March 30, 2007

You Otter Watch This

On days when I can’t think of a blessed thing to write about, thank God for YouTube. That being said, if you haven’t seen this video, you have to, especially if you’re having a bad morning/day/week/month/year/life. It’s worth watching all the way to the end, even if you have to scroll forward to about three-quarters of the way through. Oh, and oddly, it’s better with the sound off. Video

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I realized last weekend that whenever I use TMK’s teddy bear as a model for knitted hats, because the bear’s head is flat and wide—much like Stewie’s on Family Guy—every hat looks like a bishop’s miter. Not the effect I’m going for. My other choices are modeling it on a mixing bowl, which makes it obscenely bulbous and round, as you’ve seen, or plopped on a lamp. Today you get ploppage. And, apparently, more obscene bulbousness and roundness. Poop. Hey, I’ve been blogging for almost four years now. A girl runs out of ideas.

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With this hat, I’m actually…dare I confess it?...steppin’ out on Dulaan. I was temporarily lured off the primrose path by a chemo-cap project recently started by one of my employees.

The hat is knit using a lovely, soft, boucle-y yarn which is, strangely, 50% merino and 50% acrylic. That’s like a dinner of baked truffle brie en croute with a side of possum stew. Or a glass of Château Lafite-Rothschild with a chaser of Two Buck Chuck. Why? Why?! But somehow it works and makes for a great yarn. Granted, in the picture the hat looks like a hairball yorked up by a psychedelic cat, but in real life the colors are just cheerful and inviting and the hat just looks cozy and sweet, like a little lambkin. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Tonight, date night! I see “Happy Feet,” a large bucket of popcorn, a large box of Dots, a large box of Malt Balls and a large soda in our future, followed by two of the most violent sugar-crashes ever seen. If you need to find us, by 9:30 p.m., we should be lying comatose on the couch at TMK's house. Knock loudly.

Posted by Ryan at 11:04 AM | Comments (14)

March 28, 2007

Presto Changeo!

A moment of reverential silence, please.

The Magic Cone works.

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Although the Magic Cone has now twinkled its way back to the DOT Warehouse of Wizardry and Necromancy, if you need proof that some powerful juju is still swirling around the pothole vortex, take a gander at TMK’s shadow on the right. There are some unholy forces at work there.

(On the off chance that I’ve actually convinced some poor sap out there that the Magic Cone works, it doesn’t. Not alone, anyway. You also need Magic Trucks.)

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P.S. For Mel those of you who are aghast at TMK’s out-of-pocket cost for fixing her sewer, you’ve only heard half of the story. The actual cost was $40,000, all of which she would've had to pay herself but, fortunately, and thank God, and the saints be praised, her next-door neighbor wanted to get off the side sewer-line as well and was willing to pay half of the cost. And you thought your taxes were actually used for something.

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On Monday, I had the honor of being the speaker at the Eastside Knitter’s Guild’s monthly meeting. I didn’t know what to expect but I will tell you I was thrilled to see two men there, Dear Reader Melanie’s main squeeze and, oh, darn, I don’t remember the other man’s name (was it John?). (Men who knit just make my heart happy. I don’t know why.) And there were 30-35 other knitters, including Melanie and Dear Reader Dawn, all crammed into a postage-stamp-sized room. Anyone who wanted to sit in the back seats had to be carried hand-over-hand over people’s heads, mosh-pit-like. S’truth! No, okay, I lie. But it was very crowded. But the knitters didn’t care. They were a patient and lovely and wonderful and attentive group who asked great questions. And I’ve never met a more enthusiastic bunch of Dulaaners. If I’d known about them earlier, the Avalanche Yarn would’ve been—poof!—long gone, and I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in now of having to do my laundry at TMK’s house because my washer died an ugly watery death last weekend but I can’t get a new one because the deliverymen wouldn’t be able to get it past the vast mountains of Avalanche Yarn boxes. However, some of the caché of using TMK’s relatively newer, customized sewer line is wearing off on me and even strangers are starting to look at me with great respect and wonderment. (By the way, the next time someone emails me and says, “You know, we’ve got this yarn we’d like to donate…” I’m going to count on all of you to beat some sense into my head.)

But I digress. A big thank you goes out the Eastside Knitter's Guild for their hospitality, enthusiasm, and support of the Dulaan Project!

Posted by Ryan at 01:40 PM | Comments (10)

March 26, 2007

Applets and Cotlets (Washingtonians Will Get the Pun)

I forgot to mention the most important element in the Magic Cone story, and why the magic of the Magic Cone must work. See the large, darker gray area in the front of this picture?

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Below that lies $20,000 worth of sewer work TMK had to have done quite involuntarily a few years ago, thanks to person or persons unknown who flushed one diaper too many down some toilet somewhere and caused unspeakable things to happen in TMK's garage, and which was, of course, not covered by your friend and mine, the insurance company. Now you can see why the pothole-on-steroids, which is small in circumference but unsettling in depth and ambition, is making her a little nervous.

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On Friday, Ruth left a comment on the blog so, as I always do when someone leaves a comment with a link, I cantered on over to her site to see what was what, and found myself intrigued by her color analysis in this entry. This led me to wonder how she obtained/created her palette, which further led me to tap my chin, purse my lips, look up at the ceiling and say, "Hmmm. Surely there must be some kind of color-palette generator on the Net." And there is!

To use the palette generator, enter the URL to a photo and click “Color-Palette-ify.” The applet will generate a five-color “dull” palette and a five-color “vibrant” palette, plus the hexadecimal color number if you want to use it in a Web design. (Web design, shmeb design. You and I both know I’m looking for knitting color palettes. Puhleeze.)

This is what I got when I ran the applet on the picture of the periwinkle cap resting on the lavender.

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Speaking of the periwinkle cap, here it is finished, although looking obscenely bulbous and round thanks to the obscenely bulbous and round mixing bowl used to model it. Great pattern, fun pattern, easy pattern, although it came out small. In hindsight, I would add another repeat of the pattern both horizontally and vertically. Off to Arizona it goes!

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Nine more boxes of Avalanche yarn went out this weekend, so if you sent me a check, you should be receiving your box soon. I’m starting to scrape the barrel of even remotely colorful yarns, but I'm still soldiering on so, if I make any more boxes, and you are next on the list, you will be hearing from me.

OH. MY. GOD. I almost forgot! I got the latest Dulaan numbers from F.I.R.E. this morning, and they have 4,228 items!!! “Only” 7,858 to go. We’re doing well but we need to keep knitting, knitting, knitting and blanketing, blanketing, blanketing! Thank you everyone for what you've sent so far!

Posted by Ryan at 11:46 AM | Comments (28)

March 23, 2007

Our Tax Dollars At Work

While it would be blogging suicide to try to compete today with the follow-up reports on the fabulous Represent Event, I shall nevertheless give it the old college try. I know! I shall distract you with The Story of The Magic Cone!

About two weeks ago a curious and slightly disconcerting hole appeared in TMK’s street.

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But TMK was not too concerned because the Street Fix-It Guys came and solved the problem. They covered the hole with…a Magic Cone! The Magic Cone which mysteriously makes the hole invisible to tax-paying citizenry! Which means the hole no longer exists! Which means the problem no longer exists!

Can you see The Magic Cone, kiddies? Clap your hands if you can! Good job!

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However, believers though we are, and staunch worshippers at the altar of The Magic Cone, we’re starting to wonder about its effectiveness since the cone itself is starting to fall into the (non-existent yet ever-widening) hole.

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I guess we can no longer lie to ourselves. Perhaps the Magic Cone is not all it was cracked up to be. Perhaps the hole is still really there, and the magic was all a lie. Perhaps the Street Fix-It Guys are actually supposed to come do something more. Unfortunately, they believe in the Magic Cone even more than we do.

What I love best about this story is that TMK actually called the Street Fix-It Guys and left a message saying, “The hole is still there and it’s getting bigger. Your Magic Cone isn’t working.” I was on the floor.

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I’m working on a “Dulaan” hat, quotation marks indicative of the fact that it may not make it into a Mongolia-bound box, I’m so enamored of it. I’m using a beautiful periwinkle Cascade 220 Quatro (#5017, although the yarn is much prettier than the photo would have you believe), and the free online seed-stitch-and-cable pattern “Hat Cosy” (sic) (Oh, actually, not sic. Stephanie has made me a little twitchy about these sorts of things so I looked up “cozy” and “cosy” and, sher 'nuff, "cosy" is the British way of spelling it. And, sher 'nuff, the pattern comes from Australia.). This hat is fun, quick, easy and rewarding to knit! (Is it just me or does the gray of the lavender behind the hat makes this look like a black and white photo in which the hat part has been colorized?)

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Dulaaners, I’ve added a button on the left to the CafePress Dulaan site. As always, the profits all go straight to F.I.R.E. I see we’ve sold about 9 items so far, which is great! Please, go, buy. I can vouch for the quality of what they sell as I’ve been carrying my knitting around in a spacious and sturdy canvas CafePress Dulaan bag for a year now, and show up proudly at any and all Dulaan events wearing my CafePress Dulaan t-shirt.

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Although we haven't thought this far ahead yet in our summer plans, look at what’s happened to the Seattle Mariner’s initially-just-local Stitch & Pitch idea! If you couldn't represent in New York, here's a chance for you to represent at a baseball game in your 'hood!

Posted by Ryan at 11:08 AM | Comments (26)

March 21, 2007

Crossing the Great Divide

The Mysterious K and I always joke about how different we are. Okay, I joke and she says I'm wrong, but I think, all in all, it holds true. Watch:

Her: Mac
Me: PC

Her: Fried hotdogs
Me: Boiled hotdogs

Her: Home decorating—flashy, designer colors
Me: Home decorating—whites, creams, sissy greens, blues and yellows

Her: Pictures—hung off-center or at a jaunty angle
Me: Pictures—Hung exactly, precisely in the center

Her: Corgis
Me: Borzoi

Her: Quarter horses
Me: Arabians

Her: Western saddle and barrel racing
Me: English saddle and dressage (er, not that either one of our fat arses have been on a horse in, pardon the pun, donkey’s ages)

Her: Coffee
Me: Tea

Her: Rock
Me: Classical (and country, if you force me to admit it)

Her: Eggs—yolk not broken
Me: Eggs—yolk broken

Her: Diet Coke
Me: Regular Coke

Her: Driver
Me: Passenger

But, occasionally, projects come along that perfectly combine both our interests and tastes. The first was when we designed, planted, tended, harvested and used the natural-dye garden very much together. It was one of our best summers. Great good feeling abounded. Not once did one of us yell at the other, “You are not the boss of me!” Or maybe I just didn’t say it loud enough for her to hear.

The second was the recent making of the Chocolate Sauce hat. We both knew the pattern was an instant gold-star winner when we saw it, so we had an impromptu and fun, shoulder-to-shoulder huddle over the magazine page, followed by an enjoyable bout of fiber-y teamwork to make the hat a reality. (TMK did get a taste of the infamous Patented Princess Glare when, as I was starting to cast on for the hat, out of the blue, she launched into a little lecture about…I still can hardly believe it…how I should cast on. The details are already a little vague but I believe somehow she thought it safe to inform me that if I wanted to cast on loosely, I should use larger needles than the ones I was actually going to knit on. Hence, the Glare, and a short, sharp, clipped reminder about just how damn long I’ve been knitting and how many damn projects I’ve cast on during that damn time, and I know very damn well how to cast on, thank you very damn much.) But that was a very minor blip on the project radar. The rest was a wonderful, arm-in-arm, walk in the park.

The finished results:

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I can’t tell you how little justice these photos do to the hat. Because of the fuzz and the lovely, chocolaty brown, both of which get lost in the photo, it almost looks alive. Not in the going-to-skitter-across-your-dining-room-table-jump-on-the-floor-and-have-an-accident-on-your-new-carpet alive but more…how do I explain this…it seems to embody the essence of the earth, of living things, of nature, of simple handwork. Even though it’s small, this hat oozes character, soul, heart. I suppose perhaps I’m just discovering the wonder of homespun yarn but I’d like to think it’s more than that, perhaps a chi thing. Of course, won’t I be freaked out when it runs under the couch, tears a hole in the bottom fabric and makes a nest up in the springs.

However…you know how we knitters talk about how our yarns “tell us” what they want to be? Sure, I’ve experienced that, sometimes in a good way, sometimes in a bad. Right now, for example, one project which told me it wanted to be this…

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…and then told me it wanted to be this…

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…is now screaming to the rafters that it wants to be a baby kimono sweater. God help me.

But what do you do when a ball of yarn is telling the Creator of the Yarn that it wants to be one thing and the User of the Yarn that it wants to be something completely different? TMK says that the leftover Chocolate Sauce is telling her it wants to be another hat for me, identical to the one I knit for her so we can be, nauseatingly, hat twins. The yarn is telling me it wants to be a pair of cabled fingerless mitts for her which match the hat. We each have a claim on the yarn, she as the Creator and I as the User, so who’s right? (As the blog mistress and the knitter, I get to add: Y’all know I really don’t want to knit another, identical hat. Just sayin’.)

Posted by Ryan at 10:46 AM | Comments (28)

March 19, 2007

Party On, Dudes!

Today’s “You realize…” moment: You realize you’ve wielded your garden spade with a little too much verve when you get undressed at the end of the day and pebbles and dirt fall out of your bra. Very classy.

But that was Sunday. Saturday was spent in a much more ladylike fashion with Dulaan peeps and peeps-to-be at Janine’s Knit-In. At the peak of the party, I think we had 15 to 20 people in Janine’s spacious but cozy living room, including the usual suspects—June, MaryB, Janine, Leslie, Elaine, LindaK, Diana, Jessica, Evelyn Clark, TMK, me—and quite a few people I didn’t know but all of whom were Dulaaners through and through. I try not to do too much of the blogarazzi thing at these parties, but I did take this one photo of some of the marvelous folks in attendance. Did I not say the living room was spacious but cozy? (Don’t miss Janine’s luscious knitted throw on the back of the empty chair. A beaut, no?)

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I managed for this knit-in to remember not only the DVD case for the F.I.R.E. movie but the #%&!@$! DVD as well. (At the last Knit-In, I proudly snapped open the case, only to stare in disbelief at the little round nesting place where the DVD should have been but wasn’t. I was snickered at. I may never recover.) What a genius idea Janine had to show the movie since it’s a ½-hour-long, intense, total-immersion course in Mongolia's culture, government and current struggles, very helpful to the folks who weren’t quite sure what Dulaan and F.I.R.E. were all about. And, of course, there are the priceless 5-7 minutes of footage showing Dulaan items being handed out to the children. That’s usually where the waterworks start for me, although I’ve already seen this movie, what, 6, 7, 8 times?

At the end of the day, the display table was creaking under 83 items, mostly hats but some beautiful sweaters, scarves and blankets as well. In particular, I lost my heart to the orange and yellow sweater you can see on the left, knit by MaryB. Are those not just the most delectable colors? As part of her contribution to Dulaan, LindaK will be shipping all of these items to Arizona for us so THANK YOU, Linda!!!

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My favorite discovery at the party—although it may never get a mate, and the photograph I took of it turned out as crappy as is humanly possible—was this tiny sock knit out of leftover self-striping sock yarn. The photograph doesn’t clearly show how small it was but it was miniscule and adorable!

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There was food, of course, including (although not shown in the picture) the chocolate tofu pie which, as always, got a lukewarm reception at first but had, curiously, vanished by the time we left, and a tureen of delicious curried, toasted whole almonds, brought by June, which were still steaming and crackling tantalizingly when she arrived.

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Thank you everyone, especially Janine, for such a perfect party. We hope to have at least one or two more before the middle of June so keep those needles warmed up, and stay tuned!

The party was also the occasion of the unveiling of the very special Barter Socks. Remember this silk yarn TMK spun for MaryB?

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In return, MaryB knit these for TMK:

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The socks combine a beautiful purple-y, slate-y blue with some cream and variegated-purple accents. However, the most important design element is, of course, the “TMKs” around the ankle! MaryB, I don’t believe they socks have been off TMK’s feet since she received them, and she still insists, emphatically, that she got the better end of the deal. I will leave the two of you to thrash that out.

Wednesday, the finished Chocolate Sauce hat!

Posted by Ryan at 11:27 AM | Comments (16)

March 16, 2007

Extreme Eating

You realize your life could stand a major infusion of excitement when the most thrilling thing you do all day is put your hand in your drawer of soup cans, pull out a can and put it in your knapsack for lunch—without looking! So, until noon, you have no idea what you’re going to eat that day! Hoo boy! Have I got your adrenaline junkie right here, baybee, yeah!

Oy.

In the truly more exciting part of my life, the llama/alpaca Chocolate Sauce yarn is rapidly metamorphosing into a wonderful, slightly fuzzy, Guernsey-type hat, using, as I mentioned, the pattern included in the Winter 2006 Spin-Off article by Carol Huebscher Rhoades. The pictures I’ve taken so far have turned out majorly lame-o...

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...which is a shame since this is one of the most satisfying things I’ve knit in, like, ferever. The pattern itself is relatively skeletal so you have to dust off your gray matter to fill in the gaps and even do a little knitterly experimenting, yet the design itself is easy, a mix of simple cables and embossed diamonds. And the yarn? Wunderbar. Not too soft or limp, not too rough, a lovely, rich, many-layered café au lait color and with just the right amount of bloom. Yum. Good job, TMK! When did you say Big Boy would be ready? Oh, yeah. It’s spring. Never mind.

Sweet Caroline, TMK is not much of a tutorial/teaching/training kinda gal—which we learned when she tried to teach me something on the Mac and kept, instead, grabbing the mouse out of my hand in a quite unteacherly fashion—so I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for instructions on how to build a trellis/tuteur. However, I did find a couple of good online patterns for you that might be helpful. Have a look-see:

Pyramid Trellis Pattern 1

Pyramid Trellis Pattern 2

Apropos of nothing, if there are any Northwest birdwatchers out there—help! Every morning I’ve been hearing a bird call that I don’t recognize. Haven’t been able to find the bird, although not for a lack of trying, and it’s starting to make me late for work. Seriously. I’ve wasted more time than I’d like to admit standing in my yard, car keys in one hand, can of Mystery Soup in the other, squinting up through the trees. The song is one longish, burry, trilled, medium-pitched note. No changes in pitch or tone, just the one note, maybe a couple of seconds long in duration. Sounds almost like a person whistling. Which it isn’t. Unless there’s some sick bastard out there who’s trying to send me to the loony bin. So, any guesses? (Update: My new Best Friend Forever, LurkerCathy, has solved the mystery. It's a varied thrush. As I mentioned in the comments, somehow I was woefully unable to put two and two together. I had seen a varied thrush, two, in fact, in my yard for the first time in years, then a couple of days later I started to hear the mystery call...and yet was never able to close that new bird/new call gap in my brain. D'oh. Sadly, I suspect they have shown up in my yard because all the trees in a large lot across the street from me were cut down during the winter. I have a feeling that the thrushes are in my yard because they lost their home.)

Dulaan Knit-In at Janine’s on Saturday! Oddly, my brain keeps envisioning an ecletic, surreal mix of leprechauns, Mongolians and American women, all knitting and all eating chocolate tofu pie. Back in the real world, I've gleaned from the comments chez Janine that there may be Dulaaners in attendance that I haven’t met before, which is always spiffalicious. I am so looking forward to this. Now where is my Dulaan t-shirt?

Posted by Ryan at 11:28 AM | Comments (10)

March 14, 2007

Spring Has Sprung

Spring fever is starting to nip at TMK’s heels so I predict that her interest in spinning will soon take a sharp nosedive, turn into a small dot and blip out, the way the picture used to disappear on old TVs. She can’t help it; her mixed Sicilian and Portuguese blood make her a sun worshipper. In fact, when the temperature reaches 49 degrees, her winter clothes fall off with a loud "whoosh." It’s okay, though; we have an understanding. She is a knitting widow; I am a sun widow.

And a baseball widow.

And a woodworking widow.

And a working-out-at-the-gym widow.

And a swimming-at-the-community-swimming-pool widow.

Wait…That’s fair how?

At any rate, while I contemplate the abject unfairness of my relationship, I thought I’d squeeze in at least one more of TMK’s spinning projects before she slaps on her braided spring-vine crown, her white, diaphanous robes and her rope sandals and goes skipping around in the backyard singing “hey, nonny nonny.” Oh, wait; too late. There she goes.

Aaaaaanyway, this is the yarn we call “Big Boy” for no other reason than it looked quite muscle-beach manly while it was hanging on her fireplace. I’m sure it has some real, legitimate, foofy name like “Enchanted Glade” or “Fairy Delight” or “Twilight Rapture” or “Blissful Morn” but it was summarily rebaptized when it came home to live with us.

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Here is “Big Boy” single-plied (the photo is much brighter than the actual thing, I'm afraid):

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While you may be—and are, if you are at all like me—enthralled by its rich variegation, its shine and its promise of hours of knitting bliss, you’ll be even more so when you learn that TMK spins with a severe handicap:

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As you can see, one of Frankie’s favorite places to lie is between TMK’s chair and the treadle. Somehow TMK makes it work. Or, more accurately, is forced to make it work since, does this look like a dog that would take kindly to your asking it to move? No. It looks like a dog who says, "I know some people who know some people. Touch me and you die."

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Loved everyone's comments on Monday, especially Dale-Harriet's steeking of the Puritans. You are all too funny.

Posted by Ryan at 11:21 AM | Comments (15)

March 12, 2007

I'm Armed and Dangerous

(You know your electrical system needs upgrading when you're standing in the bathroom, hair dryer in hand, yelling to the person in the kitchen, “Don’t make toast!”)

Ah, mea culpa, Lee. I just plow blindly along, forgetting that we have newbies who may have no frickin’ clue who TMK is. So to all my new and new-ish readers: TMK stands for “The Mysterious K,” the blog alias for my partner of 20 years. When I started Mossy Cottage, I thought it would be prudent to protect her identity—because she certainly didn’t ask to have her private life splashed all over the Internet—by just referring to her as “K.” She was (very) quickly sucked in by the novelty of the bloglife, however, and started leaving comments, referring to herself as “The Mysterious K,” which, over time, was shortened to TMK—and voila. The other “in joke” is that we’ve never shown TMK’s face on the blog and go through all sorts of clownish and inane contortions to ensure this. What makes this even more ridiculous is that, now, four years in, TMK doesn’t care if I use her real name or show her face but it has now become a “thing," so we just keep doing it because, yes, we will sell our souls for cheap laughs. Hey, Franklin has an imaginary sheep, I have an imaginary girlfriend. It’s all good. (Side note: This coy hiding-of-the-face actually led, a few years ago, to TMK’s being identified in an LYS by her shoes!)

And for those of you who found yourselves scratching your heads over the license plate (U8YRUMT), it says: You Ate. Why are you empty?

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As promised, before and after photos of Olympic Skwedl’s neck steek. The deal here is, you decide where you want the neck to start, knit to that point, and cast off the appropriate number of stitches (in my case, I cast off for about 5.5” to 6”). Finish knitting the round and, when you get back to the beginning of the neck, create a steek, and keep on knitting. This allows you to finish knitting the neck in the round. (Lest I sound blithely confident about all of this, every speck of this information was lovingly and patiently spoon-fed to me by my Guru of All Things Fair Isle, Janine. I knew bupkus about this before she took me in hand.)

The neck steek before, seen from the front…

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And from the side:

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The cutting:

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The pulling apart:

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The finished results:

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Somebody bring me some smelling salts.

Posted by Ryan at 11:16 AM | Comments (17)

March 09, 2007

Pointless Friday Blather. I Kid You Not.

The answers:

1. Tomato with fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette with a side of crackers. So very, very good. I had seconds. This is unheard of, especially when it comes to things of the vegetable ilk. Which is why, as I've mentioned before, I made such a lousy vegetarian back in the day.

2. Cucumber soap. (Pre de Provence brand, for the curious among you. Add some balsamic vinaigrette and voila!, more salad. And no need to brush your teeth afterward.)

3. Stomach.

4. Bulky sage-green sweater. A man's sweater. With the cuffs rolled up. My favorite way to dress.

5. Trader Joe’s English Breakfast.

6. Pass his ass.

7. Bald eagle.

8. Six projects. Because I am nothing if not an obsessed knitter.

There you have it. The most inane information I’ve ever posted in almost four years of blogging. Except maybe the bit about being afraid of vacuum cleaners. Or the picture I posted when I got Rebecca's poncho stuck on my head. But I had to post something because it's after 2 p.m. PST and TMK just called and said if I didn’t post a blog entry and soon, she’d...she didn’t know what but whatever it was, I wasn’t going to like it. Time to go on Dr. Phil.

Speaking of “pass his ass,” here’s a license plate I saw this week:

U8YRUMT

Since it’s a pretty fair bet the car belonged to some average schmo, I suspect he’s just a lover of alphanumeric wordplay and not all worked up about spiritual and metaphysical emptiness.

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Went to have my hair colored yesterday and the stylist offered to French braid it so I said, what the hey. I envisioned looking so lovely that I would stop TMK dead in her tracks, clutching her chest and gasping for air. Instead, because the braid was tight and the stylist incorporated my bangs into the braid, I went home looking like someone who had had a bad face lift and was having a bad hair day. As it turned out, I didn’t see TMK but, trust me, If I had, there would’ve been no stopping, no clutching, no gasping. There might have been some ill-concealed smirking but we will never know.

And because, if you haven’t figured it out already, I have nothing to write about today, one of the best Kooky Krafts ever in the history of Kooky Krafts, a Gummi Bear chandelier. My gift to you.

P.S. A note to Nanette: I think I have the James Norbury book. Will have to give it a looksee for Egyptian/Arabic patterns. Thank you!

Posted by Ryan at 02:18 PM | Comments (11)

March 07, 2007

What If?

People, people, people. Repeat after me, “Ryan, you are a designing doofus. Therefore, do everyone a favor; use the existing cable pattern in the Nefertiti scarf for Abbdar.” Now you.

But, alas and alack, that’s not what happened. This is what happened:

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Even TMK, who knows I’m a designing doofus even better than all a’y'all know I’m a designing doofus, voted for a new design. So it seems you’re actually going to force me to dust off my brain cells; do further research into Egyptian art and design; rework the anorexic ankh; find a way to make an Egyptian temple not look like the Parthenon; use charting software to graph hieroglyphics; find out what an asp actually looks like (Wikipedia sez it’s a cobra. Urk.); research the flora, fauna, annual flow rate, tributaries and history of the Nile; launch an expedition to find the last hidden chamber in the pyramids; learn how to make paper out of papyrus; and become fluent in Coptic Eqyptian—all rather than filch a perfectly good design and alter it to my needs. But my readers have spoken. So be it.

What a crackpot way to make decisions, eh? Imagine if I asked you to vote on everything. Here’s what you could’ve helped me with this week:

Dinner: Macaroni and cheese with hotdogs or tomato slices with fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette?

Shower: Lemon-scented soap or cucumber-scented soap?

Bed: Right side or left side? Stomach or back? (You would think after 47 years I wouldn't need help with this one.)

Clothing: Bulky sage-green sweater or lighter-weight dark-coral sweater?

Tea: Trader Joe’s English Breakfast or Village Yarn & Teas London Fog?

Commute #1: Stay behind the molasses-slow white truck because I’m in no particular hurry to get to work or go around him because there’s slow and then there’s s-l-o-w?

Commute #2: Is that a bald eagle or a traffic camera?

Ferals: Take six projects with me because I just need to have them near me even though I’m pretty sure I'm not going to work on five out of the six, or take just one since, realistically, I’m only going to be there for a couple of hours and won’t get any knitting done anyway because I talk too much?

(Heh. Now I’m imagining myself living my life like that dude on TV who is always followed around by the hundreds of people in his cell-phone network. I take one step and behind me I hear shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle shuffle. Followed by muffled shouts of “macaroni and cheese!,” “traffic camera!,” and “six projects!” And then a fight breaks out. Oh, dear.)

No photographic proof available as of yet but at Ferals on Monday I cut the neck steek on Olympic Skwedl!!!!!! And just as Janine promised, it immediately flopped open into the most perfect rectangular neckline. Magic. Now for the blocking. In the meantime, TMK promises me I can have Chocolate Sauce this weekend. Woot! Oh, wait she means the yarn, not the ice cream topping. Damn.

Oh, and Canadian reader Michele from Saskatchewan is challenging herself, her mother, and any other Dulaaners who want to participate to knit 20 items for the cause. Thank you, Michele!!

P.S. It has to be said that I typed Saskatchewan perfectly the first time around, without looking it up, which I was very tempted to do. I'm exhausted. Next week: Pookipsie. Poughkipsy. Pukeepsie. Drat.

Posted by Ryan at 03:23 AM | Comments (20)

March 05, 2007

Who Says Miracles Don't Happen?

Only one year and 7 days after the Olympic flame was extinguished, a miracle—the pieces for Olympic Squirrel are almost done:

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Above, one finished sleeve, with the second lurking in my project bag, sans only the blue armhole border, a trifling 11 rows. (The fancily configured neckline has not disappeared; it’s just face down since the back makes a much better picture at this point.)

As you can see—with, for the record, the wholehearted encouragement of my knitting peeps, Janine in particular—I completely abandoned the the squirrel/tree/snowflake pattern on the sleeves. I swear, I can’t throw a frickin’ stick without hitting someone who thinks nothing of knitting small, stranded items on dpns, and yet that technique just leaves me completely in a dither. Try as I might, I can’t reconcile the fact that you have to knit tightly between the dpns to prevent laddering and yet strand loosely between the dpns to prevent puckering. I only have 10 fingers, people! So, no squirrels (or "skwedls," as TMK and I tend to say, thanks to our addiction to BBC in general and Red Dwarf in particular) on the sleeves, but I’m thinkin’ I like the plainer look. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now, time to wash the pieces, block them, dry them, seal the whole thing in a plastic bag, put the plastic bag in a small, secure, fireproof safe, put the safe on the space shuttle, and send the whole shebang up to the International Space Station, and hope that none of the Feralites remember that steeking is/was supposed to happen at this point.

On to my next project. Tra-la-la.

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While I was busy trying to figure out how to finagle my way onto the space shuttle, TMK was working on her latest opus, “Chocolate Sauce,” two plies of light brown llama with one ply of dark brown alpaca, her first 3-ply!

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On my monitor at least, the close-up gives a good approximation of the colors, something akin to slightly melted, ooey-gooey chocolate ice cream dripping with hot fudge sauce. (Napkin, anyone?) When I did a swatch, the tweediness disappeared but it turned into a beautiful soft brown with a lot of depth and just the right amount of fuzz.

This is actually a planned “spin to knit” project that TMK and I are working on together. The Chocolate Sauce was spun as close as possible to the yarn specifications in the “Fiber Basics: Cheviot” article by Carol Huebscher Rhoades in the Winter 2006 Spin Off magazine. The plan is then for me to use it to knit a Guernsey hat pattern which was part of the article. That is, as soon as I can pry Chocolate Sauce away from TMK. It could be a while.

Speaking of earth-tone Gansey/Guernsey hats, on the Abbdar front, I’m either really tickled or really steamed, I’m not sure which. Looky here. Either this designer has (a) done me the great favor of designing the oh-so-perfect Egyptian cable pattern which I can simply adapt for the hat (yay!) or (b) made me feel like a designing doofus who couldn't come up with anything this perfect no matter how hard she tried (boo!). So....

New poll!

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Posted by Ryan at 11:33 AM | Comments (20)

March 02, 2007

Bald Eagle Watching 101

The curious trick to looking for bald eagles:

1. If you’re looking for bald eagles in trees, just look for heads without bodies, essentially, white specks. I found 11 eagles this way once.

2. If you’re looking for bald eagles anywhere else, look for bodies without heads. This is because, against a grey, white or blue sky, their white heads (and tails) disappear, leaving just a chunky, dark, rectangular form. Which explains why, when I first saw the eagle on Wednesday—my sincere apologies, Mr. Audubon, for what I'm about to confess—I thought it was a traffic camera.

One of these days, TMK and I will have to tell you about the time we went bald-eagle watching in Alaska. Long story short, (a) it was cold and rainy, (b) when we put on the requisite lifevests and military-green ponchos, we were so round we looked like monstrous, man-eating olives (c) we were in a rubber raft, not the cute tour boat with gaily swinging fringe we were expecting, and (c) we spent considerable time going nowhere, our arses wedged between the pointy rocks of the river bottom, thanks to low water levels. Oh, and of the bald eagles, headless, tailless, torsoless or otherwise, we saw one. But I would so do it again.

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In an out-and-out rebellion against the detailed fussiness of most of my current projects, I indulged in some “guerilla knitting” of what I consider to be one of the most perfect free patterns out there, the Fake Isle Hat. All of the drama, all of the charm, none of the work.

The side:

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The top:

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The problem:

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The large size, she knits up very large. (But TMK says it works fine for her.)

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I’m way ahead of all a’ y’all who suggested an ankh.

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To be honest, though, the swatch of this looked like poo-poo. In some places the purl stitches overwhelmed the knit stitches; in others, the knit overwhelmed the purl. Something to do with the horizontal and vertical interplay. But I will press on. Thank you for all of your suggestions and links! And for playing along with this most ridiculous of projects.

Posted by Ryan at 01:24 PM | Comments (21)