April 30, 2007

Dulaan-a-Thaan!

Do you hear a strange scrabbling, thumping sound which seems to be growing ever fainter? That’s me rapidly backtracking from a link I posted last week. Thanks to sharp-eyed Dear Reader Laurie, now I know—and now you know—that the $108.95 for this possum-merino yarn is for 10 balls of yarn. A very important clarification, methinks. Thank you, Laurie!

As penance, I spent time trying to find what was actually the most expensive yarn I could find online...and it was a $70 ball of qiviut. No surprise there. (Notice the deliberate lack of a link. Any more rapid backtracking, and I’m guaranteed to pull some very important groinal muscle.)

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Do you have some Dulaan projects languishing unfinished in a closet?

Do you feel guilty about that Dulaan project that just needs one measly end woven in to be complete? (Been there, done that.)

yellowyarn.GIFDo you have nightmares about that fleece blanket that has three-and-a-half of the four sides knotted, and you suspect you may never get that last half of a side done?

Do you have a two-hour Dulaan hat pattern that really would take only two hours if you would just cast the darn stitches on? And yet, somehow, you haven't?

Did you promise yourself that after all the Christmas knitting was done you’d knit for Dulaan...and haven’t started a thing? And are painfully aware that it's now the end of April?

Have you finished some amazing items for Dulaan and would like to share them with other like-minded Dulaaners?

Would twelve hours, or one, or two, or three, of non-stop knitting be your idea of heaven?

Would you like to spend time with other Dulaaners, sharing tea, snacks, knitting, good times and good vibes?

Have you promised yourself time and time again that you would go to Village Yarn & Tea, but have just never gotten around to it?

Are you already a big fan of Village Yarn & Tea and would like a legit excuse to spend more time there?

Have you ever had a fantasy about shopping in a yarn store in your pajamas?

And our biggest selling point: Would you like to see what TMK actually looks like?

Then, local Dulaaners, mark your calendar for:

The First Annual Dulaan-a-Thaan

Pajama Party!!


When: Saturday, June 2, 2007. 6 p.m.–6 a.m. (you read that right, 6 p.m.-6 a.m. We weren't kidding when we said this was an "a-thaan.")

Where: Village Yarn and Tea Shop, 19500 Ballinger Way NE, Shoreline

Bring: Yourselves, your finished and unfinished Dulaan items, a tea mug, and a snack to share.

To give credit where credit is due, the Dulaan-a-Thaan is entirely the brainchild of Kim Myhre, a dedicated Dulaaner if I ever saw one. And armloads, piles, mountains of “thank yous” have to go out to Victoria Chase and the good folks at Village Yarn & Tea for lending us their space for this party and for supporting the project. And they’re not just lending us the space, they are very involved in the event.

(Important Note: Parking is iffy at Village Yarn. Their Web site says, “Parking in the front lot is limited to spots that are labeled with our shop name and two 30-minute spots on the east side of the lot. Please do not park in any of the Allstate spots on the west side of the lot. If our spots are full, you can park anywhere along 25th Ave." But don't let this deter you. In fact, just use this as an excuse to come early!)

There are lots of kicky things in the works for this party and I’d love to see it be a bang-up, productive success so think, think really hard, about joining us!!! (There’s no need to RSVP but if you think you might be there, I’d love to hear from you, just cuz’.)

Posted by Ryan at 11:26 AM | Comments (28)

April 27, 2007

How did I End Up Talking About Mongolia and Borneo in the Same Entry?!

Progress is being made on High Mesa. At least I haven’t had to change the name to High Mess. After a week of knitting, it’s now 16” long and 4 acres wide. Most importantly, though, I haven’t gotten in the slightest bored with it—my biggest fear. In fact, I’ve grabbed it at every possible opportunity and churned out a hectare or two. This sweater may actually happen!

(I also just realized that being able to do this sweater is a direct, yet subtle, side benefit of Dulaan. The only reason I can even contemplate a project of this magnitude is because I’ve done the insane left-shoulder-right-shoulder-armhole-neck-decrease-increase-seaming-and-buttonhole dance many times but on a smaller scale for "my" Mongolian ragamuffins. The Dulaan goodness just keeps on coming!)

Knitting this sweater for myself has made me think a lot about a very special sweater sitting on the top shelf of my closet. It doesn’t fit me anymore, hasn’t for years, thanks to a diet of buttered noodles and chocolate cake, but I will never get rid of it. It’s acrylic, horizontally striped, and pastel-colored, and was knit for me by my mother when she and my father were living in Borneo. My mother was not the warm, skwoodgy, jolly, plump, pink-cheeked, knitting type—quite the opposite: a brilliant, witty, high strung, temperamental and often cold Smithie—so for her to have made this sweater was entirely out of character and makes it one of my most cherished possessions. When she gave it to me, my mother told me that she had had so much trouble doing the seaming and getting the stripes to match up that she had finally thrown up her hands and asked a native Bornean woman to do it for her. Which, of course, the lady did, quietly, quickly and perfectly. This makes me the proud owner of probably the only hand-knit sweater in the United States mattress-stitched together by a native Bornean. Would you be able to throw the sweater away?

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So that today's entry isn’t completely devoid of pictures, take a gander at this:

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This beaut is a Conroy rhododendron. When TMK bought it, it was drenched in beautiful saffron and coral blossoms, and we both completely lost our hearts to it, so much so that we would get up from our perfectly comfortable living-room chairs strictly to go outside, gaze upon the Conroy, stroke it and whisper sweet nothings to it...and then go back inside, only to repeat the whole slightly loco process an hour later. If plants didn’t, by their very nature, stay in one place, we would have stalked it. (Stalk. Heh. Bad pun.) However, the ungrateful, spiteful shrub then went all diva on us. The spring after we bought it, it produced no flowers and, last year, it produced one measly cluster. Which means that now, if there is anything at TMK’s house that is spoiled more than Frankie, it’s the Conroy. Mid-fall it’s covered in floating row cover, late fall it’s taken into the garage. It’s visited and checked regularly throughout the cold season, given just the right amount of water, not too much, not too little; it's given chocolate bon bons if it wants them; it's hardened off in the spring, and every every swelling growth, every sprig, every bud, is counted, poked, prodded and greatly discussed. And it’s worth every second of the clucking and mother-henning because, this year, success! Another spring of sick fawning and idolizing! (All that being said, this plant is also a little odd because the flowers feel just like wax. If the blossoms were warm, they'd feel like human skin. Euw.)

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A big Mossy Cottage welcome to Traci who is the latest to join the ranks of those who’ve gone back and read every single blog entry. This always humbles and amazes me although why, I'm not sure, since you can be damn sure I've read every entry of every year of every blog on my blogroll. Thank you, Traci!

And, Ruth, the yarn the moose threw was meh. We ain't talkin' Koigu. Or this (take a gander at the price!).

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Local knitters, be sure to tune in Monday when I announce a big, fun Dulaan blowout event. For now, just two tantalizing links: This and this.

Posted by Ryan at 11:17 AM | Comments (12)

April 25, 2007

Sentimental Journey

Ah, I see Cookie was brave enough to ask the “Great Brie Debate” question. But are we brave enough to answer, even though this question has haunted us ever since we posted it, no thanks to some local smart-aleck cheese-lovers? Heck, yeah!

The Great Brie Debate had to do with a blog poll we posted a few years ago about whether or not one is supposed to eat brie rind. TMK and I staunchly declare that we would rather eat post-game, unwashed socks retrieved from the bottom of a baseball team’s laundry hamper than eat brie rind. The rest of the world says we are unsophisticated louts and, yes, brie rind should be eaten. Needless to say, we lost by a landslide in the poll but have continued in our loutish ways regardless. Neanderthals unite!

Julie was curious about my being beaned by the Mariner Moose. This has to do with the very first Stitch & Pitch baseball game, held here in Seattle in 2005. During the seventh-inning stretch, the team mascot, the Mariner Moose, came up to where the knitters were and threw balls of yarn to at us. I wasn’t paying that much attention since I was, you know, knitting, and kept getting beaned in the head. I don’t know what was more embarrassing, my girly inability to catch a ball of yarn, or the fact that the balls were being thrown by a grown man who makes a living dancing around in a moose suit.

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Since the picture on the High Mesa Cardigan pattern is completely crapola (what gives with that, by the way?), I schlepped around the Net to see if there might be a better representation out there, and stumbled across this. These images aren't the best but they show the knit-ish, purl-ish, gansey-ish, Southwestern-ish motif I mentioned and give you a better idea of what the sweater is all about.

Work on the sweater has slowed considerably, though, since I seem to have developed The Pinky, the bastard child of The Claw. I suspect The Pinky is my family’s genetically unavoidable arthritis rearing its head for the first time but I’m still trying to convince myself that a little less knitting on a 177-stitch sweater for a couple of days will make the problem completely clear up. It will, won’t it? Won’t it?

Speaking of pink, this weekend I tweaked my “Change the Color to Fit the Charity” Ribbon Hat and churned out another hat for my employee's cancer walk, again using a basic, 90-stitch roll-brim hat pattern.

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Here is the new chart, if anyone be interested:

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Posted by Ryan at 01:38 PM | Comments (19)

April 23, 2007

If I Knew Then...

How is it that a blog that I thought would start with a whimper, stagger drunkenly along for some pathetic amount of time, then peter out unnoticed and be buried namelessly somewhere in Potter’s Field, is now celebrating its fourth blogiversary? Say whuh?! Sher ‘nuff. This blog started on April 21, 2003, with a lame-ass posting about a dead squirrel (what was I thinking? Way to get readers, dude.) and ended its fourth year on Friday with some lame-ass post about, well, about being a lame-ass post. I can see my topic-selection skills have improved tremendously.

But quelle journée, people, quelle journée! Since the beginning of the blog:


  • We’ve started and abandoned a natural dye garden.

  • We’ve gone to California for the wedding of two people we’d never met.
  • We’ve learned who Joaquín Miller is.

  • I’ve gone from knitting nothing but socks—and insisting militantly that I would always knit nothing but socks—to knitting scarves, hats, mittens, lace, sweaters, Fair Isle, and cables, and cutting steeks.

  • We designed the Mossy Cottage Knitting and Fiber Commune on Horsesh*t Road (you had to be there).

  • TMK started woodworking (I kept knitting).

  • TMK started birdwatching (I kept knitting).

  • TMK learned how to build a garden patio (I kept knitting).

  • TMK started spinning (I kept knitting).

  • TMK learned to her horror exactly how much a pound of roving is.
  • I’ve been beaned in the head with a ball of yarn by the Mariner Moose.

  • We’ve learned more about Canada and met more Canadians than is natural.

  • We’ve learned more about Mongolia and Mongolians than is natural.

  • We've learned to say "ger" instead of "yurt."

  • I’ve lost one uterus and gained another.

  • I (reluctantly) welcomed two sock monkeys into the family.

  • We learned that, yes, you can have major life-decisions made by complete strangers, thanks to the magic of blog polls (anyone remember The Great Brie Debate?).

  • We coined or adopted “mammygram,” “MongoLEEa,” “angry pie” and “NORma!”

  • We learned, put enough chocolate on it and even tofu tastes good.

  • We learned about goat farting.

  • I learned never say “yes” to free yarn from a rug company without asking at least one or two questions.

  • We started Dulaan, and learned that, when you run a knitting charity, every day is Christmas.

  • And we’ve have had so much life and depth and fun and joy and badly needed validation and support added to our lives by the people we’ve met online and in the flesh. Sounds a little Pollyanna-esque I know, but it’s the truth. Ask TMK. She’ll tell you.

P.S. Since these items will probably generate a mountain of questions from new readers, ask away, ask away.

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True to her springtime personality shift, TMK has gone all garden-y and woodwork-y on me and not so much fiber-y and spin-y. However, this weekend, thanks to a knit-in at Naomi’s on Saturday and the showing of the entire Dinotopia miniseries on TV on Sunday, she churned that wheel like a coked-up madwoman. Here, a tencel/merino single-ply which is the most remarkable shiny copper. Not terra cotta, not carrot, not light brown, not peach. Copper. (Some jokester at the knit-in, I don't remember who, declared that since Tencel is made from wood fiber, TMK was actually woodworking, not spinning. We bust out laughin' at that one, I tell you what!)

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And here, 3-ply made from a yak/merino blend (the white) and baby alpaca (the brown). Veddy, veddy soft, this one.

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Local Dulaaners, stay tuned for some news about a fun and original Dulaan event. Will elaborate on this teaser as soon as I can.

Posted by Ryan at 11:30 AM | Comments (39)

April 20, 2007

Blogging at its Most Pathetic

Sorry for the complete and utter lateness of today’s post. What's worse, it’s going to be late and lame, since Ryan and TMK World has entered a minimalist phase, activity-wise.

The biggest news—and even this is far from earth-shattering—is that, after six years of knitting, I’ve finally started knitting a sweater for Dulaan TMK a friend an employee a co-worker’s babyme! To stack the deck in favor of actually finishing the damn thing, I’m using chunky yarn (Wool Pak 14 ply; I’m repurposing the yarn I used for this ill-fated project) and size 10 tree trunks needles. The pattern is the High Mesa Cardigan, a plainish cardigan with some simple knit-and-purl gansey-like patterning. My one concern is that the only area with a patterning is uppish, over my bodacious ta-tas which do not need any more attention drawn to them since they already arrive half-an-hour before I do. But, since this is my first adult sweater, I’ve decided it'd be safest to follow the pattern as written. So far, so good: 6" of stockinette in, and I still haven’t thrown my hands up out of either ennui or frustration. However, it was very depressing to eyeball the growing sweater and think, That’s huge! That’s gargantuan! That’s humongous! That’s super-colossal! That would fit an elephant! That would fit around Saturn with room to spare! No human being could ever be that big and still be alive!, then transfer it from the needles to a piece of yarn, wrap it around your body, and discover that it fits just fine, perhaps even a little snugly. Sniff.

Enabling Alert: Local knitters, especially Eastside knitters, the Kirkland Yarn and Stitchery is having a going-out-of-business sale. Two co-workers and I cruised on through there today and, while the store is pretty empty, there’s still some Cashmerino, Cascade 220 (regular and tweed), a lot of baby yarn, a lot of Plymouth Encore-type yarns, a good selection of patterns, and lots of needles, including some Addi Turbos (smaller, size 16” ones and larger ones with longer cables). The current discount is 25% off yarn, 40% off pattern pamphlets. Let the record show I bought...nothing.

Yep, late and lame.

Posted by Ryan at 02:41 PM | Comments (12)

April 18, 2007

In the Modeling World, You Get What You Pay For

Who knew that one of the Great Mossy Cottage Kafuffles would be about, of all things, a massage? While I so appreciate y’all having my back (pardon the pun), really, kind citizens of Blogland, the post-massage bodily wear-and-tear was, to a great extent—and I’m not being coy here—my fault, since the masseur did ask regularly and often if he was pressing too hard but I, based on past deep-tissue massages, thought some discomfort was normal and responded accordingly (between the most unattractive squeaks and grunts). And the silver lining? The only cure for my inexperience? More massages! Woot!

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As I mentioned in my last post—as I backpedaled frantically after confessing I had knit for another charity—I did finish the once-ill-fated Dulaan sweater. The redesigned sleeves came out perfectamundo and other than (a) running out of various colors and having to get wildly creative and (b) the tedium of weaving in four yarn ends for every stripe, it was a great sweater to knit.

The photoshoot, though? Not so good. First I tried to recreate this modeling feat of a few years ago:

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...but the pooch would have none of it. She had an instant brain fart, forgot what “sit” and “stay” meant, and tried very determinedly to walk right through the fabric while I screeched and grabbed and yanked and tried to extract her claws from between the stitches while simultaneously pulling the sweater up over those embarrassingly ginormous ears.

Then TMK, who had observed the entire circus, offered to pose with the sweater and, well...

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…she was no better behaved. But I threatened to send her back for another massage, and look—instant cooperation!

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Here, for good measure, the ubiquitous lavender shot so you can better see the color-flip-flopped sleeves, the result of having to juggle rapidly diminishing balls of yarn. Five small brass buttons for the left side of the neck and it’s off to Flagstaff.

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Still on the Dulaan front, I wanted to let you know about the inspiring work being done by yet another one of our Champeens of the Mongolian People, Emma, at Sweet Briar College. Big-hearted Emma has adopted Dulaan as “her” project and has been marketing the project around campus. She has received responses from faculty, staff, students, and even spouses of faculty, has succeeded in having an article posted to her college’s online web newsletter, and has even sent out press releases to further her cause.

As a result, to-date Emma has made or received these items:

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Now, knitters, take a gander at the teal sweater in the back and the cream-colored sweater in the front. These are remarkable for two reasons. One, look at the cabling, look at the intricacy, look at the workmanship! And, two, these come from one Dr. Elisabeth Muhlenfeld, the president of Sweet Briar. Wow! That Emma knows her some peoples.

Emma, if there were such a thing as a Dulaan Medal, one would be on its way to you. (Which, actually, gives me an idea for next year. Hmmmmm...)

Posted by Ryan at 11:51 AM | Comments (18)

April 16, 2007

Ow.

Mistake #1: Agreeing to have the birthday-massage schedule juggled because one of the masseuses was out sick.

Mistake #2: Agreeing to have a masseur instead of a masseuse because no one else was available to cover the new schedule.

Mistake #3: Not fleeing the spa in a headlong scramble when a young, muscle-bound stud who obviously didn’t know his own strength rumbled out of the massage room.

Outcome: Both TMK and I woke up Saturday morning feeling as if we had been beaten from head to toe with wet, knotted ropes. And TMK has at least one bruise that we can find.

Is that normal?

(And is it normal to have a blog and ask people you’ve never met if something that happened in your life was normal?)

The massage equivalent of being beaten into a gang aside, the TMK Birthday Bash of Ought Seven was awesome. I wish I could show you photos of the main event, the trip to Boeing’s Everett Plant, but when Boeing muscle says no cameras, no purses, no bags, no wallets, no keys, no phones, no nada, they ain’t kidding. TMK and I both sauntered up to the start of the tour carrying what we thought were perfectly innocuous paperbacks but were turned back and pointed in the direction of some lockers by, granted, the sweetest security guy you'll ever meet, but turned back all the same.

The camera restriction in particular irked both me and the Birthday Girl since we’d envisioned an endless supply of photographic blog fodder…until the tour leader ‘llowed as how a couple of years ago someone dropped a camera over the edge of the viewing balcony and did $250,000 damage to the wing of a nascent jet.

Oh.

Love the blog, love youze guys, but no blog is worth that. So, here, the official site with official photos of what we saw. (To put things in perspective, each set of blue doors is as long as a football field, and the entire building covers 98.3 acres.)

What struck me the most about the tour was how, in the vastness of an assembly room containing hundreds, if not thousands of workers; a huge plane-baking oven (!); dollies, trolleys and carts; bright, hot lights; an endless network of conveyor belts, riggings, scaffolding, wires, cranes, and forklifts; and bits and pieces of six semi-assembled 777 jets, there he was: A pigeon, strolling calmly through everything, head a’bobbin’. It made the controlled chaos around him seem so laughable and pointless. “Fly?,” he seemed to say. “I’ll show you fly, baby.”

If you’re a local and haven’t done the tour, or if you’re going to be in town and are wondering what to do, I highly recommend it. Only, remember, the slightest speck of lint in your pocket and you’ll be escorted to the lockers by the nicest security guy ever.

We spent the rest of the weekend weeding like madwomen, finding excuses to eat just one more slice of chocolate birthday cake, and watching Series VII of Red Dwarf, while I worked on my new pride and joy, my Pink-Ribbon Hat.

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I almost need not say it, I'm sure, but the hat is for my employee’s cancer walk (now, now, I finished my Dulaan sweater first) and was knit with gumball-pink Cascade 220 and some miscellaneous white wool I had in stash. Here’s the chart I designed and used; copy away, if you are so inclined. The hat is your basic roll-brim using 90 stitches.

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For those of you who were curious about the whole “propagate the hebe” thing, TMK has two of these 1’ tall beauts in her yard...

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...and wants more, enough to make a hedge. Hence the sad and ultimately fruitless attempt at propagating.

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The latest count from Stacey at F.I.R.E.:

5,046!!!

Dear Reader and Dulaanite Nancy O. tells me that she's getting ready to mail box #9, containing the last of her 122 items, making her the equivalent of 24.4 people knitting 5 items each. Nancy, I take my hat off to you. And my scarf. And everything else I've ever knit for Dulaan. You rock.

Posted by Ryan at 11:29 AM | Comments (25)

April 11, 2007

Sour Grapes

No posting Friday, Dear Readers. We will be otherwise occupied with celebrating TMK’s forty-mumbleth birthday with a tour of the Boeing Paine Field plant and Future of Flight exhibit, thoroughly hedonistic and self-indulgent massages, dinner at an Italian restaurant, birthday kek and a present or two. Should be a total lark!

But right now, two days away from the festivities, TMK and I are feeling a little twitchy and maybe slightly crotchety since we are aware that a confluence of scrumpdillicious knitterly personages—like Nathania, Stephanie, Cat Bordhi and all the Blue Moon Fiber Arts gals—is taking place right here, right now, in Washington, at one of the most beautiful establishments in the state. We're convinced we can feel the knitterly energy all the way over here on the other side of the Sound! And, granted that this may very well be sour grapes, but, realistically, over $1,000 per each for four days of fiberly fun is too rich for our skinny wallets. Give me a pair of cheap needles, a $7 ball of Cascade 220, an overstuffed chair, and I’m good. Oh, and maybe some chocolate. And TMK. And some knitting friends. And a luxury bed and breakfast on an island. And three days of knitting classes. And a whale-watching tour. And a reception. And a banquet. And Nathania. And Stephanie. And Cat Bordhi. And the Blue Moon Fiber Arts gals. Then I'd be good.

So, I’ve been distracting myself by resuming work on a somewhat neglected Dulaan sweater.

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The sweater was based on this pattern (which, thanks be, I printed out right before Yarn Forward started charging for it) but I surprised my usually unadventurous self by changing it considerably. I used a mish-mash of Peruvian Highland Wool yarns from Elann.com, and then proceeded to use ribbing instead of garter stitch on the edges, made the sleeves solid instead of striped, blew off the sleeve caps altogether, and changed the location of the buttonholes. Apparently my heretofore rigid and pattern-obedient self has been taken over by the soul of someone who can, indeed, bend the knitting rules a little and survive to tell the tale. Oh, my God. I'm a pod person.

I also had to completely redesign the sleeves since, after attaching the first one, I was all, like, dude, what gives?

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You can’t see it too well in the picture, but the increasing as written caused the sleeves to go from anorexic at the wrist to morbidly obese at the armhole with funky concave shaping along the bottom. The angularity and concavity made think of chicken wings fresh out of a KFC bucket. What’s worse, the sleeves freakishly refused to fold in half symmetrically. I had to do semi-abusive things to them to get them to behave. All of which led to the redesign—which led to its own set of problems. On the second sleeve, I ran out of yarn...with 8 stitches to cast off. Yowch. Fortunately, I had a second green that was close enough (you can see the two greens in the picture, a dark seafoam and a medium chartreuse) so I pressed it into service, and am counting on the mattress-stitch to snug that second parasitic green up and out of site. I surrender. I can do no more.

I have also been distracting myself by trying to propagate hebes from TMK’s yard. You can see how well that's going:

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E-see you on Monday!

Posted by Ryan at 01:44 PM | Comments (34)

April 09, 2007

If a Cat House or Kennel is a Cattery, Then Why Isn't a Bat House a Battery?

Together, a mere eight of Friday’s commenters have made 245 items, or the equivalent of 49 people knitting five items each.

If I include Janet Elliott’s 65 items, then nine people have knit 310 items, or the equivalent of 62 people knitting five items each.

I think I can officially stop worritin' about whether or not my ”Dulaan 10,000 or Bust” public-relations effort is going to backfire.

Kristin, Norma, Lisa A, Patti, Irina, Tasha, Sylvia, Petrified—and, of course, anyone who is making even one item for Dulaan, let alone 4, 5, 6!—I send you a thank you This Big (imagine me stretching my arms out as far as I can, and then trying to stretch them just that little bit further but then stopping because both shoulders just made a gross cracking noise). Wow. (And, Norma, I had no idea the Red Scarf project generated that kind of a response. No idea. That is really sumpin’.)

As I mentioned a couple of entries ago, one of my employees has started a project for herself, just herself, to knit hats to sell during an upcoming walkathon to raise money for a local cancer-society chapter. Within days, word had gotten out, and other knitters in the office were dropping hats off at her office and she, a new knitter who learned to knit just to make the hats, and who knows bupkus about the knitting mindset, was starting to get that “What’ve I gotten myself into, and just who are these people?” look on her face. Eventually, I had to have a little tête-à-tête with her to explain just how dangerously generous knitters can be (and I know whereof I speak). Her loins are well girded now; she is ready to juggle a blizzard of hats, should such a thing come about.

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As promised, pictures from TMK of the assembling of the bat house. (Who knew, by the way, that an entry about bats would generate so many enthusiastic responses and interesting stories? I figured the women would run squealing away and the men would tell me all about how, when they were acne-riddled, snot-nosed kids, they tortured bats with magnifying glasses and sunshine. I sorely underestimate my readers sometimes. Thank you, everyone, for the information. TMK and I read every word and clicked on every link!)

Here is the untreated cedar used for the project. TMK says the “untreated” part is molto importante. She also says that her plan for the bat box was a mish-mash of patterns she found online and ideas she got from bat boxes she saw at a local watershed preserve (Meadowbrook, for you North Seattleites) and at local stores.

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Beginning assembly, and a close-up of the tongue and groove which is, apparently, equally molto importante because it helps make the bat house more weather-proof. TMK says she bought the cedar panels already "tongued and grooved" but only because they made a pricing boo-boo in her favor at ManLand. Normally, to save money, she would have bought plain panels and routed the tongue and groove herself. (I have no bloody idea what I just said there but I sounded very butch for a moment, didn't I? HOO-AH!)

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Almost finished. The depth is 3” but the entrance will be reduced to about 1” since that is what other patterns recommend. The box is 23” wide (surprisingly big) and will hold lots o’ bats. The only thing TMK is missing is some mesh to put inside for the bats to cling to. Once the mesh is in, then shel'll caulk the crap out of everything, join all the pieces together, paint the box black to absorb heat, install it, and become an instant bat-guano entrepreneur.

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AnnMarie asked if TMK knew where she was going to put the bat box. We’ve read that it needs to go 15’? 18’? (TMK?) high and face the sun for the most warmth, so she thinks she’s found a good spot in the northeast corner of her yard. I’m still skeptical about how she’s going to get it up that high since this thing is wide and he-e-aveee but, as she always likes to say, she “Has a Plan.”

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Question of the Day: When TMK works out at the gym, she amuses herself by reading the typos in the captions on the TV. Today, when she was watching the View, she saw this beaut: "snooflements." Anyone have any clue what a "snooflement" could possibly be?

Posted by Ryan at 01:13 PM | Comments (22)

April 06, 2007

86 Days and Counting, Dulaaners!

Finally got my lazy-ass self around to updating the Dulaan 10,000 or Bust list yesterday. It was my pleasure to be able to mark these 19 Warriors for Dulaan as "done" on the list! Thank you, everyone!!

Anne Bland
Chris Hadaway
Debbie
Dee Gaylord
Dianne Harrington
Ivy Reisner
Kathleen Campbell
Krista Moore
Lauren Paul
Lauren Snell
Leanne Cooper
Mariza Kenny
Mary Beth Temple
Nancy Holter
Nancy Lutz
Pam Watson
Renais Jeanne Hill
Sheila Fuesting
Sue Marchant

As a reminder, people who finish their 5+ knitted items or blankets will be eligible to participate in a drawing for a basket o’ knittin' goodies. To encourage people to mail their items to F.I.R.E. sooner rather than later, June 15 is now the official deadline for letting me know that you have finished your items. Ooooooo, the pressure! And to inspire you to do more, more, more—because they sure as shootin’ inspire me—below are photos of the 65 (!!) items knit by Warrior for Dulaan and Champion of the Mongolian People Janet Elliott. Remarkable, no?

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I worried for a while that the "Dulaan 10,000 or Bust" contest would backfire on me, that it would make people knit 5 and only 5 items, where normally they might have knit more. But then people like Janet come along, who knit enough for herself and 12 other people (no lie; you do the math), and I know I don’t have anything to worry about.

On the subject of charity knitting, Mary Lou Egan is selling a Tiger Hat pattern, all proceeds from which go to Heifer International. Just passin’ the info along.

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You know how it is with TMK: One minute she’s making gecko stepping stones, the next she’s building a blanket chest, the next she’s installing a hardscape patio, the next she’s building tuteurs and the next she’s learning how to spin. Guess what’s coming down the Pike of Neverending Surprises now, m’dears! A bat box!

TMK and I both think bats are peachy-keen* and she has talked about installing a bat house or two in her backyard for years. Fueled by the spectacular success she has had with her new bird feeders**, 2007 is apparently the Year of the Bat. Two weekends ago was all about cruisin’ the Net for ideas and patterns. Yesterday was all about the trip to ManLand to get materials, and the starting of the project. She promises me that she has taken photos, so I will share next week. (Somewhere in there, there’s a pun about Everything you Ever Guano About Bats But Were Afraid To Ask, but I’m afraid to go there.)

*My love of bats comes from—besides my over-the-top passion for all things wild and wooly—a childhood replete with bat-ty experiences. When we lived in Brazil, we used to be able to throw fruit up in the air and have it come down with a bat-bite out of it. When we lived in Singapore, bats roosted up under the eaves of our house and we discovered that if you made sucking noises at them, their tiny ears would go wild trying to figure out what the sound was. (This was an endless source of amusement for us kids. No day was complete without pissing off the bats.) On a train trip through Malaysia, we saw flying foxes swooping through the air over the tropical jungle. And a few years ago (okay, we’ve left my childhood far behind now), we went to the local Japanese gardens for a Moon-Viewing Ceremony and although it was rainy and the cloud-cover blocked the moonshine—so the event itself was a bit of a bust—we did get to see the bats come out. So very, very cool. Any other batophiles out there?

**We knew this weekend we had been a little too successful in enticing birds into TMK’s yard when a sharp-shinned hawk tried to do a little drive-by “shopping” at the bird feeder. The little birds had gotten wise to him, though, and were long gone, so he was reduced to sitting forlornly on a branch, texting the other hawks. I caught a glimpse of his cell phone display but all it said was, “WHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAZZZZZZZZUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP??”

Posted by Ryan at 11:52 AM | Comments (38)

April 04, 2007

Bloooooo Moooooooon, La La La La La La La La

[Quite a few Dear Readers have said that messages sent to my Yahoo email address have bounced back to them as spam. I’ve temporarily turned off all my spam-protection settings. If you’re still having problems, please let me know.]

Here’s my first sock using Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Socks that Rock" yarn, color "Lagoon" in the heavyweight weight and, as always, Evelyn Clark’s Railroad Rib pattern. (Aren’t you impressed by the artisanship shown in the second photo? I quit knitting for the briefest of seconds, slapped the sock on my thigh, took a snapshot, tossed the camera aside, and kept on knitting. Such heart I put into my work.)

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This yarn is like…how do I describe it? Have you ever eaten home-made pasta? (Stick with me; I do have a point, even if I do seem to be soaring off into the stratosphere.) Not the dry stuff sold in a box with a cellophane window; not even the marginally better “fresh” stuff sold in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. I’m talking pasta you roll out on your kitchen counter, cut into thin ribbons, immediately plop into boiling water, and are eating three minutes later with butter, salt and pepper and a good dollop of thick marinara sauce. As fresh as fresh can get. If so, then you know that home-made pasta is airy, chewy and rich, more like eating fluffy, eggy dumplings than flat, bland, blah, cardboardy supermarket spaghetti. The sock yarn is like that—squishy, puffy, airy, rich, dense. Er, if not exactly eggy. It’s really lovely.

This is also, however, the yarn I was kvetching about in my last entry, in which I mentioned discovering that the difference of a mere 4 stitches can make the variegation go from making subtle, attractive, Gardens-of-Giverny smudges of color to strict, militant spiraling stripes. Four stitches, people! This is all the more disappointing since the socks are for a dude, and the smudges looked almost like upmarket camouflage, dude-esque yet tailored, and the stripes…not so much.

Other than that, life is quiet. Baseball season has started so TMK is all about the save and the bunt and the steal and the bad calls and the pop-ups and the slides and the curveballs and the stupid umps and the broken bats and the seventh-inning stretch. Me, I’m making like a giant mole in my garage, burrowing a large tunnel between the boxes of Avalanche yarn for the new washer and dryer (which I haven’t even bought yet, but all in good time, all in good time) and thanking God that whatever male cat it is that got into said garage decided to spray on the one pile of Dulaan items that were securely zipped up in a plastic blanket-storage bag. Everything has been much better secured now. No harm done. Although if I find the $%^!$%!* cat, harm may be done.

Posted by Ryan at 10:44 AM | Comments (13)

April 02, 2007

Tap. Tap. Tappity Tap Tap. And...Jazz Fingers!

Does my girl know how to do date night or whut?

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The lowdown on “Happy Feet,” because Seanna Lee asked: I don’t care how many terminally cute baby penguins there are in the flick, it’s not for little ones. In fact, at one point during the movie, during a very foreboding, pregnant pause, we heard some poor kid in the audience, who was obviously savvy about what those pauses mean, say tremulously and querulously, “Mooommmmy?” And then all hell broke loose on the screen, and the poor kid started shrieking. Which was good in a way, because he drowned out TMK, who, apparently, is not savvy about the pregnant pauses.

That, and parts of the plot were completely unbelievable, which is an insanely imbecilic thing for me to say about an animated feature, I know, but that’s just how loco they were. I can believe in a gigantic warehouse full of thousands of "transporter" doors to childrens’ bedrooms, and a green ogre who makes candles out of his own earwax and partners up with a talking donkeh, long before I could believe some parts of “Happy Feet.”

Bet you’re thinking by now that we’re a coupla old Scrooges who wouldn’t know a cute, fun and funny movie if it bit us on the arse, and you’re halfway to deleting this blog from your bloglist. But, nope, we loved it lots. In fact, there was an extended outburst of singing and synchronized shimmying after we got home, since the movie and the dancin’ and the tunes just get under your skin like that. (Similar outbursts may have occurred on Saturday and Sunday as well, but I’m taking the Fifth.) And the animation was breathtaking. I say go. I even say, take a kid; just make sure he’s older and doesn’t have a bladder-control problem.

As for the rest of the weekend, no thanks to the otter video, TMK and I spent it holding hands in a rather curious fashion.

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The knitting for the weekend consisted mostly of the interminable round-and-round of sock knitting—and the agita caused by discovering that a difference of a mere four stitches can cause variegated yarn to go from making amorphous, yet attractive, smudges of color to making perfect, yet not so attractive, spiraling stripes—so let’s focus on something more entertaining and satisfying, shall we?

Every year our Guild has what’s called the “Fiber Frenzy” during which members can bring things to the monthly meeting that they want to sell like items they’ve made or stash or books or patterns they want to farm out to a new home. Norma, who is a Feralite and an enormously talented knitter, brought some of these, which she makes out of some lumpy, bumpy, thick-and-thin, off-white yarn that knits up into the perfect sheep fleece. How could I not take one home?

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Despite the language barrier, and their differences in size and cultural backgrounds, the sheep and Mongol LEE* have now become fast friends:

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Oh, and speaking of things that are knitted, things that are felted, and things that are both, make sure not to miss Dear Reader Klaus’s very own felted Magic Cone! Perhaps the Cone is on its way to becoming the next Flying Spaghetti Monster.

* For new readers, Mongol LEE was a gift to TMK from Cuzzin Tom. He (the camel, not the cuzzin) is made from felted Mongolian Bactrian camel fiber, and is named after a student of my e-friend Marylee’s who insists, in a most charming fashion, on pronouncing Mongolia as MongoLEEa.

Posted by Ryan at 11:25 AM | Comments (8)