December 22, 2006

Baby MongoLEEa Happy Big Pompom Making Happy Fun!

No postings next week, Dear Readers, as TMK and I sleep off the copious homemade cinnamon doughnuts we plan on consuming Christmas morning. To compensate, today’s entry is extra long what with TMK's meme response and our annual Dulaan story from Mary Lee.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and Happy Day Before the Last Day of Hanukkah to my wonderful, wonderful readers.


[From TMK, with comments from me. No surprise there.]

Hi, all. Ryan meme-tagged me so here is my weird stuff. This meme would have been easier if I could just list the six “normal” things about me! But, I’ll follow the rules!

Six Weird Things about TMK:

1. Mayonnaise. I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, via Mossy Cottage or Rabbitch, that I have a “thing” about mayonnaise. It truly is evil incarnate and I will not eat anything that has been even remotely touched by it. Ryan won’t go to Subway with me anymore because I insist that the sandwich maker wash the knife before cutting my sandwich. If they don’t, I’ve been known to ask for a new sandwich.

(Ryan: Going to Subway with TMK is, indeed, traumatic because we can’t just plow merrily through the sandwich-assembly line. We have to watch the sandwich “artiste’s” every move with a hawk-like intensity to make sure not even the faintest whiff of evil incarnate comes near her sandwich. And the sandwich artiste is, of course, on autopilot and doesn’t really hear a word you’re saying and more often than not a drive-by mayonnaise-ing happens and much more drama ensues than any sandwich ever warranted. Quite embarrassing.

Of course, occasionally I feel for TMK. Many years ago we had lunch in a restaurant in Roslyn, Washington, (the quaint town where Northern Exposure was filmed). She asked for no mayo on her burger; they put mayo on her burger; she asked for a new burger; they took the old burger, scraped the mayo off the bun, slapped it back on and said it now had no mayo on it and qualified as a new burger. And then insisted she pay for it.)

2. All Music All the Time. I usually wake up with a song of some sort in my head. This immediately becomes the “song of the day” and gets hummed, drummed and sung constantly over and over again until someone says something that reminds of a different song—which I then start humming, drumming and singing constantly, until someone says something that reminds me of a different song—which I then start humming, drumming and singing constantly, until someone.... I don’t even realize I’m doing this most of the time. The songs range from 70’s rock to commercial jingles, to TV theme songs and everything in between.


3. Little Office Worker. I used to love to fill out pads of obsolete forms my dad would bring home from the office—even though I didn’t know how to read or write. Now I design forms for other people to fill out!

4. World Traveler. I didn’t get a passport until I was 43. It took having the passport in my possession to realize I could actually go somewhere that required one. Before then it had never occurred to me. I haven’t used it yet—but I could.

(Ryan: This is the same part of her brain that didn’t realize she could actually go to the Grand Canyon.)

5. The Nunnery. I was brought up Catholic, but didn’t go to Catholic school. However, to this day I always let nuns go ahead of me in line. On the other hand, one day a nun showed up at my water aerobics class in a bathing suit. I was completely weirded out and had to leave.

6. Snore. I fall asleep instantly and sleep like the dead. I have been known to sleep through the loud ringing of an old-fashioned brass wind-up alarm clock, or throw it across the room to shut it up—in my sleep. (Yes, you’re right. This is the complete and utter opposite of Ryan.) On a related note, I get night terrors and will yell, hit, grab at things in the air, have conversations and jump out of bed to turn the light on—all in my sleep. (I know, I know, most people outgrow night terrors by the time they’re five.)

(Ryan: TMK and I have had complete arguments over her night terrors...while she’s asleep. They go something like this:

Scenario A:
TMK (asleep): Scream!! (With dramatic flailing of the arms.)
Ryan, sharply and angrily, because she is a light sleeper and has just woken up, terrified, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, and yet, ironically, she does not suffer from night terrors: What now?
TMK (still asleep): Spiders!! (More flailing.)
Ryan (sharply and angrily): What?!
TMK (still asleep): There are spiders.
Ryan (sharply and angrily): No, there are no spiders.
TMK (still asleep): Yes, there are. They’re all over!
Ryan (sharply and angrily): No. There. Are. No. Spiders.
TMK (still asleep): There aren’t?
Ryan (sharply and angrily): No, there aren’t. Now shut up and go back to sleep.
TMK (still asleep): Oh. (Pause.) Snoooooooooooore.
Ryan (sharply and angrily): Well. So. Hm. What's on TV?

Scenario B:
TMK (asleep): Scream!! (With dramatic flailing of the arms.)
Ryan, sharply and angrily, because she is a light sleeper and has just woken up, terrified, heart pounding, adrenaline pumping, and yet, ironically, she does not suffer from night terrors: What now?
TMK (still asleep): Tigers!! (More flailing.)
Etc. Etc. Etc.


With a mixture of guilt and happiness, I saw on Wednesday that I had received my annual Dulaan email from Mary Lee, she of the disabled students who do for Dulaan. Guilt because I never scanned and posted her photos from last year, and happiness because, well, it was my annual Dulaan email from Mary Lee, she of the disabled students who do for Dulaan. For new readers who may not be familiar with the remarkable Mary Lee story, have a look here.

This is her story for this year:

“I decided to Dulaan with some of the children right before Christmas break this year. I was thrilled by their generosity. We cut short the cookie baking, decorating and gifting to do this instead and they couldn't have been happier. Will I ever learn to accurately estimate them? You remember Jacob, of course...giver of the third syllable accent to MongoLEEa? Well, he's growing up in the most delightful way. I've put him in charge of making the pom poms for the hats I knit and he takes this job VERY seriously. On our first day of this he was a little overenthusiastic with the winding and I suggested that maybe the one he was working on was big enough. He thrust out his arm in that talk-to-the-hand kind of way and said with authority....'NO!!! Baby mongoLEEa happy big pompom making happy fun.' I have been told."

And, here, fortunately not relying on me to scan them, photos of Jacob, the hat, the pom pom, and, I believe, Mary Lee:




So, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and “Baby mongoleea happy big pompom making happy fun” to all of you.

Posted by Ryan at 10:01 AM | Comments (21)

December 20, 2006

Since, Apparently, My Weirdnesses Aren't Self-Evident...

(Note to kmkat: To find your blog, I Google on kmkat knit blog. Google invariably asks if I’m looking for kumquat knit blog. First, no, and secondly, how is that any more logical of a search, dude? Wait a mo’. I’m going to go click on the link to see if Google does, indeed, find any knitting blogs that mention kumquats. This should be interesting. Talk amongst yourselves.


I’ll be damned; there are. Girl on the Rocks mentions kumquat marmalade, and Crazy Aunt Purl has a link to the blog of a woman who lives in the "Kumquat Capital of the World" (only one step up from our local Puyallup, “The Hop Capital of the Word”), and then the hits degenerate precipitously into, for example, a list of words beginning with "k," which would, by its very definition, contain both "kumquat" and "knit," despite how much our brains would like us to believe that "knit" starts with the letter “n.”)


Yeah, mon, I’ve been memed (or, to use a new word I just learned today, “blemed” for “blog memed”)! Unlike Norma, I welcome memes with open arms and flapping, beckoning hands—perhaps even those glow sticks they use for guiding in airplanes—but only because they’re this lazy blogger’s way of having something to write about. Since I find myself with no stories and no photos today, meme, or bleme, it is.

The rules, which I have no intention of following, because, as you'll see, I'll list eight things, not six, and tag one person, again, not six:

"People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own six weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose six people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog!"

Six Eight weird things about me:

1. When I’m standing up, I can’t see my feet. I will leave it up to you to figure out why. (Although since I’ve already gone there, I'll add that a few weeks ago, I couldn’t find the dog. Come to find out she was standing at my feet. Yes, I was unable to see an entire dog. TMK, who was standing not ten feet away and could see exactly what was going on, found this very amusing.)

2. Since I was born in Peru, my birth certificate, issued by the American Embassy, is in Spanish and, technically, my real name is Ryan Morrissey y Fry. (Before I renewed my passport, I had to rely on my birth certificate to get me across the U.S./Canadian border, and the mash-up of officialese, American Embassy emblem, and Spanish confused the crap out of the border guards. One time, when a U.S. border guard started knitting his brows and taking in a deep breath as if he were going to say something Official and Bad, TMK grabbed me by the arm, declared “She’s with me” and pulled me into the United States. Problem solved.)

3. (Elaine, skip this one. No, really.) As I’ve mentioned before, I am the Champeen of the Unloved and Ugly. I'm obsessive about saving insects, spiders, worms, even slugs, and killing one will put me in a really deep, almost pathological funk for a couple of hours. I like the fact that I’m willing to save the wee creatures of the world; I hate the fact that I'm uncontrollably compelled to. It makes me do stupid things, like stand in the shower, completely naked and wasting hot water, using a piece of paper to scoop up a spider that had been plastered to the wall by a large, errant drop. (My efforts paid off. I deposited paper and many-legged passenger on a hall table and by the time I came out of the shower he was gone. He’s now probably sitting in an overstuffed chair somewhere, puffing on a pipe, regaling his grandchildren with a grandiosely exaggerated story of the rescue. In fact, in his version, he probably rescued me. And, of course, being a spider, right after he finishes the story, he will eat his grandchildren. C’est la vie.) I also hate the funk. It is very deep, dark, intrusive, and inordinately unpleasant and all you can do is wait it out. No amount of rationalization or self-reassurance will make it go away. Fortunately, it can be relied on to be temporary.

4. I talk to myself. Out loud. All the time. In the car, I convince myself that people think I’m talking on the phone and they can’t see the phone because I have one of those earbuds in. But I’m not and I don’t. I don’t even own a cell phone.

5. I’m obsessed with getting and giving courtesy waves when I’m driving. If I let someone merge into my lane and they give me a courtesy wave, I’ll feel giddy all the way to my destination. When you let a bus or a truck merge, the drivers say “thank you” by flashing their flashers. These flashes have now become my commuting Holy Grail. (BTW, men courtesy wave much more than women do. Curious.)

6. I love down comforters even though I get extraordinarily, even putridly, hot when I sleep under them. You know the scene in Shrek where the Princess sings such a high note that a bluebird in a nearby tree, who is trying frantically to sing along, explodes? That’s how hot I get, hot enough to explode in a violent puff of blue feathers. I believe Cuzzin Tom and I are the same this way.

7. I am an extraordinarily light sleeper, left over from when I used to share a room with my sister who, at the time, had breathing problems. Whenever she coughed, she choked, so I had to wake up from a dead sleep, leap across the room en pointe, and pound her on the back until her air passages cleared. This left me permanently fidgety and restive where my sleeping habits were concerned. A week ago, for the first time in 46 years, I slept through my alarm clock. TMK came anxiously into my room, heart a’hammerin’, because she was convinced I was dead, being, as it was, the only possible explanation. Come to find out it I was deeply asleep, the comforter was mashed up over my ears, and the ringing of my tinnitus matched the muffled ringing of the clock. I was, in fact, not dead, just getting ready to explode in a violent puff of blue feathers.

8. I have epilepsy.

Although I love memes, I do not love passing memes on. However, with her permission, I am going to tag TMK.

P.S. Dulaaners, if you need to be inspired, see the photo in Cuzzin Tom's entry for today.

Posted by Ryan at 10:08 AM | Comments (16)

December 18, 2006

Seattle Has an Outrageously Bad Hair Day

But I kid. A little tastelessly perhaps since it really was a lollapalooza of a storm here, kiddos. In fact, as I write, we are still power-challenged here in the office and our generator is struggling gamely along to keep our 34 mainframes running, all of the lights on, and all of da peeps warm. (Question: If the definition of a Level 1 hurricane is wind speeds of 74-95 mph, and we had winds that fell well within that range, why isn't anyone calling this a hurricane? And the rain, oh, my God, the rain. I drove home through the worst of it and, about half-way home, I started to giggle a little maniacally there was So Much Rain. Seriously. No raindrops, just endless, black, cascading sheets of heavy, foaming, loudly drumming water. Truly astonishing.)

For those of you who have girl crushes on TMK, I can give you one more reason to have one. I lost power at about 1:45am (although I was one of the first people in the area to get my power back, just 12 hours later). At around 7am the next morning, I called TMK to see how she and the short, furry one were surviving sans electricity (because, remember, TMK doesn't "do" power outages) and then because it was frickin’ cold and dark—did I mention dark?—made a beeline back to my bed, my down comforter, my down pillows and my new best friend, Mr. Sandman. And was woken up at 9am by TMK standing by my bed, proffering a thermos of hot tea, made using water she had boiled on the side burner of her propane barbeque. Crush away, girls, crush away.

Although the worst that I experienced was my maple trees throwing small branches petulantly at my windows (and TMK lost one side of her fence), there were many trees down in our neighborhoods, and many houses and cars the worse for the wear. The Yarn Girls, who live in my ‘hood, have, bless 'em, posted some very illustrative pictures of exactly the trees of which I speak. However, the city crews (long may they live; may they have beautiful daughters; handsome, strong, sons; fruitful fields; and endlessly fertile livestock) have been working around the clock and now the neighborhoods look as if a ravening pack of nuclear-powered beavers plowed through, leaving nothing but piles of sawdust in their wake.

Which is all a long-winded (pardon the pun) way of explaining why I didn't post on Friday.

Speaking of the Yarn Girls, while TMK and I vegged in front of the TV on Sunday, still a little twitchy from the recent trauma, I made 1.5 of Peggy's Dulaan Avalanche Hats. Here’s the first one, displayed on the little fella—a battery-operated, black and white TV (long may he live; may he have beautiful daughters; handsome, strong, sons; fruitful fields; and endlessly fertile livestock)—that helped keep TMK sane during the storm:


Will do my meme posting on Wednesday. Off to see if my local Subway Sandwich shop has power and, more importantly, a 6" roast-chicken sandwich with my name on it.

Posted by Ryan at 11:50 AM | Comments (22)

December 13, 2006

Ryan's Adventures with Handspun

Since I was clueless about what to do with TMK’s Tropical Juice yarn—it was thinnish, with the occasional small thickish thrown in, and not any standard gauge known to man; in short, handspun—I opted for swatching, measuring, counting, getting some kind of usable gauge and using the online raglan percentage pattern applet for the first time . The results so far, a kooky, fun sweater that makes me want to whack it with a stick to see if candy falls out:


The gauge I got on my swatch? 8 stitches to the inch. The gauge I get when I’m actually knitting and am relaxed and am feeling smug about having done a swatch and am sure the gauge issue has thoroughly been put to bed? 6.75 stitches per inch. The difference this makes to the percentage pattern? A lot, as in, at 8 stitches, cast on 90; at 6.75 stitches, cast on 76. Poo and double-poo. Ca-ca, even. But there’s no going back. Even for me, that would be too much frogging. And I think TMK would kill me. Or, at the very least, stop making me star-shaped panqueques.

Other than that, not much to report from the Land of Eternally Grey Skies. Commute-wise, this morning was an adventure, what with the high winds loudly "floofing" the cloth top of my convertible, rocking the car back and forth, and churning up angry waves which caused the floating bridge to careen up and down. How to drive a car that is going forward, up, down and sideways simultaneously is something they don't teach in driver's ed.

Holiday-wise, the Christmas tree is up. This year we opted for one that looks like the slightly more robust, football-playing older brother of the Charlie Brown tree—although apparently we could have bought a clone of the real thing had we been so inclined. One party down, 3.5 half to go, the half being one that is still in the wind. Many cookies made. Many cookies eaten. Many pounds put on. All’s right with the world.

Lastly, a fun Wednesday Kooky Kraft for you to enjoy, carved crayons.

Posted by Ryan at 10:19 AM | Comments (18)

December 11, 2006

How Hoomiliatin'!

This weekend’s Fiber Humiliation Moment brought to you by my only-slightly-belated, still-only-one-third-done-yet-still-faithfully-being-worked-on Olympic Knitting Project, Olympic Squirrel.

Because of my semi-nomadic lifestyle, I live pretty much out of my car. Need a heavier jacket? Back seat. Need a skein of Avalanche Yarn? Front passenger-seat footwell. Need the Christmas DVDs that you never bothered to put away last year? Trunk. Book? Back-seat footwell. Blanket? Back seat. Clean underpants and socks? Trunk. And, of course—need another knitting project? Trunk, back seat, back-seat footwell, front passenger-side footwell, glove compartment, or storage console.

Driving a valise-on-wheels means that things frequently need to be rearranged, depending on how many people are going to sit in the car, which is why Saturday night I moved Olympic Squirrel from the front passenger seat to the trunk. It wasn’t until the next morning that I discovered I’d left a ball of the red yarn on the passenger seat, closed the door, walked back to the trunk, unraveling yarn as I went, and tossed the project bag into the trunk, leaving a strand of yarn running from the passenger seat, along the side of the car, and into the trunk. And drove all over the city like that, with the yarn flappin' in the breeze. What’s worse, thanks to yarn's usually desirable wicking properties, the yarn had wicked as much of our lovely Seattle rain into the trunk as it possibly could. Not much damage done, just some dampness on one side, but still. I larfed and larfed.


This weekend, while I completely destroyed her kitchen in an attempt to make one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes, TMK spun obliviously away and made a doozie of a yarn, plying together a navy and wine-red variegated single with a sophisticated-looking, grayish, slate-blue one. The finished product, which I baptized "Wall Street," is destined to be a Christmas gift for our lovely adopted "grandmother," the wife of our dog walker, who has knit for more years than the most of us have been alive and who, having survived World War II and the Depression, is convinced having to spend more than $1 on a skein of yarn is highway robbery:


A close-up:


And, speaking of “whapping things together,” what’s that wooden gizmo holding the yarn? Why, TMK’s homemade niddy noddy which she did, indeed, pretty much whap together with some leftover pieces of cherry. How cool is that? And why can she whap things together and I can’t?

I’m not bitter.

Posted by Ryan at 11:10 AM | Comments (19)

December 08, 2006

Easy Come, Easy Go

Although, as I mentioned in my last post, TMK’s red romney yarn “went all Chainsaw Massacre on my fingers,” I was still able to put it to good use, thanks to a soft, fake-o, mohair-ish black acrylic discovered during a Marianas-Trench-deep stash dive, followed by a trip to my Local Crack Yarn Store for a skein of black Encore. I doubled the Encore, slapped it on some beefy needles, and made a substantial, Russian-army-esque, fold-up brim. Then I combined the romney with the fake-o mohair, downsized the needles, threw in a few extra stitches to compensate for the difference in yarn weight, and knit the crown. An easy knit, here making its obligatory ursa very minor pose before it wings its way to Ulan Bataar. (And for those of you who are aghast at my combining homespun yarn with acrylic, see "Chainsaw Massacre" above. It was not pretty. The yarn had to be punished.)


Fast forward half an hour. What’s this? The same hat, neatly removed from the bear’s head and equally neatly—and, dare I say, a mite possessively— placed under a pair of TMK’s gloves?


Could this hat possibly not be going to Ulan Bataar? Yes, it could very possibly not be going to Ulan Bataar. And it could also possibly now belong to TMK. And it could also possibly have been worn every day of our very cold weather (no comment, Norma). It could also possibly, as a result, have too many non-Mongolian cooties on it for me to send it to Ulan Baatar even if I could wrest it back from TMK. Sigh. I suppose I can’t begrudge her this, especially since she did spin the yarn used to make it, and, further, I suppose I can’t grab every skein of yarn she makes, cobble it into something resembling clothing and slingshoot it 10,000 miles away—although that’s exactly what I’m doing with the Tropical Juice. Mum’s the word.


Despite the fact that last year’s attempt to go to the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat was derailed (remember? hospital? morphine? eventual bon voyage to an entire internal organ?), we’re going to try again this year. We’re not signed up for any classes although TMK did try to sign up for the Judith MacKenzie McCuin spinning class but somehow was completely flustered by the overly complicated online-ish-ness of it all (even though she’s a total techie, so I don’t know what THAT was all about*) and the fact that I was looming so very large and close over her shoulder that she could feel my breath waft down her shirt and my bodacious tatas were making a shadow on the keyboard. So, no classes, but we will be there overnight on Saturday, and will be bringing Dear Daughter with us. In short (no pun intended, Frankie), we’ll be playing it all by ear but are open to suggestions about get-togethers. Now, to try to convince TMK to let Frankie wear her special party dress…

*As in all relationships, we try to allow for each other’s odd quirks. For some reason, I hate to order pizza, so TMK always places the dreaded pizza calls. TMK, despite her techiness, hates making online reservations so, when we travel, I do the hotel and airline reservations. Although I just realized that she always does the car-rental part which is also online so…wait…what?!


I’ve updated the "Dulaan 10,000 or Bust" list to include the few names that trickled in at the end and to mark off these 83 84 angelic participants who’ve already finished their five (or more, many more in some cases) items:

Alexandra Virgiel
Andrea Eyre
Angie Marshall
Barbara Williams
Beth Braun
Braeuer, Catherine
Brandy Hunt (A'tuin)
Camela Hicks
Carol Miller
Caroline Laudig
Christi Shelton (Childe)
Connie Klein
Cyndie White
Darinka D'Alessio
Debbie Bland
Debra Foster
Donna Wiedeman
Elaine Caron
Emily Greene
Flora Hicks
Gerlinde Bockoras
Ginger Carter
Isela Phelps
Jeanne Hurlbut
Jennifer Dale
Jennifer Moody-Weis
Jenny McIntosh
Jessica Rose
Jill Haddaway
Joan Arndt
Josephine Hawkins
Judith Rosa
Judy Petzel
Julie Ann Morgan
K. Lombardo
Karen Rosenberg
Kate Morgan
Katherine Redman
Kathleen in Oregon
Kathryn Kienholz
Katie Pellett
Katy Moore
Kay Landiak
Kellie Marek
Lana Johnson
Linda Doggett
Lisa Fish
Lisa Rogers Lowrance
Lori Freeman
Lynda Holt
Margaret Crammond
Margot Schips
Marisa LaPalomento
Mary Anne
Mary Barnett
Melinda Morrow
Michelle Haimowitz
Misty Banks
Moore, Katy
Nancy Overland
Nancy Overland
Nancy Sullivan
Naomi Paskin-Parsons
Norma Miller
Pat Packer
Patience Boyd
Rachel Debasitis
Sabrina Thompson
Sarah Marchant
Stephanie Bunch
Sue Fuss
Tammy Wright
Tasha McGimpsey
Tish Dudevoir
Wendy Slotboom
Robbyn Kenyon

Remember, once you finish your five, lemme know so I can put your name in the drawing for the June prize. Also, for everyone else, you do not need to be on the list to knit for Dulaan; this was just a special October “push.”

Also, if you haven't done so already, be sure to swing on by Franklin's to see his latest remarkable Dulaan contributions.

Posted by Ryan at 10:15 AM | Comments (8)

December 06, 2006

Revenge is Sweet

Look! Smaller and lighter pots! Why, is that “Pomp and Circumstance” I hear playing faintly in the breeze? (Actually, the yarn didn’t need much “potting” at’all but in her desire to make her best yarn so far, TMK threw a coupla inconsequential cooking vessels into the mix for a lark.)


Now that TMK is making, er, useful yarn—unlike the red romney which threatened to go all Chainsaw Massacre on my fingers when I knit with it—we've run head-first into the dreaded place where her lack of knowledge about knitting is causing Un Problemo Grande.

But, first, a story:

Many years ago, I decided I wanted to build a wooden box/trunk/crate/ whathaveyou. Although this took place during her pre-woodworking days, TMK knew enough even then to launch into a long description of all the things I would need to have before I could make a box: a pattern, the dimensions, the right kind of wood, the right kind of nails, a measuring tape, a hammer, a miter box, wood glue, clamps, hinges, a saw, sandpaper, wood filler, and oil or lacquer to finish it with. This was followed by a (well-meant) lecture about all the things I would need to know and do in order to make such a box. It’s about then, I believe, when I stamped my foot, rolled my eyes at her, flapped my hands at her in a dismissive gesture, and said, “Oh, I don’t want to do All That. I just want to whap a box together.” TMK laughed long and hard at my naiveté and, ultimately, the box was never made since we could not close the Grand-Canyon-like gap between careful, controlled, calculated woodcrafting and mere “whapping.” To this day, however, whenever I insist on simplifying something to the point of idiocy, TMK can’t help but trot out the phrase “whap a box together.”

Now, fifteen years later, she’s getting a taste of her own medicine. Granted, over the years, thanks to her strange brand of “commando learning” in which she just vacuums up miscellaneous pieces of information without your realizing it, TMK has learned a surprising amount about the tools required for knitting, if not about knitting itself. She knows there are different kinds and sizes of needles, she knows there are different kinds of yarn, she knows the difference between lace knitting and Fair Isle knitting, she even, remarkably, knows what a steek is. She does not, however, know about The Big Picture, about how the right type of yarn, the right type of needles, the right pattern, the right stitches, the right techniques, the skills of the knitter, and a sufficient amount of time have to come together in one cohesive whole to result in a finished, aesthetically pleasing and functional objet d’art . She doesn’t understand that, especially when working with Mystery Yarn like the Tropical Juice, this can entail swatching, blocking, frogging, tinking, analyzing, mulling, mathematics and perhaps much redoing. Not to mention she wouldn’t know a purl stitch if it bit her on the arse. This inexperience with most things knitty means that, ever since she finished the Tropical Juice, she has been wondering why, in effect, now that I have the yarn, I can’t just “whap something together.” I feel so vindicated.

Posted by Ryan at 10:04 AM | Comments (6)

December 04, 2006

Happy Heart, Happy Feet

A few fun goings-on in the always unpredictable World of Dulaan:

First, a wonderful new Avalanche-Or-Any-Bulky-Weight-Wool-Yarn-That-Knits-To-Gauge hat pattern, designed by local knitter, Feralite, all-around fun gal, and one-half of the Yarn-Girls twins, Peggy. I can’t wait to make one of these hats! They fit wonderfully, look like a pantload of fun to knit, and Peggy reports that you can start and finish one in the time it takes to microwave your TV dinner.

And now, a confession. During last week’s Great Freeze of Ought Six, because I, being a child of the tropics, know squat about taking care of me and mine in winter weather, TMK advised me that I needed to start my car two or three times a day to make sure something horrendous didn’t happen to my “engine block,” whatever that is. This involved sitting in the icily radiating metal box that was my car for what seemed like interminable minutes in, oh, 20° weather, and discovering after about Minute Two, as my fingers turned blue and I shivered so hard I practically bounced my way into the back seat, that I hadn’t even come close to dressing warmly enough. Enter Peggy’s large bag of Avalanche hats which she had given to me at the last Ferals and which was sitting on the passenger seat. Once I espied the bag, things improved dramatically. Every time I went to warm up the car, I would slide into the driver’s seat, grab an Avalanche Hat—sometimes a tan one and sometimes, when I was feeling bold and giddy, a red one—plop it on my head, turn on the car, sit and wait comfortably and warmly until the engine block was once again feeling happy with its lot in life, turn off the car, plop the hat back in the bag and head back to the house. Borderline scammy I know, my personally wearing hats intended for the Mongolians, if even for a scant five minutes, but they will go to Mongolia, pinky swear, but, in the meantime, thanks to Peggy and her marvelous hats, I didn't lose a piece of ear to frostbite or a filling to over-the-top chattering of the teeth. And now that the Great Freeze of Ought Six is over, the hats are safely stored in my garage, no longer a temptation.

Secondly, on the money-raising front, through December 31, designer Lisa Shobhana Mason, knitter, designer, author of Yarnplay, and My Life in Stitches blogger, is donating a major portion of the proceeds—$1.75—from the sale of this pattern to F.I.R.E. What’s more, the company Anichini, which, per its web site, “purveys an extensive collection of luxury linens and home furnishings for the bed, bath, and table,” will match her donation, meaning for every pattern sold, $3.50 will go to F.I.R.E. Thank you, Lisa!!! Spread the word, everyone, and let’s see if we can’ get some real moolah sent F.I.R.E.’s way!

(Note: I just received an email from Lisa saying that she will be shooting an episode of Knitty Gritty over the next few days so she probably won't mail patterns until Friday.)

Thirdly, Tammy, "So Now What?" blogmistress, is running a contest for Dulaan, details here (you'll need to scroll down a bit). She's offering wonderful prizes and recently extended the deadline for the contest to December 23, so get knittin'!

(Good heavens, there's so much exciting, positive, creative energy out in the Dulaan Universe right now, I can't stand it!)


After the September/October borderline sock disaster, TMK took it upon herself to swear to the Knitting Gods that I would always have a pair of socks on my dpns so I wouldn’t lose my sock mojo again. (I now wonder why I quit knitting socks in the first place. In fact, I think I’m suffering from a slight case of was lost, but now am found.) Spurred by this and by some yarns that Blogless Elaine has dangled in front of me over the months, I went to Weaving Works and bought these mouth-watering Trekking yarns:


The yarn on the left has already been turned into My Most Favorite Socks Ever (er, Knit By Me since I have many Most Favorite Socks Ever, Knit By Other Folks; you know how that is):


Are these colors not yummy? Do they not make you want to kiss babies, secretly pay for the coffee of the person in line behind you, or go skipping down the street? Granted, for once I wish they were a little less fraternal but ultimately these socks just give me such total and utter happy feet I can’t complain.

The second skein of yarn is well on its way to becoming a pair of socks as well. Despite the yarn’s slightly muddy, almost pointillist colorway, it, too, is self-striping but makes lovely, soft, indistinct, dark-jewel-tone stripes. When they are finished, rather than make me want to kiss babies, I think these socks will make me want to wear tortoise shell glasses, discuss ethics and philosophy, and drink exotic teas. And then go skipping down the street.

P.S. For those of you who asked for TMK's caramel sauce recipe, she has determined that it is altered enough from its two original "source recipes" (at least, as much as one can alter a recipe that has three ingredients) that she can officially declare it "hers." She has made some noises about posting it on the blog, so keep your fingers crossed.

Posted by Ryan at 11:31 AM | Comments (12)

December 01, 2006

Ryan Wrests Control of the Blog Back From TMK With Minimal Police Involvement

Two days held hostage chez mois by thickly iced roads (including one day with what I think was a migraine, although it ran from my neck to my jaw to my ear to my eye, which was, um, innerestin’) and The Mysterious K immediately shanghais the blog. Whuh?! Feigning great innocence, she argued that since I hadn’t posted for two weeks already in November and was all of a sudden not posting again because of snow, ice, no computer, blahblahblah, she was merely preventing the heads of my Dear Readers from exploding. Her blog posting was, she insisted, strictly medicinal. Suuuuuuuuure. (Anyone remember way back in the day when I called her just “K” and tried to protect her and her privacy from my insane decision to live my life in a blogily public place? Who woulda thunk it would come to this?)

But I forgive her her lies and machinations and, as proof, I post a picture she didn’t include, a close-up of her merino-BFL combo. This captures the colors pretty well although the yellow is perhaps not quite so wincingly acidic.


(TMK called the dyed merino roving “Tropical Juice.” Perhaps the finished yarn can be called “Tropical Juice Smoothie?”)

She churned out about 500+ yards of the “TJ”—which I immediately grabbed and licked all over so no one else would touch it (sorry, Nancy O; it’s all spoken for, unless, of course, you’re not afraid of my cooties). And now I have no frickin’ idea what to do with it. Suggestions? It’s a very light yarn, lace-to-fingering weight (occasionally dipping down into cobweb lace) and, as TMK said, is a scrumptiously soft merino-BFL combo. What do you think? A lace scarf (although the combination of the colors, the variegation, and the lace-y bits may be too over the top)? Find a matching yarn and make a striped scarf? Find a matching yarn and make a kid’s sweater (although it may not be warm enough for Dulaan)? How about knit a white angora or angora-mix (or white merino or merino-mix) hatband for a soft, feathery accent, and use the Tropical Juice for the crown? Or ditto for the ribbing and body of a sweater? Oh, the possibilities!

And, now, to backtrack a bit: Our Thanksgiving.

Despite the fact that we didn’t have Thanksgiving at our house this year, somehow the holiday still seemed to involve an endless parade of cooking (cream of wild-rice soup for before-and-after-Thanksgiving noshing—me; everything else—TMK) and washing of the pots, pans and utensils (mostly me, since that is how we work things in the kitchen, although TMK chipped in when she noticed I was about to heave her ultra-heavy Calphalon dutch oven through the kitchen window. It’s those kinds of things that keep a relationship going. And the kitchen windows intact.)

Despite my kvetching, I am pleased to share with all of you (especially my long time readers), this:


Any guess what the little flag says?

Yep! Happy Pie!!


Is that pie not gorgeous? What I didn’t remember to photograph, though, was the homemade caramel sauce TMK made to drizzle on top. I would write about the caramel sauce but then this would legitimately qualify as a porn site, it was that good. I believe Elaine and Leslie, who partook of the Happy Pie and Caramel Sauce, will concur. Cigarettes all around.

Next week, a wonderful new Avalanche Yarn hat pattern, and a designer who is contributing $1 to F.I.R.E. every time someone buys a specific one of her patterns. Things are happenin'!

Posted by Ryan at 10:12 AM | Comments (18)