Sunday, September 30, 2007

So Maybe That's What Makes a Good Book?

Currently Reading

I was just looking back at past posts and realized that, while I remember gobbling up Origin and really liking it while I read it, I really had to struggle to remember what it was about. Whereas the people in Becoming Strangers are still in my head...though I sort of wish they'd leave.

Yesterday, as I was rummaging through all my Pratchett's, wondering which one I'd like to have signed if he was signing more than Making Money, I opened Feet of Clay, one of my favorites. Couldn't put it down, so now I'm reading that along with The Yiddish Policeman's Union.

I'll add it to the list tomorrow. I've been on the computer all day putting stuff to sell up on eBay and I'm sort of sick of it.

Can We Pretend It's Saturday?

Well, I was all set to post this last night and our service provider went all kerflooey on us…so no posting. Warning: This is a text-heavy post!

We spent the day in DC today at the Book Festival and then at the Edward Hopper exhibit. We got down there about 10 or so and Mr. Pointy Sticks and his friend went off to park the car after dropping us (me, my daughter and her friend) right by the mall, which was awfully sweet of them. We walked into one of the Book Sale tents…the lines were unbelievable and only the latest books by the authors who were present were available. It was much smaller than the LA Festival of Books that we visited in early in the summer. And there were no book dealers or publishing companies participating. Just two Book Sale tents, a bunch of large tents with seating for the authors to speak at and a bunch of tiny tent for the book signings.

We were there to see Terry Pratchett and, we hoped, get our copies of Making Money signed. And perhaps have a chance to grovel at the master’s feet a little. But first, he was speaking. So we headed over to the Fiction and Fantasy tent and found seats.

We were there early so first we heard from Lalita Tademy, the author of Cane River and Red River. She was very interesting - she had worked her way up to being vice-president at Sun Microsystems (don’t know if I got the name right) and quit to “find herself.” (Her mother’s comment had been “I’ll find you if you need finding.” She was not pleased that her daughter had thrown this job aside. ) She talked about the Colfax Rebellion in which some of her ancestors lost their lives. She first saw monuments and such to this as a child but her grown relatives refused to talk about it. So she started doing research. And that research into her family led to Cane River. Then in Red River she writes about the rebellion, in which freed blacks tried to hold out for their right to vote in this town but were defeated and massacred. She was a great speaker. She said her mother accepted her new career after her first book did so well that she was on TV and her mother’s pastor called to ask if she would speak to the church.

She ended her remarks and headed off to sign books and there was a lot of shuffling in the tent and we thought perhaps we could get seats a little closer. So the three of us (Mr. Pointy Sticks and his friend being off doing their own thing…not Pratchett fans) tried to get closer. Well, my daughter and her friend got seats closer….but I ended up right back in the row we had left. Sigh. Was lucky to find a seat at all, actually. And then, there he was.

He was a wonderful speaker. It was somewhat worrisome when he started off saying that a scan a few months ago showed that he was “losing brain cells.” Apparently, he said, he had some sort of “incident” a couple of years ago….”but things were so busy, I never noticed.” Yikes. I want Terry to live a long and productive life. He talked a bit about the next book, which will be called Nation. He said it was hard not to talk about it because it was so in the forefront of his brain. He also talked about the movie that will be coming out soon - based on The Color of Magic - which will star Sean Astin…and some very famous English actor as the Patrician. He wouldn’t tell us who, but he said when he heard who it was, he went and wrote more dialogue for him, dialog, he said, that only this actor could deliver. And then, when he read the dialog to a friend, the friend immediately guessed who the actor was. I hope we can get to see it here in the US.

What else….? He said he is thinking of another Moist von Lipwig book, perhaps called Raising Taxes. And has the plans for another Tiffany Aching book. He talked about the process of writing, which he said was like being dragged behind a very large stainless steel bulldozer, usually with his head banging on stones. Also said he just sat down and waited for his eyes to bleed. Talked about writing Good Omens and that there were parts that neither he nor Neil remember writing…they are both convinced the other one did it…or some other mysterious person did.

He ended by saying he wanted to leave us with a little philosophy. He said that he and his family moved into a house close to a famous standing stone that, at Midsummer under a full moon, would dance around the field. And if you could go into the field and get to the gold that was buried under the stone before it came back and squashed you flat, you could keep it. He said he was always scared to drive by the field at night, especially around Midsummer. “Why?” a friend asked. “Are you afraid you’ll see the stone dancing?” “No,” he said, “I’m afraid I won’t.” Then he said, “It’s a world now that is full of Homeland Security and terrorists and wars and factories and people. But wouldn't it be nice if there was always a little space in this world for a stone to dance?”

He headed off and we headed over to where he was going to be signing books. He was signing from 1-2 and we were there at 12:30. There were 11 or 12 lines, with about 75 people in each line waiting for the signing. My daughter and I got into the 9th line…and waited. And it was hot. And dusty. And at 20 to 2, there were still three or four lines full of people ahead of us. I didn’t know if he would keep signing after 2, though I’d be willing to bet he did, but I was hot and hungry and really, I thought….if we stepped out, that’s two fewer books he has to sign. I was willing to stick it out as long as my daughter wanted to, but once she and her friends decided that they'd had it, I was ready to step away. So we gave up and headed over to the Smithsonian. Met up with Mr. Pointy Sticks and his friend, who had been listening to Jack Prelusky and enjoying that.

Had a very expensive lunch at the Smithsonian and then waded through the Hopper exhibit, which was crowded but, man, there were some lovely paintings! You don't realize (at least I didn't) from the reproductions you see just how much these paintings glow. They are just full of light. And you know, there was Night Hawks…and it is so familiar and so quoted…but it really just strikes you dead when you see it. Incredible piece. I think my favorite may have been one of the last paintings he did which is just the sunlight coming into an empty room. Beautiful.

Headed home then and I am wiped tonight. I did get two (count ‘em, 2!) repeats done on my Secret Pal’s scarf. Going down, I was in the back of the van and it was just too bumpy to do much more than one repeat. I knit another repeat waiting for Terry Pratchett to read. (And got a woman in the row in front of me salivating over the cashmere.) Didn’t want to do any on the ride home because I just felt too grubby.

Here’s hoping I can get this posted….

Friday, September 28, 2007

Needle Exchange

Exchanging 4's for 7's, that is. I started my ISE scarf yesterday evening while listening to/glancing at Without A Trace and did a full repeat of the pattern on size fours. This was going to make a seriously skinny scarf, even with the four extra stitches I added on either side. Re-examining it in the cold light of day, I decided that it really ought to be on larger needles. (Though the yarn label calls for 3-5, I think it may always be a good idea to go bigger when you are doing lace.) I would have gone up to 6's but I didn't have any of those in my bag. So 7's it is.

It's still going to be a skinny scarf. (My brother thinks all my scarves are too skinny. This one is even skinnier.) But unless I double the pattern or make the edges unproportionately wide, I think this is the way it's going to have to be. I sort of wish now that I had done a slip-stitch edge but I've knit about 12 rows on the new needles and I don't want to rip it out again. The yarn seems a little delicate and I don't want to man-handle it too much.

Currently Reading

So, last night I got into bed and realized that the Boyd stories were in the living room. So I picked up The Yiddish Policeman's Union because it was right there on top of one of the bedside stacks (yes, I said "one of the bedside stacks") and I've gotten rather sucked back into it. So it came to work with me. I do like Michael Chabon...I never should have let this one sit for so long.

And yes, this means that I am still putting off Red Skies. If only I had so much self-control when it came to eating (or, my daughter would add, buying "string").

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Oh, my....the soft

Today I was home sick. But this made me feel better....

This is the yarn for the ISE5 scarf I'll be knitting. Cashmere....I think she will like that. I mean, who wouldn't? I know she likes pastels and this is a pretty soft pink...not too bright. And it is going to be a dream to knit, I can tell. I won this on eBay from Sarah's yarns...won it on Monday and got it on Thursday. There is one knot in the two skeins. Not too bad.

Now to decide if I want to throw some beads in the mix. After doing the Mystery Stole, beading is rather on my mind. I just don't know if I have beads that this yarn will fit through.

Currently Reading

You can get a fair amount of reading done when you're home sick. I finished Becoming Strangers and read Gilgamesh by Joan London, which I liked a lot. It's about a young Australian girl in the years before, during, and after WWII. She becomes pregnant and travels, just before war breaks out, to Armenia, in search of her baby's father.

Now into Fascination, a collection of short stories by William Boyd. Some of the stories come back to characters from a story earlier in the collection. Hmmm...that's awkwardly put. Some of the stories pick up on the lives of characters from earlier stories. They don't follow each other and not all the stories are connected...just some of them. One of the interesting things about reading a collection of stories like this is that you can start picking up on little tricks, like certain metaphors that the author likes particularly and uses a lot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Swan Flies

Okay, it's not actually flying...but I did get eight rows done today at lunch, while yesterday I only did two. So that's an improvement. Here are a couple of pictures. The first is of the pointy end, where we started.

And this one is of the section I'm working on now, which is feathery. I only loosely stretched it (didn't want it slipping off the needle) and pinned it for the pictures. Blocking it...that's going to be a whole 'nother problem. I think blocking wires might help. (Oh, a birthday idea to pass on to Mr. Pointy Sticks!)

In other news, I seem to have picked up some sort of bug. I was sitting around yesterday evening with my teeth chattering. Felt a little better this morning and made it to work where I discovered I only had two aspirins with me. So by the time I headed home, I was pretty miserable...achy, teeth chattering. Got home and sure enough I have a fever (which I already knew because my skin was so sore.) Hope this passes quickly because I don't want to pass anything on to Terry Pratchett.

Currently Reading

Still plowing along in Louise Dean's Becoming Strangers. I'm not a very intelligent reader...I like to be entertained, generally...sucked into the book. (Does anyone else out there, when you're reading a really good book, actually see the book happening in your mind? I mean, see the rooms in which the book is taking place and the people and their clothes?) Which is all to say that I am sure this Louise Dean book is a smart book...certainly people on Readerville like her books. But it's also sort of dull. The people aren't terribly interesting, or terribly nice. But I'm not abandoning it yet.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dedication? Or Insanity?

Depressing thought - I realized the other evening that I have been working at my current job for over half my life. Huh. You'd think I'd be better at it.

I am waiting for an eBay auction to end and if it goes my way, I should soon have the yarn for my scarf-exchange scarf.

Currently Reading

I finished Origin last night and would recommend it highly. The main character/narrator is intriguing, the story's interesting. It grows into a very hallucinogenic sort of experience, appropriately. There were a few quibbles....what exactly was going on in the alley? Why was the woman reporter so odd? But overall, a good solid read.

On now to Louise Dean's Becoming Strangers, about two married couples who meet up on their vacations.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Well, the international scarf knitters are being matched up left and right. Great excitement. Through some glitch, though, I haven't gotten my spoilee's contact info. Haven't heard from my spoiler yet either.

Pulled out the Mystery Stole today at lunch and somehow managed to pull about 12 stitches worth right off the needle. There was some blue language floating around you may be sure but after about half an hour's work, the stitches are back and everything is going smoothly. Whew. Perhaps this evening I'll take some pictures of the work so far. (I'm getting close to done. Or at least, close to close to done.) I'm sort of ready for this thing to be finished.

Later - Everything's ironed out and I've been in touch with both my upstream and downstream pal. Now, to shop for some yarn!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Why Can't Sunday Evening Last Longer?

I hate Sundays. They go too quickly. And then the evening's there and then it's bed time and then...Monday morning. And work. Bleah.

I'm casting around for the next knitting project. Of course, I still have the Mystery Stole to work on. I have wound up the skein of gorgeous wool/silk yarn that I got at Done Roving Farm in Maine this summer.

There is only one skein of this, 300 yards, so it would probably be a skinny, lacy sort of scarf. Look at that sheen. And those colors. Yum. I love this.

But I also have the Morehouse Merino Dragon Scarf kit and I've wound that up in balls. (The yarn is soft but boy, is there a lot of vegetable matter!) What to do, what to do?

Actually, what I should do is just hold off for a day or two until I hear about my International Scarf Exchange partner and what his or her wishes are.

Currently Reading

Today I read Terry Pratchett's Making Money. I don't know that it's a good as Going Postal...maybe it was a little too much like Going Postal 2. But still, a not-the-best Terry Pratchett is better than most books. I could have used more Adora Bella Dearheart.

Now I've picked up Diana Abu-Jaber's Origin, about a fingerprint examiner in a lab in Syracuse, NY. She gets involved in investigating a series of crib deaths, while her private life begings to unravel. No real opinion of it yet as I'm only on page 38.

But here...just for pretty....

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What A Lovely Saturday!

Well, I didn't get to The Black Sheep today but still...I gotta say, I did okay.

First off, I got my order from The Loopy Ewe in the mail. This was my first order from them but it certainly won't be my last. They have beautiful yarns and other nice stuff. But they also provide very good communication with you about your order during the process (notification that the order was received and that it was shipped) and they enclosed a lovely note and some free goodies. Needle inventory sheets and some free samples of some Regia sock yarns. I think I'm in love with the Regia silk. And look at the yummy yarn I got from The Knittery, (one of Loopy Ewe's suppliers) all the way from Australia. It is so soft and the colors are so rich. Yum. And the little tin is something I plan to throw into my International Scarf Exchange package.

And that wasn't all the postman brought me. I got my package from England with the newest Peter Dickinson, a couple of Jane Gardam's, and a young adult book by an unknown-to-me author...but hey, it sounded good.

Then, in our little jaunt to Trader Joe's, I walked into the Barnes and Noble and there was this:

Sigh. Terry Pratchett, how I love you. Barring earthquakes, amputations and a complete breakdown of the social network, Mr. Pointy Sticks and my daughter and I will be heading into DC next weekend for the Book Festival, there to hear Terry speak and to have our books signed (yes, that's a plural -- I bought a second copy for my daughter). I. cannot. wait!

This also allows me to postpone Red Seas Under Red Skies a little longer as I whiz through Making Money. So it will hold the potential for being the best book ever at least a little longer.

I also found, and snapped up, this:

I don't know how much will be new to me, since I think I've read her blog from beginning to end, but I love the way Laurie writes and I love being able to support her (and her cats) just a little bit. (And it's a crime, a crime I tell you, that Sobakawa doesn't grace the front of this book.)

And then...

I finished my cousin's scarf this morning listening to Wait, Wait. Now I just have to decide about fringe. ML votes yes for fringe. Haven't yet heard from the owner of the object. Though I generally don't go for fringe, I'm thinking it would be good in this instance. Any opinions?

And the dinner at my aunt and uncle's last night? So much fun. There was enough food to feed a football team, including a huge tray of gigantic steamed shrimp. I could have OD'd on them. So good. And we all had lots of laughs. I do enjoy my family.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hurrah for Friday!

I am so glad Friday's here. No plans for the weekend, really, except for the usual grocery-shop-scrape-soap-
various-piles-of-crud kind of plans. This evening we are going over to my aunt and uncle's for dinner, so we'll have a fun Friday evening at least (for a certain definition of fun). (By which I mean that we'll have fun, though I'm sure it'd seem pretty low-key to most people.)

One of my Charlottesville cousins is visiting and it'll be good to see her again. After my mom died, we (my brother, my husband and I) were back and forth a lot to semi-pack up, sell, and then empty the house and take care of business matters. And we saw my cousins down there a lot. I miss them and now it seems strange not to see them as often. So I am glad ML will be up for the weekend.

ML is the aunt of the cousin (okay, first cousin once removed) I'm knitting the scarf for. Maybe I'll ask her opinion - fringe or no fringe? (I usually don't fringe my scarves. The fringe just seems to always look messy. But there is the school of thought that says that a scarf looks unfinished without fringe. I think if I do put fringe on this one, I'll make a fancy knotted fringe.)

Currently Reading

I just finished Haven Kimmel's The Used World. I wish I were better at talking about books. I'll just say that I loved it. Her characters are quirky without being caricatures, good people with flaws, loving and lovingly described. There were lines and conversations that made me laugh out loud and the book left me a little teary-eyed but happy. What more can you ask?

And I don't know what'll be the next book I grab. I am sort of thinking of starting Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies next...but I'm afraid. See, I loved Lynch's first book, The Lies of Locke Lamora, a big sprawling adventure with some touches of fantasy. It was just so much fun! And what if this sequel isn't as good? Oh, I know it won't be the end of the world, but as long as I'm not reading it yet, it is potentially as good, or better, than the first book. Once I start it, the die is cast. How quantum of me.

Of course, I could pick up and finish Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union. I started that quite some time ago and set it aside for some reason. I was enjoying it, so it wouldn't be onerous to take it up again. And that would keep Red Seas in its quantumly wonderful state for a little longer.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What?! Am I Out of Words Already?

Not a lot to say today. The scarf proceeds. (Still squooshy and soft.) The Used World continues. (Still good.) I feel as though I am getting a cold. (Rats.)

When in doubt throw in some pictures.

The late afternoon light in the trees...

The last of the tomatoes on the vine...

And the robins have long ago left their nest. I guess autumn really is coming at last.

Gizmo is not impressed.

You know, I see so many gorgeous photos on other blogs, and I know I'll never been as good as some (Jane, from Yarnstorm, I'm looking at you. And Franklin. And Brooklyn Tweed.) or able to catch as much quirky (Crazy Aunt Purl has that covered.) But maybe if I try to carry my little camera with me more often, maybe I can capture some pretty things. And that would make me happy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


What is it about this scarf? So today I manage to bring both needles with me, a huge stride in the direction of Finishing Up the Scarf, and merrily knit about 16 rows. Ooops, time to attach the next skein! The next skein? (Much rummaging through bag.) Yoo-hoo, next skein!? Left the next skein home. I'm really in no great rush to finish this...well, other than the thought of my cousin turning a gentle blue in the Chicago winds as she waits for it...because the yarn is exceptionally yummy. Debbie Bliss's Rialto. Squooshy and plump, it glides through one's fingers like butter glides over a warm skillet. Only with less grease.

Currently Reading

I am still reading, and savoring, The Unfinished World. Some parts of it are a little hard for me to read, though. Of the three main characters, two have lost their mothers and miss them terribly. My mom died just about a year ago and I miss her so much. (And boy, would she hate being mentioned here. "Fool's names and fool's faces are often seen in public places." she said to me many times.) She was a great cook and sewed most of my clothes when I was little but never tried knitting because "it has too much math." She had a great talent for making and keeping friends, something I wish I had inherited. She was opinionated and judgmental and funny and smart. One of the smartest people I'll ever know. She was always reading and, in her last years, she read mostly non-fiction (with dashes of Angela Thirkell, who she adored). She was always telling me something she had learned from her reading.

When I was little, I loved the fact that my mother had an account with a bookstore in Oxford, England (Parker and Sons) and would regularly order books from them. My brother and I grew up with Puffins and Peacocks and Penguins. Some of my favorite books came from Parker's -- A Fair to Middling, The Family From One End Street, The Warden's Niece. I got to know some of my favorite authors -- William Mayne, Leon Garfield, Alan Garner, Gillian Avery -- through the Puffins my mom ordered for me. The summer after I was a freshman in college, Mom took a course in Oxford and took me along with her for the 6 weeks. I remember walking into Parker's with her and she waved at the shelves and said, "Just pick out whatever you want." Parker's had a shipping department in another building and Mom and I made several trips there with armfuls of books for them to ship home for us. She gave me my love of books, or at least encouraged that love mightily.

Miss you, Mom.

(Hmmm...I lied. The Oxford visit with the "pick what you want" was when I was 13 or the time we went there when I was in college, Parker's had been bought up by Blackwells.)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Haven Kimmel isn't letting me down.

No cousinly scarf knitting at work today. I grabbed the scarf and the yarn this morning but somehow left one of the needles behind. I did discover that I had a pair of 7's and a pair of 9's and a pair of 4's in my bag...but no 6's. Guess that means that I might be able to finish my daughter's socks. (Update: All I have to do is Kitchener the second toe! I should be able to make myself to that tonight.)

There will be some pictures here later, I think. If I didn't have to work, I could picturate my blog all morning. But I do want to put up some pictures of some yummy yarn I got recently.

And perhaps the glowing orange yarn that Mr. Pointy Sticks unearthed yesterday, as promised.

Later - So, here it is, several hours later and the sun is over the yard arm. I think we can indulge in a little glass of yarn. Here....I poured three. This is lovely merino sock yarn from Handspun and Dyed Too on Etsy. Such yummy colors.

And you want to see the yarn that was found last night? (And didn't even know it was lost?) Here you go. I still have no idea what I was planning for this. I guess if I used all ten I could do a sweater for myself. (Heavens knows what the neighbors think when I'm out there on the front porch, shooting weird yarn pictures!)

What's that you say? You'd like one more glass....well, okay.

I must be in a thoroughly orange mood.

Currently Reading

I started The Used World last night and stayed up too late reading. It's a good antidote to the Ann Packer, which gets worse the more I think about it. I mean, I didn't much care for either of the main characters ("I'm Liz. I paint furniture! I'm a terrible mother. Feel my guilt!" "I'm Sarabeth. My mother killed herself. I have affairs with married men! I make lampshades. I'm quirky!") but, even more to the point, you didn't get any sense of why these two liked each other. Or even that they really did.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Houston, Perhaps We Have A Problem...

This afternoon Mr. Pointy Sticks was tidying up in our computer-room-slash-office and found a carton of yarn. Oh, not a large carton...but still, a whole box. Six skeins of yarn in a gorgeous rich orange and two in a pretty orange-ish red. I have no memory of buying idea what I had in mind for them. But there they are. Huh. But they sure are nice. So...1300 yards of orange and about 430 of red. This will require some cogitation.

Maybe tomorrow I'll take a picture of this yarn on our Front Porch of Photography. Then everyone can bask in the orange-y splendor.

Currently Reading

Well, I just finished Ann Packer's Songs Without Words and I gotta say, "Eh." I remember liking The Dive From Claussen's Pier a lot. (I wonder if I still would if I read it today.) Okay, part of the problem might be that I've had a sort of niggley headache all day...but jeez, these characters just think too much. And analyze and fret and then think some more. So, color me disappointed. Of course, you notice I managed to read the entire thing in a day and a half. So I guess it wasn't too awful. But still, all that thinking.

Next off the stack will be, I think Haven Kimmel's The Used World. I've liked all of her books so far, so I have high hopes for this one.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Black Sheep!

Today was the Black Sheep's (Cockeysville, MD) Grand Opening Sale! I took some pictures of pretty things inside but forgot (duh) to take a picture of the outside of the shop. The place was packed, which I was very happy to see. I want this place to be a roaring success. Not just because I love it and want to have a really nice, close-by yarn store, but because Tracy and Joyce, the owners, are simply delightful and I want them to succeed.

This is a little shot inside one of the two the front front windows. They have these lovely needles with pretty flower ends and each pair rests in its own little vase on the window sill.

Here are baskets of Malabrigo...all they need is a cat to snuggle in them. Well, perhaps not. But I'd like to snuggle in them.

And look, I took a shot of the Wall O'Amity. Look at all those yummy colors. Doesn't it make you want to knit blankets?

Did I come home with anything, you ask? Silly question.

From left to right in the front of the picture.....two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Tuscany. They just looked so nicely autumnal. And four skeins of Mirasol's Hacho in two different colorways to do that two-color feather and fan scarf that everyone in the world seems to be doing. Yummy colors. I fell in love with the more orange-y one and had to come up with some idea for it, because I just had to have it. (This Mirasol line is from Peru and a portion of the sales go to help fund a school in a poor district of Peru. So I can indulge my yarn itch and feel a little glow of helping someone, too.) These skeins are merino wool, with a delightful softness and squoosh. There is another yarn in the line that is 100 percent baby llama. Ai yi yi, is that stuff wonderful! One of the softest yarns I've ever had my mitts on. And the prices aren't bad...these skeins have 137 yards and were $7.95. And, back to the picture, in the back are two more skeins of Kureyon, which I am slowly collecting for a Lizard Ridge.

Many happy returns of the day, Black Sheep!

Currently Reading

I have just finished Borkmann's Point. Pretty good police procedural set in Sweden. I did realize who the murderer was before the reveal, which always makes me feel smart. Now, on to Ann Packer!

Friday, September 14, 2007

[Insert Clever Mason-Dixon Line Here]

Ann and Kay have a lot to answer for. I have to admit, when I first heard about them, and looked at all the dishclothes that were being knit across the land, I was unmoved. I heard no siren song. I had no thoughts of log cabins or mitered corners or modern babies....

But then the book came out. And, sort of hating the cover, I picked it up one day. And had to buy it. I was hooked. Oh my, these ladies have such a way with color. I read the book over and over.

So you know the next know the gateway knit here. Oh yeah, I did a couple of washclothes, I succumbed to the little cotton balls of yarn. But those are light-weight, those are merely little hors d', what I got the jones for was a log cabin blanket, something I could throw over my knees on winter evening when the thermostat is turned way down low.

So off I went to Woolstock. Now, Woolstock is a nice store, full of great yarn and helpful ladies and a wide selection of books. And when I say's full to the point of having scores of balls of yarn leap off shelves should you try to liberate one. It's full to the point that you can't really maneuver. And full to the point that, with respect to Ella Rae's Amity, which I thought would be a good choice for this blanket, most of the colors are still in their plastic wrap way up high on the shelves. The difficulty one has seeing and comparing and playing with the colors explains why this blanket is a little...dull. Safe. Williamsburg.

But still....I love it. It's cozy and snuggly. I worked each square separately and joined them with a three-needle bind off in purple. I just have to weave in all the ends. Oh yeah, and do an i-cord edging. I think that'll finish it off nicely. But that, frankly, sounds like work. So meanwhile...

I started this.

I think it's going to be a baby-sized blanket. My daughter wonders why I'm going to the bother of doing this log-cabin style when it's almost entirely white, but it was just an idea I had. I want to see what the random dashes of colors look like. So far, I like it.

Oh, and my new, local, favorite yarn shop in the world, The Black Sheep, has a floor to ceiling bookshelf of Ella Rae Amity yarns...every color they make...and another one of Ella Rae's all wool yarn (the name of which I forget). And a big table on which one can throw skeins of yarn and play with color combinations. So there may be more blankets in the works.

Curse you, Ann and Kay!

Current Reading

Borkmann's Point - Hakan Nesser

I just started this one this evening. I had given it to my Dad for his birthday and he's loaning it to me. He said it was pretty good. I'll let you know.

What I really want to be reading though, is the new Ann Packer, Song Without Words, which I picked up this afternoon at Barnes and Noble. I loved The Dive From Claussen's Pier.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

You'd Think If It Took Me Two Years...

So why, if those pastel stripy pair of Trekking socks has taken me two years to finish (not that they're finished yet), did I start another pair? Well, I found this nice yarn. I had heard a lot about Diakeito on various blogs and when I found this, I couldn't resist. (I think it was at Woolstock in Glyndon, MD - nice shop.) And the colors were so pretty and autumnal, well, two skeins were in my bag before I knew it. These socks are going to be for me....unless I decide to give them to someone else. The yarn isn't super soft, but has a pleasant crispness in one's hands. It feels like autumn, as well as looking that way.

The Trekking socks are being knit following Cat Bordhi's basic pattern in Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, a good clear explanation of how to knit a sock. These Diakeito socks are being knit from a pattern in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. There actually is a knit/purl pattern in these cuffs, though the stripiness makes the pattern hard to see.

So there's another project I have underway. Tomorrow, perhaps there will be a tale of two blankets.

Hey, I'm Plagiarizing Myself!

If you scroll down a couple of posts to the picture of the scarf I'm knitting and embiggen it (go ahead...I'll wait) you'll see my favorite pair of knitting needles. I don't remember where or when I got them and neither they nor the sleeve they came in (if, in fact, the sleeve I keep them in is the original - I'm not the most organized person in the world) have any markings. But I love them. They are metal, with a very smooth and cool coating of some type. They make a delightful chiming sound when dropped on the lightly-carpeted concrete floor of my office. I am inordinately fond of the flattened oval knobs on the ends. I only have them in this one size, but everytime I need to knit on 6's, I pull these needles out and remember all over again how much I like them.

The scarf, by the way, looks much as it did in that picture, only longer. Exciting.

How To Recognize That You May Have a Knitting Problem
(With apologies to those coming here from Readerville who have seen this before.)

1. Time spent knitting increases and time spent doing other activities, such as sleeping, decreases.
2. You consider everything you say about knitting to be a purl of wisdom.
3. You can't take a ribbing about the amount of yarn you own.
4. Your friends are urging you to steek professional help.
5. Tinkerbell and the Frog Prince become your favorite fictional characters.
6. You love it when a cop tells you to "Pullover!"
7. Your favorite movie actress is Merino Hara, your favorite Bewitched character was Samantha's mother, Angora, and your favorite mystery writer is Eyelet Waldman.
8. You contemplate naming your kid Silk.
9. You find yourself scarfing up your dinner in seconds in order to get back to your knitting.
10. You start a knitting blog.

I think I have them all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Coming Up With the Titles May Be The Hardest Part

I guess I haven't figured out how to answer comments. Perhaps Blogger hasn't figured it out either. I went and read through all the help pages that seemed pertinent. I thought I had solved it by having comments come to my e-mail. So there I was this morning, gaily replying to all my comments by e-mail (Hi, Erica! Thanks for all your nagging. Hi, KB!), when I realized that the return address that I was sending my replies off to was something with "no-reply" in the address. That didn't look promising and sure enough, they all bounced back.

So what's the answer? How do y'all reply to your comments? What am I missing?

And why is the spacing all screwed up? Sigh.

Book Review

Knit Kimono - Vicki Square
I don't know how often I will be doing this. God knows, I have shelves full of knitting books I could write about if I wanted. But I just got this one recently and it's so lovely that I am telling everyone about it.

First of all, it's an Interweave book, so you know it's well designed and has great photos of all the projects. And oh, the projects! They are all based on kimono designs and they are, without exception, yummy. Okay, I realize that you will have to like the basic design of a kimono to like these but if you do, then I guarantee* that you will like something in here, if not everything. There are a number of patterns I would like to make and three or four that I would like to appear in my closet right now, please. Now, if someone would just advance me the cash I would need to knit these babies.

In addition to the designs, Ms. Square also gives some history of the kimono and explains the inspiration for each design, with descriptions of who would wear such a style and when and where. Interesting stuff.

Now, if only I could inherit a silk mill.

*no actual guarantee to be implied or assumed

Current Reading

In The Woods - Tana French

I just started this last night, but it already has me well in its grip. (And the cover is cool, to boot.) A young girl is found murdered in the middle of an archealogical dig in a small town in Ireland. Twenty years ago, three children disappeared into the woods outside the town and only one was ever found...with no memory of what happened to him or his friends. This boy is now one of the two detectives investigating the murder. I really like this detective, from whose point of view the story unfolds, and I really like his partner, too. I'm only about 96 pages in, but so far, this is good stuff.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Hey, Not All Lace Has Me Whipped!

I am thrilled to come here this evening and see I have comments. Now I just have to figure out how to respond to them. I think I have that problem solved for the new comments but let me just say "Thanks and welcome" to my commenters so far.

And I finished The Tenderness of Wolves this afternoon. It was a fine book right up to the end and even left me a little teary-eyed. Sometimes Unwilling Guru, I'd love to know what you think of it when you're done. Leah, I've never read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so I have absolutely no intelligent comment to make, I'm afraid!

And Gemma, I figured cats were sort of required for a knitting blog!

So I said I would try to put up another picture or two. It's getting late but I think I will try to put up one. This is a recently completed scarf (it's Knitpick's Candleflame stole pattern - I think that's the name) that I entered in the Maryland State Fair this year. And it won a third place ribbon in its category! Huzzah. So at least, perhaps, my lace-knitting cred is augmented a bit, after my wimping out on the periwinkle...uh...Carolina blue scarf.

The yarn is Blue Heron's mercerized cotton in the Water Hyacinth colorway.

Scarves Across the Borders...and What I'm Reading

Yippee! I am so excited. I was accepted into the International Scarf Exchange for this year. This’ll be my first swap ever and I am already thinking about what sort of goodies to slip into the box when the scarf gets sent off. And those who know me know that if there’s one thing I can churn off the needles, it’s a scarf. Can't wait to get the questionnaire from my matchee and begin to figure out what sort of scarf I'll be knitting.

It’s the Scarf Exchange, in fact, that actually gave me the final push to set up this blog. (So go blame them!)

Tonight, time permitting, I will try to get up a couple more pictures of some other current projects.

I’ve been thinking that this blog could also serve as a sort of reading journal, too. At present, when I finish a book, I simply jot the title, author, and date finished in a notebook. Hardly memorable. I’m not terribly good at writing book reviews, but perhaps this will help me get better. So....

Current Reading

The Tenderness of Wolves - Stef Penney
(2006 Costa Book of the Year Winner)

Set in the Northwest Territories in the winter of 1867, in the isolated settlement of Dove River, the book opens with the murder of Laurent Jammet, a former trapper for the Hudson River Company. His body is discovered by Lucy Ross, and that same night her son, Francis, disappears into the north - thus becoming a suspect in Jammet's murder. Lucy, accompanied by a trapper named Parker and, later, by Donald Moody, an employee of the Hudson River Company, sets out after Francis, determined to clear him of the suspicion of murder.

This is a great book to read in hot, humid can feel the chill of the wind and the sting of the snow against your cheeks. I think reading it in winter might result in chilblains! The characters are all vividly drawn and interesting, especially Lucy Ross, though some might complain that she has too much of a modern sensibility.

I am really enjoying this one. The one drawback - the chapters are very short, 3 or 4 pages each. This means that, reading this at bedtime, I keep thinking, "Oh, I can read this chapter, it's only two pages. Oh, I'll read this next's only four. Oh, look, three pages...this'll only take a minute." And suddenly it's 12:30 a.m.

Yawn. Wake me up in a bit.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Now With Pictures!

Well, this will be my first attempt at throwing a picture up on the blog. Shall I start with the obligatory cat shot? Gizmo, in the gray, and Duncan, in the tuxedo, barely tolerating one another.

But, no, you came here for the knitting content, right? So here we have a couple of things currently on the needles. I am working on a scarf for my cousin's daughter. She is a North Carolina girl who is braving the cold of Chicago for the winter, while taking a course at Northwestern. I figured the least I could do was knit her a scarf. The only request that she had was that it be "Carolina Blue." So I hied myself off to the new and wonderful shop that opened near me this summer (The Black Sheep) and found some Debbie Bliss Rialto in what people assured me is Carolina Blue...or as close as it came in the yarn available. (It looks more periwinkle to me...but what's in a name?)

I started off with a lovely lace stitch. And that stitch pattern kicked my butt! I ripped back so many rows, I'm surprised I didn't have some sort of negative-space scarf hanging off my needles. In four months, I had managed about four inches. So Saturday morning I faced the inevitable with grace and dignity...and ripped the sucker out. Started over again an a simple moss stitch rib and I love it. By the end of the first day I had about fourteen inches done and, as I write this, I am now almost at the end of my second skein. It looks nice, it's reversible, it's a more solid fabric (better for Chicago) and it's getting done! So I've gone from hating this to loving it. Though it still looks periwinkle to me. (Not in this picture, though. It's purplier in real life.)

And then there are the socks. Want to know how long these (embarrassingly) simple socks have taken so far? About 2 years. Not 2 years of constant knitting, but I started them (for myself) about 2 years ago. Simple ribbed cuffs with stockinette body. I started the first one, busted right through the cuff and then hit the stockinette....and I knit and I knit and I hated the way it looked. So it got set aside for a 10 months. Then, when I got so embarrassed about my family saying, "So, when exactly is this sock going to be done?" that I picked it up again, I saw....dropped stitches....way back in the beginning of all that stockinette. So - zip - out it came. Like an idiot, I didn't think that I could have just ripped back to the cuff! Cast on again, this time heartily sick of the yarn (which is Trekking and which, normally, I adore). So I decide that I would knit this for my daughter. And before you know it, the first sock is reknit.... and the second sock is on the needles.....and the second sock is about an inch from the toe....and other things intercede and this poor second sock has been sitting there for a couple of weeks. What?! It's better than 10 months!

Now, of course, I am back in love with the yarn, but the socks are sized for my daughter's tiny feet. (Really. Tiny. I'm surprised she doesn't tip over more often.)

Well...It's a Start


Here we are. Well, here I am, at least. I doubt there's anyone else. But after lurking on the fringes of the knitting community, and admiring so many blogs, I just couldn't resist anymore. So, here's my first post. (And gee, you'd think I might have been smart and started it on my birthday or something, to keep the anniversary date special...but no. September 10th it is.)

Guess I'd better start thinking about putting up some pictures. And some posts.

Welcome, everyone!