Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Not going well

I finally got the the triangle part of the Forest Path Stole.

Worked the first triangle, thought to myself "this isn't so hard" and then counted the stitches, to find I had 19 instead of the required 20.

Guess who's ripping tonight?


Monday, July 28, 2008

Heartsick tonight

I'd imagine that most of you have already seen or heard this story today.

I am just sick. We go to a UU church in Quincy, and if the church in Tennessee is anything like ours, you will not meet a more loving and welcoming group of people anywhere.

They're saying now that the shooter wanted to kill "the" liberals and gays.

Is this really what we've come to? Killing people because they are too loving and tolerant?

I am just sick.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Is this a knitting or a cooking blog?

It seems like all I do these days is cook. There is no knitting, and that's just fine.

Today was a marathon day. Widget has been asking for months if we could make cheesecake. With the cooler weather, we decided today would be the day. But I also needed to make dinner for tonight, wanted to put together the casserole for dinner tomorrow night, had cheese draining and decided that, since I didn't want to just throw away the whey, that I would also try making the whey bread in my cheese cookbook. It's still rising, waiting to go in the oven now.

I think I used everything in my kitchen at least twice in trying to get all of this accomplished. But, we had a lovely dinner (lettuce soup again - I'll post the recipe tomorrow when I have it at hand if anyone wants it, zucchini fritters (finally, zucchini widget will eat!) and grilled sausages), I have dinner for tomorrow 90% of the way done, there's a gorgeous (if badly cracked) cheesecake cooling on my table, and four little loaves of bread waiting to go in the oven.

And somehow Ms. Widget and I still found time to have a great picnic lunch and some time at the playground this afternoon, too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

In lieu of actual content

  • Do y'all read Super Guppy? If you don't, check out her post over here. I already think she's a pretty cool chick, but dude, riding from Sturbridge to Provincetown? That's damn impressive. I'll be donating, both money and a prize or two if she needs them.
  • Work continues to be rough, with no relief in sight anytime soon.
  • I am going to try to make cheese tomorrow! Wish me luck and cheesey goodness!
  • It is insanely late. Thank goodness there's to 7:45 bus tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ready to drop

More work insanity this week, including a 12 hour day yesterday due to a bad upgrade.

Today, full day of work, took Widget to the library, came home and made a giant batch of lettuce soup, a batch of basil pesto and a batch of arugula pesto all before the nice leafy plants went bad. I think the beets may have been too far gone, but I threw 'em in the over to roast anyway. I'll peel 'em tomorrow and see if they're salvagable. If they are, they'll get sliced up and frozen too.

That leaves me with some cukes (lunches for the week) and some zucchini left from farmshare this week. If the zukes last, they'll get turned into zucchini bread on Saturday.

I swear, it's like I have two full time jobs most days.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Had a meeting tonight with the owner and the other two women who teach classes at my local shop. We talked about class ideas and started to divide up the class load.

Should be more interesting and better organized than previous attempts, which has to be a good thing.

I'm looking forward to it, even if I'm feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of what I'm talking on.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

So tired

Wiley is off racing today, so I was on Widget duty all day. Now that she's older and more fun, I mind it a lot less than I used to.

Yesterday, I thought it might be fun to go to Nantasket for the day, or part of it. the trick to Nantasket though, is going at the low end of tide - at high tide, there's places where there's a teeny narrow strip of beach, or no beach at all. I checked the tide charts, and low tide was at 6:45 AM. Now, a smarter person might have scrapped the beach plan, but for some reason I told Widget that if she woke up early enough, we could get out of the house early and hit the beach when the tides were in our favor.

Three guesses who was knocking on my bedroom door at 6:45 (the earliest I'd allowed she could), ready and raring to go? We were on the road by 7:15.

So we beached until 11 or so, then did a whirlwind grocery shopping because I'd ALSO promised somebody that we could go see Kit Kittridge in the afternoon. Cute movie, with lots of cool fashion, especially at the beginning.

After that, we headed over to a friend's house to take advantage of her "open pool" offer, and we swam in her pool for over an hour before Widget couldn't control her chattering teeth any longer and I insisted we get out of the pool.

We had a great wonderful day, and now I am so tired, I don't even think I have the energy to knit.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

So hot

Now we've hit the part of the summer where it doesn't really cool off at night, and the heat has almost made me cry uncle. Stupid heat.

This morning, we realized we had a bunch of errands to run (retrieving the husband's hat, going to the brewing store north of the city, picking up our farmshare meat). We decided we'd all go out on the errands, enjoying the comfort of our rolling air conditioning. Worked pretty well, even if the husband's car is sprung a little too tightly to be good for knitting in the car.

Made it almost through the Monkey sock, and more excitingly, I got some of the stuff I need to try making cheese at home! This is going to be a fun adventure.

After the wandering, we lazed around the house a lot, and I don't know about the rest of them, but I just tried to move as little as I could. First corn of the season for dinner with my favorite summer treat, tuna-mac salad.

After the kidlet went to bed, we camped out and watched three episodes of Mad Med from last season. We're coming to it late, just trying to get caught up. I'm still not quite sure what I think of it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dear lord in heaven

Work has been beyond insane this week, and all signs point to it getting MUCH worse before it gets better.

Came home from Detroit, landed RIGHT in project #3 and have been drinking from the fire hose yesterday and today trying to get caught up.

This might just be the end of me.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Home again, safe and sound

As always, business trip was much better than I had expected. People were nice, we solved their problems, and helped them learn about the system.

I realized something about my interactions with our customers today. Not something I can likely do anything about, but something to think about.

East flight home, with elbow room. No knitting, as I was far too wrapped up in my current book to pick up the knitting.

I've only got about 20 pages left, I should go finish it off.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Greetings from lovely downtown Detroit!

Delightfully uneventful flight, lots of good knitting time.

If you ignore the fact that I realized I somehow picked up a different number of stitches on each side of the damn flap on this cursed Monkey sock, I'd say that I was doing A-OK. Even with that, and with a seriously mediocre dinner in the hotel restaurant, I'm doing pretty well.

All day meeting with the client tomorrow, after which, hopefully I will still be doing pretty well. Flying home tomorrow night - if I'm lucky, it will be on a similarly lightly passengered flight as coming out was.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More thoughts on food and how it compares to knitting

Some further thoughts on food and women's work

This came to me last night as I was thinking some more about the comments on Norma's post that I linked to yesterday.

As knitters, we've all encountered the skeptic, the scoffer, the snarker who mocks us for spending hours knitting up something that we could just go out and buy at Walmart for pennies on the dollar, compared to what our yarn cost, never mind adding in the cost of our labor.

As knitters, we've all endlessly discussed this conversation, too. That yes, in purely pragmatic terms, those doubting thomases are right. It does seem insane that we would choose to spend both more money and time producing something readily available to us.

But also that there are an endless number of reasons to knit that have nothing to do with the cost There is the pleasure of the act itself. There is the joy of seeing an actual physical object created by our actions (particularly appealing to those of us who work primarily in the abstract world of computers). There is the feeling that we can imbue the objects we create with our feelings as we work on them - love, concern, warmth. There is also the true cost factor - that $15 sweater from Target is NOT the same as a sweater handknit our of fine merino, custom fit to our own body, and that I could NOT buy that handknit custom work from Target for $15.

I think the discussion can be the same for gardening, or even for making the effort to buy from farmers and preserve local food for the rest of the year. It might cost more. It certainly takes more effort. But just as with knitting, there are so many intangible benefits of partaking in the process that it is impossible to describe them all to someone already inclined to think that you're insane for spending so much time on something they don't understand.

And just like the sweater at the end of the knitting process, the vegetables you raise yourself, getting exactly the varieties you want, from soil treated exactly the way you think it should be are NOT the same as the industrial raised vegetables of the supermarket. They look different, they absolutely taste different, and science seems to be supporting the idea that they are healthier, because they (hopefully) came out of healthy soil, and they carry that with them.

There is, of course, a world of difference between having to do all this work and choosing to do all this work. I don't know that I would love knitting the same way if I feared my family would go without socks if I didn't knit them. I certainly get tired of the drudgery of cooking dinner each and every night. It isn't a stretch to think I would enjoying cooking even less if there were never an option for easy takeout or a quick run over to the supermarket.

At the same time, it makes me frustrated when I feel like people put me down for wanting to do either one. Just because I choose to do those things my mother's generation fought for the right to not do does not make me less of a feminist. It doesn't make me cute or "quaint" or less intelligent. I am *choosing* to do things that make me happy. If it makes me a throw-back, well, so be it.

I'll be the one over here in the great sweater with the delicious pie.

The blahs

Am in a funk.

Knitting group, game night and finally turning the heel on my second Monkey sock have NOT done the trick for lifting it.

Handling overflow veggies and a good dinner on Friday helped a bit, but it didn't really last.

I *really* don't want to make my business trip tomorrow.

Friday, July 11, 2008


I'm so excited!

I donated a little (far too little, really) to Claudia's ride for MS. Imagine my amazed surprise when I got an e-mail from her that I had won something in her monster raffle! Seriously - she raised over $32,000. My few chances in the hat didn't have much of a chance.

Even better is WHAT I won! Theresa of Keyboard Biologist donated a choice of her two gorgeous sock patterns (I picked the Dragon Socks) and a skein of Socks that Rock in my choice of color (I picked Amber).

The yarny goodness arrived today, and it is even more gorgeous than I expected.

StR Prize
Check it out!

I'm so pleased. I love winning things! And I'm so glad there are people out there like Claudia doing stuff like this. After watching Wiley's Uncle Tink struggle with and finally die from MS (I only knew him for about 6 years, but he had been ill nearly his entire adult life), I don't know that I can imagine many worse ways to suffer. I hope that the money Claudia encouraged so many people to donate makes a differnce.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fiber knowledge for the win

Went out tonight to play trivia with some of the other mom's from Widget's school.

One of the questions was "This animal, a relative of the llama is found in the mountains of Peru. It's coat is prized for it's fiber, which is often woven into garments."

The other moms were amazed that I knew the answer (and so did Wiley, along for the evening, and my friend Carrie, also a knitter).

Score one for the knitters!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thoughts, a rambling edition

Have you read this post over at Norma's blog?

It's a coincidence for me, because these questions are just some of many that have been on my mind for quite a while.

They're mostly stemming from the books I've been reading as well as some of the food blogs, and the growing cultural fad of localism. It's all so complex, but at the same time, the "right" path seems so clear. Clear, that is, until real life pops up and throws you into the McDonalds drive through because you just didn't have time to pack a lunch this morning (or worse, dinner, and you're feeding your own kid that crappy kiddo-crack that they just love).

One thing that I have figured out,and this gets partly to Norma's point, is that it all costs. Time, money, labor, the intangible "global debt" of worker exploitation, pollution and oil consumption are all a part of the equation. When you add meat to the equation, add in animal cruelty, antibiotics, hormones to your math.

If you grow and preserve your own food, you pay in labor and time. It is hard work to keep a garden large enough to feed a family, and it takes a good amount of knowledge or practice to do it. You pay less cash (excepting seeds and equipment) and you incur little to no global debt.

If you buy local food, you probably pay less money than you might at the grocery for your goods and you save the time of growing and harvesting, but if you live in New England and you want to get through the winter, you pay again with time to preserve it when the picking is good for the lean months ahead. You again incur little to no global debt, at least not in theory. You support people who live in and giveback to your own community or those nearby.

If you buy supermarket organic, you pay premium cash. You pay little to no time, considering how much of that stuff comes to us pre-washed, measured and baggied up for us. If you try your best to avoid the most well-traveled fruit and vegetables, you incur some "global debt" but less than if you buy conventional produce - at least, in theory, you are not adding fertilizer runoff into the world. Corporate organic is blurring the lines as much as they can, so you need to know your stuff to have the most effect.

If you buy regular supermarket produce, you pay little cash and little time or labor. You, by my reading of things, incur an incredible amount of global debt. Those veggies and fruit come to you so cheaply at the cost of poorly paid, badly treated farmworkers, chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are "believed" to be safe (but we believed DDT and lots of other things were safe, only to be proven wrong down the line) and transportation costs that are enormous.

Like most things, I think that the balance point on this scale is going to be different for everyone. It will depend on your income level, your job, your commute, your other hobbies, your tolerance for dirt and hot kitchens. I'm slowly coming to know what my right answer is, but there's little choice but to accept that other people are going to have a different right answer.

For me, food and groceries and yarn share remarkable parallels for me. I care a lot about both knitting and cooking, and place a high value on quality ingredients and tools to do my work. I'm lucky enough to have enough disposable income that I can afford to put my money where my mouth is and vote with my dollars. They are both priorities for me, things I will give up other luxuries for to be able to get what I want.

And in the end, I prefer to put my money where it is supporting people and not corporations. For yarn, that means buying a lot of yarn from small producers, spinners and dyers - always skipping the red heart and often the mass-produced better yarns as well. It also means making an effort to shop at my local stores at least as much as online, and I'd like to think I'd keep doing that, even if finances meant that I had to do less knitting and stashing.

For food, that means being a part of a CSA both for meat and for vegetables and buying as much local food as I can without going nuts or bankrupt. This year I've started canning and am going to try and put up as much summer produce as I can for the winter. I'm investing my own time in the endeavor partly just to see if I can, and to test out how much of a sea change I'm willing to make in my way of life. I've also been practicing making a lot more from scratch - once again, to test my limits and to see how much of a change I can make in my life. I keep wibbling about having a garden next year - I'm not a fan of manual labor, but I'm so in love with the idea of growing my OWN stuff - whatever varieties I want. I'll wibble on that one for a while longer for now.

This is all endlessly fascinating to me, and I can't wait to see where we, as a culture go with it.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Turns out, it's not that hot

Knitting, no problem. Sleeping, no problem. Didn't try cooking tonight either, since I'm not crazy.

Clams at the beach, pretty cool with the nice sea breeze. Widget and Daddy played on the beach while I sat on the seawall and enjoyed my book.

I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle right now, and am really enjoying it. A good companion to Omnivore's Dilemma which I read a few months back.

Reading has really been cutting into my knitting time lately - it seems I only really have time for one or the other. Do you find that to be true?

Monday, July 07, 2008

Too hot to knit.

Too hot to move, really.

Thank goodness my darling husband is almost always willing to grill outside, even on the hottest day of the year.

Dinner with chef
Here's my darling Mr. Chef, wondering why exactly I'm taking his picture

I'm trying to see if we can go the whole summer without the AC. The jury is still out as to whether I'm insane or not. Considering how much I hate the heat (and that's a LOT) it seems an odd place to plant my flag on energy usage, but on the other hand, it is easy in that it doesn't require any actual work - just the inconvenience of being a little uncomfortable.

And the lack of knitting, because eeewww, sweaty sticky yarn.

Of course, this is only the second heat wave of the summer, too.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

The third time's the charm

When I st down with my Monkey sock on Friday at the office, I had to accept that once again, I had somehow managed to knit the darn thing too tight.

This is seriously odd for me, because I am normally a very consistent knitter - if I didn't know better, I'd swear I had knit sock one on a size bigger needle, which I'm about 95% sure I didn't do.

Since I know that sock 1 fits perfectly, I knew I needed to rip the darn thing out again, which I did, with a very large and loud sigh.

Since I had most of the day Friday and a long car ride yesterday to work on them, I'm now once again, about ready to start the heel flap. This time I'm sure they're the same size.

The rest of my 4th

After working all day, we headed up into Boston with some friends to watch the fireworks.

William works in Kendall Sq - right abouve the T station, on the tenth floor. Since they have a little one (she's 23 months) who is scared by the noise, we agreed we would watch from his office windows - we had a great view, and the noise was lessened by the glass, good for everyone.

They were beautiful, even if they were somewhat obscured by the enormous cloud of smoke that didn't dissipate because there wasn't nearly enough wind.

The big advantage to our spot was that we were close enough to the train to get on one of the first trains heading south, and it was so lightly populated that there were still a few free seats. A very different train experience than anything I've ever had leaving a major event like that, and a wonderful thing, since I really don't like enormous packed in crowds.

It was an excellent plan, and I'm so glad we went.

Widget even slept in until 8:45 or so, which is unheard of for her.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy 4th!


This is pretty much what my holiday looks like - covering the phones in the office, getting some work done on my Monkey socks and watching movies on my laptop. Given the bleah weather outside my window, I don't think I've got too bad of a deal.

Hope you're all having a great holiday!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Beginnings of the Forest Path Stole

I've spent the past two nights working on a swatch for the Forest Path Stole. The yarn I am using is a cone of laceweight rayon that I bought at Rhinebeck two years ago. It's beautiful, but also unlabeled - the woman at the booth said it was rayon, it looks like rayon, but I decided I wanted a good lace swatch so I could make sure it was going to block out the way I wanted before I committed to the entire project.

Washed and blocked it last night, and so far it seems to be lovely. I've learned it's a good idea to let a blocked lace swatch rest overnight before concluding that it's going keep its fully blocked shape, but I think I'll be casting on for this one tonight while I zone out with some tv.

I think it's going to be awfully pretty when it's finished. Here's a picture of Mr. Swatch lounging around on my pillow.

Forest Path Swatch

You can see the gorgeous sheen of the yarn, and I am just in love with the delightful springy color.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

So, what have I been doing?

Well, since I last checked in, I have been knitting.

Socks - one whole pair of cute purple and blue goodness (pics below). A monkey and half of a second monkey, ripped out when I tragically realized that it was somehow an inch smaller than the first - monkey number two is now nearly back to the heel flap. Some other socks.

Purple Striped Socks

I designed and knit a sweater for Widget. I've managed to not get any finished pictures of it, but I'm quite pleased with myself. Here's a picture, nearly complete - imagine it with a purple roll collar, and that's it finished. Ravelry details are here, if you're interested.


I've been cooking a LOT. Our farmshare started back up two weeks ago, and we've been buried in greens and other goodness. We went strawberry picking two Saturdays ago, and came home with 33 pounds of strawberries. In less than a week I made jam for the first time (tastes good, set badly, I knew I shouldn't have believed the no-pectin recipes) and made my first ever pie with homemade crust. All tasters reviewed it as delicious, but I made sure I had some easy judges for the first go round. Now that I've seen how manageable both feats of cooking prowess are, I anticipate much more of both in my future.

Widget turned 7. I turned 35, and Wiley and I passed the 10 year mark. I started a new group blog with some friends and my mom.

That's about it, I think. I'm sure there's other stuff that'll come to me eventually, but I wanna get this one in under the wire for today.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Still alive, I swear!

Not knitting much, as I've been rocking the kitchen goddess thing, and finishing off the most overdue wedding gift ever. But alive, and tonight, swatching for the Forest Path Stole, which is my uber project for the summer.

I have grand intentions for this poor little neglected blog, including a move to digs where I can actually respond properly to comments, but am not fully committed to the idea yet.

We'll see. Am also debating trying to do the post for a whole month thing, see if I can get in the habit of showing up more frequently.

I guess you'll know if I show up on your bloglines tomorrow too, eh?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I've been *tagged*! That never happens!

1. Ten years ago I was...

Newly married, just starting at the job I still have, and had just turned 25.

2. Five things on today's to do list:
  • Cook Dinner (yummy Basil Shrimp with feta and orzo)
  • Get Widget to dance on time
  • Clean out my work inbox
  • Finish laundry
  • Beat one of my work tools that hates me into submission. Ha!

3. Things I'd do if I were a billionaire:

Let's see... I'd setup a scholarship fund for Widget's school, so they could truly be accessible to people of all degrees of wealth, and similarly endow a scholarship to mine and my husband's alma mater. I would hire a personal trainer and whip my fat lazy butt into shape for once and for all. I'd buy a (small) house on a quiet lake in New Hampshire - winterized and close enough to the mountains that we could use it for skiing too. I would travel all over the world, staying long enough in the places I went to really get to know them. I'd move to a neighborhood that made me happier - I don't need or want a palace, but I want to be able to walk places instead of having to drive.

4. Three bad habits:
  • I bite my nails to little nubs
  • I'm a terrible procrastinator
  • I'm a perfectionist to the point of doing nothing.
5. Five places I've lived (You'll sense a trend here, I'm sure. And this list is complete, btw):
  • Manchester, CT
  • Worcester, MA
  • Malden, MA
  • Dorchester, MA
  • Weymouth, MA
So, I think almost everyone else has done this already, so I can't think of anyone to tag. Just one more way I'm a bad slacky blogger, right?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

As if regular old Daylights Savings wasn't enough

I'm travelling this week, three cities in four days.

Sunday, time change, lost an hour. BUT, flew to Denver, gained the lost hour, plus an extra back.

This morning, flew from Denver to Tucson. Arizona doesn't *do* DST, so now I gained yet another hour.

Tomorrow I fly to CA, where I don't gain any more hours.

So tired. My poor body has no idea what to do with itself. NO concept of what time it might possibly be.

It could be worse, though. I could be in Newark!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Someone (I don't know who, but if I find out, there will be issues) decided to turn off the freaking heat on my floor of my office building last night. My office is always one of the coldest rooms in the building (as it seems we do not have a working radiator, and do have a giant picture window), and this morning, it is SO COLD.

Picture me, huddled at my desk wearing my warmest sweater, my hat, and my scarf wrapped around my neck as many times as it will wrap, and I am STILL cold.

And very cranky.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A little like potato chips

When I saw people posting about Brooklyn Tweed's gorgeous striped Noro scarf, I just knew that this might be the pattern to finally get me to try some Noro.

When I was in Alexandria in December for a wedding, and wandered into Knit Happens to kill a little time before the wedding, I was happy to see that they had the Silk Garden I needed. Wiley helped me pick out two colors - he picked a pair that were a bit on the matchy side, but that has turned out to not matter very much.

Noro Striped Scarf

This has been my mindless knitting for the past few weeks, and they are as delightfully fun as Sandy says they are. Definitely boring knitting (that's what mindless knitting is for) but the color shifts are endlessly entertaining. I keep stopping knitting to admire the colors. Productive, it is not, but definitely enjoyable. It keeps pulling me back, despite having plenty of other projects I could be working on instead.

This pic is a little over exposed, but shows the colors much more nicely. Someday, I'll get better at this photography thing.

Noro Striped Scarf

Saturday, February 16, 2008

C is for...

C is for Cheese

C was a tough one, because there are many choices I could use for C. Cotton, cats, Cosmo (one of the three cats), corriedale (the fiber I learned to spin with) are just a few. But cheese. Cheese and I go way back. When I was a kid, my mother used to laugh at me and my Dad, calling us a pair or rats, because we both loved cheese - and not just the kid friendly American and cheddar, either. I loved pretty much every one I ever tried.

Today is little different. When dining out, I'll nearly always eschew dessert in favor of the cheese plate (unless that was my appetizer). I own a cookbook that is entirely Grilled Cheese recipes. I have encountered one cheese in my life so far that I didn't like (and even that one, I could have developed a taste for it, I bet, but I wasn't in a headspace to force it that day.), and I've gone out of my way to find cheeses that are hard to love.

I'm blessed (though my waistline is not) to have a little wine and cheese shop right down the street from my office. It's no Formaggio Kitchen, but it's close, the owner knows and loves cheese as much as I do, and they can always be counted on to have something delicious. They know me by name.

Someday, I will learn to make my own. Until then, I'll have to content myself with enjoying the fruits of other's labor, and with lunches like these.

C is for Cheese
Grilled Cheddar and ham with fresh thyme
and mustard on whole wheat bread.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

An entirely non-knitting question

So, was talking to one of my co-workers yesterday, complaining about it was so cold on Monday night that even wearing extra layers and bundled under my normally entirely warm enough down throw, I was *still* cold (and too damn cheap to turn up the heat, I added).

He told me that he and his wife had added a humidifier onto their furnace, and that it gently humidifies the entire house in the winter - his point was that it makes the same heat setting feel warmer, but I'm thinking it sounds awesome for a million reasons, since the cold dry air in the winter is murder.

We did some looking today on the vast intarwebs, found that they're not super expensive (in the $200-300 range), relatively easily installable (may need a plumber), have a significantly lower cost of operation, and should work with our furnace (sadly, for many, it only works with forced hot air heating systems).

I'm wondering if anyone out there in Blog-land has used one and has anything to share, good or bad, about them.

Part of me is thinking that if they were as wonderful as they seem, they'd be a lot more common. Part of me is really hoping they ARE all that and a bag of chips.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The new wheel

Last spring, my husband came home from an outing with Widget one Saturday morning all excited, and with a surprise for me, that he'd found at a tag sale. His surprises are sometimes, well, surprising, so I was a little nervous as I waited in the living room while he brought his treasure in from the car.

Imagine my surprise when he walked in with a spinning wheel! Imagine my even greater surprise when it was an actual working wheel, with all the parts that it needed to work correctly.

It was clearly in sad shape, having been stored in someone's garage for goodness only knows how long, but it did clearly have all the parts that it needed, except a drive band. It even had its original manual, so I knew that it was a Country Craftsman wheel, so only a replica of an antique and not an actual one. Even better, although the wheels are no longer made, I could still buy bobbins and such for it.

But, I've been slow to really get into the spinning thing (even though I love it when I do it) and I've been working, slowly, on getting to know my Louet, so the new wheel sat and looked (kind of) pretty in the living room. I was a little scared of it - especially after being completely unable to work any kind of wheel at Yarn School other than the same Louet I had at home - and I didn't want to waste my limited spinning time fighting with a wheel I wasn't even sure worked.

I was struck this week that it was a little silly having this big old wheel sitting unused in the living room. I decided it was time to try it out - see if I could get it to work at all, see if I liked spinning on it if I could, evaluate how much work it might need if I could get it to work. Because if I hated it, or it was hopeless, I'd try to find it a new home with someone who would love it or could fix it. If I loved it, then I should work on actually getting it into shape.

New Spinning Wheel

It turns out that I love it.

This evening, I fixed up a drive band for it, oiled it up and actually spun a little. It definitely needs some work - the bar that holds the wheel on is warped, so the whole thing is a little wobbly. Wiley thinks he can fix that. Even wobbly, though, it spins really nicely.

I spun up a little of the wool that I dyed at Yarn school, and the finished product is not great, but when the wheel and I hit our groove, I was very pleased with what I was getting out of it.

New Spinning Wheel

I think I need to have Wiley try and straighten out the bar for holding the wheel, because I think the wobble that it is introducing is stressing some of the other wood parts. If he can fix that, then I think that it may be just fine without any further intervention - and I need to go buy some spare parts before they all get sold, and maybe think about trying to refinish her this summer. Maybe.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Last night

I was one of the crazy crazy people who stood in line outside for nearly 4 hours to get to see Obama speak in Boston. It was cold, and we were there for a long long time. Amazingly, everyone in line was happy and excited to be there, and even as we smooshed together like cattle trying to get in the doors, no one was pushing or being obnoxious or awful.

There were Ron Paul supporters out trying to sell us their guy. There were LaRouche crazies out there passing out propaganda and trying to sell us their brand of crazy. I, like my friend S, was out there because I was still undecided, and I wanted to see the man in person, since I had the chance. Other friend C was pretty well decided already, but she's crazy for politics, so wanted to see him speak in person too.

I can tell you, even though we ended up so far back in the crowd that we couldn't actually see him, except for occasional fleeting glimpses when the crowd shifted *just right*, that it was absolutely worth it.

I left (and we left a little before the end since it was nearly midnight, and C had to get home to relieve her mom who was babysitting) very fired up and inspired.

I don't know if he can actually get elected - but I don't know that about Hillary either. I know that we could sure stand to have someone in the race who has experience working from the bottom up instead of the top down. I know that Obama was electrifying to listen to last night. I know that his lack of experience may be a negative to many, but, in the very best Mr. Smith goes to Washington kind of way, I love it. I love that enthusiasm, that belief that things can be fixed, that hearing him speak made me feel hopeful for the first time in a long time, even if that hope is still straining to breathe through my crusty cynical shell.

There's good reasons to vote for both candidates today and I've thought long and hard about this one. I know who I'm voting for. I just hope that you go out and vote (if today's your day), no matter who you vote for.

I'm just so happy to be excited again. I'm buoyed by the knowledge that no matter what happens, no matter who wins (except Mitt, because UGH, and hopefully today douses that particular dream) we're going to be in such a better place this time next year.

Unless, of course, Dolores wins. As good as tax deductible wool might be, we've already had 8 years of frat boy rule. We don't need 8 more of party girl. Right?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

B is for...

B is for Books

Books and reading have been my constant companion since I was probably 4 years old. I cannot imagine life without books to entertain me, comfort me, make me feel like I can go anywhere I want to. I know it sounds cliched, but there it is. Love them, sometimes to distraction, and totally do not understand people who "don't read books".

The only thing better than being a reader myself, is watching my daughter get pulled into the same wonderful relationship. She, too, is a reader. Never without a book or twelve, and watching her sit and read, entirely enthralled with the story, gives me the warm fuzzies all over.

This is pretty much what she always looks like in the car these days.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Binge and Purge

This year, like last, seems to be a year of stash dieting for many. I've already posted recently about how it is for me too.

In general, shedding of stuff, and the baggage that comes with it, seems to be a common thread, at least among certain groups, for many people.

I am no different. (On a side note, I'm often surprised at ow often I come to these realizations, only to find that a whole lot of other people have as well, often seemingly, at the same time. Am I a sheep? Do I pick up on these cultural cues without consciously noting them, process them, and think they're my own idea? Am I coming to these feelings on my own without reading the larger culture? I wish it weren't so, but these are the questions that haunt me at night sometimes.)

In my other blog, I recently posted a quote from this article.

And unless you're extremely organized, a house full of stuff can be very depressing. A cluttered room saps one's spirits. One reason, obviously, is that there's less room for people in a room full of stuff. But there's more going on than that. I think humans constantly scan their environment to build a mental model of what's around them. And the harder a scene is to parse, the less energy you have left for conscious thoughts. A cluttered room is literally exhausting.

I can't stand clutter. It really does exhaust me. It stresses me out, and keeps me from getting things done. The reality is, though, that I have a small (by US standards) house, that I share with two other people, one of whom is more of a packrat than me (maybe even both of them, actually). If I have too much stuff, where "too much" is a small absolute amount, there is going to be clutter, simply because there is not enough places to store the stuff. It is an unavoidable equation, one that no amount of "creative storage" purchases from The Container Store can change. (And oh, how I love the promise of The Container Store and hold everything - the sweet promise that if I just buy the right solution, all my clutter woes will disappear. That used to suck me in every single time.)

My slow understanding and realization of the truth of my house, and the truth of where the clutter comes from, and the obvious solution to the problem fits me well, now that I can see it - although sentimental at heart, I've always been a believer in periodically clearing the decks and saving only the things you really want to keep. This was easier when we moved every couple of years - living in one house for nearly 7 years has resulted in having to make myself go through the process rather than allowing it to happen naturally.

It's not always easy, and I don't always feel like I am doing it well enough, but I am slowly making progress. And the truth of it is, I can say that the number of times I have regretted tossing something are very small.

There have long been two exceptions to my draconian purging nature. Craft supplies and books. I got over the books thing last year. Okay, "got over it" is probably overstating things - but I was able to send about 2 large boxes of books out my door without being sad. (Getting rid of old books is hard - I watch those nerdy geeky history books walk out the door, and it is as if I am saying goodbye to the 23 year old me who dreamed of getting a PhD in history "someday". It is intellectually ridiculous - with my interests, even if I were to go back to school, a book on Pre-colonial African Art is not something I will need.) I still have too many books, but I'm finding that nearly every time I go back to my shelves, I manage to find a few more volumes to toss into the donations bag.

I think the real progress with books has been my drastic decrease in purchasing new books - I carefully consider now whether a book I want to read should come home to live, or instead simply visit from the library. Increasingly, fewer and fewer books get bought, and I spend a lot of time reserving holds on my library website. If there aren't many new books coming in, there's a lot less clutter.

That, of course, is the bingeing. Buying stuff without thinking, because it's pretty, or you've convinced yourself you need it, or it's on sale (how many times have I fallen for Buy2 get 1 free?), because it's SUCH a bargain. I do it. Everyone I know does it. It feels like it's a way of life. I think maybe it IS a way of life. Constant buying leads inevitably to a near-constant need to purge. It's not healthy, and ultimately, the only final answer is slowing my rate of consumption.

So, that's books. That left, essentially, my stash as my last area of exemption.

But then, I can to a realization late last year. My stash WAS clutter. It was getting in my way. It was weighing on my mind. I'm blessed, in my house, with an excessively large bedroom. It's probably nearly 25% of the square footage of my house. I've been able to "hide" a LOT of stash in there since I started knitting in 2003. But even there, the stash was getting to an uncontrollable size. I couldn't fit it in all the spaces I'd carved out for it. I was starting to dread having to "deal with it". Clearly, all of these things are wrong, wrong, wrong.

I have gotten better, to some degree, at slowing my rate of buying yarn. Knowing I had the enormous stash looming over me has made that a bit easier. That still left me with an out of control amount of yarn in my house.

When I got a new camera for Christmas, I knew that one of my projects for the break was going to be to clear the stash. I posted about this a few weeks ago. This past weekend, one of my lovely knitting friends hosted a large swap at her house. People brought books, clothes and yarn that they no longer wanted. I'd already sold a few skeins, just from listing them on Ravelry, but the effort of packing and shipping a skein of yarn for $5 or $10 was seeming like more trouble than it was worth. When I was getting ready to go to the swap, I decided to bring the majority of what was left. I kept aside a few batches of stuff in "sweater quantity" that I think I can sell and get an amount worth my time and effort. The rest of it? It all went away. I saved out a couple skeins for one particular person who I knew would love those particular ones. The rest I just tossed into the pile. And I think it all went away with other knitters. Anything that didn't go was getting donated to charity somewhere. I got to see how happy some of my friends were, claiming new yarn for themselves, and was happy myself. I picked out NO new yarn for myself.

When I went home, I was content. My yarn had gone to new homes, with knitters who would love it. And me? I can see my bedroom floor.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A is for...

A is for Apple


As in, the lovely new computer that my family treated itself to after Christmas this year.

We've been wanting a "family" computer we could let widget use more freely than either of our computers (mine owned by work, Wiley's full of not-kid-OK games and such). I've not owned a Mac in at least 10 years, and I was very interested in re-acquainting myself with the lovely machines. When the end-of-year bonuses came out and were much better than expected, this baby was at the top of my list.

It is very pretty, and I haven't wanted to throw it out the window even once yet! The learning curve is slow, but I'll get there! I'm sure of it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I've been struck down by your of the many nasty bugs going around.

I'm finally (mostly) on the mend, except for that I have completely and entirely lost my voice. Not just the scratchy hoarse voice of a normal cold, but full-on, I couldn't scream for help if my life depended on it. I can whisper if I need to, but it hurts, so I'm trying not to, unless it's necessary.

I'm not sure this has ever happened to me.

It was kind of fun at first, but I'm rapidly getting to the point where I'd just like to be able to talk.

One side benefit was that is has cut down on Widget's constant stream of 6 year old chatter - if she can't get answers back, she seems to have decided that it's better to simply be still.

Turns out this is a doubly good bonus, since now she's home sick with the same bug.

Hope y'all are well!

Friday, January 04, 2008


My daughter Widget has lost two teeth in the past couple of weeks. She's very proud of the gaps in her smile.

Toothless Widget
Cute, n'est pas?

Knitting is fun, but very boring to take pictures of - a two by two rib sweater vest, knit in the round, and not to the interesting parts? Booooring! The color is pretty, at least.

Charity Vest
Told you so!

I think this weekend will bring finishing that off, then working on the Knit-a-thon blanket sitting on my couch awaiting seaming.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nosewarmer Central

Many moons ago, a long out-of-touch knitting buddy made Widget a Nosewarmer. Highly silly, but also highly cute and surprisingly useful, especially when the Boston winter dips down into the single digits, even before we factor in the windchill effects.

She wore her nosewarmer to school in November when it started getting cold out, and a number of people (jokingly, I thought) asked me to make one for them. I made one for her favorite after-care teacher when she left for a different job. When her friend Hayley asked me for one, I couldn't say no, and when her other aftercare teacher Beata wanted one, I couldn't say no to her either. (She's had one hell of a crappy year, and even if she'd not, she adores Widget, and is just a wonderful person, so I'd certainly not begrudge a few hours worth of knitting.)

I wanted to have both of the gifts ready for the first day back at school today, but previous attempts with various yarns fell flat, so by last night, I was feeling the pressure. Finally found a yarn that worked, and after about three and a half hours, I had a perfect pair of nosewarmers.


Too bad that meant I didn't even get into bed until 1 AM.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Auspicious beginnings

A lovely start to the New Year here.

Widget let us sleep in until nearly 10:00. I woke at 9:30, then lazed in bed for a few minutes enjoying the snuggly warm bed and the quiet, since I knew it would end as soon as she heard me moving around.

We had a leisurely breakfast and then headed over to Circles for their traditional New Year's potluck and open house. I've not been able to be there often lately, because of their shift in hours, and it was simply delightful to see many people I've not seen in far too long.

A was kicking off the next round of shop charity knitting, and I picked up some really nice variegated wool to make a nice warm sweater vest. The best thing about not knitting for a specific person was that I just picked a reasonable number of stitches and started knitting, figuring that it'll have to fit someone. Now that I have an idea about the width I'm getting, I can figure out what size I'm making and plan for the armholes accordingly.

Widget and I spent about 6 hours over at Circles and it was lovely and relaxing.

Hope y'all had as great a day as we did.