Knit the Dog

[...because if I ever run out of yarn--- I can just knit the dogs.]

Friday, December 26, 2008

A lovely day

We had a quiet Christmas and it was wonderful. Phil & I didn't get very heavy into presents this year-- he had a Blu-Ray player and some comfy slippers, and I had the promise of my very own ball winder & swift [back ordered] and carte blanche to buy some clothes in the post holiday sales. What more could a woman ask for? After a bit we went for a ride up to Milton NC where Thomas Day, the free black cabinet maker so well known for furniture and decorative woodwork in the early 1800s, had his workshop. Great to get out in the country for a bit and just chat. Of course I knitted-- I have very nearly gotten to where I can garter stitch without looking at my hands, just need to glance down now and then. Then we topped the day by going out to a new restaurant for supper-- no cooking for me, thank you very much-- and so it was. just the sort of holiday I like.

Family coming this weekend, so we will have some visitors (always good to have an incentive for cleaning) and Phil is home for yet another week. Sort of a foretaste of what retirement would be like, I think, and very pleasant.

And of course a pic of Cate-- in her first serious snowfall.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Where have I been?

It's hard to blog convincingly when you only write, like, once a month. Of course since my readership is minimal I don't have to worry that I'm actually disappointing anybody! So what have I been doing----
Taxes. Got to get ready to instruct the first week in January, and it is turning into waaaay more work than I had anticipated, and I am sort of behind. The problem is that doing taxes is interesting when you are helping real people but in the abstract, it's really boring. So I sloggeth on.
Knitting. Finished all my west coast items and shipped them off; made a pretty nice hat for Phil, with a touch of stranded work; making myself a neckwarmer and headband from the Rowan Cocoon, and a Joseph's Coat vest [my invention] from the Noro Kureyon I got at the sale. It will for sure be bright and cheery. I got "No-pattern Knitting" out of the library, and basically I'm making shapes and fitting them together. We shall see.
Doing stuff with Phil. We went to a neighbor's open house, small & a touch awkward since I don't know the folks from the other cul-de-sac very well, but it was enjoyable. Yesterday we spent the day over at Old Salem, the historic area in Winston-Salem that was settled by Moravians (of the Christmas cookies) in the 1700's. There was a lot more to see & enjoy than we had realized and it was well worth the admission. Phil's off for 2 weeks so we'll perhaps make another day trip. Tonight we go over to Mary's for the traditional McLoud Christmas Eve pizza-making, and tomorrow we're going out for Christmas dinner, and then over the weekend Phil's brother and his family are coming for a couple of nights, so it's pretty busy. Need to make some more cookies and get a ham.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some Progress

Gettin' er done--
Finished Andrea's dark green Ultra Alpaca scarf, with a cable up either side and double leaf lace in the center. Soaked it in Eucalan, and it is nice and soft and blocked well. Almost done with the other scarf, of fuzzy stuff. Now I feel like I should make a hat and mits to go with the scarf. Cate's little red dress is about half, I had it nearly done and ripped the whole thing out and re-knit, I was not happy with it. I think it's some better now. Still working on an afghan for us in free moments, and I started a dark green vest for moi that I think will be really nice if I ever get it done; the IRIS design from Knitty. It has a 54-row lace design on the bottom that you have to sort of follow on faith that it will turn out OK, which is fun.
Post election cramps--
Yes, I was happy how it turned out, even here in NC. Now I'm still glued to the news hoping that even a fraction of the promises can be realized; that he does not collapse under the burden of ever-increasing crises; and that the Secret Service can keep him alive. The comments and rants in blogs, even mainstream stuff like MSNBC and CNN, are often vicious and hate-filled. 48% of the country seems not only unhappy, but enraged. It's scary.
Yarn therapy--
Behold, my local Olde Yarne Shoppe doth have an annual sale. I did partake in great measure, yea unto the detriment of ye banke balance.
I got there about a half hour into the three day sale, and there were at least twenty ladies scouting the bags, kits, and piles of yarn. The Noro shelves were already showing signs of serious feeding frenzy, and there were a few testy conflicts over who grabbed what first. I went in to get ONE skein of Ultra Alpaca and maybe one of Baby Cashmerino. I came out with those, plus seven balls of Kureyon in luscious, heart-stopping colors, and a bag of silk merino blend in a glorious kettle-dyed claret shade, enough for a whole sweater. I resisted, by the skin of my teeth, at least three other bags. Whew.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Finally! I've been immersed in this campaign, complete with bumper stickers, yard signs, and some hours spent calling and otherwise assisting the candidate of my choice. I actually voted almost two weeks ago, when Early Voting started, in case I got run over by a bus and didn't get the chance to do it. Not that it would be easy to get run over by a bus or any other form of public transit in Greensboro, since this is a car city. Phil decided to wait for today, since he likes the excitement of voting on The Day. I'll be up into the wee hours tonight, mainlining CNN and the internet until I know whether my guy won or lost. It's a tradition-- the very first election I can remember following was for Eisenhower's second term. I even had an "I Like Ike" button. No idea what it was all about, but I remember lying on the bed in my brother's room listening to the radio report the vote, and getting to stay up late.
Jack is way better, his hip does not bother him at all; the vet was pleased. I'm glad he did not need to be bound into his leg-sling for very long; he had a really hard time dealing with life's necessities because he kept falling over. We would try to assist him in peeing or pooping, which only ruined his concentration--- 'Thank you for petting me, but NOT NOW.' He finally managed by leaning up against the chain link fence around the dog forest. He is on anti-inflammatory drugs and joint supplements and doing fine.
My granddaughter was terminally cute dressed as a stalk of broccoli for Halloween-- as you can see here.
I'm about 2/3 done with Andrea's green cable-and lace-scarf. It has rather a few errors, which hopefully won't show since it's dark green, and as a scarf will be sort of bunched up anyway. Cate's dress is half-way, and I'm just hoping it will fit. Still need to cast on a hat for Phil. In January, I'm going to concentrate on knitting for ME. Selfish female that I am.
Tax season is starting too, which means I need to get in some serious study time so I can get certified, since I'm instructing this year as well as preparing returns (through the wonderful AARP TaxAide program.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

If it's not one dog, it's another

Ah, life was chugging along so smoothly. We should have known something would happen. Jack dislocated his hip this morning in a really awful way. When we let the dogs out for business purposes, they generally propel themselves off the deck onto the grass at top speed so they can race around the dog forest looking for intruder squirrels. It rained during the night, and Jack must have slipped on take-off, and he fell with a thud and an unholy screech. We got him into the vet's as soon as they opened-- thankfully they're open Saturday mornings-- and the verdict was dislocated hip, torn ligaments, and the complication of both hips being arthritic (the dogs are almost ten.) So he is on crate rest for a few days, with his leg in a sort of sling, and after that strict confinement and no exertion for several weeks. If he manages to heal, he'll be OK as long as he never jumps, runs, or falls again. If it won't heal, we're looking at hip surgery. Either way, he is now a geriatric dog who will get regular joint supplements and pain meds. Just yesterday, he was running freely in the yard and trotting off on daily long walks.
Rosie isn't sure what to make of it.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lorna's Afghan

I finished my friend's little boy's Christmasy hat (basic green & red striped toboggan), the vest is done, the round cape-ish sort of thing is almost done, sooooo--- gotta start something else! When I was in Seattle I picked up two skeins of Lorna's Laces painted worsted, and I had a hank of Cascase 220 Navy. I thought long and hard and decided that heavily variegated yarns just aren't going to look cool on my ample body, and I do really need to make a new afghan or three for the livingroom and den [we crank the heat down in winter.] And Lorna will make a lovely afghan. I worked out something in Old Shale, and we'll see how it looks; you can absolutely count on my having bunged up the math at some point so I'll have to fudge an increase or decrease, but it's an afghan, it's huge, no one will notice (I say that a lot.)

I'm also finishing a few strange objects that were, I guess, learning projects-- like this heap of brown stuff, which is actually a nice piece of lacework but a very strange shape. I dug out the ball of Silk Garden I had stuffed in the back of my stash (see post about hating Noro below) and I'm trying to stir them together. I promise a photo, no matter how weird, when done.

Phil has a house project this week, so I'll be baking & making soup to keep him fueled. Chicken chili, I think, and tortellini soup another night, and a date-nut cake of some sort-- Fall is in the air.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Moon of Tiny Acorns

You know how some cultures have a Moon of Frost or a Hunter's Moon? We are currently ending the Moon of Tiny Sharp Acorns That Hurt Your Feet and entering the Moon of Bombardment. This has to do with the dozen or so huge oak trees in the back yard and the fact that they sort of loom over the house and deck. If you sit out there quietly minding your own business, so the squirrels lose their anxiety about humans, you can gradually hear an ascending cascade of plink, plop, bonk, poing, etc as acorn caps, chewed hulls, and reject acorns hit the roof, gutters, deck, and one's own person. The red oak nuts come first, which are small and sharp, meaning that we have to start wearing slippers to go get the mail or let the dogs out. Later on the bombardment-- large white oak acorns-- starts and you can lie awake at night listening to them hit the roof [BONK] and roll down [rattlerattlerattle] into the gutters [poinngg]. This is sort of soothing, actually, at about 3:00AM.
In November, of course, we have the Buried-Up-to-Your-Neck-in-Leaves Moon.
At Monday Morning Knit, we all agreed we were knitting more than ever during the presidential campaign to keep our cool and avoid having to pay too much attention to political ads. The whole thing has gotten so strident, that in combination with the approach of fall and the dire financial news, I expect yarn sales to hit a new high. I know knitting helps my blood pressure, and I need it now! The timeless nature of it helps, as long as the realization that I am at least making something useful, even if I cannot do anything to control the winds of politics and the economy.
Perhaps we should advocate knitting at political rallies. Did you see the shot of Barack Obama holding a knitter's sock-in-progress on the Yarn Harlot's blog? Just great.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Grandbaby Fix

So typical, I don't blog for three weeks and then twice in one day. I resolve to Be A Better Person, OK? Just back from a week in Seattle with daughter, son-in-law, and Cate-- world's most stupendous baby (as all grandchildren are.) Can't really call her a baby anymore, at 15 months she is running around and has about a 20 word vocabulary. All birds are ducks, all four legged creatures are pup-pups, and all plants are flowers ("fows".) It beats me how she can categorize stuff so well. She extrapolates from ducks in a lake to sparrows in the yard and crows flying overhead, and somehow knows they all go together. Hey, I'm impressed.

The weather was glorious, mountains visible all week -- Rainier, Baker, and the Olympics. We took the ferry to Bainbridge one day and visited an LYS, where I succumbed to two skeins of Lorna's Laces worsted. They had Malabrigo, they had cashmere, they had... a very well heeled clientele, I think. Capped off the week with a visit to Vivace, the very best coffee in the land, where I got two pounds of beans to smuggle back in my suitcase.

Knitted all the way there and back on a lace scarf and a stash eating cape, which just goes around and around and around, so it's excellent for the plane. We'll be back, hopefully, in December.

My first night back home I watched the VP debate for a few minutes, then I couldn't take it any longer [I was expecting Sarah to start popping her gum any minute] so I read the debate transcript on CNN, which is really a good way to go as you get to digest what is being said.

Phil's back from DC today, and we're making meatloaf and apple crisp for supper since it is blessedly cool at last.


I have actually finished a garment that is NOT a hat or scarf and that fits, and is wearable, and has gotten a few compliments! The mitered vest, with a few mods--- instead of knitting in a buttonhole, I sewed on a loop after it was done; I made the collar a bit shorter, and the vest itself a bit shorter, than the pattern. Because of the "open" nature of the yarn, I also crocheted a stabilizing line along the collar-to-body join and around the armholes, to prevent too much stretching. When I soaked it, I squished most of the water out with towels and then threw it into the dryer by itself, on low, to see if it would felt just a wee bit. In hindsight that was a horrible gamble, but... It came out just right, the drying made the fabric just a little firmer and denser, and stronger, without really shrinking it. On the downside, it also bloomed like crazy, which makes me look like a fuzzy bear wearing it. As soon as I had the button on, I wore it to the LYS on the pretext of buying yarn, to show it off. There are always a number of ladies knitting and hanging out there, and the response was totally gratifying; what was the yarn, what was the pattern, etc. etc.

Now I'm finishing up a capelet based on Paris Loop in a group of yarns (stash-eater), and a hat for a friend's little boy, and I still have those fingerless gloves for Andrea to do. The wonderfulness of knitting, that you never, ever run out of projects!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Have made some progress on knitting projects: The chocolate-malt handwarmers are done, the peachy hat is done, I'm 3/4 done with the Taos mitered sqare vest--- a LOT of garter stitch, I don't think I would do that again. Orange handwarmers still in progress, and I've also started a pullover vest adapted from the Interweave Fall '08 Little Blue Sweater, in Rowan "Cocoon", which my cool daughter sent me for my birthday.

Here's the pot-shaped hat I made to give away-- drying after blocking. It makes a largish slouchy beret.

Once I finish the mitered vest I will have made an actual real garment, which I will wear a lot even if it's funny-looking just to justify all the work.

Lots of rain again this week, lovely, and it's a tad cooler, so I've been making soup-- chili last night with cornbread, and potato-leek over the weekend, so tonight I should make something a little more solid, maybe country steak.

On Saturday we went with friends to the Rising Meadow farm fest, and saw a woman spinning angora yarn Directly Off the Rabbit. Yup. Bun was tucked under her arm, sleeping, and she was plucking fur from his back and rump and spinning it. He was a light gray bunny, and petting the fur was like putting your fingers into a cloud. Quite a sight. They also had a celtic music group and a bagpiper--- I love the music of pipes but it's always sort of a relief when it stops, because of the volume. Fun time, even if it was stinking hot. I hate I didn't bring the camera!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So much yarn...

My startitis is catching up with me, and I now have so many things going that nothing is getting finished. If I stick to my guns over the weekend, I should be able to finish the fuzzy Suri Dream beret which I'm giving to one of my Monday morning knitting ladies [because I can't stand fuzzy stuff. I just wanted to try out the yarn, and I needed to make up the balance in a Knitpicks order. I don't like knitting with it though, so no more.] I might also be able to finish the orange handwarmers, which are on the third re-knit because I couldn't get them "right". I think I finally have a guage and pattern worked out that will work with the yarn. I did make a cool little lace hat in pale orange---OK, I guess it's peach--- maybe it will work for one of A's friends. Pix of all this will follow.
It's raining, glorious heavy rain, the tail end of Fay. We've had 5 inches in two days and may get a little more before it blows off. I think all of the first 4 inches soaked right in, you could almost hear the trees sighing in relief. A dead branch bigger than my arm and about 5 feet long impaled itself in the back yard, thankfully not punching a hole in the house. We're up on a hill, so no flooding worries, but we do look thoughtfully at all the big trees in the yard when there are high wind warnings.
Phil is home for two whole weeks, so I'm cooking supper every day. Soup today, beef-vegetable-barley, since it's cooling off. The farmer's market won't have too many more weeks of good stuff as we head into fall, but tomatoes and cukes are still abundant. This summer we discovered how good the German Johnson and Cherokee Purple tomatoes were, with just a little vinaigrette and some sliced cukes, or maybe in a tomato-and-mayo sandwich on good bread....drool. There were lots of blueberries, and I made a few cobblers that were yummy as well.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Long time no blog

Yeah, it's been awhile. Phil's been out of town a lot and I've been vegetating and knitting, and enjoying my Monday morning knitting (and crocheting and neadlepointing) ladies. I finished the tan wrap thing which I had to re-knit because it was too short. Did you predict this? It was of course now too long. I have a plan to sort of gather it a bit so it will work, because I'm darned if I'll reknit it again. At least the lace is pretty.

Currently working on a pair of fingerless gloves in Sublime (Sirdar) silk cashmere merino. Not as soft as I would have thought, but it is pretty. When I finish these I have some squooshy pale orange to make a pair for my daughter, and enough leftover black, brown, etc to make a pair with some sort of stripes or maybe some colorwork. They go fast.

I also cabled for the very first time, just a black ear warmer for winter dog walking; it's awkward but not as hard as I thought. So, more cables in my future. The sock yarn scarf is coming along, it's my porta-piece for now because it's very simple and not too large to carry around.

There are still the blue Knitpicks Essentials socks, currently on about the fourth reknit; I just can't seem to get the fit right. Maybe I need to take a class & get some pointers. When those are done, there are two more skeins of sock yarn hanging over me.

Hmmmmm. Do I have too many ongoing projects...... there's also yarn for an afghan, and a couple of partly made sweater vests from last winter when I was learning to knit.........yikes.

The Sedgefield/Wyndham golf tournament is going on as I write, and since it's practically next door I need to go over & see what's up later today if the temp stays below 85. Phil is volunteering to carry a score card and having no end of fun, and since he is, there's a set of tickets I can use. It's all a bit snooty and very hyped up, but still kind of neat to have it going on. You can't wear jeans or jean shorts on the course, so I'll have to dig deep into the closet to find something acceptable.

Gratuitous granddaughter picture:

Monday, July 21, 2008

On my own again....

Phil is off to Ohio this week. Last week it was DC. We're meeting up in Seattle for the weekend, then the 1st week of August he's off to I think Ft. Worth, or maybe it's Kansas--- he might as well be on a book tour. For some reason most of the travel for his job happens during the part of the year when a person just might want to take a vacation. We're hoping for October, as of now.

When he's gone it's just me & the puppies (all right, the puppies and I) and we get a tad tired of each other's company. They'd like longer walks; sorry Jack, it's 93 in the shade. I'd like a night un-interrupted by barking or a slurpfest [trust me you don't wanna know.] On the other hand I can knit for hours, as long as the podcasts and L&O reruns hold out.

Had a knitting defeat last week. I had 99% finished the shoulder wrap, which I so wanted to have to take to Seattle, and had to admit that it was way too small, or short, or fit only for a very narrow shouldered woman, not one built like a horse as in moi. I could not come up with a way of adding length that did not smack of desperation. I frogged. The whole thing. Owwww. I am about 1/2 way through the re-knit-- added five more lace repeats and a seed stitch border and went up a needle size. If it still doesn't fit I will wear it as a hat, I swear.

Also started another scarf, this one to be a very simple lace and quite wide and long, made of pale grey handpainted sock yarn. I walked around the yarn store for about an hour and kept coming back to the Cherry Tree Hill merino sock yarn. It's the right weight, it's a glorious color, it has no fuzz ( I didn't want fuzz-- this is for cool nights in warmer seasons) and you get 400+ yards in a skein. So it's probably some sort of knitting crime to use sock yarn for something other than socks, but pooey. My only worry is that it may not block out nice and flat, if it's washable wool. Even if it doesn't I think it will be cool.

Hummingbirds are all over the feeder lately; I was treated to a serious dogfight yesterday. There was a female determined to keep a male away from the feeder. Divebombing, ramming, swooping, and twittering went on for nearly 20 minutes. He finally got to feed but was so freaked out he kept looking around every sip to see if the demon lady was coming back. So much passion in such a tiny bird!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lazy Summer

Haven't entered anything in here in a while, I see, but then nobody reads it anyway so who am I trying to please? I've been knitting great guns since we got back from the Blue Ridge trip. There's a wrap I really want to get done to wear to Seattle, if I can, in Sublime soya cotton--- they call the color "cinnamon" but I think it's exactly the color of brown paper bags. This is what I picked up after returning the evil Noro Silk Garden. I've also shifted my current socks onto two circs each, which seems to be working well, and I worked out a design based on a ripple pattern in the Knitter's Bible. There are three other sock yarns whining at me to be started, and a cardigan languishing on the shelf, so if I start anything else I need to have my head examined!
The heat has been eating into my exercise time, which means more time in the gym is called for. The dogs just don't warrant much of a walk when it's over eighty and humid as a rain forest, nor do they really want to go out. It's too buggy and wet to go to the driving range, due to the lovely thunderstorms we've been having every night (no sarcasm intended; I really enjoy thunderstorms and we need every inch of rain.)
Sunday's golf game was an exercise in living with embarassment. I hit a few decent drives and of course I can chip and putt pretty well, thanks to all the minigolf Phil & have played, but by the back nine I just could not get to the green. I got so blitzed by the heat that Phil urged me to sit out a while and I skipped the last three holes in favor of sitting in the cart. Dave, Phil, and Holli seemed unaffected by the sweatbath conditions. Guess I'm meant to be a spring and fall golfer. I need a few lessons, too, to get me to the green in less than five or six shots! I was using SPF70 sunslop, and missed a space on the front of each shin for some reason--- it's still sort of pink. I was pretty ticked at myself because I try to be very careful about sun exposure, having skin that turns red if I even think about the sun.
Got to go catch up on the Tour de France. I'm following the Chipotle-Garmin American team (since we're consumers of both products---ummm, veggie burritos.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

less than infinite wisdom

OK, so I'm having about 12 people over for brats and whatnot tonight-- something I foolishly volunteered myself for-- why do social interactions always seem more attractive in the abstract? Phil has a work thing going on with folks from out of town, and we've done this before, so I figured we should do it again. It's really very simple, except for the shopping, making of brownies and cookies and coleslaw, and oh yes, cleaning all three bathrooms. And the rest of the house. And relocating all the bits that have taken up residence in odd places all over the house. They will creep back out in the dead of night, probably within 48 hours, but one has to make an effort. Of course it will be fun in the end.
I had been working on making a wrap out of Noro Silk Garden, and I gave up yesterday. The yarn has seductive colors, but it's abysmally constructed. It had knots, bits of straw, places so thin they broke and places so thick I could hardly knit them. And it sheds. I took two skeins back to the LYS and actually threw out the one I'd been working on, and it wasn't cheap. Lesson learned. With the return credit ( and a few wee bucks more) I got some nice consistent soft soy- cotton and a little merino for later in the year. Both beautiful and well behaved, and cheaper than the Noro disaster.
It's a little cooler this week, a real relief since I seem to have been revisited by the Furnace Fairy, a creature that comes around to bother women of a certain age by heating their entire bodies to boiling at awkward moments. I thought I had gotten rid of the FF several years ago, but here she is again. Huh.
Only 3 weeks until I get to go see Andrea & Jeff and baby Cate again, whoo-hoo!! I'm looking forward to reading cate "The Piggy in the Puddle". Must practice.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Blue Ridge

Got back Thursday from five days up in the mountains. It was blessedly cool, down to the forties at night, and clear. Holli, Dave, & Phil rode bikes three days, we played golf one day, and I did some hiking and some knitting & read two J. D. Robb mysteries. Other people fed us the whole time-- B&B breakfasts and restaurant dinners-- pretty sweet. I gained a few pounds I have to carve off this week. Didn't take a single photo the whole time; I just wanted to be there.
Have to get ready now to go up to Rhode Island on Saturday. Working on two more pairs of socks and maybe a wrap.
The hummingbirds have been coming to the feeder regularly, or one hummer comes a lot-- can't tell. Things are very dry here, which I'm sure makes my sugar water more interesting. We badly need a small, polite hurricane!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rosie's Got her Wag Back

Well, mostly. She is recovering from [Ewww Alert!] impacted anal glands. I don't even want to think about what that feels like and I am grateful humans don't come with those accessories. The vet also tested and warned me to keep an eye on "Rosie's benign fatty masses." Well. I've got those too, but in my case they're called hips and thighs. Anyway the Rose is on the mend & we're glad. At nine years old I guess we can expect more doggy decline. Hmmm-- they're just about my age in dog years. Oh, dear.
The socks are done, see pic, and I'm trying to put another pair on the needles. This time I'm doing toe-up socks, so I can make the ankles a little longer without worrying about running out of yarn. This calls for starting with a curved toe geometry that is giving me fits; also, the yarn is finer and the needles smaller than the first pair. One needs very bright light. I want to start them so I can take them up to the Blue Ridge with me next week, when Phil & his friends go on bike rides and I get to knit to my heart's content and do a little hiking. It will be cooler up there, and I'm so looking forward to that. 96 degrees F yesterday (and the thermometer is in the shade under the eaves.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

A Woe of the Tail

Something's wrong with Rosie's tail, and if it doesn't wag normally by Monday we'll be off to the vet. She's in a little discomfort (not enough to effect her appetite or desire for walkies.) But her tail is just hanging there as if it's broken, although neither of us can remember any reason why it would have been injured. Mysterious. I've checked out everything I can think of and meanwhile she's getting extra TLC and yogurt.

Went to the farmer's market today & came back with green beans, yellow crookneck squash, red potatoes, beets, blueberries, purple caulifower, and the first of the Sandhill peaches. It's going to be a colorful weekend. So far the squash went into a casserole, the caulifower got steamed (and turned a disconcerting dark blue that sort of puts you off eating it, although it tastes fine) and the beets got roasted with carrots--- a little too roasted since we were watching Big Brown lose the Belmont & I forgot to take them out. I felt bad for the horse, he should not have been run so soon again in this heat and with a cracked hoof. He's still a magnificent beast.

I have to admit I feel bad for Hilary too. I was hoping not to have to vote for her, for a number of reasons, and will be pleased to vote for Obama, but she certainly set a high bar for future women to follow. I wonder if she'd have done better if she were a plain old senator and not attached to a former Clinton--- I rather think so. It's interesting that in many foreign countries the rooting is for Obama because he is seen as "new". One can only hope.

I've been listening to podcasts while I finish the second sock. Brenda Dane, who lives in Wales, gives a great knitting-related podcast once a month called Cast-On. She interviews interesting people and throws in a little good music, and they last about an hour-- just right for a dog walk or a session at the gym.

Next post I will have a picture of my feet modeling The Socks (and will be plotting my next pair.)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Sitting Pretty

For the three plus years we've been in this house, we've talked about getting a table & chairs to go on the deck. Finally pulled the trigger. The folks who built this house must have been great entertainers, because it's designed for big parties; big kitchen, big livingroom, generous deck, french doors opening onto the deck. We're not that social, but during the part of the year when outside living is possible, the deck is pretty nice. Surrounded by trees, there's usually some shade and a bit of breeze (and acorns, tulip poplar flowers, oak/ash/pine spring thingys, twigs, pollen, bushels of leaves...) So, we went to the usual Lowe's and Home Depot, looked, were not excited; went to Furnitureland South, looked at the price tags, and came back to Lowe's determined to be plenty excited, and came home with a nice round table and four chairs, all heavy enough to withstand a windstorm and easy to clean.
Furnitureland South is a High Point institution. Five floors of furniture! Acres and acres! World's largest----- chest of drawers. Yup, four stories high and thankfully bolted to the building so it doesn't fall on anybody. You really can't miss the thing. It has Hickory's World's Largest Chair beat all hollow. All this has to do with North Carolina having once been the center of the furniture industry, due to all the hardwood forest that we've since cut down and replaced with pulpwood and houses. The furniture is now made in places like Indonesia, but still marketed from here. They do have great stuff, just not that I want to spend that kind of money on in order for it to be rained on and collect bird dookey.
We planned, of course, to eat our steak fajitas on this new table, but as soon as Phil got everything set up it started thundering and soon rain was banging down and the dogs were cowering in their "We're all gonna die" mode. This morning's coffee and newspaper out there was very pleasant, though, if a little damp. Gotta make a cover for that table.
We also caved on the AC last night. We traditionally hold out as long as possible on both AC and heat, for which Duke Power should be grateful. But last night we were sticking to the furniture and the sheets and there would have been no sleep without the wonders of modern HVAC. I don't think I could live down here without it.
I finished one of the socks in that first pair yesterday, all but the grafting of the toe seam. Tried it on and it's a little strange in the fit, but I figure I'll wash it and block it and it will be done, and be an actual sock, if nothing else. The second pair will have better workmanship. Its sock brother is almost done too, I'll model them soon.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Singin' Along

Finished another 2 pillows today; one long overdue knitted, small, and one fabric, small. I was forced to face the following: a. I really don't enjoy sewing; b. it's been so long that the machine, which is 40 years old this year and runs like a trooper, had to gently reprimand me for failing to wind the bobbin and a few other things before we achieved harmony; and c. when I was done the pillow told me in no uncertain terms that only dummies try to join the trim on a corner. Also that next time I should make at least a half-arsed effort to arrange the fabric pattern symetrically on the pillow; how hard is a square?

We're only going to prop them behind our backs while watching TV and/or sleep on them during televised golf (that would be Phil) so I ignored all the sniping. I have 5 more to go. I'll get better. So there. Nyaahhh.

While I was sorta sewing, I was listening to Kathy Mattea's album Coal. I'm not normally a country fan. The pickup trucks and broken hearts and cheating dogs (or maybe it's cheating trucks?) can get along without me. But these songs are coal mining ballads, and I'm a sucker for spine-shivering, mournful coal mine ballads. It has Coal Tattoo and The L&N Don't Stop Here Anymore, and I wish it had Spring Hill Mine Disaster and Peabody Coal as well, but maybe she has covered them on another album, I'll check. John Prine does Peabody pretty well. Maybe I'll make a coal-wailin' set for my iPod.

I picked up another skein of sock yarn, which I will not allow myself to paw or roll on until I have finished the ones I'm doing. It's a blend of rather strange colors --- but I think it's cool. From Cherry Tree Yarns. The fantastically nice person at Common Threads wound it into two equal balls so I can knit the two socks along at the same time. I must stop drooling and Finish The Current Project. Be firm.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


OK, if you're not a knitter, you may want to go get chocolate or something. I am going to brag on the fact that I have just turned the heels on a pair of socks. My FIRST pair of socks. It took several websights, some KnitWitch videos on YouTube, and two books to get me through it, but now I. Have. Got. It. DOWN.

I will freely admit they look kind of lumpy and not exactly identical. But hey, these things go on your feet, right? So it's not like they're close up where they can be scrutinized, and most of them is in your shoes anyway. I wear almost exclusively clogs, on account of having enormous feet that are very hard to fit (and if you wear clogs you only have to worry about fitting the weird toey part of your feet & not the skinny heels, and the extra half size that the shoe industry won't concede is essential can just sort of hang off the back.) (11 1/2 B, for you nosy types.) So I want to make my own socks because that way a. they will fit, b. I will have interesting yarn art showing at the backs of the clogs, c. they will go far enough up my leg not to leave the airy gap at the end of my pants when I sit down (I'm tall.) Plus I get the fun of playing with all that yummy sock yarn.

Also I am feeling very smug because I have knitted both socks along at the same time on two sets of needles, so when I'm done I will really be done, not having to do another whole sock which might never happen.
It's a glorious cool spring day, and Phil just took the dogs out for a walk. (That's Jack & Rosie in their summer clip-- shorn for tick & flea season.) Even at nine years old, every walk they take is the most exciting walk ever, like they haven't been on one in weeks. I have laundry to do and I need to make pillow covers for the couch in the den to go with the pillow-topped footstool Phil just finished, out of walnut, which really spiffs up the room. I hate to sew but I want the pillows, so I'll force myself. But first, I need another cup of coffee and a little knitting along with some public radio.

Additional smugness is due to supper for tonight already being made-- leek & potato soup with white beans and some fresh bread.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

It's Alive!

I don't know what voodoo is going on between our mailbox and the insect world, but it's such a popular place that I wish it was saleable real estate. First was the Wasp Saga--- one little mama wasp (I'm assuming it's the women of the wasp world who do all the work) built one or two paper cells of a nest just inside the mailbox door. Whenever I opened it, I flicked her out & pinched off the paper, hoping to gently discourage her & send her to a better homesite. Then the mail stopped coming. One day. Two days. I sealed the slit in the door with metal tape & weather stripping, permanently excluding Mama Wasp. Then a Monday with no mail-- that never happens in this junk mail universe. On Tuesday I intercepted the mailperson, an older woman this time.
"Them bees gone yet?"
"Yes, the single wasp is gone & I've sealed the box so she can't get back."
"Cause we cain't deliver no mail when they's a bees nest. He said they was a big bee's nest in there."
"No, there are no bugs at all in the box. It's perfectly safe."
"Well OK but if them bees come back we cain't deliver!"

So much for 'through hail, snow, and storm.' Apparently it doesn't apply to the animal kingdom.

A few days later I saw fine sawdust on the daylilies under the mailbox. Carpenter bees. Not in the box, but in the (treated!) wood post. Several neat, precise pencil-sized holes dotted the underside of the box support. I could hear the faint gnawing of at least one bee at work. Tough way to make a living. For now, they don't seem to be alarming the delivery folks. Of course the box may just plain fall off if they get energetic enough.

Today I opened the (carefully sealed) box to put a Netflix envelope in for pick-up. About two hundred tiny ants, each with a minute ivory egg, were zigging and zagging around in the box, piling eggs against the door. I was starting to feel just a little put-upon. It's not like any of them pay rent.

I left the door open, figuring the light would discourage them. I sprayed the post with environmentally safe insecticide (yeah, it's sort of an oxymoron.) I stuck several ant bait traps around the post. A few hours later they had moved all the eggs somewhere else, but were still trotting over the band of insecticide and waltzing in and out of the box. I left the door open overnight. I hope something crawls in and eats them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sad farewell

Right after I got back from Seattle, A called me to relate that they had to have their dog, Duna, sent to her final sleep. Duna was a grand old lady [German Shepherd] of 13 good years. She was gentle, patient, and absolutely devoted to Andrea. She had a mass on her spleen that apparently spread to vital organs, but was thankfully only in really bad shape for the last evening and night. The vet kindly came to the house, saving them the difficulty of getting such a large dog into the car when she was in critical condition. We all knew it was coming, and she had a long and wonderful doggy life, but it's still so poignant, and the tears are still coming. She will be missed by many.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


During the last two weeks, I spent time in Seattle with my daughter, soninlaw, and Cate, possibly the cutest grandbaby on the planet (all grandbabies are.) She's just 10 months and crawling, standing, babbling, playing, feeding bits of food to herself--- it's wonderful. Her first word is apparently going to be "Uh-ohhh."

While I was there, A. & I went on a girl's day off (pedis, lunch, espresso, shopping.......) and visited two of Seattle's 24, yes twenty-four, yarn stores.

Hilltop Yarn Queen Anne is in a deeply charming Craftsman style house, and a person could just move in, it's so cosy and welcoming and the yarns are yummy. I got several skeins of Berroco's "Seduce" to make a wavy drop-stitch scarf for Andrea. The yarn is pale blue silk & linen wrapped in a thin, glossy bronze thread. Light, cool, and drapey. Later we went to So Much Yarn, a shop with lots of shine and bright color and two very friendly, very helpful women proprietors. They have a stock of unusual artsy buttons, which can be very hard to find, and a good selection of needles and accessories.

I managed to work about 8 inches of the scarf on the long plane ride home-- now I'm about a third of the way. I also had to rip out the Eternal Sock for one last time, and this time I only cast on 66 stitches, and also put it onto bamboo DPNs, which seem to be making it knit up a lot faster and smoother. I truly hated DPNs at first, but I'm coming to terms with them. This time it's going to work. Really.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Crossing the finish line

I actually finished something! If you only knew how rare that is. This pillow was the result of thinking that it would be simpler to cover the throw pillows that looked icky on the new couch by knitting than by sewing something, which shows you how I hate to sew. But there is a lot of surface in a pillow. I could very nearly have made a sweater with that much yarn, and it was pricey. Lovely and soft, but a bit dear.
So the remaining three pillows, one the same size and two blessedly smaller, will be covered with the contents of this basket: lesser, but still worthy, yarns. Especially if they're going to be snoozed on and perhaps acquire a little dog hair.

I promised myself a knitting day today, and I did knit but have not so much to show for it. I must be much slower than I thought I was. Maybe we need someone to invent a knitting speedometer [and then maybe not.] I spent the morning trying to achieve gauge for a summer cardigan and did not quite get there. Then I went to the gym, which I have to do because I paid for it & told my husband I was going; ate lunch, and knit about half of one side of a pillow in very bulky yarn, and finished the ouevre above. How do the folks on Ravelry turn out so much work? Am I not watching the right TV shows?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mom's Laprobes

Mom would have loved our bright pink azaleas; just the color for an afghan. When I was young, she crocheted and tatted a bit, but was probably too busy to give yarn much attention. After Dad died in ’91, though, she took up knitting with vigor. She’d go to the bargain store and get log-size skeins of synthetic variegated yarn, the brighter the better, preferably with some pink or red included. [This woman had a bright pink kitchen with red and white curtains and red-checked oilcloth on the table for 60 years. She knew what she liked.] Then she’d cast as many stitches onto long aluminum straight needles as she could, enough to make a rectangle about three feet wide. The only stitch she ever learned was straight garter. When it was long enough, she cast off. My job, when I came to see her, was to weave in all the ends, go around the edge with single crochet, and then crochet a shell stitch border. When she had a few, she’d take them up to the nuns either for the old folk’s home [older folks than Mom] or to sell at a flea market.
The last afghan, knit during her final year when she was very unwell, was never finished. As her sight got poorer and the pain medication more frequent, the piece spread into an uneven mass of dropped stitches and knots. Still, she liked to spread it on her lap and pick up the needles, and drift off to sleep. I kept the last skein, a rather startling mix of fuchsia, purple, pink, and blue. I kept all her metal needles and the bone crochet hooks, the silver thimbles, wooden darning egg, and soft faded tape measures. I still use the needles now and then, and the worn down tips and silvery ends fill my heart. I feel connected to a long chain of women knitting and crocheting, back to some ancient Irish grandmother spinning thick sheepy wool for a fisherman’s sweater. Some Red Heart yarn in the “Azalea” colorway would have been right up Mom’s alley.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Eternal Sock

This sock would be a little less eternal if we could ever reach the heel. It’s a First Sock, so it’s entitled to have issues. But. Phase One started off bravely with an inch of ribbing & three inches of stockinet when I finally had to admit that----- either I would have to put both feet in one sock or find a sockless elephant to gift it to. Not being on friendly terms with any elephants at the moment, I ripped. Phase Two got off to a jaunty start too, and lasted for about two inches, when I faced the truth that if I kept going I would have a roll-top sock that would snap down around my ankles as soon as I put it on. Then I got distracted and made a cushy pair of alpaca fingerless gloves for my Spanish teacher, a few bibs for my granddaughter Cate, and part of a pillow cover. A day or two ago I embarked on Phase III, and I think this time the sock & I will successfully get to the heel-turning thing. Maybe. Stay tuned. But don’t you love the Regia yarn?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How I learned to knit

Actually I didn't, for many years. First I learned to crochet. My Mom had a German friend, Anna, who came here after WWII. Anna was a knock-out cook who always had cookies or cake on hand and lots of patience, and she lived three blocks from us. Back in the 50's a 7-year old girl could walk all over town without anyone being afraid, let alone me, and the only restriction was that when the Waterworks whistle blew-- a mournful hooting that could be heard for miles-- then we had to scamper home for either lunch or dinner.
So I pestered Anna on a regular basis. First she showed me how to make snakes with crochet thread and a wooden spool with small nails driven in the top [now we use a plastic gizmo and call it I-cord.] Then I learned to crochet with thread around the edges of handkerchiefs. Much later, in my hippie days, crochet was one of many arts used to make presents for long-suffering family. Every decade or so I'd try to knit and it seemed sooooo sloooow and frustrating compared to crochet, which I could knock out by the yard. Finally, now in my dotage, I retired and realized that I had pretty well saturated the market for lap robes, and wanted to make something that would actually fit, like a sweater.
Enter the internet-- the wonderful instructional internet. Do you have any idea how many knitting videos there are on YouTube? Plus wonderful step by step diagrams. I discovered how to hold the yarn, and the knit stitch was easy. I discovered (OK, so I'm slow) that when you purl you have to Move The Yarn to The Front. Hey, nobody ever told me that.
So now I can knit. But I wouldn't be doing it if it weren't for Anna, my Mom, and a host of wonderful women behind the scenes.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

About that dog

Two dogs, actually; Jack, who is knittable, and Rosie, who has tons of hair but also has water dog genes, so she's a little on the greasy side. Maybe intended for fisherman's sweaters.
Note in the pic Jack's luxurious caramel fur. Note also that we have dog-colored rugs. You know how sheep leave tufts of wool on fences and thorns during the shedding season? Jack does that all over the house, and is generous enough to do it all year. Birds in our yard line their nests with it; I've seen them carrying off the fluffies after he's had a good brushing. So I could absolutely knit the dog, if I wanted a comfy sweater imbued with a strong whiff of Eau de Best Friend.

So I thought I'd try this blogging thing---

I tried on all my summer pants this morning and only saved one pair to wear-- the rest were all TOO BIG. Yup, I has shrunk. This is a wonderful thing considering that I have gradually been gaining weight for oh, about the last 30 years. I only have a mere 40 more pounds to go. This will keep me occupied for most of the year, I suspect.
For reasons unknown I'm knitting pillow covers for the existing pillows that will live on our new couch. They're yucky colors, I have an awful lot of yarn, it's an excuse to buy more yarn, and they should be dead easy. If you knit, those are reasons enough. The first one is half Kara in a blue mix and half Baby Alpaca Grande, incredibly sensuous soft squishy yarn that you just want to crawl into & take a nap. If it weren't so pricey I would seriously make an afghan out of it. Like all my projects they are taking too long, because I think about knitting more than I actually seem to do it [kind of like I used to think about dieting more than........]
Tonight is the Third Night of the Chicken, ie a roasted bird, so I will either make soup or chicken salad. Since the azaleas are bursting out and sun is shining, all very Spring-y, I opt for salad. A few walnuts, some celery, a little fruit of some sort, a light dressing, something on the side; and we'll call it supper. Maybe the pound of fava beans I got at the store on Friday because I love their bright green. Of course a pound of pods will make about a tablespoon each, and every bean has to be shelled, blanched, peeled, etc., but I never mind interacting with nice vegetables. It's my fave part of cooking. Somebody else could come in and handle the nasty meat [and of course do the dishes and clean the sink] and I'll happily deal with any amount of vegetables.
Next post I'll explain the title of this blog.