Thursday, May 31, 2007

Those Who Cannot Remember the Past

Are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

My Dad was a 90-day-wonder naval lieutenant on a supply ship in the Pacific.

My father-in-law was with Patton at Anzio.

My god-father was one of the
Chosin Few.

My Dad's brother was bayoneted and captured at the
Battle of the Bulge. He escaped from a German POW camp days before The War ended.

My mother's oldest brother joined the Army. He's the one who saved my god-father's feet from being frozen in Korea by telling him to change his socks every night, holding the sweat-soaked pair against his body so the heat would dry them in time for the next day.

My aunt's husband suffered permanent damage to his back para-trooping into Korea

My husband and brothers all won the most important lottery of all - the one that meant they didn't have to go to VietNam.

For me, Memorial Day is and always will be May 30th. (Yes, I know I'm late, but I did remember.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I can't settle. At this rate, nothing is going to be brought to completion. I have entirely too much in production.

The Bubbly Curtain is there to represent the engaging and intriguing.

The Weird Partial Garter Miters for the portable and nearly patternless. These are proliferating alarmingly. Some significant assembly needs to start soon.

And, of course, the swatches in the "no, Diane, I don't want to crunch the numbers" division.

This last accumulation probably explains the latest trip to Knitche. I've been moving them from pillar to post, trying to figure out what I could possibly do with them. I don't want to toss them, but they're just bits and pieces of yarn. Of course, unravelled and reclaimed, they'd be perfect for a real Mason-Dixon mitered square blanket*. All I need is more.

Not that that explains how the 40% off Euroflax got there.

Then again, these towels have long awaited their companion pieces. Excuse me. I have to flit off to start searching my Barbara Walkers for stitch patterns.

* No. I don't want to count up how many blankets that makes.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Another Word For Slogging Through . . .

Discipline. I've been raised to believe it's a good thing. That which stands between us and disorder verging on anarchy. Frankly, that's all that held me to my needles this weekend. But I managed to produce swatches. If I don't produce swatches, I will never produce a robe. If I never produce a robe, the sky might fall. Instead of cascading into a new and higher form of order, I may precipitate disintegration and then where will we all be?

So. The good news is that I learned more stuff. Stuff such as I would rather garrote myself with my Addi Turbo's than knit the whole of Sweet Indulgence with three strands of anything, much less Cascade Pima Tencel. I can't tell you how relieved I was when the fabric came out like a rug -- sturdy, stiff, and unyielding. And Clare didn't like it, either (whew).

The other good news, is that we've found the combination for the final product. All Pima Tencel, all the way, all the time. I'll only have to triple strand the top and bottom borders; neither of us like the look or feel of triple stranded side borders, so I'll do that ribbing double stranded.

You may have noticed that there's triple standing embedded in process. I'm hiding it from myself. I do have a plan for self-deception all worked out. For the bottom row, I'll tell myself that once I get through it, I'll get to drop a strand. The final border will be a little tougher, but I'm hoping that by the time I get there, I'll have forgotten enough to start and that by the time I start thinking desperate thoughts the end will be in sight. I'm calling it discipline

Now if I can only find a needle size where I get gauge so I don't have to use that other discipline.

The one that involves numbers.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Better Title - But No Pictures

I don't know how I missed it. I have the Boz Scaggs cover of it on my iPod (although he calls it "Waiting for a Train"). The title of yesterday's post should have been taken from "All Around the Water Tank." The last line of the song is "I'm a thousand miles away from home, just waiting for a train," which would have been perfect. Thank you Jimmie Rodgers. Great song. (Ramblin' Jack Elliot covered it, too, on his "Ramblin' Jack" CD, but I like the slow, mournful way Boz sings it.)

Diane berated me for cutting the story short. I thought maybe you would get a little tired of the search for a Target to replace the items I really couldn't do without. Maybe you would prefer not knowing how Marc developed a deep and abiding familiarity with Interstate 93. Perhaps you didn't need to know that I ran up the largest cell phone bill in my entire life with my twice and thrice daily calls to Boston. Or how my good friend Baggage Master Mike noted that there are multiple towns named Plymouth in New England. Or how I proved what a complete urban idiot I am when I kept looking for a bus station in Plymouth. (Like Plymouth had land to waste on a huge warehouse/garage-type structure when the Trailways bus came by only once a day.) Or how I found out that Trailways isn't just one company. It leases (?) licenses (?) to multiple small, local, transport companies, (like Concord Coach) none of whom talk to each other. So if you're afraid that the suitcase you're longing for has been put on a bus to, say, Concord, Maine instead of Concord, NH, you have to call the bus company that services Boston to Concord, Maine, because the one that runs the route through New Hampshire hasn't a clue. Or how I finally got my suitcase and proceeded to lose my keys. Or how we fought over the afghan on the coldest train ride in human history (a.k.a. getting back home), because the air-conditioner on the train had two settings, on and off.

I don't know why she laughed so hard when I told her this story last summer. Served her right that she almost fell off my kitchen chair. And to think I gave her that yarn.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Train Wrecking

My husband loves trains. You might think working as a porter and a waiter on Amtrak through his college years would have gotten this out of his system. Not so. Which is why, when I had a seminar in New Hampshire last summer, we took the train as far as Boston (that was as close as we could get). The whole family. 23 hours. Change trains at Albany.

It was a less than stellar experience. Only two of the seats were actually together. The train was cold. (A word to the wise to knitters travelling on Amtrak. It's cold. Make sure you're knitting a large wool afghan.) We went through Cleveland and filled all the remaining seats at Ungodly Hour A.M. Sleeping in public is not my forte. But we made it.

Once in Boston we went to claim the few pieces of baggage we had checked and found we were missing a suitcase. My suitcase. The baggage masters at Boston South Station were reassuring. It had probably been left in Albany. It would be in by morning. Afternoon at the latest. Just fill in the Missing Baggage Form. All well and good, except I had to be in Plymouth, New Hampshire. It's a different state. I don't care how small the Eastern Seaboard states are, Massachusetts and New Hampshire are Still. Different. States.

Marc had been eyeing me sideways through all this. I was being terribly adult and understanding. This apparently filled him with trepidation. With good reason, because once we reached the hotel, I realized what was in that suitcase (well, besides most of my clothes, toothbrush, shampoo, and whatever).

This is hand-spun, hand-dyed Malabrigo. Let me repeat that. Hand-spun. Hand-dyed. As in you will never ever in a million million years find a replacement. Gone is gone. It's history. Give it up. No way. Not-gonna-happen-lady-completely-irreplaceable hand-spun hand-dyed Malabrigo.

This is the point where I burst into tears.

It took four days before we were reunited. I developed a close and personal relationship with the baggage masters at South Station. The yarn hadn't left Chicago. Never mind that the train was delayed three hours and there were maybe 8 suitcases in the checked baggage. Three hours was not enough time to make sure the train was loaded properly. The yarn arrived the next night.

My good friend, Baggage Master Mike in Boston, got it on the Trailways bus to Plymouth the following morning. The yarn and my suitcase saw more of New Hampshire than I did. It missed Plymouth twice - coming and going. We're not sure if it went all the way back to Boston. I have my suspicions. We finally tracked it down at the Trailways Station in Concord, NH. The nice lady said she'd get it on the next day's bus to Plymouth. I almost jumped through the phone wires.

We picked it up.

Marc still loves trains. This year he wants to go to Jamestown. Guess how we're going to travel. I will not be checking my bags.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Rhetorical Questions or Talking to Myself

Did I not say that I had had enough of swatches?

Have I not ceased to call them geeky things (sorry, Amy, skunk cabbage by any other name is still a swatch . . .)?

Do I not have plenty of projects lined up?

Was I not going to knit with something summery (it's 85F here today)?

So, why, having made the dishcloth decision, did I immediately go do this?

This is Mountain Colors Mountain Goat in Evergreen.

This is a swatch.

It was necessary because in order to make the fingerless mitts I love from Weekend Knitting, I must know my gauge.

This is one unassembled fingerless mitt waiting to be bound off in a three-needle manner.

Must I remind myself that it is eighty-frickin'-five degrees Fahrenheit out there?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Too Much Thinking

I bet you all thought I was having so much fun swatching that I had forgotten about the Bubbly Curtain. Whereas the reverse is true. The Bubbly Curtain is alive and well and doing a fine job helping me avoid those nasty swatches.

I keep hoping it's farther along than it is. Approaching half-way would be an exaggeration. In point of fact, a gross exaggeration. A lie. Still, here it is so far, complete with lifelines (that Neptune and 2nd shipwreck thing, you know?)

The section between the two lifelines is the part I inserted to expand the pattern for my unreasonably-sized bathroom window. I think it works. I'm pretty sure it works. If I squint one eye and turn my head sideways. No, really. I think I like it. I think it was a good idea. I'm not protesting too much.

I think I need to finish something before I hyperventilate. Something useful. Something pretty.

I'm thinking dishcloth.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I'm It

I don't usually blog on weekends, but Bobbi got me, and, given how the level of readership on this blog, if I don't tag fast, everybody else will get tagged by someone else before I get there.

This is the 7 random things meme. Here are mine.

1) I have never read anything only once.

2) I laugh out loud at the Marx Brothers and W.C. Field's, but wouldn't give the time of day to Spanky and Our Gang or the Three Stooges.

3) I am provincially, pathologically, Midwestern. Marc and I lived in northern California (otherwise known as God's Country) while he was in law school, and I missed flat land, tall buildings, and people who thought "getting their head together" should be done during free time.

4) My favorite color is red, yet I own almost no red clothes.

5) I have a way with plants - none of them survive.

6) My taste in music could best be described as eclectic. I'm a card-carrying member of 98.7/WFMT's 5:58 Club, yet when I finally got an iPod this year, the first thing I downloaded was Utah Phillips' greatest hit from his album, "Good, Though."

7) Okay, I'm struggling here. Umm. I've attempted to help organize chaos in the form of the local 4th of July Parade since I was pregnant with John (well, someone has to). That's good. Besides, it means I can add picture.

Tagged are Diane, Shelly, Jess, AmyArtisan. I'd tag Deb, but she just got tagged for 8 random things, so to follow up with 7 more seems harsh. Darn, that's only four. Okay, Kathleen, that's 5. Luni and Kristina, that's 6 and 7 (and boy, I bet they wish they had waited to leave a comment).

So, for their sakes, here are the rules:

List 7 random things about yourself.
Tag 7 others.
Leave a comment on their blog to direct them to your site to get the rules.

This isn't one of the rules, but I'm pretty sure there are no "tag-backs".

Friday, May 18, 2007


Dang. Drat. Nuts. Rats. If I string enough of these together, will they provide the same satisfaction as one good damn? Blast.

Nope, not working.

I have to knit another swatch. Maybe two. This realization was forced on me when Diane commented on the "after blocking" gauge for Sweet Indulgence. The gauge expands from 4 spi (which I got) to 3.5 spi.

Putting the still hypothetical robe through the washer and dryer will not, I venture to predict, make it bloom.

Sweet angels of mercy. Bless us and save us said Mrs. O'Davis. For Pete's sake.

Maybe if I say them really loud?

One does begin to see the logic behind those ancient Romans and their whole "kill the messenger" thing. I know. I know. No longer socially acceptable. Not to mention the negative effect it can have on one's friendships. Must find constructive outlet. Cleaning out a closet might work; I bet I'd be plenty ruthless today. Also more productive than listing all my knitting needles on eBay.

Or I could just go out and collect more expletives.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Finally, Spring

I don't dislike green per se. I am, after all, half-Irish. It's just that, of all the colors I think I like, there are more shades of green I find painful rather than pretty. Adding one such particular shade of green to the annoying forays into multiple typefaces, for example, made reading Stephanie's latest book not nearly the fun I expected it to be. It's the first one I haven't immediately re-read. This is not a reflection on Stephanie. Her prose is, as always, first rate. It's to demonstrate the depth of my feeling for (against?) certain shades of green.

Which probably explains why yesterday morning took my breath away. It was grey, cold and damp. And beautiful? How could that be?

What a difference between a cold, grey, damp day in late spring - the only change the addition of green -and one in, say, early March.

Should I then have been surprised that it works for yarn, too?

It's enough to make one think Mother Nature may have been on to something all along.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

We Progress

I am in hot pursuit of the perfect (read: non-silk) yarn for the Sweet Indulgence robe. The road has been rough. Fraught with peril and unexpected traps. Pitfalls, even.

Cascade Pima Tencel in #1694 with Berroco Zen in Mindfulness (bottom) and Filatura Di Crosa Portofino in Foliage (top). Reject.

It turns purple in some light.

Maggi's Rag in #1 and #5. Reject. Reject.

The blue is "too grey." The red only had "possibilities."

Berroco Cotton Twist in Pinata and Filatura Di Crosa Portofino in Sunset. Reject. Reject.

Left, too busy. Right, too flimsy.

PJ's by Knit One, Crochet, Too. Reject.

It felt like knitting the foam backing off of a bathmat. Truly nasty.

Do not abandon hope, all you who enter here. We have achieved, well, something. This (tan-tan-ta-ra) is the confirmed main color. Cascade Pima Tencel in 7478.

Now we just have to decide which edging. Will it be Door Number 1 - Portofino in Sunset (top border and down the side). Door Number 2 - Self-bordered, double-stranded Pima Tencel (middle right). Door Number 3 - Self-bordered, triple stranded, Pima Tencel (middle left, imagine there's no blue). Or Door Number 4 (Wait. Didn't they only have 3 doors on Let's Make a Deal?) Portofino in Foliage (the bottom and up the sides).

Well, I only said we had progress. Not lift-off.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The 13th Labor of Hercules

I must have been a really, really, really good mom this year.

We have a general rule about Mother's Day here. I'm hokey enough to want some fussing, but we tend to limit it to a card, flowers, and no cooking or cleanup.

This fabulous thing is the Northern Lights blanket kit from Fleece Artist.

So, maybe they had some help - well, how else were they to know they were supposed to throw the general rules out the window this year. Maybe I've been drooling over this for months and months. Maybe I sat them down and said, "This one." Maybe I explained that, while I didn't love the choices currently available, that I had emailed and the very nice owners told me what to do if I wanted the kit in a different colorway, something, maybe, gold and blue and deep red. So, maybe, I had already done that.

The color is Hercules (scroll through "Colours - Variegated"). Terribly appropriate, since the hero is the subject of John's independent study Latin project.

This is also going to be epic. Although, I hope, not tragic.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What's In A Name?

I love reading the comments people leave. Not only do they make me feel connected to the greater knitting world, I find out interesting things. Take Clare's on Promises Kept: "And, on an almost knitting-related subject (which is why I feel justified in tagging it on to my comment), did you know that spiral galaxies with fuzzy, poorly-defined arms are called flocculent spiral galaxies, meaning that they resemble wool?"

Clare was studying for her astronomy final. It's a term that never came up in my physics for poets class. Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, yes. Flocculent galaxies, no.

It's very rare for me to meet a word I don't know. I'm kind of excited about it. Flocculent. According to my birthday* present, it's from the Latin for FLOCK, which I had always assumed was one of those sturdy Old English words.

It means "1. Resembling tufts or flocks of wool; consisting of loose woolly masses. 2. Covered with a short woolly substance; downy."

I have been, well, maybe not embarrassed exactly. Maybe self-conscious about the name of my blog ever since I found out that Meg Swanson and Schoolhouse Press still issue "Wool Gathering," the newsletter Elizabeth Zimmermann started. I am secretly convinced that I didn't finish John's EZ Hybrid Sweater and thus justify my membership in the Zimmermaniacs because I don't want the other Z'maniacs to find their way over here.

Every now and then, I toy with new names. I'm feeling kind of attracted to "Collecting Matter of a Flocculent Sort." Or "Living in a Flocculent Galaxy." Or perhaps "Flocculent Uppermost Appendage." Or perhaps simply "Floccule" ("A small portion of matter like a flock or tuft of wool."). Okay, I'm mostly kidding. I think. Mostly. Surely anything so pretentious would be recognized as a joke, right?

It all makes my purchase of this yarn seem almost prescient.

Cascade 220 the Heathers in color 4006; 100% wool in Galaxy.

* No. It was months ago. I am, after all, a woman of a certain age.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


As in to every action there is an equal and opposite one.

Those days and days of manual labor? The ones that ended with me being completely unable to do basic knitting math on Sunday? Those days were capped Monday morning when the pole on my husband's side of the closet capsized. Perhaps I should mention, my husband is not handy. The assumption around here is that he'd call an electrician before he'd change a burned out light bulb. Replacing the closet pole was all mine. I removed the old bracket, and found six (count 'em, 6!) holes drilled into the wall, none of which matched the placement of the holes for the replacement pole. Not one.

Much silent creative cursing - the boys were helping - was followed by digging out the drill and the utility lamp (did I mention himself had broken the pull chain to the closet light?), finding the right size bit, drilling the new holes, and hanging the pole (more creative cursing). Oh, and by repairing the closet light.

I had reached my limit. I was due for a backlash. It was duck and cover time.

I've repaired and recovered the Bubbly Curtain.

I've added poppies, budding trees and blue sky and sunshine to the mitered square collection.

Then I started some summer-colored ones.

With the realization that Clare comes home on Saturday, I've returned to the geeky thing project. Once I finish this,

I'll only have to make a red one before I start worrying about getting gauge and ordering enough of whatever yarn or yarn combination she decides on.

The fingers in my right hand are cramping. I wonder if I've over-reacted.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Still Not Knitting

Or rather, I am knitting, but my sister sent me this so I decided to revamp today's post.

For Chocolate Lovers...
(May 9, 2007)

If you've got melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly.

Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices & strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

The problem: How to get 2 pounds of chocolate home from the store in hot car. The solution Eat it in the parking lot.

Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It'll take the edge off your appetite and you'll eat less.

An icebox of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn't that handy?

If you can't eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer...But if you can't eat all your chocolate, what's wrong with you?

If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

If I eat equal amounts of dark chocolate and white chocolate, is that a balanced diet? Don't they actually counteract each other?

Money talks. Chocolate sings.

Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

Q. Why is there no such organization as Chocoholics Anonymous? A. Because no one wants to quit.

If not for chocolate, there would be no need for control top pantyhose. An entire garment industry would be devastated.

Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done. "

Well. Good to know I'm covered.

Besides, the way I see it, this is a Public Service Announcement, and we all know PSA's should be given priority.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Promises Are Made to be Kept*

There's knitting here. Really. It's just that I got stuck last week. The chickens came home to roost and they weren't happy. My choices all came back to bite me. Procrastination had nothing to do with it (oh, sure). Neither did letting myself feel overwhelmed (yeah, right). None of which changes the fact that there were consequences. Pay-up and payback time. I could get sick and knit. Or I could knit and finish the project I'd promised. Or I could get sick and finish the project. I just couldn't do all three, not last week. Since I wasn't given a lot of choice about the being laid out flat sick part, I didn't knit. Sorry.

While this isn't knitting, I'm pretty damned impressed with myself. (Make excuses for me. I've been ill.) In four days I managed to turn this

and this
into this.
My hands are a mess. I have calluses and blisters and slivers. Varnish, paint, and Sculpey are embedded under, over, and through my fingernails. I'm using Neosporin like hand cream. But it's finished. And finished on time.

Before I knit again, however, I need to re-learn how to count. This little bit represents knitting attempted while watching Sky High with Marco and John. When you add in the previews and special features, that's over two hours (we have to watch some of the special features repeatedly).

I miscounted rows. Lost my place in the pattern. Miscounted stitches. Repeated decreases. Forgot decreases. Decreased on the wrong row. Forgot I was knitting garter stitch. I don't think it was because the movie was so complex.

I decided to blame the needles. The cable is too twisty. I'm being punished for flirting with Inox. Clearly, I need a new size 7 Addi Turbo. Knitche is open on Mondays.

Knitting is making a come-back. I promise.

* The Queen says so in The Frog Prince.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


So, turns out May 1 was "Blogging Against Disablism Day." Good thing I read Mason-Dixon, or I would never have known.

Should be a subject near and dear to my heart. Should be something I have plenty to say on. I have, after all, almost 18 years experience of life with a disabled child.

Marco has that most invisible of disabilities: mental retardation. Not in the sense that you can look at him and not know he's disabled. He has Down Syndrome. It's pretty obvious.


Handicapped parking is for the wheel-chair bound. Handicapped pets are for the blind. Sesame Street teaches sign language. Do a Google Image search for "handicapped." The person with Down Syndrome is conspicuous by their absence. It took me nine pages and I refuse to link to what I found there.

We are uncomfortable around people whose minds are different than our own. We are especially ill at ease among those who have little or no language. Marco cannot tell you how brave he is. He cannot tell you that he knows you're making fun of him. He cannot tell you that his feelings are not simple or shallow. He cannot tell you that he knows the only yarn worth bothering about is the kind made from rainbows. He cannot tell you he is a complete person. But if you stop, if you take a moment, if you pay attention, if you give him your time, you can find out.

When I was expecting each of my three children, I prayed for a healthy and happy baby, sound in mind and sound in body.

That's exactly what I got.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Just in Time For Mother's Day

I know I'm on the mend. I figured this out when, leafing through the latest Smithsonian Catalog and feeling sorry for myself, I saw this and laughed.

More details here.

I don't know, though. I think I'd rather they spend the money on real yarn.