August 31, 2007

Feast or Famine

(No posting Monday, Dear Readers!)

bathroom.jpgThank you to all my funny guys and gals for assuring me that I’m not alone when it comes to the Hey, What’d I Ever Do To You? Attack of the Paper Dispensers, and for sharing your experiences with the Bathrooms of the Inquisition. No one mentioned, however, the worst of the worst, bathrooms that are fully automated except, inexplicably, one item. The lights turn on automatically, the toilet flushes itself automatically, the paper-dispenser dispenses paper automatically, the soap dispenser dispenses soap automatically, and the hot-air hand dryer turns on automatically, all behaving much like the overly cheerful, overly hyper, anthropomorphized furniture and plateware in the “Beauty and the Beast” dinner scene. And, so, confident in the automated nature of everything around you, go to wash up…and end up waving your hands repeatedly, and then emphatically, and then frantically under a faucet that, you discover too late to save face in front of the other people in the bathroom, is not automatic. And then you realize you’ve just had an argument with a faucet…and lost.

(For you Red Dwarfers out there, were TMK and I the only ones who thought, “Talkie Toaster?”)


To distract you from the fact that I have, yet again, no knitting current events to share, let’s talk tomatoes, shall we?

Despite TMK’s green thumb and large yard and fancy tools and piles of luscious, steaming compost, we’ve never been able to grow vegetables successfully. Take this year’s yellow crookneck squash, for example. Nary a squash. Lots of blossoms, yes, but nary a squash. Who can’t grow squash? (I can hear TMK saying defensively, yes, but tell them about last year’s zucchini. She’s right. We grew great zucchini last year which she picked when it was still small and tender, marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette mixture and barbecued. Yumalicious. But it says something, doesn’t it, that this event was so remarkable and uncommon that we are still talking about it?)

Ever-determined, however, this year we tried something new, the Up Against the South-Facing, Heat-Reflecting Wall Method of Tomato Husbandry.

Before. The beefsteak, roma, and orange cherry tomato plants (and one lonely sweet-pepper plant) the day we planted them:


After. Kowabunga!


As you can see, we had so little faith in our tomato-growing abilities that we didn’t bother with tomato cages…and now have had to resort to various creative methods—sticks, a chair, the tuteur, which you can’t even see any more—to hold these unruly gigantor tomato plants in place. We’re even encouraging the tendrils of the pole beans on the back of the tuteur, which you can’t see in the picture, to hold up some of the tomato branches.

Are they good? Was it worth all of this insanity? Was it worth the sleepless nights spent wondering when a tomato branch would come tapping, tapping, tapping at your bedroom window? You betcha, especially the cherry tomatoes, and especially served in a salad with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, toasted almonds and a vinaigrette dressing. So good in fact, that last week TMK ended up in a local clinic with what we believe was a reaction to eating one too many of the little buggers.

Speaking of luscious things, thank you, everyone, for your suggestions for the next incarnation of the Transylvania Hat. All good, all yummy. We ended up with:

Dark green and gold
Navy blue and orange
Light moss green and a deep brown
Black and wine-red
Brown and wine-red
Brown and gray/taupe
Black and gray
Gray and deep blue
Brown and red
Gray and green
Green and beige
Green and natural/offwhite-ish
Grey and navy
Grey and hunter
Pumpkin and mustard
Chocolate and tan
Charcoal gray and mustard/gold
Very dark brown and rust
Two tones of green
Charcoal grey and rust or russet-y red
Olive green and a deep golden brown

Must ponder.

Posted by Ryan at 11:13 AM | Comments (7)

August 29, 2007

Whirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Major props to Dear Reader Weaver for the knee-slappingest comment I’ve read in a long time (and that says something since, although I may be biased, I think this blog is blessed with very funny comments and commenters). A pit-scented banana? I just about bust a gut. Thanks you, Weaver, for making my morning. I can report that, thanks to my deodorant, at its worst, the banana was slightly floral scented.


Recently life seems to have been a string of minor dramas. First, the pratfall on the slick moss, then the banana fiasco, then there was this morning, when I went to the doctor for some tests, and while I was in the tiny laboratory bathroom preparing to do unspeakable things with unspeakable bodily fluids and an unspeakably small cup, I got too close to the motion-activated paper-towel dispenser, which immediately and with a loud, robotic whirr, spat a paper towel right into my ear, scared the crap out of me, and left me rooted to the spot, terrified to move in case more whirring and paper towelage should ensue. Eventually I was able to resume my task but I'm sure major damage was done to my psyche. In fact, I may never be able to pee again. (TMK has a motion-sensor alarm at her house which I now think she should replace with a motion-sensor paper-towel dispenser. Much more effective. It would so be brown-trouser time for the intruder.)


For those of you who are having Frankie withdrawal:


So, what’s the story here? You would think the story would be that this is a picture of Frankie being terribly naughty, of her lying where she’s not supposed to, on TMK’s Personal Private Private Personal Leather Throne of TV Watching and Video-Game Playing. You see, for as long as TMK has owned the chair, Frankie has strictly honored The Throne Rule. She would occasionally wave her nose at The Throne in passing in case there was anything interesting up yonder but that was it. But at 3:01 p.m. on Monday, August 28, 2007, everything inexplicably changed. Some synapse, some neuron in Frankie's tiny brain went completely haywire, and when TMK next walked into the living room, Frankie was on The Throne, curled up and happily sound asleep. So, again, you would think the story would be about an act of defiant doggy disobedience and how TMK is firmly but lovingly retraining Frankie not to abuse her chair privileges but, no. The real story, as the picture clearly shows, is that the chair now has Frankie’s favorite blanket on it. Frankie: 1, TMK: 0. Big time.


No knitting or knitting pictures to speak of today, Dear Readers. I’m still plowing along on the Banana Scarf and such like. But I do have a question. The prototype of the Transylvania Hat is just different enough from the specs of the final pattern that I need to knit a new one to photograph for the pattern. Which is a bit of a bummer because I really liked the black-and-terra-cotta combo I used for the prototype but not enough to knit another entire hat in the same dang colors. So what would you suggest? What color combo would have the same masculine, earthy, tailored feel of black and terra cotta but would not be black and terra cotta? (And I’m afraid I also have to put the kibosh on gray and wine red, because that’s what I used for Olympic Squirrel.)

Posted by Ryan at 01:50 PM | Comments (15)

August 27, 2007

Stay Upwind and You'll Be Good

When it comes to online yarn-buying transactions, I sometimes come across warnings to avoid buying from smokers or to at least buy from smokers who assiduously protect their yarn from the smoke smell. Bah! I say smoke smell is for amateurs. I’ve discovered something worse: eau de banana.

banana.jpgIn my usual pell-mell fashion when leaving TMK’s house on Monday morning, I threw my knapsack, car knitting, and morning banana on the warm-from-the-sun passenger seat. At a particularly long and tedious red light, I picked up the scarf to knit a stitch or two and discovered, to the horror of my nasal passages, that it reeked of oily, cloying and overly sweet banana smell. So now, since the scarf is an as-yet-unwashable two inches long, my plan is to knit the scarf with the speed of a thousand fingers to accumulate the inches, the feet, the yards, and force the eau de banana away, away, far, far away from my nose. Don’t get me wrong; I love bananas. It’s just that the only thing in the world that is supposed to smell like a banana is…a banana. (I did discover one thing slightly worse than yarn that smells like banana. When I got out of the car, my hands were full so I stuck the banana under my arm. Now my armpit smells like banana. Oy. It’s going to be a day.)

Although the fast and ugly way that Dulaan died still has my knickers in a knot, I have certainly burst out of the Dulaan-knitting straight jacket much the way biscuit dough pops out of its cardboard tube when you whack the tube on the counter. I offer as proof:

The finished Margaritaville socks...


A bonus Margaritaville hat for the same baby...


The Eau de Banana Scarf, a red Steam Scarf (pdf) most likely for Norma’s Red Scarf project unless I fall too terribly in love with it...


The finished first sock of a pair, size male adult, made from Socks that Rock heavyweight sock yarn in color Lagoon...


...and Olympic Squirrel with both sleeve steeks cut and the shoulders seamed together!


It’s an exciting, bold, adrenaline-filled, “Look, Ma! No hands!” world of never-ending thrills at Mossy Cottage these days, I tell you whut.

Posted by Ryan at 11:36 AM | Comments (17)

August 22, 2007

Allison To the Rescue!

(No posting Friday, Dear Readers.)

Even after four years of having this blog, I’m still surprised at how it comes through for me when I least—and I mean least—expect it.

Long-time readers may remember how much I hate going to the car mechanic. It’s one of the places that falls squarely into the category of being in Manland, the others being auto-supply stores, big-box stores, paint-supply stores, car dealerships, tire stores, and hardware stores. I define ManLand as a place where there's so much testosterone it edges out the oxygen, making it a little hard to breathe, and the night janitors have to squeegee it off the walls or maybe suck it into containers, the way the GhostBusters suck ghosts into that little blinking box, and the mechanic's is definitely one of them.

Yesterday I had to take my car to ManLand because they and I are doing a little dosey-do over whether or not I have an oil leak. Not only that, but—egads!—I had to go to a new location which was just different enough to add to the adrenaline that was already coursing through my body. (The only thing worse would be an alternative world where you had to go to a mechanic to have dental work done. Shudder.)

It doesn’t help that, after you’ve survived the questions you don’t understand and the turning over of your car to the Grand Master Auto Torturer—which is always A Process because I have to make multiple checks to make sure I haven’t left any essential knitting tools behind. Or my key card. Or my lunch. Or my knapsack.—there’s the uncomfortable shuttle waiting room, where you have to scoop handfuls of testosterone off the seat before you can sit down, and then you have to sit uncomfortably close to people you don’t know, all of whom are a little edgy because they want/need to be Somewhere Else. Thank God for the Mismatched Baby Socks so I could busy myself with unpicking and reknitting a Kitchenered toe that had gone all kaplooie. And thank God for bad eyesight so I could hold the sock up close to my face and pretend what I was doing was really, really important. Of course, not as important as the guy to my left who was so engrossed in all of his foo-foo, high-tech, executive, time-saving gadgets that he kept missing the shuttle drivers when they came in to pick up passengers. Which meant that all his foo-foo, high-tech, executive, time-saving gadgets were doing for him was...making him late. Neener, neener.

So I was not having a good morning. Then three or four of us, including, I think, Gadget Guy, clambered into the shuttle and—there it was—from the front of the shuttle, a voice saying “Are you Ryan?” And that’s how I met Alison (Allison? Allyson?), a blog reader (and knitter!) who recognized me from the photos and was brave enough to ask if I was, well, me. And, immediately, my morning improved by leaps and bounds. Hi, Alison/Allison/Allyson, if you’re out there. It was so nice to meet you, you have no idea.

I finished the third Mismatched sock and, although none of the three match each other exactly in color, they do at least share some family genetics, even if it’s way back in the evolutionary tree, an Ice Age or two ago. I’ll try to get a photo before these are whisked off the maw-to-be.

And since I’m on a good Kooky Kraft roll, here’s one more. This is super picture-heavy but worth the wait. At the very least, you have to see the kitchen. Amazing. Link.

Posted by Ryan at 12:02 PM | Comments (10)

August 20, 2007

Third Time's a Charm

Weren’t those “phone sheep” something? I had to look at the pictures two or three times before I realized that everything—the fleece, the feet, the heads, the horns—was made of phone bits and bobs. And now my brain is narrowing in on a pun about a phone with a baaaaaaaaa-d connection, but it’s not coming together.

Here’s something else I found a while back and though it’s not strictly fiber related—although technically paper is made from fiber—it's a great Kooky Kraft .

I spent this weekend learning about the vagaries and foibles of homespun yarn.

Baby Sock Numero Uno, knit using TMK’s Margaritaville:


Baby Sock Numero Dos, same yarn, same needles, same pattern:


Perhaps if I put them side by side?


Nope, not identical, not fraternal, more like half-brothers born ten years apart. Who loathe each other and are suing each other over the family fortune. Needless to say, a third sock is on the needles…and I’m discovering that it’s hard to knit with your fingers crossed. Fortunately, these socks are knit using a mere 32 stitches and knit up quickly. (One change I did make to the “standard” sock pattern: I always find that heels based on 50% of the stitches look very “horsy” on baby socks, so I used fewer, in this case, only 14 heel stitches instead 16.. It really helped. Just throwing that out in case anyone else feels about baby-sock heels the way I do.)

As rapidly as I’m getting this one yapping, nipping “Yorkie” semi-coralled, TMK is spinning new yarn and…ahem…adding to her stash. Her latest acquisition, hand-dyed merino/bamboo, from DragonFibers Emma:


The photo should give a pretty good idea of the colors: Caramel, gray, magenta, with the beautiful white sheen of the undyed strands of bamboo. You rock, Emma!

Posted by Ryan at 12:32 PM | Comments (10)

August 17, 2007

The Come-Down Was Not Pretty

You know what’s fun? Being at work, where everyone’s all serious, and everything is so high tech, and you have to be so proper and professional, and you go to wash your mug and a bunch of tiny little bubbles escape from the detergent bottle and float around the break room. That’s what’s fun!

icecream.jpgOur Guild does a wonderful job of thinking up events for every month, they really do. August is usually a quiet month with low attendance so the Board schedules the major events, like speakers, “fashion shows” and classes, during the other months and plans something a little more mellow for August. This month they held an “ice-cream social” with seating organized by knitting interest—Fair Isle, Lace, Baby Clothes, Socks, etc.—to encourage us to sit with new people, not just the old cronies and sidekicks we make a panicked beeline for every month. It worked quite well. Right away I met quite a few people that I’d never met before and we chatted about this and that and it was all very genteel... Then the vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce and whipped cream and maraschino cherries kicked in—think after-burners launching a fighter jet off the deck of an aircraft carrier, and you’ve got the idea—and conversation throughout the room became rapid and staccato and high-pitched and giggly, and the seating arrangement was abandoned in favor of indiscriminate wandering and visiting and grabbing of people’s knitted items for closer eyeballing. (The grabbing and eyeballing is expected, even encouraged. No one is ever offended, especially since, in our sugar-induced hysteria, no single item was very interesting for very long.) Ice cream, knitting, the company of other knitters…it was lovely.

During the “wandering” portion of the evening’s festivities, I got to do one of my favorite things: Meet a Dear Reader. This time it was local knitter Karen Jo. What a lovely, sweet woman! (See, that’s the nice thing about having a blog. From behind the security of my computer, my overly large monitor, and blogging software, I can say things that wouldn't otherwise say because, seriously, that was my first impression. But I can’t say “Hey, Karen Jo, I’ve known you all of 30 seconds and I think you’re lovely and sweet,” because then she and Evelyn Clark would go off to a corner somewhere and share notes about being stalked by the same wacko. And then my membership at Guild would be mysteriously canceled. And then I would get a letter from the Guild telling me my membership would be reinstated but only if I took a urinalysis test, and who would want that?)

That’s it for today, my online chums. Since I’ve spent most of the last week knitting one baby sock six times, and am still not satisified—although I can tell you that TMK’s Margaritaville must be 50% merino/50% iron, considering how many times the same 10 yards of yarn has been frogged and knit up again with little or no wear and tear—and since I don’t have much else, I’ll leave you with this wonderful Kooky Kraft that was posted on one of my forums. Enjoy!

Posted by Ryan at 11:24 AM | Comments (14)

August 15, 2007

Gordian Knot

The fastest way to F a UFO (for those who think I’m being crude, that means Finish an UnFinished Object):

Finish a pair of socks in January. Decide that the foot of one is unacceptably longer than the foot of the other and will have to be partially frogged and then reknit shorter. Put the socks in your I-Will-Punish-You-By-Ignoring-You-and-Allowing-You-To-Be-Covered-With-A-Suffocating-Layer-Of-Dust UFO pile.

Pick the socks up again in August, try them on, decide they fit just fine and put them in the Done pile. Ta-dah!

Some of the more experienced Fair Islers, color stranders and steekers often say to me, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I steek all the time. It’s easy!” I believe this, I do, because I’ve seen them do it, and I’ve even done it uneventfully a couple of times myself. See? See? And see? But, on occasion, it’s not quite the no-brainer they would have you believe because sometimes, just sometimes, things like this happen in the process of getting a project ready to cut, especially when the steek is, cruelly, only one stitch wide:


Believe it or not, every strand or string you see there has a purpose, as follows:

1 The wine-red yarn: The tail end of one of the yarns used in the stranded pattern.
2 The medium-blue (actually, navy) yarn: Ditto.
3 The gray yarn: Ditto.
4 The purple yarn: Currently holding all the stitches of the sweater.
5 The yellow yarn: Marks the location of the steek, like this:


6 The grey thread: Used to stabilize the stitches on either side of the steek.

I do see in the picture, however, on the right side and toward the top, a turquoise blue I don’t recognize. Huh.

Soon after this picture was taken, the Medusa-like mess was finger-combed, trimmed and snipped into a more manageable configuration and the steek was cut. One more to go. Another year of girding my loins and I should be ready to sew the sleeves on.

In comparison, I seem to have much more control over the yarn in this project, where the stitches loop when they're supposed to loop, zig when they're supposed to zig, zag when they're supposed to zag, and there is absolutely no cutting involved. The beginnings of a scarf knit in the Barbara Walker Drooping-Elm-Leaf lace pattern, using TMK’s Caramel Sauce merino/tencel yarn:


I was tickled to see that some people have already bought Evelyn Clark’s new book (with the one-time-only, special-price-for-you TMK cover!). Per commenters Terri and first-time delurker "I," it can be bought through and Even more exciting, local knitter (and prez of our Guild) Jessica has already knit a shawl using Evelyn’s “recipe.”

And, no, Carrie, if you off me, you can not have my yarn and my Mata Ortiz. With my last breath, as I collapse to the floor, I plan to set fire to my yarn with one hand and drag the pottery off the shelf with the other. It’s a tall order, but I think I can do it. (You funny, funny girl.)

Posted by Ryan at 10:24 AM | Comments (9)

August 13, 2007

The Hidden Dangers of the Internet

Let me tell you a story which, to me, encapsulates TMK’s and my weird journey through the world of fiber. It starts six years ago and ends two weeks ago with the publication of a book (not ours).

Chapter 1
In 2001, when I was still a sock-knitting maniac, I was confoozled by some instructions in a sock pattern. The pattern said “turn and purl back” and all I could think was, “Huh? How do you turn something circular?” Despite the illogicality of it, I still tried to do what it said; I earnestly turned and turned and turned my dpns...and, as I predicted, ended up right back at the beginning of the circle. Had you been a fly on the wall, you would’ve let loose with many high-pitched fly-giggles, I'm sure.

In (mild) desperation, I posted a message to the Yahoo socknitters forum and someone (in fact, Betsy McCarthy, author of this fun book and a member of my Guild but I didn’t know that at the time) forwarded my question to the author of the pattern, who was not a member of the forum.

I subsequently received a nice email from some woman named Evelyn Clark (yes, that Evelyn Clark, of this and this and this, but she could've been Tinkerbell for all I knew) explaining that by “turn” she meant turn the sock so that the near side of the sock was away from you and purl back in the opposite direction to start the heel. Ah. Problem solved.

I couldn’t help but notice, however, that this “Evelyn” woman—who could have lived anywhere in the world, such is the Net—had an email address with a distinctly northwest flavor to it. So I emailed her back saying something along the lines of, “I hope you don’t mind but I see that you seem to live somewhere here in the Northwest and I was wondering what you could tell me about the knitting community here.”

Now look at this from Evelyn’s point of view: All of the horror stories she had heard about the Internet had just come true. Some guy named Ryan had tracked down her location using nothing but her email address and was now stalking her!

Evelyn’s escape plan solution was to refer the “guy” to the Seattle Knitters Guild. She figured if he wasn’t really interested in knitting and was just using it as “a line,” he wouldn’t go, but she’d been as helpful as polite society dictated one should be and could now excuse herself from any and all future correspondence. Or the psycho would actually go to Guild and become someone else’s problem.

Evelyn and the "psycho guy named Ryan" met at the next Guild meeting, of course, and we had a good laugh, and still have the occasional chuckle over it to this day.

Chapter 2
Fast forward to July 2007.

Location: TMK’s house, TMK’s office.

Scene: TMK and—what the...?—Evelyn Clark (???) hunkered together over TMK’s computer. How can this be? First, it was Evelyn Clark; secondly, TMK was/has been notoriously shy and anti-social; thirdly, what did TMK know from fiber? On what planet did this tableau make sense?

So, how did this unusual partnership come about? TMK’s new-found interest in spinning goosed it along, of course, as well as the fact that she is now a regular at Ferals, as is Evelyn. Plus—drrrrum rrrroll!—this, the new FiberTrends/Evelyn Clark book, Knitting Lace Triangles!





Evelyn needed some help designing a dust jacket for the book, remembered that TMK was a professional designer with extensive experience in the publication arena and approached her on it. TMK jumped at the opportunity, especially since she has a strong interest in the self-publishing biz, and was on the phone with a print-company representative within the hour, like the pro she is. So, for a couple of weeks and to my vast amusement, the surreal scene described above played itself out repeatedly: Evelyn and TMK in TMK’s office, in the living room, in the yard, at a Starbuck’s, at the printer’s, even huddled together at Feral's.

I think the results are great: Lovely photos (especially the one on the back) taken by Bev Galeskas’ husband; a great photo of Evelyn taken by TMK herself (in front of the lavender, for those of you who know TMK’s yard); a yummy, smoky, dark pine-green accent color—just a handsome, tailored, professional look. But mostly when I look at the book, I think, “TMK and Evelyn?!!! I just... I mean... How...? When...? Why...? How did that happen?!”

And it is now my extreme pleasure to give a plug for this unique book, Evelyn’s first. It is published by Fibertrends and will be available through various yarn stores and at fiber fętes. In the book, Evelyn reveals many of her “secrets” for designing your own lace shawls: How to plan your “triangle;” how to create a pattern outline; what materials and supplies you will need; basic abbreviations and symbols; how to read charts, count rows, correct mistakes, join yarns, cast off, finish and block. It even includes size and yardage charts which detail what size shawls will block out to based on the number of stitches, and how many yards of lace-weight yarn you will need for your project. Keep an eye out for it!

Thank you, Dear Readers, for letting me know I’m not the only knitter living a Harry-Potter- and Ravelry-free life. Of course, I also said I would never blog. Make of that what you will.

Elizabeth, I’m afraid the Margaritaville is already turning into a pair of baby socks in my initial attempt to corral my pack of rabid Yorkies. But, at the rate she’s going, TMK is indeed turning out more yarn than I can knit so, who knows, she may sell some or give some away down the road. Although there is that nasty business of having to pry it from my cold, dead hands first. So unpleasant.

Posted by Ryan at 09:47 AM | Comments (17)

August 10, 2007

Just Don't Look Back

How to feel entirely out of step with the rest of the world: Be the only person who hasn’t read a single Harry Potter book, and the only person in the online knitting community who isn’t joining Ravelry. Me so lonely.

I am happy to be able to provide the definitive answer to the use of designs from Dover publications. With a (very little bit) of sleuthing I found this on the inside front cover of the very book I used for the Transylvania Hat, “You may use the designs and illustration for graphics and crafts applications, free and without special permission [Ed. Note: Woot!], provided that you include no more than ten in the same publication or project.”

So the pattern is in the works.

I throw my hands up. Remember how I predicted, very confidently, based on 20 years of experience, that TMK would be doing little or no spinning during the summer? Then how do you explain this, from the "Margaritaville" superwash roving from Crown Mountain Farms/Dicentra?:


And this, from the roving we nicknamed “Big Boy” from The Artful Ewe?:


And this, from the “Rio” merino/bamboo roving from DragonFibers? :


I am not entirely wrong, however. It’s just that the only thing greater than TMK’s desire to be out in the summer sun is her fear of her stash. I think, to TMK, having a stash is like being pursued relentlessly by a pack of yappy, ankle-nipping Yorkies. You can’t stop or they will gain on you. She spins to get rid of her stash and quiet her stash-oppressed mind. The yarn is merely an incidental by-product. I believe she’s now down to what’s left of Big Boy and Rooster Rock, and the Yorkies are starting to fade into the distance.

One unforeseen consequence of all this spinning (and yarn production, however secondary): I now have so many UFOs or UFOs-to-be, I've acquired my own set of Yorkies.

I’ve always prided myself on not having many UFOs, two or three at the most at any given time (but, then again, I used to pride myself on having a small stash, har, har, har). However, TMK wants me to use Caramel Sauce to make a lace scarf (not for anyone in particular, just so that the Caramel Sauce can fulfill its destiny) so that’s on the needles. When she finishes Rooster Rock, she wants me to make matching socks for both of us out of it. She feels I’ve dropped the ball with Tropical Juice because I’ve tried unsuccessfully to knit two things with it and have now decided it's going to be a Baby Surprise Jacket...which I haven't started. Last night she asked me to use the Margaritaville to make a pair of booties or baby socks for her hairstylist who is, as we used to say in my family, “heavy with seed.” Not to mention the fact that I’m working on something else she asked me to make for someone in her fambly.

Yap, yap, yap, YAP, YAP, YAP!!!!

Posted by Ryan at 11:03 AM | Comments (35)

August 08, 2007

I Don't Call This Mossy Cottage for Nuthin'

The first seven minutes of my Friday:

Startle awake, heart pounding.

Realize you’ve slept through your alarm to the tune of half an hour.

Catapult yourself out of bed and into jeans and a t-shirt. (What can I say? The dress code at a high mid-tech company: Monday through Thursday, you wear jeans and clean t-shirts. On Casual Friday, you wear jeans and Wednesday’s t-shirt scrounged up from the floor and flapped until some of the wrinkles come out. For variety, change your earrings.)

Race out of the house.

Do a spectacular pratfall on wet moss, landing on a driveway made of what seems like particularly hard cement.

Check self for broken bones; find none. Discover, however, that you, your jeans and Wednesday’s t-shirt are covered in a primordial, gray-green slime.

Wonder for a brief moment if anyone at work will actually notice the primordial, gray-green slime, most of which is covering your arse. Realize the answer is yes, especially since you smell ever so faintly like primordial, gray-green slime.

Race back into the house, desperately sidestepping any and all squidgy, slimy spots on the driveway, now that you are wise to the ways of moss. (You know those obstacle-course races where the contestants do a fast, high-stepping prance into and out of a tires lying on the ground? I looked like that.)

Change into new jeans and Tuesday’s t-shirt.

Race back out, desperately sidestepping blahblahblah.

Head off to work, aching in places you didn’t even know you had and picking gravel out of your hand at each red light.

And, so, on to minute eight. And a Saturday spent trying to suck all possible sympathy out of TMK by showing her each new bruise as it appeared. We’re still trying to figure out how and why, if I fell on my hip, I have no bruise on my gluteus maximus but a doozy on my left knee (and, I was sure, another on my right—good for at least one more boo-boo kiss—until it turned out to be dirt. Drat.).


On the Dulaan front, thank you so much for your comments. As those that I have spoken to personally know, there is much more to this story than my blog entry reveals but that'all will remain unblogged. From here on out, I leave this all up to you. I am happy to see that people are starting to make up their own minds about all of this. Some will still send items to F.I.R.E., some won’t, some see this as an opportunity to support other charities they’ve been eyeing all along, some see this as an opportunity to get out of the charity-knitting biz altogether. Thumbs up to all of you. Whichever way the four winds take you, thank you everyone for your (99.9999%) supportive comments and Cuzzin Tom for working to keep me somewhat objective (although the jury’s out on whether it actually worked. My false objectivity seems merely to be masking a very pissy core.). I’ve created a link at the top of the left column of this page called "What Happened to Dulaan?" that latecomers can click on to see last week’s posting.

The upside to all of this? I’ve plunged headfirst into non-Dulaan knitting. Here, for example, the finished Transylvania hat:



There are some nitpicky things I’d fix about this but overall I’m thrilled with it. The hat is a little long; it doesn’t need the extra scallop-y terra cotta border at the bottom that I threw in at the beginning when I was 200% convinced it was going to be too short. The top also decreases manically and looks like a pinwheel badly in need of some Prozac. Other than that, I’m standing here with my thumbs through my suspenders, rocking on my heels, looking rather smug.

Most exciting, though, is I now have an almost-perfect template for a chapeau. Give me two skeins of Jamieson’s, size 0 and 1 circulars, a design that fits 144 stitches, 12 hours of free time, and I’m golden.

(I’ve been asked to post the pattern for this hat but I’m not sure I can, since the design (the terra cotta part) comes from a book. I charted it in Excel, worked out how many repeats you would need for a hat and, of course, figured out the hat part but I still think the actual design comes too close to the original. Thoughts?)

Posted by Ryan at 09:51 AM | Comments (13)

August 01, 2007

Smiling Through the Tears

You may have noticed that the Dulaan information is gone. Sadly, this time it’s gone for good, Brigadiers, after a spectacular three-year run.

tragicomedy.gifThe Very, Very Good News: Per Cuzzin Tom, who started Dulaan and who, as you know, has lived in Mongolia and wallowed in Mongolian culture for almost two years, and knows whereof he speaks, “Mongolia is not a country in crisis now, it's a country that's developing.” He feels strongly that Mongolia now has in place so many workable political, sociological and economical structures that it’s time for it to start standing on its own two feet, and that what it needs now, more than clothes and knitted items, is, for example, help with rural education and medical training. This was not at all the case three years ago when we started Dulaan. What this means is that we have been an integral part of helping Mongolia maintain the status quo during some very difficult and complicated growing pains. You should be so proud of yourselves.

For this reason, and for some others, Cuzzin Tom and I had come to the decision that, after sending 33,978 items to Mongolia, it was time for Dulaan to close its doors. (Of course, even now I'm thinking, "Dang. We just missed 34,000.")

The Very, Very Bad News: After we told F.I.R.E., they went all diva, all Jekyll and Hyde, on us. Un-frickin’-believably, they are now laying claim to the entire Dulaan idea, to the name, to the concept, to, essentially, the entire project. They have labeled Mossy Cottage merely, and I quote directly from an email, a “promotional tool.” In short, they plan on continuing with a pirated version of Dulaan, with or without our permission, our support, or rights to the name. I repeat: Un-frickin'-believable.

Oh, there is so much more I could tell you but Cuzzin Tom has called for cooler heads to prevail. I have since stuck mine repeatedly into a bucket of ice and am struggling mightily, from within the clouds of resulting steam, to have some class. So hard, so very, very hard. I want so badly to say many, many, many four-letter words.

At any rate, Dulaan, at least the legit Mossy Cottage version, is rolling up its ger camp for now. Whatever happens, nothing, nothing can take away from the amazing and miraculous events of the last three years, and everything that you, we and F.I.R.E. did together as a team made a difference.

So, what does this mean for you? That’s up to you. If you have items already made, feel free to send them wherever your heart says is best, even to F.I.R.E. Personally, I have a date with some red yarn.

Finally, if I could, I would climb to the top of the Space Needle, spin around in my pinafore a la Sound of Music, and shout the loudest 360-degree thank you’s I could to all four corners of the world—until I fell off and made an unattractive sploodge on the sidewalk.

(This will stay up for a while so that as many people as possible will see it, but I’ll be back in a burst of pudgy, princess-y glory in a few days.)

(Update, Since People Seem to Be Asking: Heck, no, the blog ain't goin' nowhere! I'll be spouting my knitting inanities again very soon if for no other reason than to show you the cutting of the Olympic Squirrel steeks, which is on the verge of happening.)

Update #2: The Other Side of the Story
Because I don't want it to get lost in the comments, some valid and important thoughts from Cuzzin Tom:

"Yipes! Hell hath no fury like knitters scorned...

Now, you know, and I know, that my lovely Cuzz has been the 8-piston engine driving Dulaan's success. But. Current revisionist spat notwithstanding, I feel I have to defend F.I.R.E. a bit. There could have been no Dulaan without their wholehearted cooperation -- I mean, who has the wherewithall to ship and distribute these thousands of items in Outer Mongolia? They have had so many dedicated volunteers, both in Flagstaff and those who paid their own way to Mongolia. Those excellent people sometimes endured very adverse conditions in order to not just dump your items in some warehouse to be picked over by whoever, but to travel throughout the country, literally going door-to-door to find the people most in need. Very time-consuming, very emotionally trying, but very effective. They really made sure your lovingly crafted goodies reached the most deserving hands. I saw it for myself, and you saw the pics. So yes, there are definitely some seemingly irreconcilable personality clashes among the main players, but let's hesitate a little before dogpiling on FIRE as a whole, OK?

Anyway, you have definitely proven knitters to be a formidable force for compassionate activity, and this dulaan-s my heart more than anything. That's the spirit to nourish, whoever may be in need, in whatever way we can help. And maybe our work in Mongolia isn't quite finished {cue mysterious music}. Stay tuned!"

Posted by Ryan at 09:29 AM | Comments (76)