31 October 2006

For the Plastic Bitch With Everything


Since I bought the Orenburg lace book at Rhinebeck, I figured I should make what Franklin dubbed the Orenburg Barbie Shawl. To give you a sense of scale, the yarn is 2/28 alpaca/cotton blend and the needles are size 0 (2.0mm) 7" dpn's. At this point it looks pretty much like any other piece of unblocked lace. It's about halfway done, though, and the center panel has cat's paws in the corners with a central snowflake - both of which are in the book.

And to give you an idea of what I'm working from, here's the cone of yarn:


This is a 3# cone (1.4kg for the metric set) of 2/28 yarn. I could do shawls for about a thousand Barbies with this, and only slightly fewer real people. This is the advantage of getting to pick through David's boxes before he puts things on clearance.

In other fibery news, I spun up and plied the last of the Shetland from Rhinebeck the other day. I got a total of about 200 yards from 5 oz. and now just have to decide what color I'd like it to be and what to make with it. I've also started back on the Junior roving, this time on the Hitchhiker. I have to say, I'm really, really enjoying this little wheel.

Questions Gladly Answered Here

I know I'm a little behind on this, but both Lee Ann and Sara asked what was in my quiche. It was actually a pretty straightforward affair, not exactly Sandra Lee, but hardly blood, sweat and tears. The pie shell was frozen from the supermarket, and the only fresh veggies I used were the onions and mushrooms. I also used some frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, broccoli, chou-fleur, yellow squash, and courgettes), extra sharp cheddar, sage, coriander, salt, pepper, and half a dozen eggs.

And it wasn't really a question, but Barbara commented about being put off by the idea of working with Shetland because of the double coat. The roving I got at Rhinebeck, as well as the Shetland roving I got from Halcyon Yarn a few months back and haven't played with yet, both apparently came from kindly-fleeced (single-coated) animals. Because of selective breeding and crossing in other breeds, most modern Shetland doesn't have the double coat. Some breeders do specifically breed for it, but it's less common these days. Double coated fleeces are probaby best either combed to separate outer and inner coats or carded together and spun into lopi-style singles.

Required Reading

This article from Salon says pretty much exactly what I've been thinking about Iraq. It infuriates me that this country's President says that we have to keep sending soldiers to die because removing our troops from Iraq would "mean that their sacrifice has been in vain."

What the hell kind of rationalization is that? How do you make bloodshed okay with more bloodshed? I can only assume that it's something along the lines of Stalin's statement that one death is a tragedy, but a million deaths is a statistic. At least Stalin was being honest.

28 October 2006

Late to the Party

David & I watched it tonight - likely the last gay men in the US, if not the world, to do so. One of the techs at work inadvertently, but not inappropriately, referred to it last week as "Bareback Mountain". Perhaps it's because I knew what was going to happen or possibly because of all the hype that surrounded it, but I didn't cry the way I expected to.

I'm usually a bawler. Since Billy Elliot, just hearing Swan Lake is enough to set me off. The scene in Amélie where she imagines Nino running his hands across the bead curtain is guaranteed to get me going every time. But with this movie it didn't happen. It was a heartbreaking story and a very well-done movie, and my eyes did get damp a time or two. But no gushing fountains.

I will say one thing, though. That Jake Gyllenhall reminds me an awful lot of a real cowboy I worked with many summers ago when I was working as a farmhand. Gyllenhall's prettier; the real deal was more wiry and angular - but still the subject of much fantasy. And while I'm firmly ambivalent about the rodeo, it does give me, I think, a particular appreciation for Franklin's gay rodeo project.

Speaking of Franklin

The new series of Cast On has begun, and the one year anniversary episode has a hilarious take on Poe by none other than the Übermensch of Boystown himself. If you have not yet downloaded this podcast, then you must do so. Now.


While listening to this week's episode, I very appropriately cast on for a scarf with the big skein I got from Cast On sponsors Briar Rose Fibers at Rhinebeck. The pattern is a thin garter stitch border with the "Dragon Skin" pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury. I narrowed it down to that or her "Tilting Ladder" pattern, which has small cables and openwork.

I asked David for his opinion and he said, "I don't like lace on men." I argued that the openwork isn't exactly lacy, but when one lives with a fashion designer and asks for their advice, it's usually best to pay heed to it. I'm thinking, though, that I may need to frog this and start over on larger needles to get a fabric with better drape.

27 October 2006

Real Men Don't Just Eat It

Life post-Rhinebeck has pretty much settled into its usual routine. This is the middle of my scheduled 5 day break from work, which happens every 3 weeks and which gives me a chance to catch up on things that get put off the rest of the time. Yesterday's task was to finish up planting the flower beds, since the last of the bulbs I'd ordered arrived over the weekend. Out of the huge pile of siberian irises I dug up, it only took two clumps separated out to replant the front beds in their entirety, which means I still have a huge pile of irises to get rid of. I will seriously send some to anyone who is willing to pay the postage.

One of the interesting things about gardening around an old house like this is that things always turn up, like this:


It appears to be a game piece of some sort, but it's definitely not a game I recognize. My guess is circa 1930's or 1940's, but it could just as easily be from later in a retro style. Anybody know the answer?

So after getting nice and dirty, I scrubbed myself up and set about making dinner:


I do so love it, but it was really David's idea to begin with.


...was spent in part running errands and doing a bit of essential shopping, with Buddhist meditation at the Unitarian church this evening - the first time I've managed to make it in almost two months. I did, however, manage to do this:


This is the first finished yarn spun on the Hitchhiker. It's from the Shetland I got at Rhinebeck from Stonesthrow Farm, the same place I got the yarn for these last year. It turned out quite soft and I'm very pleased with it. Now I need to figure out what color(s) to dye it and what to make with it.

And for no other reason than it was amusing, I offer this:


Tolo decided that his game for the evening would be playing with the flap on the trash can. He hadn't done that for a while, so I thought he might have outgrown it. It appears I was wrong.

24 October 2006

My Little Slice of Rhinebeck

It was good. Really busy, but really good. The crowds made it a bit overwhelming at times, but from a vendor's perspective the crowds mean a more successful event. The downside to being there as a vendor, though, is that it severely limited my time to wander and visit with people (and buy stuff). Nonetheless, I did manage to get in a little visiting and even managed to document some of it.

I was hoping that there would be more photos with Dolores's image in them, but David hung the signs he printed for Blogger Bingo Headquarters too high for them to show up in most of the shots. As the hired help free labor loving, supportive partner, I wasn't really in a good position to argue the matter. Besides, it was a little more important to have products within reach of customers.

Stitchy (note pen at the ready), me, Lee Ann with Twinkletoes, & Cate

Me, David, Johanna (a dear friend of David's), Dena (who was Johanna's college roommate), and Amy (who works with Dena at Webs)at the Wild Fibers magazine dinner

What was given out at the Wild Fibers dinner (in addition to David's socks)- 1/2 oz. of laceweight qiviut/merino/silk

Ted, Lars, and me

me with Norma (you can see the kilt!)

me with what's-her-name

And especially for Franklin:

Stitchy & Ted and a certain iconic sheep (Dolores felt banner made by Woolybuns)

I have to say that hosting Blogger Bingo was a ton of fun and Stitchy, well, she was a hell of a hoot - and an excellent getter of small bills for the cash register. I met so many knitting bloggers, and I know I can't even begin to remember all of them (I'm seriously horrible at remembering people. When I met David last year, I didn't remember that we'd had a blind date 12 years earlier in Minneapolis. Fortunately, he hasn't held it against me.)I do know, though, that I met (in no particular order) my neighbor Cheryl, Carole, Kellee, Carol, fellow Utilikilter Dave, Amy (sans Jillian), Juno, Fuchsia Lucia, Jeni, Marcy, Paul, Jude, Ina, Mary Beth, Nishanna, and a lot of other people that I just can't remember. Even if I had been there as a civilian and hadn't had to fit in socializing in between ringing people up and restocking, there's just no way my brain could have processed it all.

David & I owe a very special thank you to Lars and Ted, who offered to help us take the booth down at the end of the day Sunday. It made that particular job take about half as long as it would have. It also gave us time to treat them to dinner and have a nice visit at the end of a very busy, very tiring weekend.

Oh, and Cheryl pointed out in the comments to yesterday's post that there was a purchase I didn't include with my yarn haul. I didn't include it because it wasn't from the yarn budget. I decided it needed to be a purchase independent of the vagaries of the cat toy market.


I brought it to work with me, along with the 5oz. of Shetland roving, and I think it's just about time to go play with it.

One Last Thing....

I'm dead.


I think anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm just not a fuchsia and teal kind of person. Not even remotely. I suppose, though, that they'll make a warm outer pair of socks for wearing around the house this winter.

23 October 2006

The Joy of Catnip

It's late and I'm too tired to do thorough reportage, but I figured I'd show what catnip mice (I sold 30) got me this year.


Clockwise from center: Two skeins from Briar Rose, two braids of merino/tussah roving, 5 oz. of shetland roving, 4 oz. of cormo roving, the Gossamer Webs Orenburg lace book, and 2 oz. of cashmere roving from Springtide Farm.

It was a fun weekend. More pics to follow, but now I really, really need to sleep.


20 October 2006

Rodent Infestation


This is slightly more than half of the mice I've made for Rhinebeck. David took the 17 I'd managed to stuff previously when he left this afternoon. When I sat down to stuff these 19 tonight, I realized that I had forgotten to pack my tapestry needles for sewing them closed. Because I work in a place where surgeries are performed, though, finding substitute needles was not really a problem. There are a couple of things about suture needles, however, that make them a tad problematic by comparison.

1. Because suture needles are made to go through skin, they generally have much smaller eyes than tapestry needles to minimize drag. And because yarn singles are generally thicker than suture material, this makes threading a wee bit more challenging. Fortunately, I do not yet have problems with presbyopia.

2. Because suture needles are made to go through skin, they are quite sharp and, well, tend to go through skin. At least I managed not to bleed on any of the mice.

So I will have three dozen catnip mice to sell this weekend, which is ten more than I had last year. It's not quite the 50 I had hoped to get made, and not quite enough for me to be able to buy a Hitchhiker, but I may break down and fork over the extra money to buy myself one anyway. I do like my Ashford Traveller a lot, but I'd like something that can travel even more readily. On slow nights at work, I could probably get an awful lot of spinning done. So if you care to help me make this a reality, please buy one of my mice. Your cat and I will thank you.

Road to Rhinebeck

As I've mentioned, David has already left so that he can spend all day tomorrow setting up our booth. I managed to switch around my schedule to have Saturday off, but I couldn't really get out of tonight, so in about 11 hours I will be riding down with my friend Kit and her son, Jesse. They'll be dropping me off on their way to Kit's parents' home a bit further south, and Kit will come back to the festival Saturday while Jesse visits his grandparents.

It turns out that Ted and Lars will be staying in the same hotel as David & myself. I'm very glad Ted is able to make it down and am very much looking forward to meeting him in person. He should be getting into town around the same time I do, so I'm hoping perhaps to be able to meet up for dinner.

Much as I expected, I was not able to get to the DIY kilt at all, so I will not be wearing that. I will, however, be wearing the Utilikilt, thanks to the timely arrival of the belt. The belt is particularly necessary these days, as I've lost 20 pounds since I ordered the kilt and I just don't have quite as much to hold it on my hips now. Not that I'm complaining.

One last thing: Franklin may not be able to make it to Rhinebeck this weekend, but Dolores will be at our booth in all her voluptuous glory. So please do come by and have your picture taken with her, so we can show him how much he's missed.

18 October 2006

Just Like Rhinebeck (Except for the Blood Feud)

Some of you may remember me writing about finally meeting up and knitting with Melissa and having found a couple of her novels at a used book place. I had started reading the novel above right away, but as has seemed to happen with my reading of late, I got waylaid a short ways into the book and hadn't picked it up in over a month.

Today I couldn't sleep, though, and was still too tired to do anything else, so I picked the book up and read right through the remaining 300 or so pages. It really is a fun read, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys both sci-fi and fiber. Melissa told me she decided to set the story on a cold planet just so she could have fun writing about a place where knitwear features heavily and pretty much everyone knits, sews, or engages in some sort of fibery pursuit. Indeed, it was one of the first things that struck me about the book. That and the central role of the queer folk in the story, and the treatment of gender. I won't tell any more about it, but if you should happen to find a copy, you should definitely pick it up.

14 October 2006

Countdown to Rhinebeck

It's one week until the big event - actually, only 6 days before I head down. I just finished the first of four 15-hour shifts prior to leaving. Ordinarily I would have this weekend off, but I did a shift trade to be free for Rhinebeck. And since the belt I ordered with my Utilikilt arrived yesterday - two months after the kilt - I will be wearing that to the festival. Ted & Stephanie should be happy about that. It remains to be seen whether I can finish off the homemade kilt before I leave, but I'm thinking it won't be possible.

Of course, this is the weekend of the New England Coastal Classic alpaca show, which takes place about a 20 minute drive from work. So I am napping here until this afternoon, when David will pick me up so we can go to a bit of the show together.

Last night was busy, but not so busy that I couldn't finish this:


Ends are all woven in and everything. Not my best Kitchener, I don't think, but overall a nice sock. Now I have to see if I can crank out the second one before my socks arrive. I know they've been finished for at least 9 days, but they have yet to arrive in the mail, so my assassin's ankle injury has apparently slowed her down quite a bit.

Fun with Needles

Speaking of injuries, I had my appointment with the hand surgeon yesterday before work. It turns out that the knob on the end of my right ulna that I was worried about is because of an old chip fracture in the joint. Since I've only noticed the change in the last year and a half, I assume that the injury occurred not too long before that, but I can't think of any particular incident. What I was not really aware of was that I have a ganglion cyst on my right hand, which the surgeon felt was the source of much of my pain in that wrist.

It's not terribly big - not even really noticeable unless I put the backs of my hands together and flex my wrists - but he shot it up with Novocaine and tried to aspirate the fluid out of it with limited success, after which he shot it up with a bit of prednisone to see if it will shrink down. Surgical removal is an option down the road, but I really want to avoid surgery if at all possible, as I wouldn't be able to work while recuperating. That and I've never seen anyone have just one hand surgery. At this point, though, I'm not noticing as much pain if I put weight on the wrist, so I'm hopeful that this will at least help for the time being.

12 October 2006


Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,

So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
- Ezra Pound

And thus went most of last night. Before the rains came, it was a fairly busy work night. A major surgery & a couple of critical things came in while the phone was ringing incessantly and several minor cases arrived. Once the rain and wind started in, though, I was able to get through my paperwork and settle down for a bit of knitting.

The wind and the rain steadily increased in intensity through the night. Eventually it turned into an electrical storm, there was a loud clap of thunder, and then....

Well, it was a good thing our backup generator is serviced regularly, because it was kind of difficult to work on this in the dark:


It's round 2 of Sock Wars. I got the color change issues sorted out, and it's been moving along quite well. I had to stop for a bit because my hand's complaining, but we'll see how far I can get before my own socks arrive. Last I heard, they were finished but not mailed.

10 October 2006

I Got Nothing

Well, almost nothing. It was a quiet day after a busy night at work with lots of mean biting dogs. I slept, went to put a replacement microchip in an alpaca, made a nice seitan and brown ale stew, and we watched a few episodes of Project Runway, Season 1 (My observation: Austin Scarlett is basically a cuter, more fabulous version of Corky St. Clair. Poker face is about the only expression not in his repertoire). I started a Sock of Doom, since my death has not yet arrived in the mail, but I was trying a color change and the join didn't look good, so I canned it.

What I do have to offer is this video clip*, which gave me a whole new respect for the female anatomy. And reminded me that I've misplaced my copy of The Agenda.

*Elemmaciltur was kind enough to inform me that the video has been made unavailable by YouTube. It can, however be viewed in two parts here. It's an interview from The Daily Show with writer David Rakoff. I highly recommend.

08 October 2006

Making My Beds

This afternoon I decided to tackle the flower beds in front of the house. I've known for a long time that they needed to be cleaned up, but the combination of my natural tendency to procrastinate and everything else on my plate have pushed this job back until now. And since I have some bulbs on order, I figured I had no more excuses.

I knew it was going to be bad. This is the bed to the left of our front steps, the one which still awaits:


What I didn't realize, though, is that the Siberian irises had overgrown so much that the bed was essentially one giant root mass. The rhizomes were even trying to grow up the side of the steps. Not only that, they had grown over the brick border I didn't know existed and were in the process of eating up what used to be a small strip of lawn. We later sat around a bonfire with the landladies, where they told us that they hadn't done anything with the beds since they bought the house, which I think was about 6 years ago. My guess is that they haven't been touched in at least a decade.

So I slowly broke it all up with a spading fork and a small shovel and David & I pulled it all out chunk by chunk. In the process, I also found that the bed contained a fair amount of Dutch iris, some daylily tubers and tons of daffodil bulbs that had just been left to proliferate for umpteen bajillion years. Then we lay down mulch in preparation for dividing it all and replanting a more reasonable amount. Irises don't like to be mulched over heavily, so I thought it would be easier to replant into or through the mulch, plus the mulch will keep the soil from drying out.

Anyway, at the end of the day, the first bed looked like this:


And now my back is killing me. But if anyone wants Siberian irises, I've got tons of it. Literally.

06 October 2006

Another Busy Day, a Hat for Dulaan, & a Bit of a Rant

Today was mostly filled with various small tasks and busy work. David's new office manager has been keeping him busy decluttering for the past week and a half, so while they were sorting through several years' worth of accumulated boxes I did a couple minor IT tasks David was afraid to take on. I finally decided to sit down, though, and finish up a hat for Dulaan I've had languishing on the needles for nearly two months now, I think. I particularly like the little I-cord nubbin on top.


Dena asks on her blog today, "Where do you get your patterns?" I have to say that I make them up myself, probaby better than 90% of the time. Even when I use a published pattern, I usually only use it as a basic template and make my own adaptations to it - much as I do with my cooking. The hat above is fairly basic - seed stitch band, stockinette with double decreases, etc. - but I basically decided how I was going about it as I went along, and it turned out rather nice, I think. More importantly, it turned out warm.


It is no surprise that the Republicans are turning to their tried-and-true method of bashing all queer folk to deflect the hypocrisy of their turning a blind eye to the closet case in their midst. Of course, I'm talking about the Mark Foley case, or as the press has now dubbed it, "Foleygate" (Why in the hell do they feel this compulsion to try to make everything sound like Watergate? It annoys me greatly).

Of course, right-wing pundits have trotted out the same-old, same-old argument of homosexuality=pedophilia. True, at least some of these pages were apparently below the age of consent in this country, but they were not pre-pubertal, which to me says what he did was not pedophilic. Stupid, yes. Highly inappropriate, yes. But not pedophilia.

That's about the only thing I can say in Foley's defense. Age of consent laws are, at best, problematic, as they are an arbitrary construct. I've known some 16-year-olds who were more grown up than some 50-year-olds (Foley is a good case in point, actually). Adding one more candle to one's birthday cake does not magically bring maturity fully-fledged, but the law is designed to protect children from predatory adults and on the whole there tends to be a correlation between age and emotional maturity, so some sort of line has to be drawn somewhere. Clearly, though, Foley was in a position of power and abused that position at least to engage in overtly sexual conversation with boys/young men who were more than young enough to be his children.

What is more disgusting to me, though not particularly surprising, is all the patently feigned horror coming from the Republican leadership. It is fairly clear that they knew what Foley was up to and they just let it slide. As long as he was a self-hating homo who voted to bash the homos along with them, then they were content to pretend none of it was happening. Now that they've been caught out, however, it's a mad rush to see who can bash the most and the loudest.

Just how morally bankrupt do they have to be before people stop voting for them?

05 October 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

The past week has been, well, pretty much insane. Since my last post I have 1) attended a two-day alpaca medicine continuing education course (Saturday & Sunday), 2) worked all night Saturday night (That's right. I left the CE course for work, then worked a night from hell, then went back for another day of CE.), 3) Did some health checks and other alpaca work after Sunday's CE sessions, 4) worked Monday night - busy-ish, but much more sane than Saturday, 5) Stayed up all day Tuesday taking care of paperwork to set up an LLC for doing my little alpaca medicine sideline thing, then 6) did some ultrasounds on some of the landladies' girls, 7) got up early this morning to see my primary doctor's physician's assistant about getting my wrists evaluated for arthritis, 8) went to see David's allergist in the afternoon to see if she could do something about my chronic post-nasal drip that nobody else has seemed to be able to help (For the third time, now, I tested negative for everything on allergy testing. She thinks it may just be structural, though, so a nose job might possibly be in my future.), and 9) made a follow up visit for Sunday's health checks.

Somewhere in there, I actually did manage a little sleep. By the time I went to bed Sunday night, though, I had been up - a very fitful hour's nap at work excepted - for something like 40 hours. I'm not quite sure how the nap managed to happen, as I saw 21 cases at work Saturday night - 6 more than the Upper Limit of Reasonable Caseload*. One-third of my night was spent just doing paperwork, and it's only because I've been doing this for a long time and can multitask and prioritize well that there wasn't more than a two hour wait.

In all of this hustle and bustle, there has been no more progress on Sock Wars. I've not yet been killed off, but I just haven't had much time, for one thing, and have been trying to give my wrists a little rest (see above about the arthritis thing - I see a hand surgeon next week to evaluate them, but there'll be no cutting done if I can help it). My first target received her Socks of Doom today, though, and my next target is actually someone whose blog I've read on occasion, plus she's "a member of the church", so I'm kind of hoping my assassin (or at least I think she's my assassin - one can never be sure about these things) will continue to be slow. It's so much nicer to be killed by family, don't you think?

* After years of painstaking research, I concluded that the Upper Limit of Reasonable Caseload (ULRC) in my particular milieu is an average of one case per hour over the course of a shift. As I work 15-hour shifts, this gives an ULRC of 15 cases. These are rarely evenly distributed, seeming to prefer to arrive in waves, but as long as ULRC is not exceeded, manageability seems to be maintained.