February 28, 2006

First Love: The Fall

Perspective is an interesting thing. As you get further and further away from an object, other items get obscured or revealed. The object itself often seems less and less significant in comparison to others that suddenly are revealed in the foreground. Sometimes the object disappears from view altogether, at other times it lingers there in the background; no longer the focus of attention, but still a part of what makes the view uniquely itself.

In some ways it is hard for me, with 30 years of added distance and changed perspective, to remember clearly what First Love was like. In others - well, it perhaps does not seem like yesterday, but at least last week...


I didn't go through the crushes and vicissitudes of the usual High School Life Romantic. Like my mother before me, I had One Great Love during my entire high school career, and for my first year of college. I had every intention (as did my great love) of getting married when our college years were done, of moving somewhere new and exciting, of forging a life together. I believed in this future with a near religious fervor. Romeo and Juliette had nothing on us - we were the Real Thing.

Of COURSE we were. We were young, we were attractive, we had interests in common. We were clever, talented, idealistic and passionate. He was ambitious and sharp. I was creative and tender. We shared a reasonable number of values, and weren't overly offended where there wasn't overlap. We shared and understood certain traumas in each other's lives. We had compatible senses of humor and esthetics, and a shared vision of the future. We had an amusing yet romantic tale of our first encounter with which to regale our future grandchildren: we met as participants in our local Renaissance Fair - I bedecked in velvet gown and crowned with flowers, he tiddly on mead and wearing tights. He declared his intention of marrying me on that first day. It was meant to be. What cloud could there possibly be on the horizon of our life together?

I don't know which of us was more surprised and appalled when I found myself telling him that I loved him but now realized that I could never *live* with him and be happy.

It was a slow-developing realization for me, that love did not necessarily equate with happiness. It had never occurred to me in those years of First Love that there were things that I could not share with this lovely young man, and that trying to keep those parts of my life separate would eventually create a rift between us that could not be bridged adequately. It had never occurred to me that very small differences in visions for the future could end up looming large in the Big Picture when one started to look at just how long the expanse of one's adult lifetime could be.

Love isn't necessarily *enough*.

I think that has been the hardest lesson I've ever had to learn. It's certainly one that I keep having to relearn, to my sorrow, over and over again. Our culture is, in spite of what politically minded folks would have us believe, all about the redemptive power of Love. We believe, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that Love Conquers All. Romantic Love, Maternal Love, the Love of Family, Platonic Love, Love of Mankind... "Love is all you need," right?


The realization that love *isn't* all we need dawned on my First Love and I at nearly the same moment, although I had crept up to it slowly, with trepidation, while he had it thrust upon him suddenly and unawares. I handed him the Apple and watched him as he bit, saw the agony as it rose in his eyes.

Being Eve *sucks*.


I don't, at this moment, even armed with whatever wisdom the perspective of thirty years of extra living affords me, presume to judge which sort of pain is worse.

To be the person who voluntarily ends a passage of True Love is like being caught in the Press... you feel each stone as it is piled atop you, you feel each moment of damage as it is happening, you see the agonizing end long before it's upon you and yet feel helpless to prevent it. It's a dark and messy thing, made worse by the sneaking suspicion that the person who is piling the stones might be your own self.

To be the person on whom the end of True Love is inflicted is a cleaner thing, a stabbing blow to the heart rather than a slow crushing. To many the death seems unexpected, a betrayer's attack that may have been presaged in any number of ways but whose signals we have somehow missed or ignored. There may be a certain protective quality to the shock we experience at first. But the pain is searing and the disillusionment overwhelming.

Either way, if you live through the experience there are lasting scars.

I know now that the scars are part of life, that they are necessary lessons learned, that in the end they make us deeper, more understanding, wiser people. I know now that strength comes from the testing of our weaknesses, that pain does end and joy begin again. I know that love, like a pair of shoes, can be brighter and more tempting when new and untried, but is much more comfortable and durable when worn and scuffed and tested. I know my grandmother was right when she repeated her panacea, "This, too, shall pass."

I didn't know it then, when I was Eve. My son doesn't know it now, as he faces his own Eve. It's a gift that comes with perspective, which is something that is hard-won, but which comes to everyone with time. After we survive the Fall.

I hope we survive the Fall.

This, too, shall pass...

February 26, 2006


"Ooooh, that hurt!! What happened there, Peggy?"

"Well, Dick... this is really tragic. The contestant obviously was visibly shaken by that horrible and debilitating accident that occurred right in front of her just a moment ago. She let herself get distracted just enough that she didn't notice when she dropped a stitch during that K3tog until a few rows above it. By then it was too late, Dick... the stitch had dropped down enough rows to unravel those 4 yarnovers, and after that there was just no recovery possible. You can see that she is putting a brave face on it, and is going on to finish the other sock on the needles. Truly a determined competitor, but there just won't be enough time to make up the lost rows in this competition. I'm afraid that medaling is out of reach for her."

"Well, Peggy, that's a real shame. You hate to see such a promising knitter lose the gold just when it seems within reach like that. What a disappointing finish for this knitlete!"

"Yes, Dick, you can hear and see the disappointment of the audience, they were really pulling for her."

"Well, you have to give her credit, she's really put her heart into this competition. I think we'll be seeing her again in the future, and hopefully we can expect great things. What do you think, Peggy?"

"I think you'd better get your hand off my knee, Dick."

"Well, that's it for this Olympic reporter..."

February 25, 2006

lasst Menagerie (GM#7)

Did you miss me?

Workload and imminent crises have kept me away... I will try to keep up now, but there is at least one more bump in the road coming midweek, and I can't promise absolute consistency. Bear with me, if you can. Thanks!

In the meantime, here are the last few of the glass pieces I intend to display here. They are the best, for one reason or another. Two are Steve's. One is... well, guess!

Isn't he cute? Extra points to the senior members who remember what record album he's from!

It's really really hard t
o get the human form at all recognizable in lampwork/glass. Isn't this amazing?

Notice the kink in the tail, the eyes that are cockeyed, and the feet that do not all meet the ground? Guess who did this... Ta-dah!

February 22, 2006


Being snowed under with work (yay!), I don't have time for much, so I'm using the Book Meme currently making the rounds to cheat my way through today's entry.

Actually, my first reaction to the list was, "This is it? It's awfully short!"

Well, I survived middle school by burying myself in books, and spent a time as a bookstore owner, so I guess no surprise there.

Reading the list, it seems very strongly slanted in certain directions/genres. And it seems somewhat unfair that certain authors have *two* entries, especially as the entries are in the same genre (and even the same series). So I don't know how much the meme really reveals about our reading habits... there are many genres that are either underrepresented or not represented at all, some of which I happen to read, for instance. But it's a fun excercise, nonetheless.


Meme instructions: Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you've read, italicize the ones you might read, cross out the ones you won't, underline the ones on your book shelf, and place parentheses around the ones you've never even heard of.

(in mine I left the ones I haven't read a bit darker, as the bold didn't show up too clearly... the reason "The DaVinci Code" is bright but not bolded is because I am reading it now, so I've read *part* of it, but not all)

The DaVinci Code - Dan Brown
The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy - Douglas Adams

The Great Gatsby - F.Scott Fitzgerald
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling
Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Animal Farm: A Fairy Story - George Orwell
Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
The Hobbit - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
1984 - George Orwell
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - J. K. Rowling
One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
(The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold)
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
Angels and Demons - Dan Brown
Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - C. S. Lewis
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
The Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman
Atonement - Ian McEwan
The Shadow Of The Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
Dune - Frank Herbert

February 21, 2006

Glass Menagerie #6

The scorpion was acquired by the Vampire on the Island of Murano in Venice, Italy - which is famous for glassworking of all sorts. Note the little eyes peering up above the claws. Very... Vampire-like. (I mean that in the best possible way, of course)

The dragon, of course, is Steve's... I think the expression is priceless!

February 20, 2006

First Knitting Story

My first exposure to knitting occurred when I was around 9 years old, and it didn't really occur to me until long afterwards how truly extraordinary it was.

When I was 9 we moved from the home I'd always known, a duplex in the heart of inner city Minneapolis, out into the southern suburbs. For many reasons, not the least of which was a crippling shyness and sense of fatalism on my part, I did not do well in my new social environment. My sister, for very different reasons, was also struggling socially, and evidently our school librarian noticed, and contacted my mother with an idea that was actually rather brilliant; she knew of a gentleman in a nearby nursing home who had no family to visit him, and he was becoming very depressed and lonely. Would we be willing to visit the man and give him a bit of company every week?

My sister jumped at the chance, and I was willing to go along, so that weekend my mother drove us to the nursing home. My sister settled happily down to chat with the elderly gentleman, but it was soon clear that there wasn't much need for me as a silent third wheel, and I wandered out of the room and made my way hesitantly down the hallway.

Eventually I was drawn to a room that, unlike the others, was completely unlit... yet I could see that someone was sitting up in the bed there, quiet and yet seemingly alert. When I approached the door I must have made some little noise, and the occupant cheerfully greeted me and asked me to join her.

Sitting in the dark was a lovely elderly lady with shining white hair and a soft accented voice. Her name was Hanna, and as I sat at the foot of her bed she told me about her life. How she traveled on a boat from Sweden as a girl with her parents. How she met her husband and raised her daughter. How both were now gone, one to old age and illness, the other to a car accident. She told me about her home and her friends and her childhood.

As she spoke she worked away with several thin sticks and a soft blue yarn, magically forming a delicate bit of fabric. I asked her what she was doing, and she showed me the body of a tiny sweater, its lacy eyelet pattern, the places where the arms would go, the neck that she was shaping. She told me that she had learned to knit when she was a girl in Sweden, that all the women in her family had learned to knit as children... and then she went on to speak of other things.

She spoke of other things every week when I visited her, and every week she was working industriously away at some new baby item. I think she must have knit those things for a church, or the nearby hospital, or some other charity - certainly I never saw any other visitor, and she did not speak of any living family or friends. Still, the tiny garments disappeared, and every week a new one was on those needles.

Hanna did not offer to teach me how to knit, and I did not ask; perhaps she assumed that I already knew, a girl of nearly 10 years of age. To me the process seemed rather mysterious and magical. It did not occur to me that it was something that I might emulate.

Knitting was simply part of Hanna, a part of her Swedishness and her softness, the serene beauty of her expression, her gnarled yet deft hands, the darkness of her room, the darkness of her life.

Hanna was blind.

She couldn't see with her eyes the soft pinks and blues and yellows that she knit up into those tiny garments. She claimed that she could 'see' the colors with her fingers, and then laughed at my amazed questions. She easily identified each color for me, running her wrinkled fingers gently over the yarn, but she never told me how she knew. I have some idea now, as an older and more knitterly woman myself, but at the time it was just another magical facet of this gentle fairylike woman.

I easily accepted magic in those days, as I accepted many things.

More easily than I accepted it when one day we were approached by an administrator of the nursing home, and told that we could not see our elderly friends. A new company was managing the home, and there were insurance concerns, legal concerns about letting people visit who were not related to the residents. We were not allowed to say goodbye to our friends, we could not explain why we were abandoning them... we were just to go home.

Those years were a dark and complex time for me, and this rough separation from my elderly friend was no less dark and complex. I felt terribly sad for her and for myself. I felt guilty for the seeming abandonment of our lonely seniors, and angry for what I felt was the senselessness of that forced separation. I mourned the loss of a friend, and mourned that I could claim no other friend to replace her. I resented my sister's easy acceptance of the loss. I resented my mother for not fighting the administrator and the unreasonable rules; I resented the librarian for not warning us that such a thing could happen; I resented myself for not having the courage to flout authority. I hated having to live in the sort of world where Rules were more important than people.

I still hate that. I understand it somewhat better now; sometimes I fight it and sometimes I accept it - but I still hate it. It always brings me back to that helpless, frustrated moment in the nursing home when I first really encountered the forces of Bureaucracy and Order.

I never saw Hanna again. But I see her in my mind now, whenever I smooth my hand over my own knitting and feel the woolen stitches warm and soft under my fingers, fingers that are now beginning to wrinkle and gnarl ever-so-slightly.

We weren't Family enough for the comfort of the Insurance Company, Hanna... but you left me a great inheritance, nonetheless.

Glass Menagerie #5

Almost done... I'm not putting up my whole collection, just a representative sample. Aren't you relieved?

Here's a group of miscellaneous fantasy figures. Two are Steve's. With apologies, I cannot identify the maker of the dragon, and unfortunately I do not know how he frosted the glass.

February 19, 2006

Mine, And Not Equine

Just to let you know that I wasn't completely incompetent, here's a couple of my pieces that aren't too bad.

The little dinosaur was my first attempt at color work, I did it all by myself and was very proud. I made the color myself, and layered it (you can't see in the pic, but he has a cobalt blue core with a white stripe down the tummy and tail). The hard part was coating the colored glass with clear glass, and not getting something so totally clumped up that it couldn't be used to make anything recognizable. It's lumpy, but it's sort of cute, and I like it. So there.

The Octopoo/Squidish thingie was done primarily for the purpose of practicing at doing swirly bits relatively smoothly, instead of making something that would cause the observer to fear that I was having a seizure at the time of production. It's not as easy as people like Steve make it look.

This is a dragon of Steve's. The swirling-around-each-other effect is achieved by twisting the color around a clear rod of glass, and then covering the entire with another layer of clear glass. Note how Steve is able to do all this and produce a perfectly smooth surface on the figure. I want to be Steve when I grow up.

Notice that it isn't a horse. Not even a little.

February 18, 2006

Glass Menagerie #4

I know this seems like it's a very Horse themed collection, but this is a (unfortunate?) side-effect of my roommate's tantrum... the horses were largely placed in a different area of the building, so fewer of them got

This is pretty close to
the last of the horsish stuff, and the other horse-themed ones are - well, less horsey. You'll see.

In the meantime, the bottom pic is a good example of color work. This figure is largely Cobalt Blue, cobalt being the mineral that was used to obtain that lovely color. No, I'm not sure why it has red eyes, although red eyes in a midnight-blue horse are considered really cool if you are a 6 year old boy (I have it on good authority).

February 17, 2006

Glass Menagerie #3

Here's two more Unicorns, both from Steve Scherer.

Steve uses a process called 'lampworking', in which he shapes rods and/or tubes of borosilicate glass over a torch flame (the torch is powered by two tanks, one of oxygen and the other of propane).

When you watch glass being worked on with your naked eye, the flame and glass can be very bright and difficult to see. Lampworkers and glassblowers use special glasses that block out some of the light spectrum, so that they do not damage their eyes and they can see the details of the work they are doing.

The different sizes and shapes used in making the figures over a torch flame can cool at different rates and times, and this causes stresses within the glass that can cause the figure to break or even 'explode' if left untreated. Because of this the artist will 'anneal' the smaller pieces when they are finished. This is done by heating the entire piece as evenly as possible until it is just short of melting. Larger pieces are 'tempered' in a kiln/oven, which is set to the correct temperature; this process will heat the entire piece evenly and then will allow it to cool at a controlled rate so that stresses within the glass are less likely to form.

This style of glass shaping is called 'lampwork' because in the past it was done over the flame of an alcohol lamp, using a mouth-powered blowpipe to direct the flame.

Steve makes his own colored glass by mixing minerals into the glass itself, or by using the torch flame to oxidize the minerals over the surface of the glass. This gives him a degree of creative control over the end product that commercially colored glass would not allow. You will see some examples of this in future pictures, but in the pics here you can see that the unicorn in the ornament has a sort of opalescent sheen to the transparent gold color, and there's a rainbow oil-on-water sort of effect on the edges of the large unicorn's mane (or maybe you can't see that... the camera just won't seem to really catch it, darnit).

Note that by that point he was working on making more articulated joints and 'hooves' on his horse figures - my collection of Steve's work spans quite a few years, and I know he's improved even more in the nearly 15 since I last saw him... although it's hard to imagine how, as you'll see from the work I still have that I will post later!

Glass Menagerie #2

First, let me correct any mistaken impressions that I might have given yesterday; the top pic from yesterday's post does not consist of pieces that I, myself, have done. Those are the remaining bits of the little figures that my mom and grandmother gave me... those figures are at least 60 years old. Cool, huh?

Unfortunately, half of my collection, including many of the old pieces and some of my biggest and best personal collection, were smashed to bits by a bitter and slightly unhinged ex-roommate, so those four little figures are all that is left of the older stuff.

Okay, on to other pieces. I plan to go through the best and/or most representative of my collection, and maybe one or two more of my own remaining renderings. The above pic is of the aforementioned mouse, first lampwork piece I made.

Most of my remaining pieces were done by my lampworking mentor, Steve Scherer. Steve is originally of Champaign, Illinois, and now can be found in Kentucky. He belongs to several of the art organizations there, and I believe he sells through several of their outlets. The pic below is of one of his most basic and most popular fantasy pieces.

Steve is a wonderful person, and a great teacher, and you should buy his stuff. At the time I met him he was selling his figures at Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions around the country, and it is very likely that he's still doing so; if you find him, he will actually make you a figure to order, very cool. Check your local F/SF group and ask whether they expect him at their next Con.

He also sells a few things here. Tell him Eileen says hey...

February 16, 2006

Glass Menagerie #1

I've always collected little glass critters, ever since my mom gifted me with a few little animals that she and her mother before her had collected back in *their* salad days. I was, I think, around 7 at the time... and I adored them.

I passed my earliest collection on to my son, who accidently broke them (of course)... but I kept the ones my mom gave me.

Way Back When (I won't get into specifics - I was never good at math), I spent a time learning to do lampwork. It turned out that the gas made me ill, and I never truly mastered it, but I did manage to learn a few things. The best thing I learned was to truly appreciate glass sculpture in a way I never would have done prior to that experience.

I won't bore you with too many representations of my pedestrian work, but I present here my second piece (the first is a rather creditable mouse that resides with my folks).

You can see that I was not destined for greatness.

But I'm fond of it nonetheless. I think it's sort of... friendly, and non-threatening.

Don't you?

February 15, 2006

Like Ice Floes and the Mills of God...

... the Socks grind slowly on. We are definitely not going to make it. I can feel it in my... yarn.

In other News, the Vampire's Men's Epee team and their previously unbroken winning streak have finally run aground on the shores of the awesome St. Paul Academy. This was not unexpected. SPA has the snazziest coaches and equipment and outfits that money can buy, and a huge and experienced team. Our motley crew has... well, heart. Lots of heart.

And, in the Vampire's case, a broken epee and a shoe that came untied in the middle of his first bout.

The twisted ankle that ensued probably didn't improve his subsequent bouts much. But he did get a point off SPA's best epeeist, so he limped off the field of battle with pride intact.

Captain My Captain won one bout, and got more points altogether than he was expecting. CMC Rocks!

And the Mad Pumpkin (whose brand new epee was broken *again*, so he was - like the Vampire - using an unfamiliar borrowed weapon) did very well under difficult circumstances. He was also amazingly calm and mature about it when, in our opinion, he was Totally Robbed. We're chuffed to be associated with him in even a tangential way.

The Women's Epee Team, on the other hand, kicked fencing bootie! Yay, Team!!

The Men's Foil Team, led by the amazing flying Kid With the Big Head (#1 Men's Foilist in the state), leveled the playing field - of course!

I wish I could report on the Women's Foil Team and the two Sabre Teams, but I was on the wrong side of the arena, and we had to leave early. Sorry about that.

No pics of the Vampire's Tournament today, I'm afraid. I'll try to bring the camera to the last tournament, even though I expect the only team of ours that will have a chance is Men's Foil, and then only if led by their captain, KWtBH. The meet is with Minnesota Sword Club, and they routinely rout all comers.

But we'll retire for the year with our heads held high... it's been a very good year for Our Heroes!

February 14, 2006

Happy Get A Treat For No Particular Reason Day

I love Valentines Day. I get to be appreciated for no particular reason, which is a Very Good Thing in my book!

Of course, I spend more time appreciating others than I spend being appreciated, but it's nice to appreciate others, too... it's all to the good, in terms of personal growth and the benefit of humanity and all that rot.

And I get flowers. :)

Even better (although don't tell the Pirate this bit, he'll get a swelled head), I get my annual Love Poem.

Don't mistake me. These are not your hearts-and-flowers sort of poems. My True Love would never pen something so trite and anonymous as the sort of drivel you find in a card from Hallmark... nor even from their Shoebox division.

No, these are unique and intensely personal missives that could come only from my Lifemate. They are soaring illustrations of romantic ardor, each one brilliantly illuminating the depth and beauty of the Poet's soul.

These Odes... nay, these Epic Masterpieces... will no doubt be kept enshrined by our son, as examples of his parents' powerful and enduring passion.

He (our son) will also no doubt want them as evidence for his offspring that he is NOT the silliest man on earth. Or at least, that if he is, it was visited on him genetically and is not his fault.

(I do, however, admit that the Pirate is no Shakespeare, as he harbors the delusion that 'Autumn' rhymes with 'Bottom'. And no, I won't tell you why he needed something to rhyme with that particular word. I won't tell you what rhymes with 'playing Piggies on your toes,' either. Some mysteries must be left to the ages...)

February 13, 2006

Olympian Efforts

Yes, I am frogging nearly as much as I'm knitting, thank you very much for noticing... (grumble, mutter, snarl)

On other news fronts, the Pirate is experiencing somewhat of a relapse from his surgery, and the Vampire is experiencing the pangs we've all endured when our love lives and our other commitments interfere with one another.

And The Cat has gas.

So all in all, the entire household is rather glum at the moment.

But I am hopeful that things will look up soon. The Pirate is calling his doctor in the morning, the Vampire has things in the works, the Socks are enjoying watching the Olympic competitions on the telly, and The Cat... well, okay, she is not going to be so happy, since my cure for her intestinal issues will include Tuna Deprivation. But nothing's perfect, right?

February 12, 2006

We Changed Our Minds...

... she's not a Dog, she's a Toddler.

I put my jacket on a chair for less than 2 minutes, while I put on my boots. When I came back, I found this:

She couldn't possibly be truly asleep, having had less than two minutes to observe the depositing of the jacket, waddle to the chair, jump up and arrange herself, and supposedly drift off to dreamland.

Have you ever seen anything so determinedly snoozy in your whole life?

Too bad I couldn't get a pic of the look she gave me after I dumped her off!

February 10, 2006

A Brief Apology, And Then We Eat

My sincere apologies to all those who come here for more than knitting and cat fare. I promise that I will eventually get back to other subjects. I am briefly intoxicated with the heady thrills of camera ownership and Olympic Challenge; I can't promise that I'll think of much else for the next 16 days, but I will make the attempt.

A moment of Food Porn excitement:

Yesterday the Pirate came home from work bearing Tidings of Great Import.

His department had been rewarded for excellence by being taken to a Really Nice Restaurant for lunch.

He had foolishly believed that the word 'Special' meant 'less expensive', and in an attempt to seem less-than-profligate with the company's money, ordered the Sole. The Sole, which has to be flown in fresh from the coast to this, the belly-button of our rather large continent. He was rather shocked to find that he'd ordered one of the most expensive entrees.

That's why I love him. He managed to get to our advanced age and still remain an Innocent.

He *did* enjoy his $25 fish ("It came with Shrubbery")...

To compound the offense, he ordered dessert. Red Velvet Cake, because that sounded modest. He obviously learned nothing from the Fish Incident.

Other people's desserts came out in reasonably-sized portions. HIS cake came out in a 5-lb. slab. I kid you not... he ate half, and brought the rest home to me. In a box that measured 9in x 7in x 2.5in., and the slab took up at least half of it.

I ate some last night. I ate some more later last night. I ate some this morning, and pushed it around a bit. Maybe there would be less there if I changed the perspective?


I ate more this afternoon, and pushed it around a bit again, just in case. It's really good, but this is ridiculous...

I am STILL not done.

This is the Neverending Cake. I am considering donating it to Science...

Yo Ho Ho, and a Skein of Yarn

Shhhh! Don't tell the Pirate I told you...

After more than twenty years of harassment on my part and a great deal of joking at my expense and eye rolling on his, the Pirate has (drumroll) *offered to learn how to knit*!

I think he's very brave and very sweet, since I know he has no interest in any such thing and is only doing it to please me.

On the other hand, if he thinks this offer is going to eliminate the necessity of his having to write my annual Valentine's Day Poem, he can think again! He knows darn well that his offer won't be taken up for at least 3 weeks, given the intervening Olympic Event and subsequent Recovery Period.

Being all-too-familiar with my gnatlike attention span, he probably thinks that I will have forgotten his offer by then.

That's why I'm getting it down in writing. I know my fellow Midwest Teammates will remind me of his offer once we're all done with admiring each other's finished projects.

Isn't mutual support a wonderful thing?

February 08, 2006

Go, Team Midwest!

Hooray!! I am now an Official (insert trumpet fanfare here) Knitlete on Team Midwest. Let the Games begin...

(huge shout out to Mrs. Pao, who selflessly designed our Team logo)

If you aren't aware of the Knitting Olympics, you should educate yourself now. Unfortunately it is too late to become a registered Olympic Knitlete, but you can still participate in one of several ways:

1. You could consider yourself as being In Training for the Summer Games in 2008, and take the Challenge in spite of not being registered. You won't get a Golden Button, but you'll get a nice warm glow, which is just as good.

2. You can support your favorite Knitletes:

~You can cheer on a particular Knitlete

~You can cheer on a particular geographical area's teams. We are partial to Team Wales and, of course, Team Midwest.

~ You can cheer on a particular knitting category team. We are partial to the USA Swearing At Lace Team.

~You can cheer on a particular specialty team (or pick several - we're cheap!) We are partial to Team What the Hell Was I Thinking and the Drunken Pirate Knit-lympics Team.

A good place to find a team that suits your particular fancy/obsession is at Kat with a K's site, where she has many, many teams listed with nice easy links to the responsible felons parties.

3. You could go really crazy and Sponsor a Knitlete by donating equipment for the coming challenge. I point out here that I am not yet part of the infamous Stashalong, and so have no qualms about being Sponsored.

In case you were wondering.

I can see that you weren't.

4. You could have a really decadent Olympics Celebration, with lots of drinking and eating of fattening gourmet goodies and dancing - and even a little bit of knitting in a quiet corner somewhere. This party could celebrate the Opening Ceremony, or the Closing Ceremony, or it could just be one great big sixteen-day orgy.

Just be sure to give those knitters in the corner a wide berth by the midway mark, in case they begin gesticulating hysterically whilst still clutching needles in their poor clawed grips...

February 07, 2006

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Program...

I apologize for the lengthy hiatus... and for the day or two more that it will be before I can get back to normal blogging. This is due to:

1. Superbowl. We spent it at my folks' house, had lots of nice food (if you want a good recipe from our menu of Munchies, Google 'Heroin Wings'. Trust me...)

2. I don't have Chris' stomach bug, but I do have *some* sort of a thing that is very uncomfortable and is (worse) keeping me up all night. No, it wasn't the Heroin Wings.

Insomnia is only inspiring to me in very limited doses. In this case, it wasn't limited enough. I am singularly uninspired at the moment.

3. The Pirate has got my bug, too, and is by his very Taking A Sick Day presence a serious Distraction. We are getting a lot of watching of the last season of "24" done, but not much else.

Not that I'm complaining about watching Kiefer Sutherland, mind you...

As either punishment or reward for your patience (depending on your point of view), I offer this:

It's the bag I knit/felted for my sister for Christmas. The colors are *entirely* off, not a single color in this photo can be believed. That odd off-white color, for instance, is actually a bright neon green. That weird navy-black color is actually Plum. You get the idea...

It is, however, my one and only adventure in Entrelac (if *I* have anything to say about it), so I want it documented. It Happened. I did it.

(I HATED it, but I did it, and I learned from it. If I wasn't sure before, I am positive now - I *am* a process knitter. Entrelac totally trashes my process. Entrelac is Of The Debbil.)

February 04, 2006

Further Proof

To define our terms and present our theory, we present:

"Suck Ears"


How she really feels about it.

The little Liar. She's really a Dog...

February 03, 2006

I've Got Proof...

... that The Cat isn't as evil or as dignified as she pretends to be.

If she was, would she put up with th
is on a regular basis?

I think not...

February 02, 2006

Scarfing it up

Since I seem to be doing scarves this week, here's another one from a few years ago.

This one is a simple seed stitch, and it's about a mile long, so I couldn't get it all in the frame without just rumpling it all up in a ball.

The story of this scarf may be partially imaginary or possibly magical in nature.
Bear with me, if you can...

Once Upon A Time (a few years ago) I bought two largish skeins of variegated yarn. I think it's a cotton/wool mix, but these skeins didn't have a ball band or any identifying mark, just a little generic white tag on string with the price written on it in black pen.

(see, the details lend the story verisimilitude, don't they?)

The LYS did have information about the yarn... name, maker, etc... there on the bin, but I didn't write it down, which turned out to be a very bad thing for my extremely limited reputation as a Sane Person. ha. ha.

Anyway, I bought it in order to make a matching Mum & Baby set of hats for my friend's impending baby, and I wanted it to suit the style
of the baby's mum, who somehow manages to be a sort of hippy-style free spirit combined with a very quiet and gentle nature. I found a darling-yet-practical pattern that was just perfect, bought two skeins of this yarn, and took it all home, full of hope and cheer and a sense of being grounded in reality.

But my friend's baby arrived early, and my husband had a horrible accident that severely broke his arms in several places and put him in the hospital. Being a wife of good intent, I knit him some beautiful cabled Cashmerino bed socks to keep his feet warm while he was laid up. And having had a taste of Sock Knitting (the first one's free!) I got all sock-obsessed.

You know what follows. I didn't get to the hats in time for the baby's official Coming Out party, so I got them something else... and there was that yarn, sitting in my stash, accusing me of not loving it, pining for its baby, criticizing the little corners on the heels I was turning.

Clearly something must be done, but what?

I was inspired by yet another unfinished piece I had been lugging around for decades (it was best friends with the doomed pieces of Mom's Aran Vest). I tried to frog this piece, too, but it was very old and fragile alpaca, and my labors were resulting in a sort of sculptural pile that might be entitled 'The Dust Bunny That Ate Hell'. But the effort reminded me:

I have a weird love of seed stitch. I don't know why I love it, since I usually do everything I can to knit in the round because I dislike purling.

I never said I was consistent.

Well, actually, yes I have. But that's a different issue. Don't confuse me in the middle of a story, or we'll never get out of here.

Where was I? Oh, yes, seed stitch. It's really great for variegated yarn, I think. So I decided that it was time that I knitted a scarf, since I'd never knitted one.

(Yes, even though I'd been knitting on and off for two decades. Stop laughing... I'm *weird*. My very first knitting project was a pair of mittens. My second was an Aran cable sweater. I'll tell that story another day, then you'll REALLY laugh.)

I discovered, while knitting this scarf, that I loved it passionately. Not necessarily this particular colorway, although it turned out to work okay with my clothes in spite of itself. I loved the *yarn*, the way it was light like cotton but sproingy lik
e wool, the softness of it, the subtle sheen of it, everything. So back I went to the LYS to buy more in something a bit darker and more jewel-toned... and they didn't have any.

They not only didn't have any, they had no idea what I was talking about. No clue what the name or maker of the yarn might be. They knew the store backwards and forwards, and were sure that they had never had any such yarn.


And I've not seen anything like it since.

Apparently the Fairies made it, just for me.

If you happen across one of your neighborhood Fairies, could you please ask them to give *my* neighborhood Fae a hint that I'd be ever so grateful if they would leave another skein or two on my doorstep? Abject pleading would be perfectly acceptable...

February 01, 2006

Sleeping On the Job

I don't know why it's taken me so long to get some of you on my links section. I've been intending to do so for weeks, but somehow I keep wandering off vaguely in all directions, and never quite get back to it. It's shocking neglect on my part. My only excuse is that I have no brain... in fact, ever since I quit caffeine (the occasional chai latte or weak tea at the folks' doesn't count, does it?) I have a sort of black hole where my brain should be. A sort of Anti-Brain. My brain, like the Parrot in the Monty Python sketch, is pining for the fjords, it stuns easily, it is an Ex Brain.

I'll do what I can to alleviate the whole links section thing. Thank you for your patience.

In my defense, I'm not the only one sleeping on the job:

(The Pirate has begun reading this blog. What do you think my chances are of getting away with this?)

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