Knit the Dog

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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Presto change-o

In case any of the maybe four people who read this blog were to care, I changed my name on Ravelry. When I started into this knitting social thing, I just used my name (first & middle together, to whit-- Susanjane) because nobody else had it and I had no imagination. But I wanted to have something a little more definitive. Naturally all the really cool and unique things I came up with were already being used by people cooler and uniquer than me, so I just kept putting stuff in until finally something cleared: piedmontknitter. I'm a knitter. I live in the Piedmont. Everybody in the Carolinas knows where that is, and the rest of you can just be intrigued. So there.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Southeast Animal Fiber Fair was fun in spite of the rain. I communed with every rabbit, angora goat, sheep, and alpaca there. The Shetland sheep were hands down the winners... no bigger than lambs, buried under mounds of wool, with such cute delicate faces peeking out. I am a total softy for ovines. Makes me miss the sheep I used to have in Pennsylvania.
The fiber, of course, is what I went there for. Did I score? Oh, my yes. Two bodacious 400 yd hanks of wool/silk, in slightly variegated tones, one light blue and one brownish; and the queen of the show, 647 yards of plump handspun blue-faced Leicester, in dark blue with threads of teal, green, and a trace of purple running through it. I visited it twice before I finally gave in and ransomed it to bring it home. What will I do with it? I have no earthly idea. Not enough for a sweater or even a vest, too much for a scarf. I may have to sleep with it. Just, you know, for inspiration.
Friday night there was a sort of Ravel-revel, with door prizes. Tons of prizes. We watched the skeins of Dream in Color Smooshy and cashmere and merino march past us to their happy new owners. Nice books, useful knitting bags.... all going to Other Tables. Finally the lady across from me won something: five very small stitch markers in a teeny tiny bag. We realized there was a cloud over us, an unlucky, perhaps even cursed, cloud. More prizes walked past. We were getting desperate. Really, we were getting downright bitter. At last-- my number was called! I won! What did I win? The following: two outdated pattern books for nothing I would ever knit, a tape measure ['made in China'] and a set of very large, very purple, plastic knitting needles that light up in the dark. I am not making this up.
Continuing to knit on the seven or so projects I have going, concentrating on Phil's sweater and the rusty orange wrap. And the lace scarf I had to start, and the ruana I thought I might make with some of the new wool. And the baby blanket in the den, the shawl in the livingroom........
Trees are turning, leaves are falling, we're making Turkey Day plans. It's knitting weather!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Me one, engines zero

I do not get on well with internal combustion engines. They can smell my fear and anxiety, and know they have the upper hand. When I need to start one-- lawnmower, weedwhacker, whatever-- I carefully feed it the specially mixed fuel [they all have delicate dietary habits], go through all the rituals: position the throttle, push the red thing halfway down, bow to Detroit, kill a chicken; then I pull the start cord. And pull it. Pull some more. Stand on the thing and pull with all my might. The machine makes a few farty noises and subsides into a deep sulk. Then I go get Phil, and he gets within 20 feet of it, and gives it The Look of the Engineer, and it spontaneously purrs to life (Yes, Master! How many rpms, Master?) And then Phil looks at me patiently and says, "You must not have
...tickled the throttle
...massaged the choke
...hinckled the thingus.
And in a display of mature dignity, I cry "I did! I swear I did! It's a piece of crap! It hates me!"
Now, we have a lot of leaves, from our umpty-seven oak and tulip poplar trees, and with Phil on the road every week this month it falls to me to do something before the house disappears under them. If I tried to rake them all I'd have carpal tunnel of the entire body, so I have to use a leaf blower. My nice tame electric one has developed a Short and smokes alarmingly. So this past weekend Phil gave me a detailed lesson on starting the gas blower.
Today I got the thing out, fed it, burped it, and carried out the following procedure: press the red button down, depress the throttle this much, flip the choke up, push the carb bubble 3.5 times, pull the cord while easing up on the throttle and whistling Dixie. It started. It ran like we were made for each other. We blew leaves like a couple of pros.
Some days there ain't no tellin'.
I've finished the back and 1.5 fronts of Phil's cardigan, and hope to be onto the sleeves by the end of the week. I won't take it to SAFF though, since I think I need idiot knitting for that---- so I'll take the rusty orange wrap, which has 21 of its 50 inches done.
No internal combustion engines will accompany me except my car, with which I have a satisfying intimate relationship. Besides it's still under warranty and had better behave.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eaten any good books lately?

My husband and I are both readers. Big time. For Phil this means starting the day with the local newsrag, reading a little in the evening, and dropping off to sleep with a book in hand. He gets his books from the library, an eclectic mix of nonfiction, murder mysteries (Walter Mosely, Harlan Coben) and weird contemporary novels. He also reads Atlantic Monthly, a few woodworking magazines, and the New Yorker when he's on the road. I drink my coffee with the New York Times online, then during the day read from two or three novels-- science fiction or historical romance-- along with blogs, science stuff on the internet, Newsweek, etc.
Here comes the confession: we both read while we eat. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. At the table. With each other. In fact we can hardly consume a meal without books at hand, unless we go out or have company. We even have book weights to hold the books open while we eat. When my daughter was growing up, of course, books were verboten at the table-- one had conversation. This fell apart after Andrea went to college. You can't really talk with your mouth full, and we really have lots of other time together. I come by this addiction honestly. When I was growing up, although when Dad was present there was no reading at table [and no hair curlers or pajamas], whenever Dad had a meeting in the evening my Mom and I had the guilty pleasure of reading while we ate our Swanson TV Dinners. Phil's Mom spent several years driving the local bookmobile, so he had it in his genes too.
I was a bookish, geeky kid with knobby knees and red braids, and way too big a vocabulary for social success. I grew up in suburban New Jersey in a time when summers were hot, sticky and endless. The library was the first building in town to get air conditioning, closely followed by the drug store a block from our house, which had a whole wall of comics. We knew the store owner, and he'd let me sit on the floor by the comics and read for hours as long as I didn't wrinkle them and occasionally bought some Neccos or a Skybar. In fifth grade I incurred the wrath of Sister Infanta by hiding a novel inside my math book. Every night I read by the light seeping through the door of my bedroom from the 40 watt bulb in the hallway, until I heard my parents on the stairs and whipped the book under my pillow. The library folks gave up on keeping me out of the "grownup" section when I was twelve, and discovered Robert Heinlein. In fact my first paying job at fourteen was shelving books, for 75 cents an hour.
I approached reading like playing piano and learning French; by ear, and with as little honest labor as possible (to this day I know only present tense French verbs and can't read music.) This meant reading the Comics Classic version of weighty stuff like the Scarlet Letter, Red Badge of Courage, and anything by Charles Dickens so there would be more time for the Black Stallion series or whatever I was obsessed with that year.
I still go on author binges; when I find somebody I like I have to read everything they wrote until I overdose. In my early knitter days, all of two years ago, this meant scarfing down all the Yarn Harlot books and every knitting magazine at Borders. I'm more selective now; if there's not at least two patterns I would really knit the mag stays on the shelf. But a few weeks ago I discovered Georgette Heyer. I'm sunk. All her novels seem to have been reissued in larger format softcovers that cost twice the price of a regular paperback, the used book store hasn't got any of them, I can't wait for Amazon, and I'm deeply addicted. I've stopped buying yarn and lattes in order to get these books. It's not that they are great literature-- far from it; she wrote about 40 historical romances, mostly Regencies, in the 30's and 40's. But the characters, especially the women, are finely drawn and fresh, people you just want to sit down with. Her writing is funny, brisk, and full of plot, and for those who happen to love this period, wickedly accurate (if awfully heavy on exclamation points.) And, best of all, you don't have to flip through pages of breathless sex to get to the good parts. I have nothing against a little steaminess where it's warranted, but could we get on with the story already? There are after all only so many ways to Do It, and at my age I already know most of them, so the repetition just gets in my way. Sexual tension is not, after all, a plot, for cryin' out loud. So, if you like the genre, by all means try one of these refreshing stories.
Thank heaven people keep writing books and publishers keep printing them, or I'd be reduced to chewing my fingernails in withdrawal. And if you have to have a vice, this is pretty benign--- it's not like I'm collecting hundreds of salt shakers or swigging rum-- and it's still legal!

See, there really are FOs

Here's the striped vest:

I had to reinforce it with several rows of crochet to make everything fit, so I worked the buttonholes into the crochet border. It comes out awfully 60's retro, but will be fine for an extra layer.

I knit the wavy scarf (Liecester/Finn) in about three days, in with other things, so it's fast. [I didn't think you needed a closeup of my chins.] It drapes nicely and stays where it's put.

If you are a podcast listener, I strongly urge you to try out the Electric Sheep. It's a British weekly cast, by Hoxton Handmade, and she has a great voice, a terrific sense of humor [humour!] and knows how to put together a good cast. I'm trying to put a list of blogs & podcasts to the right here if I can figure out the thingys.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


There's been a lot of organizin' goin' on--- I sorted about 1/2 of my yarn by weight into rubbermaid bins; DK, sock, etc. Lordy, I have a lot of sock yarn. I say 1/2 of the yarn because I seriously underestimated the volume of same. Will pick up more bins this week. The object is to get all the yarn into the same room.

Autumn bits:

---Cool brisk breeze, deep blue sky, bronzing leaves, and a faint chitter of crickets. North Carolina summers are so damp and buggy that I forget living in the South can be a good thing during Fall and Spring. It's not Vermont of course, but it's not too shabby; and it isn't followed by gobs of snow.
---I have pots of mums on the front steps. They look nice against the brick and I like the deep toned varieties. I was picking off spent blooms this afternoon and saw that several fat, hairy caterpillars were chowing down on the flowers. Not the leaves, mind you, but the flowers. What nerve!
---Our local gym closed, and I have to find a new one fast. I've been almost two weeks now without a workout and I can feel the pudge creeping up my legs. Apparently they didn't have enough membership to pay the rent, which says something about our fellow Sedgefieldians. The other options are farther away and cost more, but I'm on a roll and have to keep going.
---Wonderful visit with Andrea, Jeff, & Cate in Seattle. They rented a beach house for the few months in between houses and while small it was a fun place to be in summer. Cate at 2 1/4 is a most imperious young miss and totally cute. She reminds me soooo much of Andrea at that age! Although I think she is more into pink and frilly things. The next year will be exciting with new house, Cate growing, and--- other wonderful things!
I'm in finishing mode with knitting. There are so many projects and I just have to get some of them done and off the books, so to speak.
---Finished the Noro striped vest, which I am not crazy about but it is good enough to wear. Want to make one now with a proper pattern instead of making it up.
---Almost finished the Winter Blossom shawl, or my version of it; intended just to keep me warm in winter at home. Not making the whole length or it would reach my knees. Slight gauge problem due to using DK instead of laceweight.
---Almost done with a wavy scarf out of indigo dyed handspun I got at Rising Meadow Farm last weekend. This is fun and I will probably make another; it's knit sideways in feather & fan so it waves like a river.
Soup for supper and the smell is driving me nuts -- beef vegetable with wild rice. Since I started using the crock pot I've not burned any soup, which is a good thing as we eat a lot of it in winter. Have some wholegrain bread from Freshmarket to go with. Drool.
Phil is painting the interior of the shop today. It looks so professional! Once the electrician has been back to do the plugs and lights, and we epoxy the floor, it will be time to move the saws and drill press and all those goodies in and then he can actually make something. The first thing will be closets and new windows in the "attic" [room over the garage] so we can finish it off. It will have heat and AC, room for all the Christmas clutter, and probably accommodation for overnight guests. I've thought about making it my studio, but I don't know if I want to be isolated up there. Right now the office where I knit is also Phil's office, and right by the kitchen-- it used to be the formal dining room. The solution might be to have more yarn storage built in here instead of going upstairs. Who doesn't need more yarn storage?