangements can play out fairly and equitably, I’ve never joined any of the online knitting exchanges such as Secret Pal, Better Pal, or Random Acts of Kindness—but that doesn’t mean I don’t, illogically, lust after every package of fiber, chocolate and books I stumble across on the blogs of the people who are participating. More proof that I’m the worst sort of Princess: Not a joiner but still infused with an overblown sense of entitlement. Ach.

However, this week, Mary Lee, she of Ohio and of the fleece-blanket-making, physically and mentally challenged children, blessed me with a completely unexpected and “unofficial” RAOK, a “get well” box chock full of wonderful treasures! Oh, frabjous day!

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Chocolate: The way to a woman’s heart, especially when it’s Toblerone and especially when said woman has just lost her partner to a goose. What can I say? Mary Lee knows me. And she knows that chocolate is the ultimate panacea. Fortunately, it is the type of medicine that needs to be taken internally.

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Three gifts in one: (1) A beautiful, scarlet-red bag, embroidered all over with gold thread...

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...containing (2) one skein of white and one skein of white-and-dark-pastel variegated Peaches & Cream cotton and (3) a dishcloth pattern. This is going straight on to the needles as soon as I finish the Never-Ending Guidepost Sweater for which I’m designing a (startlingly complicated) cuff.

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The book “Designing Knitwear” by Deborah Newton which hasn’t been more than five feet from me since I received it.

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But the chocolate, the bag, the yarn, the pattern and the book all paled in comparison to the one thing in the box that no Better Pal or RAOK participant could ever hope to receive—this year's photographs of Mary Lee’s “kids” making their 2006 Dulaan blankets. The photos are astoundingly moving and Mary Lee’s captions put both TMK and me right over the edge emotionally. As soon as we can, we will get these photos scanned and then both the photos and the captions posted to the blog. These images are killer. Cuzzin, stock up on the Kleenex.

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Mary Lee, thank you so much for my lovely surprise!!!!

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Elsewhere in our fiber lives, this sweater has been transferred from Rebecca, who knit it, to TMK, who is going to sew the buttons on.

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The story behind this sweater is this: At the last Dulaan Knit-In, a generous Dulaan supporter brought a large bag of yummy, kwality yarns to the party to donate to the cause. TMK saw a skein she particularly liked and immediately snagged it. (I think if she had been a dog, she would’ve peed on it.) However, she also immediately realized the one minor flaw in her scheme: She doesn’t knit. Hasn't. Doesn't. Won't. So she duly but sadly put the yarn back in the bag.

Rebecca, who had observed this little drama, then took the yarn and said that she would knit a sweater for Dulaan on TMK's behalf if TMK agreed to sew the buttons on. And that’s exactly how things are playing out: Rebecca knit the sweater, she brought it by this week, and today TMK bought these warm, brown, round cuties to finish it off.

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So, anyone out there who thinks our Dulaan number has gone up since the last time, raise your hand.

You’re not going to believe this, Brigadiers:


6,154!!!!!

1,636 items over our goal with 1 week to go. I feel faint.

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Ahem.

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Posted by Ryan at 01:16 PM | Comments (22)

June 21, 2006

Thank God for Books, Thank God for Knitting

How to know when you are getting better:

Day 1: Ow.

Day 2: Ow.

Day 3: Ow.

Day 4: Ow.

Day 5: Ow. Hey, is that chocolate?

How to tell when you’re spending a superhumanly huge amount of time in bed: When you packed four, not-one-stitch-cast-on knitting projects, it’s five days into your “laying in” with five weeks to go…and two of the projects are done.

One of said projects was this, a Noro Kureyon scarf you knit using two skeins of the same colorway, alternating between skeins in such a way that you generate constantly changing yet complementary stripes. (The tumor-like excrescence on the lower left is an occurrence of a "thick," à la thick and thin, that cropped up at the most inopportune moment.) This scarf, my first completed item for Dulaan 2007, was a total kick in the pants; I’m itchin' to make another one! (Speaking of itching, does Kureyon soften up with washing? Please, God, say it does.)

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The other project, which is 99.9% complete, is this, the first item made from the “Rosemary Hallgarten Company 1000-Skein Yarn Avalanche:”

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It has been dubbed Der Helmet, and is so bulky and warm that surely, sometime in Winter 2007, the Mongolian recipient will, in the middle of a bitterly cold, Gobi Desert blizzard, claw it off his head and utter the immortal words, “Is it hot out here, or is it just me?” And Cuzzin Tom, F.I.R.E, and I will know our work is done.

Speaking of the "1000-Skein Yarn Avalanche," I received two more boxes of yarn (with six or seven more to come. Oy.) and they included new colors. The exact colors are lost in the mists of anaesthesia but the gold/ochre/burnt-carrot color you see above is one of them (plus I used a little bit of the bright yellow). I do believe there was also a nice creamy beige in the last box but, once again, blahblahblah, anaesthesia, blahblahblah, surgery, blah.

To answer some of the comments:

Tish: For Frankie's first birthday, we took her to a local farm where you can have your dog tested for sheep-herding abilities and were gobsmacked when our goofy, huge-eared, lolling-tongued doofus of a dog immediately herded her three sheep into their pen. Oh, that's how selective breeding works!

Carrie: There's no 'splainin' this blog software. It remembers some people's info and yet others, not so much. I've had the same experience with blogs I read so I feel for ya', sister, I do.

Gerald: 102 items?!! I had no idea you had such a hive of busy-ness going over there in Ohio (did I get the state right?) And thank you to everyone for your reports of the boxes and envelopes that are winging their way to Arizona as we speak. Yes, I suspect we will break 5,000! Who woulda thunk it?

Cuzzin Sarah: Please give the Mary Unit and the Georgie Unit a huge from-one-family-member-to-another "thank you" hug for their generosity. Those're some kids, Cuzzin! I say, let's keep 'em.

Tasha, the Erstwhile Yukoner: Smooches. Just smooches.

Minnie: Don't quote me on this, but I'll bet that items received one day late at F.I.R.E. will be included in this year's shipment. I've never been to their offices but I don't think they have large portcullis gates that will slam down at 12:01am on July 2. Er, at least I hope not. 'Twouldn't be very charitable- or neighborly like!

In the meantime, Dear Readers, the Battle Royale rages on:

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Posted by Ryan at 04:00 PM | Comments (20)

June 19, 2006

Climbing Up Out of the Fog...

One of TMK’s least favorite smells—we’re talking barf-o-rama—is that of canned dog food, especially warm out of a fresh can. But she has always taken comfort in knowing that she didn’t have to eat the stuff, just suffer in semi-silence while she scooped some from the can to the dog’s bowl. Taken comfort, that is, until Wednesday when we were exposed to the horror that is hospital meatloaf. Oh. My. Gawd. And it was the best choice on the menu. I can only imagine what a hospital tuna-fish sandwich would do to one's palate. At its best, all the hospital food tasted like adhesive and antiseptic; at its worst, Alpo flavored with adhesive and antiseptic.

But I’m home now, and feeling like one of the grandparents in Willie Wonka, all of whom lived and ate and slept and confabbed in the same bed. I’m surrounded by pillows, blankets, food, water, books, knitting, Kleenex, teddy bears, pills, pens, paper, and patterns. And beautiful bouquets of flowers, including this one brought by Elaine:

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Yep, that’s a fiber "bouquet:" Some funky, fun bright orange and bright green acrylic yarn skewered on straight needle "stems," some orange fish buttons and a lovely vase.

I’m doing as well as can be expected considering, as I wrote to Cuzzin Tom, that I feel as if someone cut open my stomach, put a hand blender in there and let ‘er rip. But I’m staving off the pain with an interesting cocktail of painkillers, more painkillers, anti-nausea medications, and anti-constipation medication. Oh, I feel so lovely, the belle of the ball, the belle, I tell you.

TMK is being the perfect Florence Nightingale, preventing me from doing the 15 stupid, stitch-ripping things I would already have done had I been alone. She and Frankie have both been scuttling around, nipping at my heels and barking (or, in TMK’s case, yelling, “No, no, no!") every time I try to pick up something heavier than a feather. My most favorite thing that TMK's doing is that, instead of getting me a bouquet, every time she goes into the yard, she is cutting and bringing back in one more flower to add to a vase. First it was a day lily which lasted, er, a day; then came a campanula, followed by a sprig of penstemon and, an hour ago, a rosebud. I never know what the next flower is going to be and the whole thing has been a pantload of fun.

Speaking of fun, Dear Readers, I have a number for you:

Four thousand six hundred and eighty six.

That’s our current tally of Dulaan items received, 168 items over our 2006 goal of 4,518!!!!!! And I know there is a mini-avalanche of boxes yet to come, including 6 boxes recently mailed by my aunt (the Cuzzin’s maw) and her cohorts in Vermont.

And I have another fun number.

Five hundred.

That’s the amount of money we’ve gathered through Café Press and mini-fund raisers and which I’m sending to F.I.R.E. this week!!

Lastly for you, a picture of the only "person" who is really enjoying the current state of affairs. Because we had to rearrange the beds and the bed linens for my convalescence, the goose-down comforter was folded, put on the floor, and immediately claimed by Her Ladyship. Any bets on whether we're getting it back?

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Posted by Ryan at 06:02 PM | Comments (40)

June 12, 2006

Yarn on Steroids

[June 13, 2006: This blog is on a (hopefully) short hiatus while the blogmistress recovers from surgery.]

Three things you don’t want to hear in the operating room:

1. “Oops.”

2. “That can’t be good.”

3. “Catch that before it gets…! Nevermind.”

One thing you don’t want to watch immediately after surgery: The outtakes from the movie version of the “The Producers.” The movie itself was okay (mostly it felt like a flat, one-dimensional videotape of the play) but the outtakes had us gasping for air, wiping our eyes on our t-shirts, and begging for mercy. That woulda’ killed the stitches, man, killed ‘em.

Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for your well wishes. Fortunately, I am blessed with a great support system: TMK, my “mother-in-law” who is coming to put cold compresses on TMK’s head during the surgery, my out-of-this-world-supportive genetically related sister, my equally supportive online and offline knitting “sisters,” and a cuzzin who has promised to send healing Buddhist vibes my way. A girl can’t ask for more.

Here, further proof that TMK will do anything to get me blogging again prontissimo. Even as I was teasing that she might, perhaps, strap a pencil to my forehead while I was still under, she was out buying this, a new lighter laptop that would rest more comfortably on my stomach. (And you thought I was kidding.)

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I spent the bulk (pardon the pun) of this weekend acquainting myself with my The Dulaan Brigade’s yarn windfall. Here, a picture of the contents of just one side of the box (mind you, this box is wide and deep. You’re seeing, again, just half of the box plus, depth-wise, one of perhaps ten layers.).

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Three of the colors of the yarn which, as I mentioned in the last entry are a bright lemon yellow; a gray-ish robin’s egg blue; and a dark, almost black, slate blue:

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The last color, and proof for the Peanut Gallery Rebecca and Cuzzin Tom that some of the hanks are, indeed, large enough to cover even my entire upper torso:

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To give you yet another idea of the size of this first box, there are at least three of these hanks in the box. Fortunately, this yarn is respectably soft and will make some great garments.

Here, a photo of the terra cotta yarn next to an acrylic worsted so you can compare the weights of the yarns. It may not be quite super-bulky but it’s definitely in the bulky-chunky family.

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The other three colors are slightly scratchier and slightly lighter in weight than the terra cotta, so I did a swatch to see what we had to work with. I used size 13 needles and came up with a gauge of 2.5 stitches and 3.3 rows to 1” square. Did I measure it again after washing? Er, no. But I was happy to see that the washing definitely made it softer and more drapey.

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Enough for now, Dear Readers. Oddly, for the first time in the six years I've been here, work has chosen now to become insanely busy. So, ta for now, and I'll see you on the flip side...

(Afternoon Update: Nope, you couldn't get rid of me that easily. Just a belated note to let local Dulaan Brigadiers know that all the boxes went out this weekend, six of 'em, containing 174 hand-knit items including 125 hats, 16 scarves, 12 pairs of socks, 11 sweaters, 6 pairs of mittens, and 4 blankets. There were also 9 storebought items thrown in for good measure. Well done, everybody!)

Posted by Ryan at 12:16 PM | Comments (45)

June 09, 2006

Of Pains and Skeins

Don’t you just hate it when you have to be a Grown Up? You know, those moments when you have to make An Important Decision and then you realize to your unending horror that you’re going to make the Right Choice because it’s Sensible and Adult even though the Wrong Choice is easier and more fun and involves ice cream?

During a long conversation with Big Sister about this exact thing on Wednesday, I remembered the very first time I realized I had become a Grown Up (which has nothing to do with turning 18, by the way) and could no longer run to Mommy and Daddy when things went awry: The day I made my first dental appointment. When Nothing Was Wrong. It’s one thing if you’ve cracked a tooth on a popcorn kernel (or on something "mysterious" in a gyro sandwich, like I did) and are in excruciating pain and have to see a dentist right away nomatterwhat. That has nothing to do with being an adult. Hell, given the right amount of pain, even a 3-year-old will miraculously figure out how to dial 1-800-DENTIST. But when you make a six-month check-up appointment, and willingly subject yourself to the emotional and physical torture of the dentist's chair, just because it's the responsible thing to do, that’s the day you become a Grown Up.

Wednesday was one of those horrendous “Grown Up” days. My hope was that the doctor would march in and tell me unequivocally whether or not I had to have the surgery. I hoped he would either look at me sadly and say, "You are thisclose to death; you have to have the surgery immediately." Or look at me with a broad grin on his face and say, "The problem has disappeared. You are free to go." But, no, he took the coy route, saying that, since I am in no immediate danger, I could go along with things the way they are, or, since things are never going to get better, perhaps I should consider having the surgery done sooner rather than later because I’m not, well, you know, ahem, getting any younger. And no matter how much I batted my eyelashes, which wouldn’t’ve worked on this particular doctor anyway, and no matter how much I begged him to tell me what to do, he said the best he could do was talk it through with me so we could come to a decision Together. Together—suddenly my least favorite word in the English language.

So, knowing myself and knowing that I am (to use the most supremely nauseating of all cutesy sayings) the Queen of Denial and knowing that, if I didn’t have the surgery, I would just wait around until things got really bad, and then blame everyone else for why the surgery wasn’t done sooner, I took the Grown-Up route and scheduled the dentist appointment the dadblasted surgery, which entails a long recuperation.

Which means, Dear Readers, that starting next Wednesday, the postings to Mossy Cottage will become infrequent for a while because (a) I don’t know what the future holds and (b) how many cutely captioned photos do you really want to see of my blanket-covered toes sticking up at the end of the bed? However, since the blog seems to be extremely important to TMK (sometimes, I think, even more than it is to me), I suspect she will do whatever she can to get me blogging again ASAP. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if I struggled up out of the anaesthesia to find a laptop carefully propped on my stomach, sutures be damned, and my fingers held in position over the keyboard by a certain someone.

For now, I’m just left with one thought: I want my Mommy.

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Now to a story I have been dying to tell all of you.

Remember how, in my April 28 entry, I talked about the Rosemary Hallgarten rug company and its desire to donate yarn to the Dulaan Project and how I had no idea how much yarn they were going to donate or where I was going to store it? Remember how I envisioned stacking yarn way on up into the 25-foot-high A-frame of my home?

Well, strap yourselves in, girls and boys.

Are you strapped?

Okay, here we go.

1,000 skeins.

Yep, 1,000.

One. Thousand.

I have no idea what that really means. Are they small skeins? Are they big? What colors are they? Are they really alpaca? And, as ever, where am I going to store them? And what am I going to do with them? And is it too much to ask TMK, who will already have her hands full playing nursemaid to me while I do my best Norma Desmond, to also be responsible for 1,000 skeins of yarn?

News at 11.

(Actually, news now. I wrote this yesterday, not knowing that when I got home, the first of four homongous boxes would be squatting on my doorstep. On the downside, it's not alpaca. Also on the downside, it's not terribly soft but it is definitely useable. On the upside, it is 100% wool. On the even upper side, it's super-bulky (which was the biggest surprise) which will knit up fast and is perfect for -40 degree Mongolian nights. On the even upper-upper side, the colors are great: Just solids, but a fun, bright yellow; a grayish robin's egg blue; a beautiful dark slate blue; and a rich terra cotta.

Most of the yarn is already in smaller, manageable skeins. The terra cotta, however, is in unimaginably huge and hefty hanks that you have to haul up with both hands (preferably with legs spread and knees bent and while wearing a weight-lifting belt) and which are larger than my entire upper torso, no exaggeration.

And this was only Box #1. Oy.

As it now stands, the plan for this yarn is twofold. One, I'm toying with the idea of having a local Dulaan Yarn Giveaway Day, which will involve knitters just dropping by with their U-Hauls and weight-lifting belts to take away however much of the yarn they can use. For people in other states, I'm considering charging the cost of the "all it can hold," one-price U.S. Postal Service mailing boxes and mailing them as much of the yarn as I can cram in the box. Currently I believe these boxes cost $8.10.

Anyway, this is way down the road, after I have returned to civilized society and after we have officially launched Dulaan 2007.

I will be posting on Monday so I'll make sure to include some photos.)

Posted by Ryan at 10:49 AM | Comments (40)

June 05, 2006

Boxing Day

(No posting on Wednesday, Dear Readers. I will be finding out if my unexpected rendezvous with a morphine drip will morph (pardon the pun) into a not-so-unexpected rendezvous with the surgeon's knife next week. Blech.)

This weekend was the great Dulaan Packing Weekend, which had the potential to lead to a titanic clash of TMK and Ryan’s working styles because, well:

How TMK Would Have Packed

She would have:

Sorted everything by garment type.

Sorted everything by size.

Packed the boxes.

Taped the boxes.

Filled out the forms.

Put the forms in their respective envelopes and addressed the envelopes.

Taped the envelopes to the boxes.

Taken the boxes to the post office.

Been done in 2 hours.


How I Would Have Packed

I would have:

Run my hands through the big piles of knitted items, squeezing and petting the fibers and enjoying the colors and perhaps even hugging an item or two to my chest or rubbing them on my cheek.

Slowly sorted everything, lingering over each item to:
Remember who knit it.
Remember where we were when she gave it to me.
Try to figure out what yarn was used.
Try to figure out what pattern was used.
Try to figure out if I had ever knit something like it.
Decide if I might want to knit one for Dulaan 2007.

Once I had all the hats sorted out, I would have tried on every one of them. Now, officially (make finger quotation marks as you read that), this was to determine size, adult v. child, but that didn’t explain why one of the hats stayed on my head for 15 minutes, and another one for half an hour. And another one for an hour.

Once the sweaters were sorted, I would have looked at the ones I knit and reminisced about the making of them, where I got the yarn, where I found the pattern, how much fun I had knitting it, and imagine a Mongolian child wearing it. I would also have held up the particularly small sweaters and said, “Squeeeeeeee!”

Once the socks were sorted, again, “Squeeeeeeeeee!”

Every time I found something particularly precious or beautifully knit, I would have had to storm into the kitchen, interrupt TMK’s reading, and insist that she looklooklook!

I would have filled out the forms but, being a perfectionist (when it comes to writing, if nothing else), every time I made a mistake, I would've thrown the form away and started on a new one. And if I made another mistake, again, new form. (Which explains, TMK, why I had to use your photocopier. Oh, didn’t I explain that part?) And this would have happened frequently because I would not have sorted the garments very efficiently in the first place and, as the hours progressed, I would have continued to find the onesy-twosy socks, sweaters, mittens, what have you, that I hadn’t found the first time around.

I would have packed the garments in the boxes but then quit because I wasn’t really in the mood to wrassle the tape twice around them this way and twice around that. Besides, wasn’t it time for me to have some tea and do some knitting?

This would have taken me two days and I still would not have been done.

Pop quiz: Who did the packing? And who are you more like, TMK or me?

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After the great neckband-sleeve disaster of Ought Six, I frogged until my fingers bled and redid all the seaming and the bands for the Variation on a Theme Sweater.

The original (which is actually a dress).

My version:

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I am really thrilled with it. The armholes could be a little deeper but since this was destined for Dulaan 2006, I called it a day. It is now resting quietly in one of the boxes above. I hope.

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Some important Dulaan reminders:

1. Nothing should be mailed to me. Everything should go to the F.I.R.E. offices at

F.I.R.E.
107 N San Francisco Street, Suite 4
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001-5243

2. To help F.I.R.E. volunteers with their sorting and organizing, if you are shipping a box to F.I.R.E., make sure to tape to the outside of the box an envelope containing a list of the contents of the box, including the size of each item. (You can write F.I.R.E.’s address on the front of the envelope and use it as the mailing label.) I have provided this form to help but you can do whatever works for you.

3. The deadline is July 1, which means the items need to be in F.I.R.E.'s offices by that date; that is not the date when you should ship your items. But do not fret; any items that arrive late will be sent in 2007.

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Notes to my Dear Commenters:

1. I have an email in to Meredith to find out what more we can do with the movie. They may want to wait until it has been finished and has premiered at Telluride before we trot it out again, but I'll find out.

2. As much as we would all like to knit teddy bears for the Mongolian children, I really wouldn't encourage this. While the teddy bears may warm the children's hearts, we are really focusing on warming their bodies. Besides, did I mention the compression machines? Can you imagine what that would do to a box of teddy bears? There would be stuffing and glass eyes everwhere. (Just kidding. I suspect they use the compression machines judiciously.)

3. Rose, I don't know if the bear in the movie was your Baby Bobbi Bear, but it could have been. It was dark brown and it was medium in size.

4. Ani Kunzang, thank you for your lovely comment from the heart! Who knew this project would explode this way? Konchog will tell you he knew but he's just sassy that way.

Posted by Ryan at 11:34 AM | Comments (20)

June 02, 2006

When I Forget, I REALLY Forget!

Cuzzin Tom (who is once again two-fistedly knocking back the airag in Mongolia) reminded me that I neglected to mention the most important part of the Dulaan Knit-In, the pre-release screening of F.I.R.E.’s movie, “One Steppe At a Time.” The half-hour movie will be premiered at a movie festival in Telluride, Colorado, but I was thrilled to be able to get an admittedly slightly-rough-around-the-edges draft copy ahead of time to show at the get-together.

I assumed, naturally, that the five minutes of the movie specifically about Dulaan would be the only part that would really draw me in but I was mesmerized right from the beginning. After all, there were two cameo shots of the Cuzz (who says that he will send anyone who asks a personal autograph for the special price of $4.99 plus shipping and handling); and an opportunity, finally, to see a picture of Meredith of F.I.R.E. whom I have never met (my first thought: So young for so much responsibility!).

The movie also gives a more complete “big picture” view of the Mongolians’ struggles, including footage of the veritable forest of gers (yurts) that has sprung up around the outskirts of Ulan Bataar, housing the nomads who are no longer able to live a nomadic life. A fascinating, touching and slightly nauseating segment shows volunteer doctors demonstrating to Mongolian nurses and doctors who work at a hospital without an x-ray machine how to test for broken bones with, amazingly, a stethoscope and a tuning fork. There is also some very moving footage of a destitute widower with four children living in one of the remote regions outside of Ulan Bataar who was reduced to tearing up the wooden floors of his home to sell for money and food. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, “I had to sell everything I had.” No, actually, until you're living like that man and his family, you didn't.

All of this tragedy was counterbalanced, though, by the footage of the children in the orphanage and kindergarten receiving the Dulaan boxes. In one shot, an adult opens a large box of knitted items and the children crowd around, looking curious but still somewhat disengaged. Then, although you can’t hear it, one of the adults must explain that the items in the boxes are for the children because the looks of detachment are instantly replaced with ear-to-ear grins and sparkling eyes and searching looks in the adults’ faces for confirmation that this is indeed true…and a fight immediately breaks out over the first thing removed from the box, a knitted teddy bear. It was wonderful.

The best moment was, however, when a sweater knit by MaryB, who was sitting Right There In The Room With Us, was taken out of the box and was claimed by a child. That was the ultimate “circle of life” moment for me, what we have all been working so hard toward for the last two years.

(Okay, okay. If you held a gun to my head, I would say that it is possible that that moment ran a close second to the footage of the giant compressor squashing clothes down so more of them can fit in the shipping containers. Oddly, that elicited more “oohs!” and “aahs!” than anything else in the film. Oh, but we are easily entertained.)

Although I don’t know if this is possible, when the movie is finished, I’m hoping to try to show it here in Seattle. Thanks to Elaine, I already have one possible venue. Meredith?

I continue plugging away on my three sweaters, although it looks as if the Variation on a Theme Sweater is the one that’s going to win a spot in the Dulaan 2006 shipment, with the GuidePost Sweater as the runner-up in case the first-place winner is unable to complete her its duties. Although this little boo-boo, which TMK noticed even before I did, set me back a coupla knitting hours. Yep, that's the front of the sweater and a sleeve sewn together with a neckband knitted on to the whole shebang. You read that right; a neckband knit on to a sleeve that wasn't supposed to have been attached to the front in the first place. NORma!

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Posted by Ryan at 11:36 AM | Comments (15)