May 29, 2007

Dulaan-a-Thaan Reminder!

(Afternoon Update: TMK pointed out to me that I blogged on a Tuesday. I have no bloody idea why I did this, but don't get all excited. Next posting: Friday, fer sher.)

Reminder!

Join Us at the Dulaan-a-Thaan!

When: This Saturday, June 2, 2007. 6 p.m.–6 a.m

Where: Village Yarn & Tea Shop (may they and their offspring be forever blessed), 19500 Ballinger Way NE, Shoreline

Bring: Yourselves, your finished and unfinished Dulaan items, a tea mug, and a snack to share. Wear pj’s, if you want, or just comfortable lounging clothes. I’ll be wearing pink satin pajamas and my Dulaan t-shirt. If for no other reason, come to the Thaan to see me make a total fool of myself in this way.

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!

F.I.R.E. has sent me these bags, which are as Mongolian as ayrag and buuz, to sell as fundraisers for F.I.R.E. at the Thaan. Yes, you, you can be one of a select few knitters in the world who carry their knitting projects around in bags made from Mongolian Kazakh wall-hangings! Call now while supplies last! Operators are... Oh, wait, never mind; just come to the Thaan and pick one up for yourself.

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F.I.R.E. has also sent Mongolian music, two Mongolian movie shorts, and some new photos from Dulaan 2006. We will be blogging live, thanks to TMK and her cool yet jazzy laptop stylings, and, in short, gettin’ jiggy wid it (so jiggy that two Portlanders are even driving up to join in the insanity).

Come be part of Dulaan history!

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The Yo-Yo Jacket finally stopped being so damn squirrely and I was able to get the body done this weekend, as you can see from this photo, sadly overexposed thanks to the pitiless morning sun.

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How do I describe this jacket? It lacks, well, it lacks subtlety. In fact, it screams:

HI!

I’M STRIPED!

I WAS MADE FROM STASH!

I WAS KNIT WITH SEED STITCH!

I WAS KNIT WITH LAUGHABLY LARGE NEEDLES!

I WAS DESIGNED TO BE VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY WARM!

DO YOU WANT TO BE MY SPECIAL FRIEND?

LOOK WHAT I FOUND IN MY NOSE!

Oy.

Two sleeves, a seed-stitch collar, a piece of duct tape slapped over its mouth, and this baby's ready to go.

While I wrestled with the socially challenged jacket, TMK’s weekend was spent wrestling with this…

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…five yards of compost that she voluntarily had delivered to her driveway. Voluntarily. As in, this was okay with her. As in, she paid to have someone bring this to her house. As in, when the very large truck showed up, she did not do her best Ma Barker and run them off with a shotgun. As in, when they dumped this on her driveway, this was pleasing unto her. I just don’t get it.

But I must say the results were A-Number-One. Beauty, eh?

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For Norma those of you who care about such things, I don’t know what the plant in the front is but, working backwards, slightly to the right is a cotoneaster, behind that are orange poppies, a smoke tree, purple irises, a wine-red climbing rose (in fact, the Dublin Bay that I named the sock pattern after), a mish-mash of pyrethra, dahlias, bachelor buttons and other perennials, an ornamental plum tree (the trunk, anyway), and then the large green blob on the left is a honeysuckle vine and the large green blob on the right is an Arctic blue willow.

And what's the large blank space up front, you ask? Let's just say, if you're a plant in TMK's yard, don't make her mad.

Posted by Ryan at 11:33 AM | Comments (16)

May 25, 2007

Just When You Thought the Post-Office Wackiness Was Over...

The good news: My sister found a copy of the photo of my father at the post office in Borneo and sent me a scan.

The bad news: She’s going to force me to admit that I may have exaggerated a wee, but I’ll cowboy up and show the photo anyway. I still contend that I wasn’t that far off. So here it is, ladies and gentlemen, probably the oddest thing to appear in a knitting blog, a picture of the blog mistress’s father at the the world’s smallest post office. (The dirt road? The main drag of Wallace Bay, Borneo. The white shirt, shorts and knee socks? Standard executive dress.)

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Since I don’t have handy any photos of the Scarf in Drag, the 4-Acre Sweater or the Yo-Yo Sweater, thank God for the Brigadiers like, in this case, Marianne Robinson, Nancy O., and Emma Meadors, who often send me photos of what they've been working on.

Here, some cozy hats knit by Marianne. I’m particularly enamored of the amethyst one. The colors, the pattern, everything works.

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Here, her charmingly staged photo of her Dulaan socks. I mean, look—the pink socks match the flowers! Oh, but she puts my photographic skills to shame.

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These two photos are from Nancy O. who, at last count, has, all by her lonesome, sent 11 boxes of items to Arizona.

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Lastly, you may remember that Emma Meadors has been running her own Dulaan Drive Extraordinaire at Sweet Briar College at which she is a student. Take a gander at the amazing results of her one-woman drive! I believe I even espy an Avalanche Vest in there.

P.S. ¡Abby, mi amiga! ¿De veras que Vd. habla espanol? ¡Debemos charlar!

In my defense, “El-Speck-o on El-Map-o” was merely my tongue-in-cheek play on the “ugly American” version of speaking Spanish. In the real world, my Spanish is actually quite respectable. And, just between you ‘n’ me, I’m highly motivated to keep up my skills in this area since, whenever I bust out in a little bit of español, TMK swoons. I say, “Buenos dias. ¿Cómo estás?,” and behind me I hear, “thud.”)

No posting Monday, Dear Readers. See you on Wednesday!

Posted by Ryan at 01:37 PM | Comments (12)

May 23, 2007

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Monitor, Washington

Follow-up to the questions about El Speck-o on El Map-o, Monitor:

Don’t be too impressed by the post office under the Grand Old Flag since, post office, yes; mail delivery, no. When it comes to mail, Monitor is all about the self-serve. Here, curiously, and Lord knows why, someone has posted photos of the inside of the Monitor post office. (What’s weirder, the fact that someone took these photos and posted them, or the fact that I Googled for, and was thrilled to find, exactly this sort of thing? As TMK is fond of saying, “there’s 30 seconds I’ll never get back.”)

Which’all reminds me of the post office in the “town” in Borneo where my parents used to live. Somewhere I have a photo of my 6’2” father standing in the post office…and he fills up the entire thing, floor to ceiling, corner to corner. It wasn’t so much a post office as…you know how in some small towns, the bus stops have tiny, wooden, one-person shelters to stand in? Post office, bus shelters—twins separated at birth.

Which further reminds me that employee paychecks were delivered by helicopter to my parent’s front lawn. Good God, but our lives were bizarre. I had moved Stateside long before my parents moved to Borneo, but what’s telling is that when my mother told me about the helicopter-paycheck-front-lawn thing, I didn’t bat an eye. But I suppose when you live a life where the only way to communicate with your father is through bush radio (complete with “roger” and “over and out"), your brother hatches gecko eggs in his sock drawer, you have to check under the dinner table every night for the poisonous snakes your cat liked to bring in, and your pet turtle disappears while you’re on vacation because your servants ate it, your idea of what's normal becomes slightly skewed.

But back to Washington state… Thanks to TMK and this site, we now know Monitor is named after “the Union warship Monitor and its victory in 1862 over the Confederate Merrimac.” The site further informs us that the name of the town used to be “Brown’s Flat.” Boy, there's a real pick-me-up of a name, eh? Elsewhere, I was able to find this postcard graphic of Brown’s Flat before it became the, um, bustling metropolis it is now.

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The funniest thing about the town is, smack in the middle (pretty much where I stood to take the photos), where two piffling, trifling, no-count roads cross, there’s a stop sign. You cannot drive straight through the two blocks that constitute downtown Monitor. TMK tells me that that’s because, during apple-packing season, when the huge apple warehouses are operating full bore, things can get dangerously hectic. Dangerous. Hectic. In Monitor. I’m sorry, but that just makes me laugh every time.

The other thing that always amuses us when we go to Monitor and, more specifically, to (for Gillian) mater and step-pater’s house, is the noise. You think country, you think birds, breezes soughing through the trees, nickering horses, mooing cows, and perhaps, on an over-the-top-rowdy Saturday night, crickets. If only... First, heavily trafficked train tracks run smack-dab through the property, and hugely long locomotives barrel through day and night, blasting deafening air horns, complete with Doppler Effect. Then there’s the river. They live right on the Wenatchee, maybe 50 feet from the bank (used to be 70 but Mother Nature had a spectacular hissy fit a few years ago). In spring the river runs full and high with snow melt, and makes a deep and loud whooshing, rumbling sound that carries through the land, through the foundation of the house, and up through your pillow as you try to sleep. Saturday night, TMK and I were reduced to hysteria-tinged giggles as we lay in bed listening to (a) the thunderous rumble of a train, (b) the seemingly endless blast of the train horn, (c) the dull roar of the river and, as if that weren’t enough, (d) emergency sirens on the highway on the other side of the river. Ah, country life.

Knitting

Have I been knitting? Meh, half-heartedly. My latest project is a Steam Scarf in strawberry-pink Cascade 220. I had no intention of starting a new project while I was working on the 4-Acre and the Yo-Yo sweaters but I needed something portable and simple for our weekend trip, something I could pick up and put down at a moment’s notice. Thoughts so far: Great, fun, easy but attractive pattern based on 2 x 2 rib and the occasional 16-stitch cable. If I were to do it again, I’d use larger needles (I’m already using 9s; 10s would’ve been better) for greater drape. And I would definitely have used any other color than pink. The slightly macho look of the big cables and the sissy look of the pink do not jive. It looks like a scarf in drag.

Dulaan

I’ve had a reminder from F.I.R.E. to please, please, please remember to tape to the outside of your box an envelope containing the inventory by item and by size of what’s inside. If you don’t, instead of just storing the box until the volunteers are ready, they have to open it and see what’s inside, and this is costing them real dollars and cents. We even provide you with a handy-dandy fill-in form, so no excuses, Brigadiers! (If you don’t want to take the time to list every item in the box, organize everything by item and size into bags and then just list the bags, for example, “red bag: children’s hats, size 2-3 years.” This is what I do.)

F.I.R.E. also tells me that last year at this time, they had about 3,500 items. As we speak, they have 7,000. Way to go, Brigadiers!

P.S. A shout out to new reader Knitting Granny! “Granny,” I think the rose you show in your May 18th entry is a George Burns. We have one and it's one of my fave flowers! I mean, a rose that is striped pink and yellow? How cool is that?

Posted by Ryan at 11:29 AM | Comments (13)

May 21, 2007

Oh-Dee-Oh!

(Picture-heavy post, Dear Readers.)

You know what’s spooky? A large male coyote who isn’t as eager to run away as he should be—because he has zeroed in on the snack-sized bichon frise you’ve taken into the orchard for its afternoon constitutional. Sure, the coyote loped away, but reluctantly, and sure he kept looking back, but more to see if/when we were going to let down our collective guard than anything else. 30 seconds later, the bichon frise had been hustled back into the safety of the house. (Side note: This was my first coyote, other than the occasional, far-away glimpse of gray. I was thrilled and in awe, almost on tiptoe with excitement, and would’ve followed him if it wouldn’t have been a spectacularly stupid thing to do, although being spectacularly stupid hasn’t always stopped me in the past.)

So, yes, we’re back from a quirky weekend in eastern Washington. The last time I mentioned Monitor, the town where we went and where TMK’s mother and step-father live, I pointed out that it's too small to appear on the U.S. Census. This time, visual proof. I present to you the whole of downtown Monitor:

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Okay, I lie. There’s a skosh more to the burg. If you do a 180 from the above viewpoint, you see…

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…an antique fire engine and some apple warehouses. Ta-dah! (TMK's mater and step-pater do not, of course, live in any of the semi-dilapidated downtown buildings but in a lovely home, built by step-pater, about a 1/2-mile away.)

The purpose for the trip was to participate in a Rebuilding Together project. Rebuilding Together, which some of you may know as “Christmas in April,” organizes and sends out teams of volunteers to fix or improve the homes of poor, elderly or disabled people. TMK’s mother is the president of the Wenatchee, Washington, branch, hence our being sucked up and over the mountains.

Despite the visions of hammers and nails and saws and buckets of paint that danced in our heads, TMK’s and my participation took a sharp and decidedly womanly detour when we learned that our first task would be to help El Presidente fold and bag, by work team, 160 t-shirts.

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This couldn’t be done, of course, without the occasional outburst of “Whistle While You Work” and, inexplicably, the “Oh-Dee-Oh” song sung by the flying monkeys in “The Wizard of Oz” and, even more inexplicably, TMK’s and my need to make, in unison, loud creaking, twisting noises whenever El Presidente secured a bag with a twist-tie. Fortunately, El Presidente took it all with good humor or we would’ve found ourselves trebucheted back over the mountains soon after we arrived.

The big event took place Saturday. Here, the 160 volunteers assembled in the basement of a local church for a pancake-breakfast send-off. TMK and I were relatively comfortable in small-town, largely Republican “enemy territory,” as it were, until a man walked in wearing a t-shirt displaying an all-red diagram of the United States with “My America” writ large beneath. Shudder. However, for the most part, everyone was warm and lovely and dedicated wholeheartedly to the work ahead.

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Our team of 10 or so had been assigned to work on the mobile home of a woman with MS. My job, since the idea of me wielding either a hammer or any kind of power tool is truly terrifying, was to clean out a backyard shed. Primary job requirement: Not being afraid of spiders. I fit the bill perfectly.

Half-way through, with everything that was inside the shed now outside, although this picture only shows about half of it:

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Done, with 90% of the items hauled away, and the remaining items completely accessible. (The homeowner helped us decide, of course, what to keep and what should go, and we greased the whole communication process by inventing a new acronym, MIG—“Make It Gone.” Everything was either "MIG" or "not MIG." Feel free to take and use in your organizing efforts.)

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In the meantime, TMK, who was hoping to put her new-found woodworking skills to the test, was assigned to rebuild a set of stairs.

The old rickety stairs gone, the new stringers in place. (Neener, neener, TMK. Bet you didn’t know I knew the word “stringers.” What can I say? The Internet is my oyster.)

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TMK and Bob the Builder cutting new treads. TMK reports that Bob the Builder was the perfect mentor: Unsexist, knowledgeable, experienced, encouraging, helpful, and supportive and yet wouldn’t let her wimp out when it came to something new and challenging. Hats off to Bob the Builder who, by the way, is a bit of a babe for his age.

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Bob the Builder with the stairs almost finished, minus the handrails. Note how they built the top stair level with the landing to make descent easier for the homeowner. It’s that extra effort that the volunteers put in that truly warms me cockles. (And lest you think TMK has abandoned the project, those are her denimed legs behind the trellis.)

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Elsewhere around the trailer, another set of stairs was built, the carport which had gone dangerously off-kilter was shored up, an overgrown-rose-vine-and-rotting-trellis combo was disassembled, pruned, whacked, and rebuilt, large pieces of furniture were removed, and, the next day, although we didn’t participate, the house was painted.

I think in this picture, El Presidente and the coyote snack speak for all of us:

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Posted by Ryan at 01:05 PM | Comments (15)

May 16, 2007

Ever the Princess

No posting on Friday, Dear Readers. The Mysterious K is hauling my arse east over the Cascades to participate in a Rebuilding Together project being spearheaded by her mother. To show you how much in denial I am that I may actually have to do manual labor, I am, quite illogically, having a French manicure done the night before we leave. I suspect I and my newly white-tipped nails are in for a rude surprise involving hammers, paint, heavy hauling, and copious sweat, come 6:30 a.m. Saturday. Maybe I feel a cold coming on. Cough. Cough.

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Slow and steady, slow and steady. In fact, I thought of myself as lurching along Igor-like this week as I checked all der emails and all der blog comments since the last “Dulaan 10,000 or Bust” update for even the faintest whiff of folks who have recently (or not so recently, depending on how good a job I did of missing them last time around) completed their five or more items. Below are the latest additions to the list of people who are done. As always, the list is in alphabetical order by first name or nickname, depending on how you sign yourself.

BJ Anderson
Carol Didier
Daisy Schrock
Denyse Kim Sturges
Janice Drew
Joan Keith
Judith Daniels
Julie Schramm
Karen W. Moore
Kathleen (RadarKaty)
Kendra Smith
Kimberly Nicdao Reynolds
KnittingFool
Kristin Shields
Laura Coleman
Lisa A.
Lisa St. Hilaire
Lyme
Maia Discoe
Marcy Taitz
Mardeen Libby
Marry Savage
Martha Hesselein
Mary-Ann Newlon
Mel Vassey
Melissa Sprott
Minnie Olson
Mme. Defarge
Pat Nagle
Patti Irvin
Petrified
Renee C. Jones
Renee DePew
Renee Stauffer
Ruth Homrighaus
Sandy Kadrie
Sara Randell
Sharon Hart
Shelly Davis
Suzanne
Tammy Morrow

Here is the complete list. All my efforts aside, you know and I know there’s a 100% chance Igor overlooked someone so just lemme know.

(Urk. My overly imaginative brain just tortured me with a composite picture of Igor...with a French manicure. Why do I do that to myself?)

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The simple—har, har, har—and quick—har, har, har—seed-stitch jacket has now officially been named the “Yo-Yo Jacket,” given the number of times it has been knit up...and frogged down...and knit up...and frogged down...and knit up and...keep your fingers crossed. I’ve started working on the first shoulder and all the mathematics and sizing and striping and shaping seems to be working out.

In the meantime, the Mysterious K, ever the multi-tasker, has been doing a remarkable amount of spinning, considering that Personality #7, her spring and summer, bat-box-making, gardening, barbecue-ing, sun-worshipping, non-spinning persona, has taken over her body. (Meh. You get used to it.) In keeping with the food theme, it is my pleasure to introduce her two-ply, tencel-merino Caramel Sauce:

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Beauty, no?

Despite our attempt to stick to a naming “theme,” whether intentionally or no, this yarn...

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...has undergone three name changes so far, thanks in part to some wiseacre friends who know a little too much about me. It started out as "Vanilla Sundae", then was rebaptized "Sock Monkey" (shudder!) by guess-who and, now that it has been swatched...

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...has been renamed "Speckled Pup" in a panicked but probably futile attempt on my part to get away from Name #2.

This yarn is 2 plies of merino-yak combined with 1 ply of alpaca and, knit up, feels unlike any yarn I've ever touched. It has the same kind of thin yet soft and velvety drape, and the same kind of warm yet cool feel as a pure-cotton sheet that has been washed a million times. Quite remarkable. You almost don't want to believe your fingers.

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A photo for Morgen, who was very gracious when I couldn’t remember her name the other night. Hi, Morgen!

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Posted by Ryan at 12:03 PM | Comments (20)

May 14, 2007

Puns That Are Too Awful To Caw-ntemplate

A weekend spent incessantly singing, even harmonizing on, “By The Light of the Silvery Moo” and making up more supremely bad jokes culminated in:

“What does a crow use to weatherproof his nest?”

“Caw-king.”

And:

“What does a Seattle crow drink?”

“Caw-fee.”

The good news? We’re going away this weekend. Maybe the dry air of Eastern Washington will brush some of these sure signs of dementia from our brains.

I’m relieved to be able to say that the the “caw-king” joke didn’t spring into our heads spontaneously and unbidden. It was prodded into existence by The Mysterious K’s continued work on the bat box.

Here, mesh has been added to the inside back of the box to give the bats something to cling to. I’m wondering if I should add this to the inside of my house. It' a look.

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The front added:

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A better view of the hardware inside which is to be used to attach the box to its mounting post. TMK is inordinately proud of herself for remembering to install the hardware before putting the front on. The alternative is unthinkable.

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The finished box minus a little caw-king (ta-dah!) and black paint. The gap in the front is for ventilation. Do you think bats titter when air wooshes up their little bat panties?

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As for me, I spent the weekend wondering how someone who, for 41 years, had no hobbies whatsoever and then plunged headlong into one, I repeat, one, major obsession, now owns this:

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Fortunately, there is a 100%, knitting-based, even Dulaan-based, rationalization: I told Kim I would make beaded stitch markers for the Dulaan-a-thaan. Phew. I was starting to panic.

Speaking of which, I had an email from F.I.R.E. this morning saying that they were having trouble keeping up with all the Dulaan boxes that were arriving! Fantastic news for us, maybe not so good news for the overworked and overwhelmed folks in Arizona.

I’m also happy to report that the flood of boxes and contributions has led us to be more than half-way past our 2007 goal of 12,086! The latest count is:

6,738!!!!

5,348 to go, dudes and dudettes!

Posted by Ryan at 10:08 AM | Comments (13)

May 11, 2007

A Dulaan Milestone

cow.gifWhen you’re drying your hair and you’re overcome with the unending tedium of looking at your pillow-wrinkled “morning face” in the mirror, here’s what your brain comes up with:

What romantic song did the bull sing to the cow?

By the Light of the Silvery Moo.

(Good luck singing it the correct way now.)

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The squash-colored-yarn debate became an instant non-issue when I realized that the sweater, which was supposed to be the smallest size (4 years), would fit Babar twice over. Indeed, it was giving the Four-Acre Sweater of Incredible Vastness a run for its money.

So I hear you asking the inevitable question: Did I make a swatch? Although over the years I’ve become the reformed smoker of swatching, a devout swatcheist, if you will, in the case of this project, no. I figured if I used approximately the right weight of yarn and approximately the right needle size, I’d end up making something approximately the right size. Exactitude didn’t matter because I could always fall back on the Dulaan mantra: “It will fit someone in Mongolia.” That would be true if [insert name of burly, steroid-infused American football player here] decided to play for the Mongolian football team but I just took a quick glance at the sports pages and he hasn't.

(TMK, if you value your sanity, don't read this part.) So, inevitably, the jacket has been frogged and restarted with, literally, half the number of stitches. Stripe-wise, it’s now going to be terra cotta, pine, an earthy robin’s egg blue, and then the squash, despite many readers' earnest wishes for me to keep things as-is. Now, God only knows what I’m going to do with the sleeves because by then I will have run out of the one-each skeins of Avalanche yarn I appropriated for the project. Urk. Perhaps there's an extra one in the refrigerator. Or in the new washer. Or in my underwear drawer. Or in TMK's garden shed. Or under the Magic Cone. Or maybe I could frog something I knit for Mongo... Help.

(TMK, you can start reading again.) Ironically, in an email I received from Meredith at F.I.R.E. yesterday, she asked me to remind you’ens that this year they need items for adults. You've done such a great job of providing clothes for the children that you've caused the pendulum to swing the other way.

Wait. As much as it's my nature to just rush on, let's take a moment to think about that sentence: You've done such a great job of providing clothes for the children that you've caused the pendulum to swing the other way. A Dulaan milestone, and a very powerful thing to realize. Wow.

Of course, now that I’m encouraging you to knit bigger projects, I should also let you know that there are only 51 days left between now and July 1. Even worse, if you want to mail by June 15, which is what we’re encouraging you to do, there are only 35 days left.

Thirty-five.

Three. Five.

35.

I can’t breathe.

(Note to Kim: Meredith is sending us yummy things for the Dulaan-a-thaan, music, more footage of Mongolia, and maybe more photos!)

Public Service Announcement: Meghan from Portland wants to drive up for the Dulaan-a-thaan and wants to know if any other Portlanders want to car pool.

Lastly, while not exactly on the subject of Dulaan but still on the subject of charitable knitting, a photo of the hats knit for my employee's cancer walkathon, which is tomorrow. Note the beaded and braided ribbons that were added to some of them!

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Posted by Ryan at 11:24 AM | Comments (19)

May 09, 2007

Fleeting Beauty

You know you’re never going inspire your readers with images of ethereal beauty when your Photo of the Day is…

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Behold—the orchid cactus after it has run the good race. As you can see, you have to get architecturally creative with the longer, strappier orchid cacti, hence the blue "flying buttress."

Interesting story about this cactus. When I first moved into my house, I noticed on the upstairs deck of a neighbor’s house a curiously huge plant, at least six or eight feet around, covered in bright coral-red flowers. I asked the homeowner about the plant, learned that it was a cactus orchid, and further learned that it was a cutting from a cutting from a cutting, etc., from an original plant owned by a long-deceased someone who had lived in the neighborhood decades ago. Apparently it had become a tradition in the neighborhood to give a cutting from the plant to new arrivals. Over time, I learned that the “tradition” was loosey-goosey and was never even really honored. I did, however, receive a cutting which, given my black thumb and the tinting on my windows which prevents any beneficial light from coming through for the plants, died after a few years, having never produced a single flower. TMK’s orchid cactus is, however, a cutting from my plant so, in a slightly altered version, the tradition lives on. And TMK being TMK, her plant is, of course, producing flowers. She’s a poo-poo head.

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On the reading front, the (normal for the time, I’m sure) racism in Dr. Dolittle got to be just a wee bit too much for the no-longer-a-naive-five-year-old me so, after Chapter 5, I reluctantly said goodbye to old childhood friends Polynesia, Gub-Gub, Dab-Dab and the pushmi-pullyu.

I traded Dr. Dolittle for a little bit of unexpected reading kismet which had me discovering that I could spend from 11:30-12:00 in the lunchroom eating and reading chapters 27-29 of the hardcopy version of “The Awakening,” by Kate Chopin, which I had arbitrarily plucked from my home bookshelves, and 12:00-12:30 knitting and listening to chapters 30-33! Perhaps there’s an argument there in favor of letting Librivox determine what I read next. (Unfortunately, I believe Señor Smackylips is a contract employee and will only be with us temporarily. There goes my excuse for skulking in my office, listening to audio books.)

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On the knitting front, I’ve had nothing on my needles for Dulaan ever since finishing my last sweater mid-April and the feelings of guilt were starting to creep up on me, so I started a “Molly Sweater” from the Morehouse Farm “Merino Knits”. The Molly is an easy, long, bulky, seed-stitch jacket. I’m knitting it in stripes in order to use up the dribs and drabs of colorful Avalanche Yarn that I still have lying around. (Literally. Grabbed one from the couch, one from the dining-room floor, one from a dining-room chair, one from the garage, one from the trunk of my car. Ah, the disorganized life of a knitter.)

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So far, so good but, in real life, although the gold on top is a beautiful, rich, deep, autumn-squash color, it screams gratingly next to the terra cotta and pine green. I tink I need to tink.

Posted by Ryan at 12:54 PM | Comments (14)

May 07, 2007

Stitch 'n' Bitch 'n' Pitch

The pun of the weekend: For a variety of reasons, TMK had to keep her house on the high end of clean this weekend and had asked me to leave my shoes at the back door and either wear my slippers or socks in the house. Since I have the emotional maturity of a two-year old and need frequent and much validation, on Sunday I pointed out to her what a good girl I had been and had removed both shoes every time I came in. At which point she confessed that she had not, indeed, removed her shoes, and that I was just being a…wait for it…goody two-shoes. Har, har, har.

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Saturday was dedicated to a little social experiment, having a fiber get-together the TMK way. She invited over a few locals who were (a) dedicated fiberists and, even more importantly, (b) rabid baseball fans, so we could combine the fiber arts with watching the Mariners toy cruelly with and eventually have their way with the Yankees. (So did not happen. Mariners: 1. Yankees: 8. Want to piss off TMK? Just whisper “Jeff Weaver” in her ear. Then go hide behind something like, oh, a bank-vault door.) Despite only fitting into category (a), I was invited so I could fulfill the role of the Stupid Bimbo Who Doesn’t Know Anything About Baseball. Everyone else played the role of People Who Think Their Lucky Underwear Will Actually Affect the Outcome of the Game.

As you can see, the guests, who were invited to bring baseball-themed snacks, took their participation in the event very seriously.

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As Stupid Bimbo, I got to bean people on the head with the peanuts while giggling inanely. I may have gotten a little too enthusiastic, my aim may have been a little off, and I may have left light, peanut-shaped bruises in the chestal regions of one or two guests.

Here, the only photo I took of the baseball game, which I’ve already been chastised for since it shows the Yankees pitcher. Hell, it could’ve been Jojo the Dog-Faced Boy for all I knew. But apparently the guys in the striped outfits uniforms are The Bad Guys and the guys in the grey uniforms are The Good Guys and this is important and I should care.

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Here, from the top, Diana (who brought the Mariners peanuts and wore her Mariners t-shirt; what a fan!), MaryB and coy Leslie.

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And, here, Elaine, showing a piece of the chocolate tofu pie who’s boss. And lest you think I’m on of those insensitive photographers who waits until the very moment you’re shoveling in large amounts of food, this photo was thoroughly posed. Ask her.

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And here, two photos for Stephanie, if she’s out there:

(1) In Elaine’s basket:

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(2) In MaryB’s bag:

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When I wasn’t playing Peanut-Tossing Bimbo, I churned away at the Four-Acre Sweater and more or less completed the back:

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The armhole has turned out monstrously deep, though, with a good chunk of rows left to go, so I feel the need for a trip to my closet and to my factory-made sweaters with trusty measuring tape in hand.

Sweet Caroline, you asked where to send Dulaan photos. Feel free to send them to me at rymorriss@yahoo.com. Looking forward to them!

Posted by Ryan at 01:50 PM | Comments (16)

May 02, 2007

Señor Smackylips and My New Hobby

(Sometimes I worry about what’s happening to my mind. This morning I waved my keycard in front of the elevator button. The button you actually need to push to get the elevator to come down.)

No posting Friday, Dear Riders. I need to stay home to welcome the new washer and dryer into the family. (Should I be worried that they come with an instructional DVD? I mean, if don't understand the DVD player well enough to play the DVD, what does this mean about my ability to use the appliances?)

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Some Guy at work—someone I don’t know—has recently and newly taken to eating in the lunchroom. Problem is, when he eats, dude smacks his lips loudly, juicily, rapidly, almost nervously and gerbil-like, so I’ve taken to scarfing down whatever frozen-and-nuked concoction passes for lunch that day and fleeing to my office to knit in smack-free, saliva-free, gerbil-free silence. Which, granted, is a little dull and lonely for a social addict like me. But I’m actually indebted to Señor Smackylips since huddling in my office has led me to discover Librivox, a free, online audio-book site.

For years, I’ve read in knitting forums and on blogs how some knitters entertain themselves by listening to audio books while knitting. The idea intrigued me, yet I could never be bothered to do what it took to acquire the books: order them online, buy them at a bookstore, take them out at the library, borrow them from a friend—because then there’s all that crap about having to return the darn thing if you want to continue to be considered a responsible adult. Besides which, at home, my BFF is the boob tube. Words for when you don't understand the pictures, pictures for when you don't understand the words, and when you understand both—bliss! But what to do in the office, where having a TV in your office is verboten? Thanks to Librivox, I’ve spent the last few days in my office, door closed, feet up, burning up miles of medium-green Wool Pak, listening to childhood favorite Dr. Dolittle. For free. And didn’t have to return a blessed thing. (Although I'm starting realize now, reading the book as an adult for the first time, how racist it can be. Perhaps I hear another book calling my name.)

The curious thing about LibriVox is that it’s an online community effort. I don’t get how’all it works, but apparently you can go to their forum, see what (public domain) books are next in queue to be read, and sign up to read a chapter, or two, or three, or all of whatever it is, in the case of something short. This means that each of the five chapters I’ve listened to so far have been read by a different person, and it’s been an interesting journey. Some voices you like, some you don’t, some add a whole new dimension to the book. For example, the woman who warbled and twittered as she read, not my fave; she needs to go sit with Señor Smackylips. The man with a nice timbre to his voice who sounded as if he was just getting over a cold—but in a rich, plummy way—quite nice. And the woman with the Indian accent added a whole new layer of international flavor to what is, at its core, a very white-bread book.

So, what has all of this gotten me? The front, the back and the beginning of the top-back of the Four-Acre Sweater:

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Some clarifications about the Dulaan-a-Thaan (alternatively written “Dulaan-aa-Thaan,” if you want to go crazy with those Mongolian "aa's"):

  • No need to stay the whole 12 hours! If you can join us for one hour, or two, please do.
  • Although I haven’t exactly clarified this with Dulaan-a-Thaan Boss-Lady Kim, I’m going to go out on a limb and say you probably don’t need to wear pajamas, per se, but we’d encourage you to wear comfortable, lounging-around clothes because this is all about the being comfortable and all about the lounging around. And all about the Dulaan, but you knew that.
  • Thanks to The Mysterious K, whose idea this next was entirely, we’re going to try to run a blog-a-thaan at the same time (blaag-aa-thaan?). Should add an extra high-tech dimension to the pajama party. There may also be podcasting going on but that’s owner Victoria’s bailiwick, and I plead complete ignorance.
  • There will be showing of movies, the F.I.R.E. video for sure, and perhaps something else, such as "The Weeping Camel."

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Note to Norma, who is waiting for her version of this to bloom:

Neener, neener. (Note the dime. That’s how big this flower is.)

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Posted by Ryan at 10:50 AM | Comments (24)