July 31, 2006

A New Take on Cellulite

What the hot weather taught me:

If you sit for any length of time on a hand-knit, heavily cabled Aran pillow wearing nothing but a t-shirt and underwear, for hours afterwards your thighs and arse buttocks will bear ultra-detailed, exact and deep impressions of the cabling and the stitching. And, as the indentations wear off, it will itch like a muthah, and all pretenses to a delicate and sweetly mannered feminine self will fly out the window as you scratch your nether regions with the finesse of a gorilla.

Recently, however, the temperature dropped precipitously into the high sixties, thank you, Jaysus, which meant (a) I've gone back to wearing pants and (b) TMK had the energy to resume working on the Norma Project and was calm enough to venture into Manland without reflexively slapping the first man she saw, which was good because, you know, he would've slapped back and then she would've slapped back again and then there would've been police and trip to the jail and bail and, oh, the whole thing would've been a mess.

As of this writing, she has avoided The Big House and has, instead, directed her energies toward adding most of the crushed rock base (about half a yard) to the hole and now needs but a couple of bags to finish the job. Frankie expressed her continued resentment of the Norma Project by immediately pooping on the new rock when she thought no one was looking. Given the location of the poop, we're convinced that she deliberately and precisely positioned her little heinie over the edge to do the job, even to the point of squatting a few inches away and then backing up until she had it Just Right. (Sorry, Norma; no reflection on you. I don't think.)

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I have slowly and hesitantly continued to pick away at the bulky yellow vest design, and have this so far:

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The armhole ribbing flares rather unattractively but I think I may have neglected to go down a needle size when I knit it. I'm also toying with the idea of doing an i-cord edge instead. What do you knitters think? (I'm hoping you'll all say, "Bad, bad idea, Ryan," because do I know how to do a knitted-on i-cord? Uh, no.)

(To give you an idea of what it's like to work with yarn this bulky, each side of the front of the vest is knit using only 16 stitches; by the time you've decreased for the armhole and the v-neck, you're down to 7 stitches; and the current (experimental) armhole ribbing consists of only three rows. If this ain't a quick knit, I don't know what is!)

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Blog-wise, the next two or three weeks will continue to be spotty, although I am back at work. Since some of the major "guts" of our office building are being replaced, we are all temporarily being housed in one large room, meaning my opportunity to post anything, to sneak a peek at the comments, or check my email will be greatly diminished. However, I will see what I can do. I can always attempt one or two "drive-by bloggings" at TMK's house using TMK's laptop which was, by the way, the ultimate lifesaver during my recuperation. In fact, I spent so much time in the room where she had it set up that after a few days we were referring to the room as the Opium Den. Will post when I can, Dear Readers!

Posted by Ryan at 11:41 AM | Comments (20)

July 26, 2006

Ever Voluntarily Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap?

(Afternoon Update: If you've popped over here from Norma's blog, I still have all of the yarn left. I need to look in the boxes and figure out what I have before I start the giveaway.

Two notes: (1) All of the yarn is chunky/bulky and is of medium quality, not terribly soft but not terribly scratchy either. (2) You'll need to pay postage, although I'll do whatever is most economical for you. (2) Due to a tax arrangement between F.I.R.E. and the company that donated the yarn, the yarn will HAVE to be used for Dulaan.

While I gear up for all of this, please keep me in mind for your Dulaan yarn needs, and check here for the latest info!)

It has become painfully obvious to me that, compared to what some other folks—like commenter Beth in Saint Louis—are suffering through, TMK and I haven’t even come close to being planetary sh*t magnets for Lee Ann. Still, I continue in my very insignificant way. Take this, for example:

This is a photograph of the inside of TMK’s freezer:

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See the two bottles of frozen water? The one on the left (I repeat, the left) is mine. I’ve been using it to help me survive the recent days of Weather Hell, the record-breaking temperatures of which have made our local meteorologists pee their pants with giddiness. The bottle on the right (I repeat, on the right) is for the dog. During the hottest of the hot nights (and to reiterate what many other Seattle bloggers have mentioned: In this city, if you have air conditioning, you are considered a wussie and a pantywaist and, in some twisted way, an enemy of the environment. Therefore, if your house is 90 degrees at midnight, that’s the temperature it’s going to stay until the wee hours of the morn…when it goes down to 89.), we would give her her frozen bottle and let her lick it and slobber on it and nose it around with her slimy doggy nose and rub it all over the fur on the carpet that she had shed earlier that day. Oh, and bark at it with a high-pitched, frenzied bark. She sounded much like the giddy meteorologists, in fact.

I had explained the logistics of this all very carefully to TMK: Bottle on the left, mine; bottle on the right, Frankie’s. So you can imagine my reaction after I had asked TMK to get me my bottle, which she very obligingly did, and had spent a considerable amount of time slurping icy, refreshing water from it and clasping it in my hands and pressing and rubbing it against my forehead and cheeks and wrists, and had gone back to the freezer to put it back in its proper location…and saw this:

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You do the math.

Thank God we had made it a habit to wash the bottle off after doggie playtime or I’d be at the veterinary hospital now with rabies or worms or mange or something, and probably crammed into one of those tiny cages they keep the cats in. Then I’d be a planetary sh*t magnet, all right. The things we do for you, Lee Ann.

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Yesterday the big question was, is Ryan strong enough to go to Stitch & Pitch? I had no frickin’ idea, but I was determined to give it the old college try. Fortunately, (a) the temperature had dropped to a balmy 80 degrees and (b) we had wangled a ride with pals Elaine and Leslie so I didn’t have to face the prospect of an hour-long bus ride before schlepping through the city streets to get to the ballpark and up various escalators and stairs to get to Section 341, Row 20, Seat 2. (I say “fortunately” although half-way through the drive down, TMK and Leslie, who were sitting in the back, decided to serenade us with “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” sung the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” way. Loudly. And over and over and over. And over.)

Once we got to the ballpark, the biggest challenge was the endless stairs up to the Everest-ian location of our seats but I took it slowly, hunched over to protect my abdomen, hauling myself up by the handrail, and was rewarded with a faint smattering of cheers and applause from blog readers seated in the area who knew what it had taken for me to get up there. That was too funny.

Game-wise, apparently the Mariners had decided, as a team, to jump on the planetary sh*t magnet bandwagon since the Toronto Blue Jays opened a major can of whup-ass on them. It was not pretty. But I didn’t care, since I spent most of the game knitting this:

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…and half-turned around in my seat chatting with Dorothy.

The best part of the game? When one of our local falcons flew by.

The most embarrassing part of the game? When I actually—no lie—looked up in the sky to see the informational banner they superimpose on the TV screen and which tells you the game stats. Needless to say, there was no banner. TMK found this vastly amusing.

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So after the ups and downs of the last five weeks, I’m packing up and heading out today, hoping to get myself reacclimated to hearth and home before I return to work on Monday. This means access to a computer will be sharply curtailed since I don’t have one at home, but I will check in whenever I can.

Thank you everyone for making my recuperation much more fun than it would otherwise have been.

Posted by Ryan at 01:56 PM | Comments (22)

July 21, 2006

Boin-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g!

A couple of years ago, I wrote about how the strangest part of being a blogger is that it can turn you into a Pseudo-Sim. Things that other bloggers or your readers write about or suggest or questions they ask can have a mysterious, marionette-like effect on your life—even from 3,000 miles away—and soon you find yourself eating scones because someone else did, posting photographs you never thought you’d post in response to questions from left field, and buying the yarn that someone else says is a must-have, never mind—and I still can’t wrap my head around this—running a knitting charity.

Three years into blogging, the Pseudo-Sim Effect continues.

Recently, Norma wrote about this book . Thanks to Norma’s suggestion and CoinStar’s devilish marketing ploy of converting your loose change into Amazon gift certificates, TMK, who considers Norma a gardening soul mate and who succumbed years ago to the evil that is online shopping, was doomed. As of last Saturday, she, too, owned the book.

After a mere hour of perusing the Encyclopedia, TMK got a maniacal, possessed look in her eye, shot up from the kitchen table, barreled outside, and started this…

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the Norma Project, which, with the addition of some crushed rock, mortar, pavers, small fountain and comfortable chair, will become a little patio outside of her gardening shed:

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Before we could stop her, Frankie did do one spectacular face-plant into the hole which explains the now very deliberately positioned wheelbarrow. Although she has regained her composure, Frankie still takes every opportunity she can to punish the hole by peeing in it.

As for me, yesterday I hit the metaphorical Wall extraordinarily hard, much like a cartoon character which runs full tilt into a brick wall and then vibrates uncontrollably around the room, all googly eyed and going “boin-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g.” I’m much improved today, though, thank Gawd, since my carrot-on-a-stick, the second annual Mariners Stitch & Pitch, is next Tuesday. Unfortunately, it involves long bus rides back and forth, a trek to the stadium, many stairs to reach the nosebleed section, and three hours of watching a baseball game that the Mariners will invariably lose (did I say that out loud?). Anyone want to lay odds on whether I make it?

In the meantime, I have plowed through at least 15 books—including all five of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series —and finished the Staring Contest With Fate Sweater:

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Again, this was knit using WoolPak (the main body) and Berroco Foliage, which is 53% Wool and 47% Acrylic, perfect for the potentially itchy-scratchy necks and cuffs.

I’m also toiling away on the pattern for the bulky child’s vest which became a complete nightmare for this neophyte designer when she realized that she had to figure out how to decrease for the armhole at the same time as she decreased for the v-neck when the two had absolutely no mathematical relationship to each other whatsoever. However, all three pieces are now done and are ready to be soaked, blocked and laid out to dry in the astonishingly hot 95 degree weather we are having today. Photos anon.

Posted by Ryan at 02:17 PM | Comments (16)

July 19, 2006

O Canada!

Today's entry is dedicated to my heroine, Tracey from Canada. Thanks to a timely comment from her, I now know we received Dulaan contributions from every province and every territory in Canada. I am so terribly, terribly impressed, Canadian knitters. And to think I doubted you at first. Hell, I didn't even include you at first! What was I thinking?! I am ashamed.

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Saturday morning I got out of bed, was overcome by a wave of dizziness, and walked straight into the bedroom wall.

Dude. “The Wall” was strictly meant to be a descriptive metaphor; I wasn’t supposed to actually walk into one. Sheesh.

Worse yet, I did it again yesterday morning. The dizziness, she is not so much fun. However, I happily thumb my nose at it since TMK and I are making a concerted effort to help Stephanie draw the universal bad karma toward the blogging community and away from Lee Ann. So far, so good.

To illustrate:

On my end: This weekend I was uber excited about designing the child’s vest made from the bulky/chunky yarn, despite the fact that, design-wise, I know just enough to be dangerous. I grabbed some of the acid yellow 1000-Skein-Avalanche yarn, gleaned some likely measurements for a vest from a book, and took out my largest circular needle and measured it. My trusty little measurer reassured me with great decisiveness that the needles were, indeed, a solid size 13. Slick.

I knit the entire back of the vest, taking careful notes as I went—because, hell, I can't even remember where the bedroom wall is—and cast off.

Then something compelled me to look at the needles, which is when I saw the big, fat number “11” and, I will go to my death believing this, heard a cosmic Bronx cheer, all of which meant I had just succeeded in knitting The Vest Back That Wouldn’t Bend to go with The Warm Wooly That Wouldn’t Bend (is it just me, or does that sound a little obscene?) and the Scarf That Wouldn’t Bend. I am starting to think I am of no use at’all to our Mongolians except perhaps to ones who need firmly knitted girdles or hernia trusses.

On Lee Ann’s end: Her aneurysm is gone.

See how that works? She does, however, have 2 months of recuperation ahead of her so, bloggers, if we do our jobs right, the next two months should be absolute hell for the rest of us. Yippeee!

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Despite the dizziness and despite the fact that I’m still 1.5 weeks away from the end of my recuperation, thanks to TMK and knitting enablers who are willing to play chauffeur (although I have yet to convince anyone to wear a uniform and allow me to sit in the back, sipping champagne, playing endlessly with the button that makes the privacy divider go up and down, and doing rude things through the moon roof), I’m still managing to get into trouble.

Behold:

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I was just exaggerating before but I now do, indeed, own more than yarn than God. But he says he doesn’t mind because lately he’s been more interested in watching his new flat-screen TV than knitting anyway. Although he hasn’t yet decided whether he’s going to Rhinebeck or not. Depends on if he can get a cheap ticket.

The brightly colored skeins are my first introduction to Malabrigo, Uruguayan pot-died merino:

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Similarly, the jewel-toned skein is my first introduction to the products of the Greater Adirondack Yarn Co.:

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The flecked pine green, warm yellow and warm brown yarns are my first exposure to Cascade Yarns Tweed:

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Cumulatively, my feelings for these yarns are too explicit for a blog like this that has readers of all ages.

With Dulaan in mind, I also threw some Paton’s into my shopping bag, but I refuse to admit feeling warm all over for some yarn that is 75% acrylic. Even if I did. Which I don’t. Much. Shut up.

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Posted by Ryan at 10:52 AM | Comments (17)

July 14, 2006

I Now Own More Yarn Than God

While I’ve been grappling my way over The Wall, a wall of a different sort has been quietly growing in my garage, like a forest of giant mushrooms:

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There it is, Dear Readers: the 1000-Skein Yarn Avalanche. To put things in perspective, the stacks of boxes are taller than my 5’ 4” head. And one entire stack doesn’t even appear in the photo (although you can see the corner of it on the lower left-hand side of the photo, and, yes, the box in front of the bureau also contains yarn).

So…

HELP! SOCORRO! M’AIDEZ!

As soon as I’m recovered enough, I’ll be starting the 1000-Skein Yarn-Avalanche Giveaway, so keep an eye out for various and sundry announcements. For fear of ripping an abdominal stitch or ten, I haven’t looked in all of the boxes but the colors seem to run from an almost-black navy blue to a yummy periwinkle (which may mysteriously “vanish” before the giveaway) to a robin's egg blue to terra cotta to an acidic yellow to beige; something for everyone.

The yarn is definitely industrial strength, not scratchy like Lopi but certainly not alpaca soft. It’s perfect for layered wear, like vests and cardigans, and for hats. Mixed with something softer, it would make a great super-bulky/polar weight scarf or pair of mittens.

I have also learned that it should be knit using least size 13 needles. How do I know this? Because I've been knitting a Warm Woolies Vest with it on size 11s…and the vest is giving the Scarf That Wouldn’t Bend a run for its money. Woe be to the poor child who gets this vest. His ability to run and jump and play reindeer games will be immediately and severely curtailed, as will his ability to breathe. But he'll be warm, by God! Half-strangled and completely immobilized, but warm!

Fortunately, the Vest That Won’t Bend has inspired me to design a different kind of child’s vest that uses this weight of yarn. If it works out, I’ll publish it on the blog.

And, now, as a reward to all of you for being so kind and supportive to me over the last few weeks, I will embarrass myself by posting the kind of picture that I swore I would never post, one of me in bed.

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In my defense, this was a Wall Day. I had, with all the best of intentions, gotten up, eaten breakfast, even gotten dressed (which explains the flannel shirt)—and whammo!—a major attack of the Wall, so I floundered my way back to bed. However, about half an hour later the postman arrived with a surprise box of "get well" goodies from Becca which is why I manage to look so pale and yet so ecstatic at the same time. I am clutching to my chest a skein of pink Cascade 220 which, according to all the major medical tomes, is the perfect antidote for post-hysterectomy pain. Becca, how did you know?

Posted by Ryan at 04:02 PM | Comments (20)

July 10, 2006

The Wall

Three and a half weeks into my confinement and things are starting to look up. The industrial-strength, "Alienesque" tummy ache is a thing of the past, although I still approach even the mildest, most unassuming of foods, like milk toast or oatmeal, with great trepidation and a pointy stick.

I am also learning about my newest enemy, The Wall.

Other women who had undergone hysterectomies (yes, that's what all this unholy fuss is about; the, er, “baby factory” has been closed thanks to almost 7 lbs of fibroids. I know—Eeeeuw. And TMI. Sorry.) and the two surgeons who performed the procedure had mentioned the exhaustion that follows the surgery. But I assumed it was your garden-variety exhaustion: It was brought on by doing more than your body was ready for; it came upon you mostly at night; and could be resolved with a good snooze. However, I am here to tell you there is nothing “garden variety” about The Wall.

First, the onset of a Wall attack is highly unpredictable and the effect, when it hits you, is immediate and absolute. The Wall feels like…okay, imagine that you are the most excruciatingly bone-tired you have ever been.

Then imagine eating a huge serving of Thanksgiving turkey and having all of that sleep-inducing tryptophan course through your bloodstream.

Then getting hit in the head by a 2’ x 4’.

Then being tackled by the entire Raiders football team.

And then the coup de grâce… Spock gives you a Vulcan nerve pinch.

Ta-da! The Wall: the reason why recuperation takes six weeks, and the reason why, even now, I can drive only a very little bit, since it's entirely conceivable that I could drive the half-mile to the post office, hit the Wall, and not be able to drive home. Then You Know Who would have to come rescue me and she would not like to have to do that. And also the reason why she is driving me to Ferals tonight, so I don't hit the Wall and end up with a double-pointed needled shoved smartly up one of my nostrils.

However, enough about me. Let’s turn our famous knit bloggers' and readers' energy toward Lee Ann who will soon be having surgery for a brain aneurysm (I can't believe I'm even writing that). My adventures pale in comparison. Lee Ann, send me your snail mail address so I can pass on some of the amazing support that has flowed my way over the last few weeks!

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The latest on the Nunavut saga:

As you Brigadiers know, it was my absolute Dulaan Holy Grail to be able to include in the Dulaan count a hat from the Canadian territory of Nunavut, the home of the North Pole. Thanks to the persistence of Jennifer, the efforts of her friends’ cousin Jessica, the knitting skills of Jessica's family in the Nunavut town of Iqaluit, the Canadian and U.S. postal systems, and F.I.R.E.’s attempt to reach 10,000 items…we pulled it off! A little late, but I think it’s still going to be okay.

Here, from Jennifer, pictures of The Nunavut Hat, which she reports is quite wonderful.

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A hat going from the North Pole (although I know Iqaluit isn't really that north; just work with me) to Mongolia. Fabulous.

(This means that the final result of the “50 State, 10 Provinces, 3 Territories, and 1 District” Project is, I believe, we received donations from all states (and D.C.) except Arkansas, Kentucky (Kentucky contributors heard from!!) and North Dakota (although I'd love for someone to prove me wrong) and all Canadian territories except Northwest Territories. Again, fabulous!

P.S. The latest number is 8,399.)

Posted by Ryan at 12:00 PM | Comments (35)

July 05, 2006

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's...Frankie?!

A story, one that always makes me larf: A long-ago employee had a large golden labrador who, for some reason, liked to climb up on the dining room chairs, probably, one assumes, scamming for crumbs. However, once the lab got on a chair, she was afraid to jump down again because the chair would shoot out from underneath her and scrape across the floor, making a loud noise as it went. The solution? Go up. Which is why the employee would frequently come home and find her large golden lab sitting forlornly on her dining room table, chandelier pendants gently brushing her head.

Imagine finding your dog sitting on a table! That would never happen to us! Our dog is too smart, too well-mannered, too…well, in a word, too short.

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Oh.

There is actually a logical, three-word explanation for why there’s a 28-pound Corgi sitting on our outdoor table: July 4th fireworks. During a particularly loud volley of (ahem–illegal) fireworks in our neighborhood, a terrified Frankie asked TMK to put her in her lap, which TMK gladly did. As soon TMK hoisted her up, however, Frankie had an attack of “the grass is always greener,” clambered up on the table and made a beeline for me, only to discover she wasn’t allowed in my lap because of my recent lube & tune. Couldn’t be in my lap, didn’t wanna be in TMK’s; what to do, what to do. Oh, I know, I’ll just sit right here on the table itself, shedding and drooling. Lovely.

P.S. Frankie did not drink the beer. And even if she had, it's non-alcoholic so it would've had nothing to do with her new-found ability to levitate.

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What do you do when (a) your partner wants to leave the front door open to let in the breeze but (b) says you have to keep the lights out because she doesn’t have a screen door and doesn’t want insects to get in and yet (c) you want to knit even though it’s pitch black in the living room, except, of course, for the flickering light from the video game?

You make a Cloud Hat,’natch.

And what do you do to keep yourself from going completely looney-tunes with boredom since it's the umpteenth Cloud Hat you’ve made and you could knit one even if in a permanent vegetative state?

You make your first striped Cloud Hat!

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Great fun, this one. I used some leftover purple and lime-green Cascade 220 (no surprise there) and some variegated Cascade Bollicine Sissi mohair which had the same shades of purple and green in it plus some other bright jewel tones, and churned out some fun, tweedy, contrasting yet matching stripes.

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Stalker Angie, send me your snail mail address! Pleeeeeeeeze?

Posted by Ryan at 03:03 PM | Comments (18)

July 03, 2006

Manna From Heaven

Oh, Dear Readers, Thursday and Friday were a mix of excruciatingly awful and, thanks to you, astonishingly wonderful.

As if we weren’t having enough fun, one of my painkillers decided to gnaw a hole in my stomach wall so I spent Thursday night back in the hospital attached, yet again, to various dripping saline solutions and liquid painkillers, and Friday being run through a gamut of tests which ultimately revealed painkiller, blahblahblah, stomach, blahblahblah, hole. (I have a cloudy recollection of doing at least one pantomime of the “the alien bursting out of the stomach” scene from “Alien” while lying on the hospital bed. Sure I was in severe pain, but a girl still needs her entertainment.)

I’ve been home for a few days now, headed, I hope, in the right direction healthwise since, at my worst, fresh Washington-grown cherries, perfectly toasted and buttered English muffins and even a surprise box of chocolates (more on that later) were paraded past me…and nothing. I just put my hand melodramatically on my forehead and turned my face toward the wall. For someone like moi, who can give Miss Piggy a run (or at least a slow, plodding, fat-jiggling jog) for her money, that was Not A Good Sign.

In the meantime, however, my spirits were kept way, way up by a continuous shower of the most amazing get-well wishes, cards, flowers, and surprises including, thanks to my last woeful entry and to Ginger, MaryB, Stalker Angie and Elaine, enough cotton yarn to knit a 747:

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…some of which has already been turned into this…

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and this:

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(Do you think anyone would believe me if I told them that the Mongolians don’t need knitted clothing anymore but are, instead, in desperate need of thousands of cotton dishcloths?)

When I arrived home from the hospital, this “Easter basket in July” was waiting for me on the doorstep, containing some of the cotton yarn you see above, hand-knitted socks, chocolate, a handknit dishcloth, and a sweater for Dulaan 2007.

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But, wait, there’s more.

See anything different?

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I have not been the only lucky recipient of gifts. Dear Reader Gerlinde, dog-lover extraordinaire, has been carefully observing the standoff between us and The Obstinate Diva-Dawg and decided to resolve the problem by mailing Frankie her very own German down pillow, complete with removable, washable, zebra-themed cover. Gerlinde, thank you! The pillow is a very handsome addition to our household!

Thank you, everyone, for your kind wishes during the last 2.5 weeks. Three weeks and two days to go and I’ll be back to my insufferable old self, cross my heart.

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Okay, everybody is allowed to read this section except MaryB. She knows why.

We got the latest update from F.I.R.E. today, and the magic number is now:



8,199!!!!!

Is anyone out there as stunned as I am?

The other good news is that July 1 still is/was the official deadline so gracias, danke, merci and thank you to everyone who went out of their way to get their items in on time. You are unquestionably the heart and soul of this project. However, because we are so close to 10,000, and because the volunteers will be sorting through the Dulaan items for a while yet, they told me today that they can still accept any onesy-twosy items you may still want to send their way. I wish I had known this earlier but I figure ultimately this'all just gives us a chance to help a few more children.

10,000. Just think of it.

Posted by Ryan at 04:25 PM | Comments (18)