Saturday, December 31, 2005

Last day of the year.

Sigh. I've had the children for so long, that even though I know they are with their dad, I keep looking around for them and wondering why it's so quiet. Alone time is a real benefit of joint custody, there's no denying it. When you are with children constantly (my own and other people's) time to just sit and read, knit, or clean the house uninterrupted is a blessed thing.

I did not see Elf last year when it came out. I really like everyone in the cast, I was just suspicious after the previews. Sometimes all the funny parts in a movie are in the trailer and the rest sucks. A friend let us borrow her DVD (I had it in my queue at Netflix and it said "very long wait" next to it) and I laughed so hard! Bowen sat quietly staring with a giant smile on his face, Chicky laughed, and Morgan was literally on the floor, rolling and laughing. Zooey Deshanel has an amazing voice and I had to order the soundtrack after hearing her (she's only on one song with Leon Redbone, but it's good).

When we started watching Elf, everyone had some piece of knitting in hand. Morgan decided he wanted a wristband, so he learned to purl (after me showing him two stitches, he had it) and he's almost finished. We decided after the first five minutes of the movie we needed to put the knitting down so we could concentrate on laughing.


Bowen wanted to make gauntlets. I was concerned with his low frustration level that working with five double pointed needles would put him quickly over the edge, but he is moving along in a knit two, purl two rib confidently! Boys knit and it rocks!


We are, unfortunately, getting a development built behind the houses across the street from our house. Their "back entrance/exit" funnels them to the bottom of our road. I'm hoping it won't be convenient enough to be used much. The up side, for right now, is that there is a nice paved, empty, still-blocked road where the kids can ride bike. Yes, this is a picture of my daughter without a bike helmet on.


The boys have mohawks again. Morgan spent ages five through seven with a mohawk and loved it. Then he had a "regular" head-shaving for a while and now, the mohawk has returned. Bowen has had them on and off, but doesn't seem as into them as Morgan. I was surprised that he's been putting gel in his and spiking it some days. It's easier to pick 'em out in a crowd.


We met friends of the kids yesterday at the skating rink and they had a very good time. Their first time on the ice, and they didn't fall as much as I thought they would. Chicky didn't want to go, until 30 minutes before the rink was closing (that is so her). The rink was packed, whole families on the ice, and some groups of adults. I was surprised.


I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions. I think you can change whatever you want to about yourself, whenever you want. Reflection and change aren't limited to a certain time of year. Plus, having a "pile" is rather overwhelming. To that end, I wish you all a Happy New Year, full of the good stuff (that's different for everyone, so choose your own).


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Yarn and small stuff.

One of my holiday gifts was yarn stash replenishment from Mel and Angela. After all that holiday knitting I was pretty much empty. In Fiberland, one must always have fiber options. Perhaps a very soft alpaca yarn spoke to you at the yarn shop and you bought the three skeins they had in your preferred color with a specific project in mind. Maybe when you got home you added it to the stash and either forgot what project you had in mind or changed your mind and used a different yarn. Will the alpaca be wasted? Of course not, another project will come along and it will be used. My point here is that stashes are quite natural and necessary, almost required, even. Here is the beginning of the "new" stash:


I was appalled at the amount of trash/recycling we had accumulated over the last four days. Now that I haul the garbage and recycling myself to the dump and sort it all out, I am truly horrified. To that end I have another rant:

Oh, Toy-Companies-of-the-World-that-import-goods-from-China, hear my plea! Please, oh for the love of Whomever You Hold Dear, please stop packaging everything in fifty-four small bags, carefully encased in five super-taped cardboard boxes. This may be some Holy Toy Company number, but I beseech you....STOP! Spend some of your million in profits to mold yet another plastic item - one in which all the small, itty-bitty bits will be kept safe, neat,and unable to be consumed by the all-powerful Electrolux (speak thou not against the sacred dirt sucker), or eaten by a dog.

You may not realize this, O Great Beings, but your karma is damaged by the negative energy of parents everywhere cursing the names of the Great Toy Companies. Ye of little faith, we would pay two dollars more a box to have less annoying packaging! Considering that people are obviously sorting small treasures into piles to send down a conveyor belt to be shrink wrapped, why not just put them into a little reusable box? Surely, O Wise Ones, this has crossed your minds. Why must parents be inflicted with the great anguish of children when a pirate's two centimeter gun, or three millimeter treasure gets lost? You may not know this, O Great Molders of Plastic, but I will not buy another set to stop the sorrow of small children. If the small pieces can jangle against each other in a small plastic bag, will they not be fine to so cohabitate in a plastic box on their long over sea adventure?

Thank you for considering my humble request. May all the plastic you create be returned to you sevenfold.

Here is a really small sample. I didn't include the treasure boxes filled with tiny jewels (we have two of those) the small rats, spiders, skull heads (for ship decoration), etc. It's all really cool stuff (I like pirates, myself. Hell, I even have a pirate name.) it's just that there is a lot of it...And it's all over the house.


Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas, finally.

Today was a lovely Christmas. I fully expected to be woken by children saying, "Mama, mama, will you get up now?" But, I was awake at 6am and waiting for them until 7am - and I actually had to wake my daughter. I have no idea what was up with that.

The boys got pirate ships and were very excited about it. It took them an hour to put them together, and there was only one moment of real frustration and tears. Morgan thinks it was really lame for the toy company to put a "live" pirate in with his "dead" (skeleton) pirates. I told him maybe it was a starter prisoner, you put him in the hold until you got another, better one. He didn't like that. "Why would you just have a prisoner, you have to go attack the other ship and get them." Good point. In the end Bowen gave over his dead pirate and Moran happily turned over the live dude.



I didn't get Chicky any regular toys this year. Her room is so full of dramatic play stuff, Barbies (I didn't buy any of them, for the record), and little wee plastic accessories that get sucked up the vacuum, I just didn't think she needed or really wanted any of it. What she did want, and I didn't get her was an American Girl doll. They cost so much, and she would have gotten nothing else. I could tell she was sad, but I explained why I didn't get it and she said she understood. Instead she got crafty stuff which, once she opened, have kept her quite busy. She has started her scrapbook, used her fancy hole-punches to work on some stationary, and she got a rockin' cowgirl hat complete with a tiara.


Eowyn was pissed. She was all bouncy about the presents around the family room (she wanted to chew on boxes) and the kids kept brushing her off to keep unwrapping, or to get her off whatever it was they had just unwrapped. She kept huffing and trying to get in the way. Finally, she curled up on the sofa and pouted. I'm not kidding, she really did. I came over to her and apologized for not getting her a present. Tonight, I heard paper tearing on the floor. I looked over and she was destroying one of the kid's Christmas cards. Apparently, she holds a grudge.


Mel and Angela got their gifts: a knit rug out of blue t-shirts from thrift stores, and a Booga Bag.



One of their cats, Beastly, decided the rug may turn into a cozy cat spot.


There was also a lovely vegan feast (and non-vegan for those so inclined) and I vote that Tofurky turkey is better than Unturkey. The Tofurky has a very nice wild rice stuffing. Now, to go sleep off the food coma...

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa

It's a veritable Winter Holiday Extravaganza! Yes, Winter Solstice was on the 21, I just didn't add it in the title because it already happened. The gifts are all found from their various hiding places, wrapped, and waiting where they need to be under the tree or in a stocking. I already warned the boys that their most wanted items (football helmets, pads, and jerseys of their first or second favorite NFL teams) would be arriving after Christmas. They are fine with far.

Tonight we went to Mel and Angela's house and made some cookies. I'd like to apologize in advance for the jaundiced appearance of the children. I'm still playing with the camera settings and the other two pictures were better in that regard, but Bowen is an absolute blur in one, and Chicky is almost invisible in the other. Oh, the joy of taking pictures of jumping beans.


The beginning of Morgan's orange (out of Cascade superwash) tube socks. The pattern is from the Melanie Falick book Kids Knitting. I'm hoping Bowen will be inspired to make his own. He knows how to purl now and he's looking for something a little more interesting than straight knitting in the round.


Here is the quote of the day in Cosmo Doogood's Urban Almanac:

We are here on earth to do good to others. What others are here for, I don't know.
-W.H. Auden

Enjoy your holiday of choice to its fullest potential. And remember, the unifying theme to all of them is the return of the light; the shortest day of the year is past and longer days are coming. Time to start looking through the seed catalogs!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mama (a.k.a., Mythbuster)

We're almost there. Unfortunately, at our house, no presents are under the tree yet. If I put presents out early, my children go bananas and there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. It gets very tiresome day after day. I also told them that there was no Santa this year. The boys are eight and their sister is six, and yes, I could have waited longer so she could enjoy it more, but I couldn't take it. My children are sooooo materialistic it hurts my very being at times. Bowen was at picking out $272 Pittsburgh Steelers jerseys! I told him there was no way he was getting a jersey that cost that much and he said, "It's ok mama, the elves make it." That gave me pause. If you're old enough to get around your mama's lack of money you are old enough to know that Santa is a really nice ritual for small children, but your parents are really "Santa" and not all children get gifts.

I called their dad and told him I wanted to tell them the truth about the Big Man and he said it was fine with him and they would still get a present from Santa anyway (What the %$^@? This was news to me - but is what some people apparently do - I don't know why). I told the kids I wanted to talk to them and told them that Santa wasn't real. OHMIGOD! Morgan burst into tears and wailed, "I can't believe you lied to us! All those letters we wrote! YOU?! YOU read them?" I tried to be reassuring and told them that the letters were very sweet and that I saved them. Their reeling minds put two and two together and all of a sudden they looked at me with newly realized horror in their eyes, "What about the Easter Bunny?" I told them that was also a parent deal. "The Tooth Fairy?" Ok, this one got me, Chicky hasn't lost a single tooth yet. I paused and said, "The Tooth Fairy is real." I know, I know, but they only get fifty cents a tooth and I couldn't ruin it all for Chicky. I also told them that the deal with being a kid in the know was that you couldn't stomp out the myth for the other children that still believed. That seemed somewhat helpful. They also totally got that some kids didn't get "Santa" at their house and wanted to gather gently used toys to give to other kids. In the end, we got to a good place. Now, I'm having Tooth Fairy guilt.

Finally a picture of Chicky's socks. I adore them, even though they are pink.


And a picture of a bag with my first flowers. I didn't follow the directions carefully enough and the flowers are a little odd.


I'm going to brag about Bowen's most recent project. His class was studying handmade items and they each chose something to make, they drew pictures of their chosen item, made the thing, and wrote instructions for others to make it, too. It was very cool. Bowen made a spear. Now, I am not really a fan of weapons, but the fact that he was making it himself and he ran it by his teacher made me feel ok about it. He made a spear (although the picture he had in his mind, and the one he actually made were different and caused him great creative angst), he drew many pictures, and wrote the directions out carefully. My favorite art is his "zoom" art. All the kids did with their handmade creation in the picture. They started out with the full scene and got closer and closer like a zoom lens. I was also impressed that Bowen left out the whole person holding the spear - he totally trusted people to get it. I like that about him.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Catching up and feeling tired

I do not often have lasting colds. I think maybe seven days is a long time for me. I am on week number three of a mucus-and-cough-filled nights cold. I have been patient...up til now. I've been telling myself that maybe if I stay at this low level sick for the rest of the winter I won't get some big hideous illness. I know, who am I kidding?

The holiday knitting is almost all finished. The holiday shopping is as good as it's going to get, I'm afraid. I really hate shopping, but I did it. A friend and I circled the same four or five isles at Target numeous times (there were stoppers of people and carts at the ends we couldn't get through). When I got home I kept making left turns for the next couple hours and it took me a while to figure out why.

Now it's off to spend time with my cleaning appliances (mainly the washing machine). Here's a Booga Bag that is gift bound (which is kind of hard for me because it's my favorite colors, but as my daughter pointed out, "You can make another one for yourself").


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Woman with new camera...beware!

Yipee! New camera (first digital camera...ever) for Christmas and I am having fun. Tomorrow, after I get my children you will see knitted delights you never knew existed (I am exaggerating here - it's the joy talking).

Just to show you how lovely my camera is, here is a picture of an angel on my tree.

And here is a small wire star.

Fun, fun, fun.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Holidays are swiftly upon us

I remember being told as a child that Christmas wasn't only about gift-giving. As an adult not engaged in organized religion I would like to say I still agree with that, but not because I believe it's about Jesus' birthday (I will not, at this time, venture down the historical path of the co-opting of pagan holidays to Christian to make them more attractive to the "heathens"). I object on the grounds that materialism is bad for individual and communal spirit. I know our democratic (ha!, sorry still bitter over the last two elections), capitalistic society thrives on competition and consumer consumption, but looking at all the people buying the goods and buying into the myth, I don't think it's working. People are spending money and they aren't happy. People are getting presents and they're not happy, either. People are very stressed out, about buying other people presents. Buying presents people might not even want. Did you hear about the fights over discounted items on Black Friday? We're spreading democracy? Our people fight over shoes, for God's sake! What the hell? Ok, I'm stepping off my soapbox now, but also telling you to check our - a group of Canadian Mennonites have started a campaign. I'm all about less shopping.

The kids were taking turns reading poems from Shel Silverstein's book Where the Sidewalk Ends last night. He was so great. Not only were his books banned (by the way: read banned books) but he also penned Johnny Cash's hit "A Boy Named Sue." Anyway, after reading Someone Ate the Baby, Dirty Dan, and Captain Hook I was inspired by my attitude-driven daughter to write a poem of my own. Here it is:

My daughter is bein' bossy to me
And I really cannot shake it.
I'm thinking of takin' her attitude
And maybe tryin' to break it.
She stomps and she shouts,
She whines and she pouts,
She acts incredibly put out
and this mama's not made to take it.

My only daughter, Chicky, informed me she wanted to take gymnastics, tap, and dance lessons. I said I would look into it. She said, "Right now? I really want you to do it now." I told her I would think about it, and that perhaps she should pick one of the three to start. Two minutes later she comes back into the room, "Have you done it yet?" she asks in an exasperated tone. "Done what?" I ask. "UGH! Signed me up for dance class, that's what!"

Where, oh where, has my sweet Chicky gone?
Oh where, oh where, can she be?
With her attitude short,
And her mild demeanor gone,
Oh where, oh where can she be?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

This and that...

It's been a long time since I've posted. During that time I have finished Chicky's cool socks, started two other pair of socks, am working on top secret Christmas presents, almost finished a sweater (that I had a limited amount of yarn of, and now I am afraid, it will be too small for me to wear), had surgery, had a kidney stone, had my parents here to help with the children and I during the planned surgery and surprise kidney stone, and am now working on life returning to "normal". So, it's not like I've been slacking off, really.

I've been reading quite a bit. My recent favorite is Our Endangered Values by Jimmy Carter. It is very reassuring to me that I am not the only one horrified by the neocons in politics. I am floored by how incongruent it seems the religious right is, exerting power in ways that go against the teaching of Jesus Christ (e.g., no to abortion, but yes to the death penalty). It has bothered me for a long time and I was relieved that Jimmy presents it so clearly and even quotes scripture and points out that Jesus preached directly against divorce and adultery and never once mentioned homosexuality (although it is addressed in the New Testament by Paul), but that divorce among Christian groups is very accepted (with Baptists ranking highest in divorce rates of religious groups - 29%). Why is divorce so accepted? Is it because social norms have changed over the last couple decades? Probably. Have social norms changed in regards to homosexuality as well? Yes. Why is the legalized union of gay couples a big deal for the religious right when divorce (also known as fornication and adultery in the Bible) is not? Aren't divorced people remarrying making a mockery of the sanctified union of man and woman as outlined by God? Hmmmm, bet the ultraconservative don't want to think about that one too much.

Musically I am absorbed by Bob Dylan these days. Also in rotation are prairie Wind by Neil Young, Soul Journey by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, The Basement Tapes by The Band and Bob Dylan, and three CDs of the Andrew Sisters, courtesy of my dad. Never a dull moment over here, my friends.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Didn't you already tell me that?

Almost every time I write or say something I think to myself, "Didn't I say that before?" I think some of it comes from being a parent and repeating myself so damn much. The other part of it definitely comes from being a teacher of toddlers. I feel like I say the same things over and over again (and to a certain extent this is true). Then I think maybe I'm one of those boring people that just say the same things over and over again and annoy the hell out of people with my idiocy. This may well be true, and sometimes I know it is because I'll be part way along a tale and have deja vu and realize I've already bored this person with this story and think, "Now, what do I do? Say, oh yea, I already told you and stop? Or plod on and hope they laugh politely at the end?" It's hard to know in these situations.

As a parent, I tell my children what to do and what not to do repeatedly. I read the same stories ad nauseam. There are stories they like to hear about themselves as babies, toddlers, four year olds, five year olds, etc. quite often. Even things they already know, we have frequent conversations about, often at more depth than before, but there is an element of we've-been-here-and-done-this-before for sure. I know that this is part of learning and is good for them, it just ruins my social skills with other adults. I guess it's good I don't get out much.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

New plying craze

The plying happened! Unfortunately I do not have a Lazy Kate, I have a Cranky Kate (three of them actually). Here it/they are in action.


I was realizing that I don't have enough children to make a four-ply. After this agonizing experience (I plied over 200 yards) I promised them (and myself) that I would never make them do it again.

The finished product.


Saturday, October 01, 2005

Soccer season

My Saturdays, and sometimes Friday nights, are filled with soccer. The good news is there is a lot of potential time for spinning and knitting. The bad news is that this fall is too HOT to spin or knit wool most of the time, and the seven-eight year old team is too exciting to miss any of to count stitches or wind-on. Dilemmas.

Yesterday was another photo shoot with some new pictures of old stuff, plus a couple of new scarves.

Here are a few hats when I was still doing a twisted knit stitch all the time (for some reason when I took up knitting again after a seven year hiatus I was a stitch twisting mo-fo).

Chicky in a hat designed by the local yarn-shop goddess Margaret Urban.


Chicky again in a fuzzy hat and eyelash yarn scarf.


Angela is modeling a scarf made from Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Manos del Uruguay.


And Morgan in his new scarf made from yarn I dyed and spun on my drop spindle.


Now, I'm off to finish spinning some purple roving and ply it with two other purples that are patiently waiting for some of my time.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I can't do it all...I was spinning some roving I dyed and I want to spin four spindle cops full so I can cable them...I am knitting a shrug in Inca Alpaca that is sooooo soft....Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman arrived today...I still need to clean the kitchen after I scarfed one and a half calzones...Which one should I do? Hey, maybe that's why people had children years ago. I used to wonder how women had time to knit, create the Leaning Tower of Pisa out of macaroni with the kids, weed the garden, do the canning, the laundry, the cleaning, and cook "real" meals three times a day - child labor! Maybe I could train my children to cook, clean, and do the laundry and then I could spend all my "free" time persuing my favorite things. Huh. I don't think it would work. Chicky is pretty good at the dishes, but I'm sure the laundry wouldn't be sorted before it was washed, and I can't imagine the folding. The kids used to vacuum their own rooms, but I found the boys in their room checking the weight and size limit of the sucking power of my late 1970's model Electrolux and thought maybe that responsibility should wait for later - mostly because the vacuum needs to last another couple of decades.

I suck at prioritizing. I suck because mostly I prioritize so I know which items on the agenda I can procrasinate (and I'm always looking for a good excuse). That is all fine when it comes to housework, but totally blows when it comes to literary, fiber-y, and musical pursuits.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Reading progress

I haven't written about reading for a while now. I am still reading, I am also knitting and spinning which is taking giant chunks out of the reading time. I read before bed every night, but I often fall asleep and wake up with the book over my face.

Right now I'm reading Caliban's Shore by Stephen Taylor. This is an account of the wreck of the Grosvenor off the coast of South Africa in 1782. I must confess I've been plodding away at this book at a very slow pace for me. Much of the beginning of the book is an introduction of almost everyone on the ship and why they are going on the journey, and even part of their personal history before the voyage. It's interesting, but I want to know about the shipwreck, please. The kicker in this account is that it takes place before the whole "women and children first" deal. Guess who gets left on the shore by the captain (who sucked at commanding and navigating, by the way)? Yep, the women and children. The parts after the wreck happen are much more fascinating. These people made many bad choices once they reached shore and most of them didn't survive their mistakes.

Next in the book pile are Freakenomics, The Secret Life of a Knitter, and a couple science fiction books. I'd better get a move on because Neil Gaiman's new book, Anansi Boys is on it's way soon. Damn. So many books, so many knitting projects, so much fiber to spin, so many soccer games, and I have to make some money to support my habits, too.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Man, the pictures

Here is my best picture of Steve (& Allison). I was not courageous enough to get "right up there" with a camera, and it's rather fuzzy, but you can get the idea.


A promised picture of the yarn that started out a fleece. I flicked, spun from the lock, dyed with Kool-aid and plied. I don't really like the texture of the fleece with Kool-aid - it feels like poorly permed hair to me.


This is BFL roving that has been dyed with Country Classics. I did several yard long pieces with different cold pour techniques just to see how they looked, and then did a longer piece in plain purple and plied them together.


As you can see, I've been rather camera-challenged these days. I must be mashing the button so hard I move the camera. Damn.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Long time, no post

I have been incredibly slack about posting and I even have some pictures to put up, but not today. Steve Earle at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh was great. His songs sound just as good when he's alone on an acoustic guitar as they do with a bluegrass or rock band behind him. I would love to see him with The Bluegrass Dukes, but he doesn't seem to come this far east with them.

Aside from being distracted by current events: hurricane Katrina, Iraq, and two vacant seats in the Supreme Court, my life is very blessed and calm. has a list of organizations that are taking donations for Katrina (including Heifer International and Oxfam America).

This past weekend has been full of spinning, a little dyeing, and some guitar and mandolin practice. Friday night the children and I went with our lovely friend, Becca, to see the Paperhand Puppet Intrevention at UNC. The children were mesmerized. I am not really a fan of puppets, but these were amazing and gorgeous. Check them out at .

Tomorrow, pictures.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

What I did on my summer vacation

I was driving through my neighborhood yesterday and check out what I saw hanging in a plum tree:


Acutally, I knew it was hanging there and I drove the three tenths of a mile to my best friends' house (Mel and Angela) and took a picture of Anglea's drying roving. My summer vacation has been spent mostly at she and her partner's house dyeing roving. It's been lovely. We both started spinning in June and have been fiber addicts ever since. The dyeing has been great. We've done handpainted and immersion dyeing so far. Our current chemicals include Country Classics and Rit. We will be trying Sabraset after I take a little mini trip (to see the lovely Steve Earle in Asheville) and buy some dye at the Earth Guild while I'm there.

A sample of my first try at dyeing:


I've been spinning the samples:


Today, Angela and I were sitting with our feet in the water while knitting when this sweet creature plopped into the pool for a swim. After fishing him out, we let him go in the garden. By the way, their pool is de-ionized and has NO CHLORINE! How cool is that?


Well, tomorrow I head off for Asheville to see Steve Earle at Airaid and Saturday it's off to Raleigh (a much shorter drive) to see him and his new wife (#6 in wives, #7 in marriages) Allison Moorer at the NC Museum of Art. As an aside, I think Allison has a great voice, but her songs sound very similar to each other.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Two WIPs are now FOs...yea!

I had a burst of I-must-finish-a-project-or-go-crazy a couple weeks ago and I finished two in one day! I am very pleased with the finished Midwest Moonlight "scarf" that is more like a stole. It is soft, interestingly textured, and purple...sigh.


The back view:


And another pair of socks. In Fortissima superwash wool. I didn't do much ribbing so they're rather slouchy.

Bowen was camera-man for the shoot and sort of neglected toes and ribbing, but it's not bad for a boy with almost no camera experience. Here he is relaxing after a hard day...


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Hero crush over?

I haven’t been doing so much knitting or spinning in the last week. I did try dyeing with Kool-Aid in the microwave I used a dog comb on my fleece, tied bunches of it, and proceeded to dye. I felted the ends of one of the bunches (I swished when I shouldn’t have – I have a natural inclination to swish). The colors will probably be cool once they are spun, but my one spindle is full of mohair/Romney and I’m only about halfway through seven ounces.

The spinning from the lock on the wheel is very nice. I’ve been using washed fleece and after it’s spun I’m going to try dyeing it. My inspiration is all those cool sock yarns. The spot dying method is calling to me.

I finished Steve Earle’s biography Hardcore Troubadour tonight. I read somewhere (from a fan) that is isn’t flattering. It is not. I still think he’s fucking brilliant, and better off drugs than on, but Good Lord what life! I cannot even begin to imagine being a family member, lover, wife, band mate, or friend of his while he was in the grip of an intense drug habit. He blew through money and wives like water through a sieve. Maybe his fifties will be a period of relative calm, and hopefully prolific songwriting.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Books, the fleece, and the yarn

I went at Steve Earle for a couple of days, but the lure of Harry Potter (and the fear that someone would spoil the plot for me) made me read my ass off for the past couple of days. I'm done with book six. I liked it. There, that's all you get for now in case you haven't read it yourself. I'm going back to Steve tonight, I've felt rather odd dissing him for a sixteen-year-old fictional character.

The fleece is begging to be dyed, and carded. I'm going to try Kool-aid first, because it's cheap and dye it first and blend some colors while I card. I hope to go to my favorite LYS and get carders this weeked - yea! The next couple of days are busy for me, so maybe Thursday will be Fun with Dye Night.

I have made no progress on any of my knitting this weekend (the first one since mid- January) and it is really weird. I'm on the home stretch of the sock and the scarf, so I need to get back at it. My hands have had a good rest, so they'd better not complain when the knitting starts up again.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The parts I left out about the fleece...

It was my first time washing a fleece. I would just like to say Eowyn was incredibly excited about the box and followed the sheepy-smelling bag of wool all over (and licked her lips, which makes me think getting a couple of sheep might be a bad idea with my dog). Also, washing the fleece in the large galvanized bucket was difficult. I wanted to find something bigger than a regular bucket to haul water out with, so I dumped one of the boys' toy buckets and used that. I used three of those and one huge pot of boiling water off the stove. While the fleece was soaking I'd read the new Harry Potter. When I needed to change buckets I hoisted the fleece in a mesh laundry bag and let it hang on one of the branches of my ornamental cherry tree (it worked well, but got a few looks from passersby). After all that I spun the fleece out in the washer and spread it out on Bowen's bed on towels. I also shut the bedroom door so the dog wouldn't get all cozy on it, or try and ingest it - it's kind of hard to tell with her sometimes. It looks quite lovely this morning. I didn't sort it out like I've read I should. I'm thinking of posting a Stupid Question to my spindlers group: Can't I just cut the gross, matted parts off and then spin them? I am sure there is a good reason for not doing this, I just don't know what it is.

New dilemma: The Steve Earle biography, Hardcore Troubadour arrived in the mail today. Do I finish The Final Frontiersman by James Campbell (which is good, but it's not Steve Earle), read some more Harry Potter (also good, but not Steve Earle), or settle in with Steve. Yep, my thoughts exactly - Steve it is. Dig the hell out of him. I'll leave you with a quote of him as well: I have a low tolerance for mediocrity in music and life. I'm into pain and joy, and the in-between doesn't interest me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Baa, baa, Mabel, have you any wool?

Yesterday I was BORED - no children and I forgot the sock at work. I watched Alice's Restaurant (not boring) while coming close to the end of the Midwest Moonlight scarf. Today I arrive home and Harry Potter and my five pounds of Romney (from Mabel at Homestead Wool & Gift Farm in Monroe, WI) are waiting for me! I've been washing fleece - some in a large galvanized bucket in the yard (what the hell, the neighbors already think I'm crazy) and some in the washing machine. I've got to say I think the washing machine is easier. I have a bottom of the line washer, though, so it doesn't try and do a whole bunch of stuff I don't want it to do. It doesn't start agitating before I remember to set the cycle to spin after the tub has filled and it doesn't spit water into the spin cycle.

I haven't decided if I'm going to dye it before I card it or after...we'll just have to see.

Here's a picture of the Homespun Armor Sock. I used purple and orange because I was worried I wouldn't have enough of the purple for two socks if I didn't. I had originally thought it wouldn't matter since that part would be inside a shoe. However, since it is too thick to fit in a shoe and it is now a slipper I am officially Not Caring About It. And if you really believe that, well you mustn't know me that well. Oh, and I am making a matching Armor Sock - it's on the sticks, so to speak.


And a picture of BOTH Railroad Rib socks, to prove I do not suffer from SSS.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Mostly socks

Behold! In three days she made a sock; and saw it was good. On the third, fourth, and fifth days she made another. And her feet were well pleased.


There is, I’m happy to say, another one but I couldn’t be too anal about pattern matching because I made a hat before I decided to make socks with the Opal. I know, what was I thinking? Well, I frogged the hat so I could finish the socks. The pattern actually matches…about two inches from the heel and on up to the toe. Weird, eh? I used the Railroad Rib pattern from Fiber Trends. I had done two or three projects staight knitting in the round and needed a change of pace. You can't see the pattern the yarn makes as well, but it was fun.

My new rule is that I cannot knit socks at my house (well, unless I've completed one full round of pattern from the eternal Cozy shawl or Midwest Moonlight scarf). The latest sock should've gone to the library today. We had a "lost" book we found and desperately needed to be returned. The children had wanted to go, but then changed their fickle minds. They all looked at me and said, "Fine. We'll go to the library, but we're not checking out any books." Well, I had my two books within the first ten minutes and I sat and waited for them for another twenty to make their selections. I did point out that for people who were not going to check out any books, they now had twenty-one to read in the next three weeks.

Bowen has picked up his knitting again and is working on a scarf. He didn’t touch it for weeks and still remembered how to do it. For an eight-year-old first-time knitter, I’m amazed at the even tension in his stitches. He gets easily frustrated and sometimes cries if he doesn’t pull a stitch all the way off and notices on the next row. I feel like Tom Hanks in A League of their Own, “There’s no crying in knitting!” But...there is crying in knitting. I know this because I’ve done it myself. I’ve tried to explain that when you feel that frustrated with your knitting (and about anything really) it’s time to put it down for a while. This idea smacks of defeat to him.


My first sock of my own homespun is finished. It is so thick it’s more armor-like than sock-like. I told my daughter she could run across the gravel in those socks and be just fine. I’ll put up a picture with the next post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


A friend brought Erin a little mini “boombox.” It is her first radio and she is completely enamored of it. She has been carrying it everywhere and listening to it TOO LOUD. I, being the control freak that I am, would only let my children listen to jazz during the talk-radio-crap hours of 8a-10a. After that they get to listen to classic rock.

Yesterday, at every available moment during the day they would take the radio outside and dance or just play while listening to it. Bowen and Morgan have been making Horns of Gondor with some horns that Bowen found in a friend’s out-building (it was at one time a wall ornament). Morgan saw potential for this object and promptly banged the shit out of it until he freed one of the horns from it’s hideous mooring. Now, all it needed was a hole in the small end and he could have a horn. This is not as easily accomplished as one would imagine. There was a saw and a drill and still no hole in the small end. There was also a lot of oog that came out in the washing and it smelled really terrible. Morgan is now a proud carrier of a rudimentary, albeit useless, Horn of Gondor.

Bowen has not been so fortunate. The other horn is more solidly attached to the hideous wood block that has held it for who knows how long. Bowen, Morgan, and Erin were outside with a hammer, nails, screws, and the radio. I hear the hammering and the discussion about how best to detach the horn while Led Zepplin is blaring “Whole Lotta Love” from the radio and feel like I’m glimpsing into the future when they will be working on a car, or a motorcycle, or a pod racer for all I know. It totally freaked me out for a second. I have had other glimpses into the future, but none so clear and precise. Add to this scene Erin dancing while watching herself in the glass on the storm door and you can imagine my panic…

The sad news is that the horn is STILL attached, despite all efforts. Tomorrow, we’re taking a saw to it.

The Drama Queen

I have a six year-old daughter, Erin. To describe her I have to use adjectives like: stubborn, sweet, opinionated, feisty, clever, funny, and dramatic. If I ask Erin to do something she doesn’t want to do, there is a long, loud, indignant whine of protest, “Maaaamaa!” before and during the task. After she accomplishes the requested task I must pay for that request by her saying, for example, “I can’t get dressed by myself, I need your help!” This gets old.

Granted, she is the youngest and with eight year-old twin brothers she is the outsider. She can fight harder and longer than either of her brothers, and is relentless if she feels she has been wronged. People outside the family used to worry about her not being able to stick up for herself. One day when she was two and her brothers were four, Morgan did something to her (I can’t remember what) and I looked over to see him lying on the ground and Erin standing over him and smacking him. I said, "Milky (cause that's one of her nicknames), you may not hit your brother." Her little chubby face was screwed with effort and anger as she looked at me. She looked back at Morgan, pulled her foot waaaay back and started kicking him with all her might. I picked her up and carried her over to the sofa, all the while thinking, "Well, I guess that whole question of being able to take care of herself is answered."

The boys do pick on her at times and she does get stuck with loser princess roles when they play knights and stuff. Lately, during Lord of the Rings, she gets to play Eowyn, which is better than many other options. She really gets into her role...and everyone else's too. She's bossy. Most of the time I hear Erin commanding Bowen and Morgan when they play, "Ok, you say.." So, in the boys' defense, she can be difficult to work with. If she doesn't get her way, she says that you don't love her. If she does get her way, well, you're usually playing something really boring like Fairy Barbies Having Dinner in the Woods with Small Woodland Creatures.

Last night she was having an absolute conniption about cooperating and I sent her to her room. She was screaming at me and acting like I hurt her by putting her in her room. I told her she was acting like a Drama Queen (this was the wrong thing to say and I knew it) she followed me into the hall and started yelling at the top of her lungs (while she kicked the wall and stomped her feet), "I AM NOT A DRAMA QUEEN! I DON'T LIKE IT WHEN YOU SAY THAT, IT IS UNPLEASANT AND IT HURTS MY FEELINGS!" (sob, sob, sob).

Erin is a Full-blown Drama Queen, meaning it also applies to illness/scrapes/and blood. Yesterday, and I am not exaggerating here, she said her finger hurt. Ten minutes later she came back to me and said her stomach hurt. Not even twenty minutes after that her throat hurt. In between these reports she played, ran around, and jumped on the trampoline. Finally right before bed, when her toe hurt, I said, "Let me get this straight...right now your toe hurts, your finger hurts, you have a stomach ache, and your throat hurts." She nodded and smiled. "Could you please pick one, because that's a lot to keep up with." She looked at me very sincerely and said, "Well, my toe really hurts."

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The lawnmower wins...

Tried mowing this morning (knitting was to be my reward afterwards) and the mower would start, but then cut off after one or two seconds. Lawn mowers and I do not seem to work well together. Maybe they can feel my dread about them; I worry about mowing too early and waking the neighbors, I don't like the noise, the gas, the smell,etc. I have a nice quiet reel mower, but once the grass gets too long all that happens is the weeds get bent over and they viciously pop back up once you "mow" them.

After checking my choke, priming the engine, and doing the start and die thing like three times I decided to check the web for some lawn mower trouble shooting. Why I thought this would be helpful, I cannot say for sure. My small engine knowledge consists of knowing a mower needs oil and gas (and the oil part is fairly recent). So, sure enough there is a lovely chart and it seems maybe my carburetor needs help. I don't know where or what that is, so really it means I can tell a repair person what the trouble is and its potential cause (which if they are worth their beans, they would know from my mower's symptoms).

I pulled out the reel mower and pushed through the thick weeds and made a patch for my sweet dog, Eowyn. The rest of the yard will have to wait until the mower is repaired.

The sweet Eowyn.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Oath of a Fiber Freak

I, being of sound mind and body - right now, while I'm at least three feet away from a skein of yarn and am only two tabs away on the web from an online ys - do solemly swear to finish at least two of my WIPs before I start another project.

I am about half through my Cozy shawl from It called for silk, but I did it in bamboo. It has a very nice drape, and although it is difficult to see the pattern in black, I am now quite pleased witht the overall effect. If I would focus only on this project I could be so done by now.

Cozy shawl

One of my other projects will be the lovely Midwst Moonlight scarf that I will most likely end up gifting. The merino is incredibly soft (Goddess Yarns, Emanuella), but since it is so hot here in the south it is not really a summer knitting project.

Midwest Moonlight Scarf

And when I finish spinning the roving, I will finish knitting my first yarn (qualifies as a novelty yarn by texture, I think).

First spun

We'll see how long the oath lasts.

Saturday, June 11, 2005


Originally uploaded by freshtart.
Here is the spindle that spun and held the roving-into-yarn so nicely. I am wondering how long it will take me to get the whole drafting thing down so my yarn won't be so lumpy.

First ball

Originally uploaded by freshtart.
Here's a picture of my first ball of two-ply yarn. Aawww, isn't it cute.. and bumpy? It is made from 50% mohair/50% wool roving. After spinning I used the Peruvian hand-wrap technique and had a great time. Another addicting hobby, sigh. Now, if only I had some sheep...or angora goats...or alpacas...oooh, or a musk ox.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Oh my, now I've got a new hobby...spinning! I took a class last night in high whorl spinning and loved it. I've been working on my 7 oz of wool/mohair roving like a madwoman. As my friend Angela said last night during the class, "I didn't even know I needed to spin." She was totally loving it too. It's very nice. We had a great teacher, a nice small class size, and within two hours we had some yarn on our cool is that?

I will add a couple pictures of my yarn in a day or so. I've seen some other experienced people's yarn and it looks perfect - mine is very bumpy, irregular, and beginner. Practice, practice, practice. Spinning will give my sore pinky (I hold my knitting funny and have a very sore and stressed out left pinky finger) a break.

Another form of

Sunday, June 05, 2005

The beginning of the summer whining...

Today is to be the first truly hot day of the summer - in the 90s. This is the official beginning of my Whining Season. I, a former Minnesotan (from the far north, no less) have acclimated to the wussy winters of the south (and have gotten quite wussy myself - 40 is now cold to me), but not the hot, humid summers. I languish in summer. I pout, whine, and get incredibly grumpy in the summer. I lived without central air for many years here and while I dispise the shock of going from air conditioning to the hot outdoors, I now have central air and would not live without it again. I usually keep the thermostat set on 80 in the summer - all I really need the a/c to do is take the humidity out of the air and I'm fine.

My personal take on the whole thing is: if you are cold you can always add more layers to get warm; but if you're so hot you're naked, what else can you do? I used to take showers and stand in front of a fan. It works ok, until you get dressed. I've also tried putting ice cubes on my head and it is also ok but wet, and ice cubes don't really travel well. Oh, and not moving - when I'm too hot to move, so I don't, but then when I have to move I'm sweat-stuck to whatever I was not moving on - ew! You may well ask why I stay in this climate if it is not for me - that is so much of a story I can't even begin to do it justice right now.

Right now I've got all the windows open and I'm sitting here in a tank top with sweat gathering in my various crevices. SO not pretty. When I try to knit the yarn snags on my perspiring fingers, so I gave up for a while. Since it's only 10a I'm holding out on the a/c until it hits the high 80s. I've been cleaning to Bob Marley instead. Getting sweaty while cleaning makes me feel more productive. Later, the kids and I are going to head out to a river where we will be eaten by mosquitos, but I can knit with my feet in a river so I will be ok. I'm hoping the bamboo yarn won't be as snaggy as the wool in the heat.

Mojitos anyone?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Originally uploaded by freshtart.
Here are some really cool Pitcher Plants.