October 29, 2007


(Sorry for the continued absence, Dear Readers, but life continues to be on the not-fun side. I hope to be back posting soon. If not, a lovely "guest blogger" has offered to step in for a while, which I think is a wonderful idea, and I'll take her up on it if things don't improve soon.)

You know that song phrase, “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug?” Last week, definitely the bug. But I’ve managed to paper-clip and tape my exoskeleton back together enough to post at least a little something to the blog…especially when I remember that my ups and downs have been nothing compared to what my sister and her family have been through. The end of the story is they and their house are fine (yay! And a woo-hoo! And a huzzah!) but, still, some musings…


My sister, who writes very well, doesn’t have a blog. Which is fine most of the time, but this week, oh, how I wish she had had one so she could write about their recent dramatic and slightly surreal adventures because I can’t do it justice.

As I mentioned a week ago, they were one of the hundreds of thousands of families evacuated from San Diego. Normally, this would be a no-brainer; they would hie themselves to the safety of the in-laws’, 1.5 hours to the north. However, the highway between Here Where We Are and There Where We Need To Be was firmly closed and patrolled by burly men in Smokey the Bear hats, so they ended up spending the first night in the last place I, or they, expected—a dentist’s office! The dentist, a neighbor and friend from two doors down, invited my sister and her brood, which included two kids and an 80-pound dog (hubbie was on a business trip), to join him and his family in their makeshift shelter. And by “makeshift” I mean a large, upscale, chi-chi, California dental office with a bathroom nicer than the one in my sister’s house. Which means it’s a very nice bathroom, indeed.

As part of our crazy overseas upbringing, the children in my family were taught to just cope with whatever life threw at us. No panicking, no drama; just deal, and it would all eventually get better. Or not, but panicking wasn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. Like the time a typhoon ripped the roof off our house in the Philippines and gallons of water literally cascaded down our stairs, splashing like a happy little waterfall. I remember that night finding the one remaining, small, dry spot on my bed, curling up very tightly in it so as not to touch the wet parts of the mattress, and going to sleep. After all, what’re you gonna do? Or like the time another typhoon battered the hotel we were staying in in Taiwan, a typhoon so strong it shoved cars up the grand marble stairs that led to the front of the hotel and dangerously close to the heavy, two-story glass doors, and we just retreated to the bar on the first floor—a calculated move, so we wouldn’t be stuck on our floor if the elevators stopped working—and sat in the dark and drank and calmly watched the chaos outside. I was only 12 but my parents decided, what the hell, it was time for us all to be grown-up, symbolically as well as literally, and the situation was dire enough and extreme enough that no one would care if I nursed along a gin and tonic (which in my naïveté, I was drinking more for its sweetness than for its “medicinal” properties). (Which all goes a long way toward explaining why, when I found toilet paper bubbling up from my shower drain and water gushing out from under my toilet that I looked at all of it and went, “Huh.” Oh, and this week, a flicker drilled a hole in my house. I repeat, Huh.)

We were further taught to try to find the good and the humor in whatever was going on—or inject some good and some humor, if there was none to be found—because that was the only thing that would make it all bearable to experience and bearable to remember afterwards. Which explains why, under the most dire of circumstances, during the worst firestorm in California history, when they didn’t even know if they had a home anymore, you would have found my niece and nephew lying happily in dental chairs watching DVDs in the DVD players installed in the ceiling, and having a fine old time. Then everyone hunkered down on sleeping bags for some shut-eye, the dog apparently taking up 3/4 of the space on my sister’s sleeping bag.

Bonus! Sister sent pictures!

A Group Photo of Most of the Refugees: (From left to right) Dentist's son, my nephew, dentist's daughter, dentist's wife, my niece.

My sister, her sparkly smile, and that time-tested way to get through difficult times—a little vino in a disposable cup!

My niece reading with ever-present, ever-vigilant Tanner the dawg.

Proof of the surreal strangeness of that night: My nephew lying on a dentist's chair, watching TV.

Time to wash our feet before we go to bed!

My sister getting ready to catch some z's and Tanner getting ready to bogart her sleeping bag.

Kudos to you, Big Sister. I am so tremendously impressed. San Diego fambly, you inspire me!


Some intermittent knitting has been going on, or as much as a bug can do. I am especially excited about the swatch for the Kente Cloth hat. This one may actually be good enough to submit somewhere. Will try to post a picture soon.

Posted by Ryan at 09:33 AM | Comments (15)

October 19, 2007

We Can Only Go Up From Here

(No posting this week, Dear Readers. Life and all that nonsense. You understand, I'm sure.

In the meantime, though, please keep my sister and her family in your thoughts since they are having to evacuate as the result of the California fires. Big Sister, keep me posted on where you end up, please!!)

I have the great pleasure today of providing the ultimate in marital-counseling services. Dear Friends, Dear Readers, Dear Family Members, if you ever find yourself thinking that your relationship with your spouse or significant other has become dull, humdrum, routine, pedestrian, fear not. Your worst night cannot possibly compare to Wednesday night, to the moment when, after 21 years together, the high point, the thrilling apex of TMK’s and my nightly telephone conversation was this question:

“Sooooooo…d’you want to hear my toilet flush?”

toilet.jpgWhat’s worse, before the excruciating banality of what we were doing hit us, I let out a slightly excited, "Yes," TMK held her phone near the toilet, she flushed the toilet, and we spent the next ten minutes discussing the merits, the tonality, the forcefulness of said flush. We could be BASE jumping from El Capitan or scuba diving in shark-infested waters or guiding our ultralights through the Grand Canyon or knitting lace without a lifeline but, no, we’re slouched at our respective homes in our sweats listening to the splashes and gurgles of a plumbing fixture.

Whatever you did last night with your spouse or significant other has got to be an improvement over that.

Now, to clarify, three points that may redeem us:

One: At the same time as I have been wrestling my own personal plumbing demons, TMK has been exploring the exciting world of lavatory fixtures, finding a toilet to replace her current one which (a) flushes one in four times, and then only half-heartedly and (b) gurgles loud and long just as you’re finally falling asleep. A demon of a toilet if there ever was one, one that needs to be shown the business end of a sledge hammer, and may yet, if TMK has her way.

Two: TMK herself, with the aid of a friend, pulled her old toilet and put in the new one without the help or expense of someone like Marcus the Plumber. And it worked the first time without leaking every which-way and making her bathroom look like, well, mine. Girl-crushers, crush away.

Three: Apparently toilet technology has changed over the years and this toilet behaves more like an airplane lavatory, making a thundering, emphatic whooshing sound and sucking in and down everything in the bathroom that is not tied down. Even the knickknacks in the living room slide an inch or two in the direction of the bathroom.

So that, Dear Readers, Friends and Family Members, is why the toilet is a Big Deal, and why you now have a Gold Standard against which to compare the most tedious of nights. My gift to you.


I am so excited by the following news because we knew this was on its way and were starting, honestly, to champ at the bit. As you may have seen on other blogs recently, Evelyn Clark has launched her own pattern Web site!! The Sock Monkey “models” recently made the rounds at Ferals to adoring squeals and, I have to say, as much as I hate sock monkeys, these guys are undeniably cute, especially the one in the multi-colored sweater, and are an ingenious way to use up leftover pieces of sock yarn. Go! Visit! Order! Show the love!

A gold star for anyone who guesses who took the photograph on her About page. (Hint: It wasn’t me.)

Also, a call to local knitters. I was recently contacted by Lisa Rogers Lowrance who moved here to Seattle from Chicago just six weeks ago. Lisa is a rabid, foaming-at-the mouth fiberist and knitter—just the kind we like—but who has no car and no way of getting around. She lives on the Eastside, in Redmond, to be exact, and has asked me to put out a general call to anyone who might be able to get her to and from one, or some, Knitters’ Guild meetings, and she would be interested in getting to at least one Ferals meeting to brush up on her Fair Isle skills. Any takers? If you can help her, please contact her. (I hear from Lisa that she may have met some of you already at the Crazy Aunt Purl book signing. Speaking of which—Naomi, Supergirl Rebecca, Rabbitch! Where are your long, juicy blog entries about the signing? I keep hitting Refresh and Refresh and Refresh, but nuttin'. Sigh...)

Lastly, for my Friday trivia, the perfect thing for this blog’s readership—an article on how and why knots form.

Posted by Ryan at 11:10 AM | Comments (12)

October 17, 2007

The Best Laid Plans o' Mice and Men Gang Aft Aglay

Plan A ~
Spend Sunday evening having a leisurely meal at one of our favorite Italian eateries, celebrating our 21st anniversary. Sounds nice, no? But unexpectedly and abruptly, I was felled by a cold, which meant that we segued on to…

Plan B ~
Spend Sunday apart at our separate hobbit holes so that (a) I would rest and (b) we would not start Year 22 by sharing the first of the many winter colds we are guaranteed to share this season. To make up for this, we would spend Monday night—which was our real anniversary anyway—together. Also sounds nice, no? What I did not count on was…

Plan C ~
tissue.jpgEarly Monday afternoon, I propped my snuffle-headed, cotton-brained, wheezy-nosed self up in my shower stall and took a long, hot shower…only to watch aghast as the water level in the shower rose higher and higher, with a distinct lack of swirly activity at the drain…only to watch even more aghast as, after I got out of the shower and flushed the toilet, toilet paper bubbled up in the shower (I know—euw, right?), and water gushed all over the bathroom floor from the base of the toilet. (In the dictionary, next to the phrase, “That can’t be good…” you will find a picture of my bathroom at that moment.) Which meant that, far from resting and far from spending a romantic evening with TMK, I spent the afternoon and early evening with Marcus the Plumber, as he pulled tree roots out of my sewer system. And wrote up a long list of Things He Thinks I Need to Have Done, not one of which will cost less than 1,000 simoleons. Exit Marcus, enter a night spent washing and drying a large pile of towels, the bath mat, my shower curtain, and any clothes that had been on the floor, and sanitizing my bathroom and shower on my hands and knees, Kleenex in one hand, scrub brush in the other. But that’s okay, because I hear caustic chemicals are good for the lungs.

So, uh, well, Happy 21st, TMK. Shall we try for a Plan D?


I received a couple of questions about why I think I need to frog the Four-Acre Sweater. Which made me realize that I probably didn’t need to frog the whole thing, just the armhole. But the thing is, see, the Southwestern design/motif on the sweater—which is what I fell in love with and made the project a "must knit"—and the armhole are inextricably linked: The motif starts at the bottom of the armhole and ends at the top, 11.5" later. Which makes for an armhole that, when you are short-waisted, ends at your waist. So not haute couture. Which’all means that I need to, in essence, redesign the motif. Or the armhole. Or the whole sweater. Or something. Whatever it is, it involves frogging. And a Plan B. And we know how well that works.

Posted by Ryan at 12:01 PM | Comments (21)

October 12, 2007

Gang-banger Clown Seamstress In Da' House!

No blog posting today. Cold cooties have gotten the better of Ryan. She should be back on Wednesday.


clown.jpgWrestled a little more with the gang-banger clown seamstress pants last night because TV has been dreadful and I’ve discovered that I get as much out of the shows watching them with my back turned to them and concentrating on sewing straight seams as I do slouched on the couch, staring at the boob tube, a little drool escaping from the corner of my mouth.

As if it weren’t bad enough that I have no idea what I’m doing, I got “creative.” The pant legs really were too frickin’ wide—think, the sail on a schooner, plus 5/8” added on either side for a seam—so I sewed new seams down both sides of each leg, making them about 3” narrower, and then just chopped off all the extra crap. Feel free to blanche; my efforts were truly that inelegant. I’m sure what I did broke at least nine of the ten Golden Rules of Sewing but, meh, it worked.

More accurately, I narrowed one of the pant legs and then, as before, minced proudly around my house wearing my new creation, with one wide-ass leg flapping in the breeze and one modified one skimming my leg quite nicely, thank you. Most importantly, however, I discovered that the crotch did not bunch up between my legs and make me walk slowly and spraddle-legged like a goose on the verge of laying the egg of the century. That’s got to be worth something.

Now, if you’re like me, you probably hate it when a knitter goes all sew-y or quilt-y. I am a one-craft gal and read knitting blogs to read about knitting and knitters, and when they suddenly go all sew-y or quilty-y, I wail, “Say it ain’t so!” But fret not. I have not gone all sew-y or quilt-y. I have, in fact, been churning out a simple-as-can-be, roll-brim winter hat for myself in Naturally Vero Tweed, color 55 (a thumbs-up for this yarn, by the way) and gearing myself up to tackle—or rather frog—the Four-Acre Sweater which looked like this, last we saw it in May…


…but which ended up having armholes that were 11.5” deep, practically down to my knees. Would've gone well with the schooner sails.

In the meantime, I'll share a Kooky Kraft which, in my mind, is not so Kooky. Waaaay back when I first started this blog, I went on a mini-tirade about people who cut plastic bags into strips and knit the strips into…a plastic bag. Talk about infinitely looping and self-referential! But last week, when I was starting my research into kente-cloth colors and patterns, I came across this, a page about an African woman who crochets bags and rugs out of plastic-bag strips. Talk about fun and folksy and colorful, not to mention creative and practical! Check out especially the rug in the upper left-hand corner and, for a picture that is guaranteed to make you grin from ear to ear, the picture of the children in the upper right-hand corner.

Have a nice weekend, y'all!

Posted by Ryan at 01:56 PM | Comments (14)

October 10, 2007

Yoo Talkin' Ta Me?

smachine.jpgWhile you, my venerable and honorable sewing senseis, are all now also my new BFFs (you’ll see why in a minute), JanKnitz is my ESBFF, my Extra-Special Best Friend Forever, because she described exactly what happened with my sewing machine when she wrote, “My Singer does that loop de loop all the time and it's not because the bobbin is in backward or the tension is wrong. It will go along fine for a while, and then, WHAMMO, a mess! The bobbin did not suddenly jump from being correct to being backwards and the tension did not change.” I experienced exactly the same “whammo.” I was sewing along, feeling all smug with my groovy self—hadn’t touched the bobbin, hadn’t changed the tension—and then there was a quiet “chunk” and the gouting forest of blue loopage started. And I wasn’t able to fix it, no matter how much incense I burned, how many prayers I chanted, or how many small animals I sacrificed…

…until I walked up to my sewing machine Monday night, loomed menacingly over it, lowered my voice until it was quiet, cold, threatening, guttural, and said, “My blogging friends know about you.” Then I rethreaded and repositioned and reinserted everything One More Time, just as I had done six times on Sunday, and guess what? No more gouting forest of blue loopage, and 1.5 hours later I was the proud owner of something vaguely pants-shaped. You guys do good work!!

I am now contemplating the mysteries that are a soon-to-be elasticized waistband and two pant legs that are so huge that both TMK and I could fit inside just one—and I know this because I spent the last fifteen minutes of my night wandering proudly around the house in my very unfinished pants, clutching the waistband tightly in one hand, tripping over the unhemmed legs, and constantly adjusting the crotch, which is a good foot lower than it needs to be, and feeling very accomplished and smirky. I must have looked like, what?, a gang-banger clown seamstress? (And lest ye judge, you know this is exactly like gimping around in an unfinished sock with the dpns still in and bristling every which way, just to see what the sock looks like. You’ve done that. You know you have.

Haven’t you?)

I suppose that, now that I'm a gang-banger clown seamstress and no longer have any street cred to maintain, this is where I should also confess that your comments reminded me that it’s helpful to keep pieces of leftover fabric around to test the unreliable functionality of my sewing machine...which is why Monday night you would’ve found me poking earnestly and a little shamefacedly around in my kitchen garbage can. The rescue mission was successful; the strips of fabric I pulled out were as clean as clean could be. But still, poking around in the garbage can? Where has my pride gone?

To wrap up this quick entry, some Eye-Candy Fri... er, Wednesday. The reigning queen of TMK's yard this fall has been her tiny Japanese maple, which has exploded into an over-the-top display of orange and red. Here, a close-up of the leaves and its little solar-lantern companion:


And here, all of its 2' tall cute self. You can't really tell from the picture but this little guy only comes up to about my knees.


Posted by Ryan at 09:53 AM | Comments (19)

October 08, 2007

Mumble Mumble Mumble Mumble

Apropos of nothing…

Since, as they say, you’re never too old to learn, TMK’s and my last coupla Saturdays have been spent taking a Web-design class. The biggest problem? On a good day, the teacher is a mumbler and, even worse, his voice drops precipitously away just at the most crucial moments. For example, “The most important thing you need to do is mumble mumble mumble mumble. If you don’t, then mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble and you’ll have to redesign your entire Web site from scratch.”

Or, “Unless you mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble, none of the graphics will show up. And every third person on earth will die.”

Or, “In order to get your Web site transferred to the Web-host server, you need to mumble mumble mumble mumble. Otherwise, mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble and mumble mumble mumble will explode, killing a basketful of kittens.”

Seriously. That's what it feels like. The lead-in and teaser followed by the unintelligible mumble followed by a litany of dire consequences that leave you pitted-out with anxiety.

As someone who was a technical trainer for many years, and has even taught professional train-the-trainer classes, I just want to walk up to the guy and mumble mumble mumble mumble.


Here as semi-promised, pictures of the Giant-Pants Sewing Disaster of Ought Seven.

First, the quasi-clown-like fabric I chose. It was either this or brown and green camoflauge—to go with the AK-47 I don’t own—or yellow duckies, more me than I’d like to admit but still too over-the-top for pair of pants in size Vast. Three duckies is fine; 400 duckies will make you go blind. So you can see why I picked the dots. And you can also see that these pants are never meant to be worn outside of the house. Even if just going between the house and the detached garage, I will run like the wind. Or make my way, twinkle-toes fashion, from tree to tree, like a villain in a bad cartoon.


Seam, Side 1: Looks good, looks normal, doesn’t it?


Seam, Side 2: What the mumble mumble mumble mumble is going on here? The bobbin side of the sewing machine is making an absolute forest of thread! I’ve checked the tension, rethreaded everything humanly possible, and this just keeps happening. I feel a trip to the Singer store in my future.



Hallelujah! The Steam Scarf is done, and I didn't cop out with 30 yards of yarn still to go. Unfortunately for our canine companion, I zeroed in on her as the model for this particular project and...have you ever seen a more pathetic, more accusatory look? She looks as if we withhold water, food and affection from her and beat her on a regular basis. I think she's been reading too much David Copperfield.


But she came around, and a couple of minutes later posed a little more happily. Now that's the karmic feeling I want to send along with the scarf! (While I may not believe in the power of Prayer Shawls, apparently I do believe in Finish the Project and Rub It on a Happy Dog.)


I so enjoyed designing the Transylvania hat that I’m plowing right into designing another hat, this one, hopefully, based on a Kente-cloth color and look. On this Web page, I found this design that struck me both motif- and color-wise.


Unfortunately, it has the evocatic but unromantic name of “Puff Adder Head.” Yowch.

Posted by Ryan at 02:07 PM | Comments (25)

October 05, 2007

Girls' Day Out

(What’s worse than having to go to the mechanic when you are already mechanicphobic? Being told your car won’t be ready that day after all, being told a rental car is on its way, and being left standing in the waiting room clutching, with sweaty palms, the rental-car contract given to you by the mechanic, as your mechanic leaves, all the rest of the mechanics leave, the receptionist leaves, the cashier leaves, the lights are turned off one by one around you, you don’t have your car, the rental car hasn’t arrived, and you are fifteen miles from home. In your personal idea of hell.

It is, however, the next day and I have made it to home and back so, obviously, the rental car eventually arrived and I tootled home in a navy-blue minivan, six imaginary kids and one imaginary dog misbehaving behind me. And, five minutes later, six imaginary kids and one imaginary dog left by the side of the road.)


Normally I don’t participate in photomemes like “Saturday Sky” and “Eye-Candy Friday,” because I am, as ever, not a joiner, but this Friday I have too many marvy photos, courtesy of Eastern Washington, not to get sucked into the “ECF” photomeme vortex.

Our trip over the mountains two weekends ago was a sorely needed and perfect getaway. The heart of it was a “girls’ day out” in Wenatchee and Cashmere on Saturday with the “mother in law.” We snuck in a haircut for TMK—where I met Odie, the blue-eyed, bug-eyed Boston terrier who stared and stared and stared into my face as if he had been waiting for me all his short doggy life—a coffee shop for some java and astoundingly good lemon almond scones, a trip to a (remarkably feeble, even by Wenatchee standards) food fair, a trip to a yarn store, and a snarf-fest at my favorite barbecue shack, Country Boy's!

Despite its inherent feebleness—meaning, no lie, it was a food fair with no food booths—the food fair was located near and marginally associated with a farmer’s market, where you pretty much couldn’t take a bad photo. Really. If you had set your camera on Automatic, grabbed it by the wrist strap and swung it around your head, you would still have come up with images like this:

A mouth-watering mélange of late-summer and early fall fruits: apples, peaches and pears


More apples, straight from, need I say, local trees. They don’t call Wenatchee the Apple Capital of the World for nuttin’.


Multi-colored pumpkins, almost cartoon-like in their autumnal perfection


Luscious armfuls of dahlias. This dahlia fanatic says, "Swoon!"


Flowers cleverly and beautifully arranged in a hollowed-out pumpkin


And sweet ciders.


(Side note: On our way hither and yon, my eye fell on this, which just made me larf and larf. It’s almost as paradoxical and self-referential as the pressure-washing guy rinsing the hose off with the water from the hose.


Most importantly, however, we arrived home with 40 pounds of apples gleaned, with permission, from the neighbor’s orchard after the main harvest. The gleaning is a pantload of fun, almost like an Easter-egg hunt, with much yelling of “I see one! I see one! Dibsies!” and racing through the orchard and tripping, for the umpteenth time, over an irrigation sprinkler. Oh, and keeping a wary eye out for the very large coyote who has become a permanent fixture and is just biding his time until he can cook himself up some bichon-on-a-stick.

The results are beyond worth it—these beauts are as fresh, crisp, sweet and juicy as they look, my friends. Just the thought of eating one of them makes that place in the back of my jaw, under my ear, go all tingly.


I swore up and down to TMK that I would make applesauce with at least part of my personal 20 pounds but, yeah, they were long gone before I ever got out the nine bowls, five pans, three cutting boards, six spoons, eight forks, and four knives it would’ve taken me to make it.


Knitters and spinners alike, don’t miss this mind-blowing “Knit Me” blog entry from local knitter Sam (who, like me, has a boy’s name yet is so very not a boy).

P.S. Thank you everyone for the hysterical comments. I now know I am not alone in my, well, if not dyslexia, then dys-sew-ia and dys-cook-ia. And, yes, the doughnuts were delish!

Posted by Ryan at 11:02 AM | Comments (7)

October 03, 2007

Impulse Control At Its Worst

When you’re cutting out a sewing pattern and the fabric, is it normal to start out vertical and fully clothed and end up crawling around on the floor in your skivvies?

Wait. Before you answer that, a story.

donuts.jpgEons ago, TMK and I lived together for a year. One day, while she was out, I spontaneously decided to make home-made doughnuts. By the time she came home, the kitchen had exploded into a cooking disaster zone, with flour, butter, sugar, egg, and oil everywhere, including on the floor and ceiling, and I had somehow used every bowl, pot, pan and utensil we owned for a recipe that called for one bowl, one spoon, and one pan. This all seemed normal to me, but TMK, in contrast, was aghast at my ability to wreak such havoc in such a short amount of time. In her mind, even my desire to have a fresh, home-made, cinnamon-sugar doughnut nownownow wasn't enough to explain the condition of the kitchen. That was the day we decided she would cook and I would, well, not.

Pretty much the same thing happens when I sew. Complete chaos ensues. Fortunately, (a) it doesn’t involve foodstuffs and (b) I don’t sew often. The last thing I sewed was a pair of cotton shorts I made about three years ago, the legs of which, after I walk a mere ten or twelve steps, scroonch tightly up into my nether regions in a most uncomfortable and distracting burr-under-the-saddle manner, forcing me to walk a little bit like a goose. Definitely not haute couture. During vacation, however, I spontaneously (see a pattern here?) decided to make myself a pair of flannel couch-potato pants for the Seattle fall, which has arrived astoundingly quickly (September, per last night's weather report: 4 days of sun, 26 days of gray and rain).

sewing.jpgThe pattern I chose covers all possible loungewear configurations: Shorts, long pants, a short-sleeved top, a long-sleeved top, and a tank top, in sizes vast, vaster and extra vast, and in two materials. So you can imagine how much paper was crammed into the deceptively neat and flat pattern envelope. In my world, those papers always come out like a spring-loaded snake-in-a-can, so within seconds my living room and dining room were covered in suffocating layers of brown-tissue pattern pages and white instruction sheets, to which mess I added 3 yards of brightly spotted flannel, 150 pins (only a few of which have been accounted for to this day) and at least four pairs of scissors, because I’m ever hopeful that the next pair will be the sharp pair.

It doesn’t help that my house is not conducive to sewing, having no large flat surfaces to cut or pin on, so I ended up laying the pattern and fabric on the floor and getting on my hands and knees to do the pinning and cutting. Halfway through this process, I realized I hadn’t measured my inseam and that, further, this is impossible to do on one’s self by one’s lonesome, so I yanked off my jeans, measured the inseam on them instead, and returned to the floor, half-clad.

After five minutes of graceless, pants-free squatting, crawling, reaching and stretching, all accompanied by the Loud Grunts of the Terminally Unfit, I started to overheat so I yanked off my sweater. Ta-dah! Me, cutting out a pattern, on the floor, in my skivvies. Welcome to my world.

This probably explains why knitting appeals so much to me. No oceans of pattern and instruction pages—just one, two or three sheets of well-mannered paper or a well-bound and well-behaved book. No crawling, except for when a dpn or ball of yarn goes flying. No nudity (not much anyway). No sugar, flour or oil. No pots and pans. No TMK saying, “How in God’s name did you do that?!” So, in the same amount of time it took me to not finish the flannel pants (my sewing machine has now gone all wackadoo. You should see what it’s doing. It’s so awful, it’s funny. I’ll try to post a picture.), I knit the second version of the Transylvania Hat, here modeled by, as always, the back of TMK's head:


This version was knit with Jamieson’s Spindrift, colors Clyde blue and Granite gray. I need to tweak the pattern a little bit and knit a swatch (yes, after the hat is finished. You hush up.) and then I’ll post it.

Posted by Ryan at 10:15 AM | Comments (32)

October 01, 2007

Not-So-Mossy Cottage

As predicted, vacation was a mix of the suffocatingly adult and the giddily fun. Most importantly though—the Great Moss War of Ought Seven? I win. In fact, I kicked some green, slimy arse and took names.

Things did not go well at first since the Y Chromosome arrived four hours late. He offered some lame-o explanation about how he couldn’t find my house because his MapQuest access was wonky. Then he craftily kept his industrial-strength earplugs firmly screwed in so there was no point in my saying what I was thinking, which was, “If only there were another way. If only there were a way to have a picture of the city streets printed on an overly large piece of paper, cleverly folded to a convenient size, which you could keep in your car and refer to whenever you needed it. If only.

But he redeemed his youthful self by pressure washing not just the driveway and brick walk I had contracted for, but everything that wasn’t moving. (Thank God Frankie wasn’t there because if she had chosen just the wrong moment to have a contemplative sit, she would have been shot halfway across the garden. But she would have been clean, if minus a strip or two of fur.) This included my cement stoop—which caused water to leak into my home under the walls—and a cement area outside my kitchen door—which caused dirt, mold and moss to ooze under the door and halfway across the kitchen floor. I offer as Exhibit A:


But da yout’ had no way of knowing how crappily built my house is and how minimally it is actually attached to the foundation, so none of this was his fault. I just dogged his route outside the house from inside the house, mop, bucket and rags in hand, like one magnet matching another, move for move, on opposite sides of a piece of paper.

He further redeemed himself, almost to the point of my smiling upon him in a saccharinely sweet motherly way, hands clasped to my heart, when he gently rinsed my dahlias. And then rinsed the hose he had used to rinse the dahlias. (My head almost exploded watching him rinse something that was producing water with the water that the thing was producing. Too paradoxical, too cyclical, too self-referential, too infinite loop! Ack!)


I have so much else to write about, including, following closely on the heels of the Moss Wars of Ought Seven, the Sewing Disaster of Ought Seven, but this will all have to wait while I finally reveal my Dulaan treasure, promised you, lo, these last two weeks.

As I mentioned, while I was at Stephanie’s presentation, someone gave me something very special. The “someone” was Saralyn, the person who invited me to participate in the Girl Scout “World Thinking Day” event, and the “thing” was this…


my very own Dulaan Girl Scout badge. How totally frickin’ cool is that? How totally frickin’ cool is it that they used the Dulaan font and colors? How totally frickin’ cool is the embroidered map of Mongolia? How totally frickin' cool is it that I, who had never set foot in a Girl Scout event before, now have a badge? How totally frickin'... Wait. Stop. Need. To. Catch. Breath.

And, now, apologies to everyone at the event who was rudely interrupted by my shoving the badge in their faces and shouting, “Lookie! Lookie! Lookie!” Problem was, this included people I didn’t even know well.

Posted by Ryan at 10:44 AM | Comments (21)