Sunday, December 11, 2005

The little stowaway

Welp, I'm all packed. Except for my carry-on bag, which is almost finished. The house is pretty much ready, the laundry's done, the perishables are out of the fridge, the windows are locked, my iPod is updated, and I've even cast on for the hat part of the hat and scarf set (I thought airport security might look more kindly on knitting needles that actually had knitting on them). So really, there are just a few more house-tidying things to do, aside from the slightly OCD checking and re-checking of the tickets and passport I'll be doing right up until I get in the cab tomorrow morning. There's just one tiny problem:

All together now: "Awwwwwww!"

Ivy doesn't want me to leave without her!

Posting on my blog will be sporadic at best for the next month, though I promise to write when I can, and to put up pictures if possible. But if you don't hear from me for a while, you'll just have to trust that I'm busy having a blast and collecting lots of great stories to tell you when I get back. Laters!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Traveling companions

Here is my dilemma. I find myself looking down the barrel of 18+ hours of airplane travel, as well as about four layover hours, on my way to India. The same for the trip home, although for that I will at least have some company. Technically, knitting needles are not on the TSA's prohibited items list, but I have heard of them being confiscated anyway, especially metal ones. I plan to prepare for this by printing out the list (which clearly states that knitting and crochet needles are allowed), as well as making sure I have a couple of postage-paid self-addressed envelopes with me, so at least anything they confiscate won't be gone for good. But I don't know how tight security will be on the way home, or if I will have to go through any checkpoints in either of the layover cities. Also, I can't figure out exactly how much knitting I'll need.

Please help me decide what projects to take! Here are the options:

-Merino Lace Cardigan (on Addi Turbos--this is the only one of the options already started)
-Merino Lace Shawl (on aluminum circs)
-worsted weight wrist warmers for me (will probably be on bamboo circs)
-dk weight hat and scarf for me in the "fiesta" colorway of this yarn (needle type will depend on results of gauge test)
-worsted weight wrist warmers for Mishmish (could be on bamboo circs)
-worsted weight tea cozy (on aluminum circs)

I am thinking that it will make sense to have three projects total, or four max, if most of them are small. I don't want to be bored, but I do want to have plenty of room in my luggage for all the goodies I'll be buying when I'm there. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Freedom isn't free

As of January 13th, 2006, I will have my freedom. Freedom from the two-hour-each-way Metro North odyssey that is my commute (and the almost $400 is costs me every month). Freedom from the nearly crushing boredom that has become my day at the office these past few months. Freedom from spending my time trying to herd metaphorical cats and spending my hard-earned graduate degree in International Relations writing cover letters and nagging e-mails. But, like all freedoms, there is a price to be paid for this. In this case, my salary.

Yep, I've been laid off. Budget cuts to the "unrestricted revenue" part of the nonprofit's budget, blah blah blah. At least my boss and everyone seem to feel really bad about it. One colleague even shed a couple tears when I told him, and I've been promised really great references from all the bigwigs around here. Money-wise, of course, it sucks, but it could suck a lot worse. And my family and friends have been unbelievably supportive. Taz even offered to fly home for the weekend. From India. And he was serious. Meanwhile, I'm busy getting in the holiday spirit, while also getting excited about leaving for India in 72 hours.

So, for holiday spirit, I've got this view outside my window right now:

Snowflakes as big as cotton puffs! Looking
northeast across 2nd Ave. at 43rd St.

And a couple days ago, I walked past Rockefeller Center and saw this:

I missed the lighting of the tree, but at least I got to see it!

Tomorrow, I also have a Christmas Tree party to attend, to which I am expected to bring my homemade apple crisp. The host loves it so much, I usually bring an extra one just for him.

Sunday, the whole day will be spent packing and getting the house ready for my absence. A quick peek into my head ought to give you an idea of my current adrenaline levels: ok, um, I have to remember to return those sweaters, and buy those other gifts, and go to PetCo to get pet grass for the cats, and leave a note for the cat sitter, and figure out how to program the stupid thermostat. I hope I don't forget my passport or something stupid like that. Will I have room in my suitcases for all this stuff? Will everyone in India like the gifts I'm bringing? Will they like me? Gee, I hope the security people let me take my knitting on the plane. I hope I can sleep on the plane. What books should I bring? I hope I don't get delhi belly when I'm there. The safari in Kerala sounds so fun. They told me Bangalore is cold. What clothes should I bring? Will all my v-neck tops be too revealing? What color sari should I buy? I wonder if Home Depot has timers for the lights at home? What if it's still snowing when I get home tonight and I don't have time to do all my errands? I can't wait to be on the plane. No, actually, I can't wait to arrive in Bombay. Most of all, I can't wait to see my sweetie.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Armpits, yay!

I know that armpits are not something most people celebrate, but you gotta understand. Remember how Sami, Zarzuela and I have all been going through increase hell on our respective Merino Lace Cardis? For, like, 20 billion 385 thousand years? Well for me (drumroll, please), it is finally over!! My sweater now has armpits. Witness:

Yes, I am fully aware that no one put a gun to my head
and forced me to knit this with laceweight yarn.

OK, so maybe it just looks like a wrinkly pile o' stockinette to you, but to me, it is a dream come true. I actually sat down and did the math. The longest row (well, actually, there were technically three longest rows) on this sweater contained 508 stitches. 508! No matter how you cut it, that's a ton of stitches. Makes the 272 stitches I'm doing in each row now (below the armpits) seem downright speedy.

Almost makes me believe I can finish the thing before I go to India next Monday. Or at least before I arrive. Right? Right?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

No slow death for me

A few days ago, Lía posted this Pablo Neruda poem on her blog, and being a chilenophile and a lover of poetry (his in particular), as well as a lover of life, I just had to share it with you all. Below the Spanish is my own clumsy attempt at an English translation:

NOTE: It seems that this poem might not actually have been written by Neruda, but rather a Brazilian poet named Martha Madeiros. Either way, it's good!!

Muere lentamente quien se transforma en esclavo del
hábito, repitiendo todos los días los mismos trayectos, quien
no cambia de marca, no arriesga vestir un color nuevo y no
le habla a quien no conoce.

Muere lentamente quien evita una pasión, quien prefiere el
negro sobre blanco y los puntos sobres las "ies" a un
remolino de emociones,
justamente las que rescatan el brillo de los ojos, sonrisas de
los bostezos, corazones a los tropiezos y sentimientos.

Muere lentamente quien no voltea la mesa cuando está
infeliz en el trabajo, quien no arriesga lo cierto por lo
incierto para ir detrás de un sueño, quien no se permite por
lo menos una vez en la vida, huir de los consejos sensatos.

Muere lentamente quien no viaja, quien no lee, quien no oye
música, quien no encuentra gracia en sí mismo.

Muere lentamente quien destruye su amor propio, quien no
se deja ayudar.

Muere lentamente quien pasa los días quejándose de su
mala suerte o de la lluvia incesante.

Muere lentamente quien abandona un proyecto antes de
iniciarlo, no preguntando de un asunto que desconoce o no
respondiendo cuando le indagan sobre algo que sabe.

Evitemos la muerte en suaves cuotas, recordando siempre
que estar vivo exige un esfuerzo mucho mayor que el
simple hecho de respirar.

Solamente la ardiente paciencia hará que conquistemos una
espléndida felicidad.

-Pablo Neruda


English version:

He dies a slow death who becomes a slave to habit, repeating everyday
the same paths, who doesn't change the mark he leaves, won't risk wearing
a new color, nor talk to people he doesn't know.

He dies a slow death who avoids passion, who prefers
black on white and dotted i's over
a whirlwind of emotions,
especially those that bring a shine to the eyes, rescue smiles
from yawns, hearts clumsy with feelings.

He dies a slow death who doesn't upend the table when he is
unhappy at work, who won't risk a sure thing
for the uncertainty behind a dream, who won't allow himself
at least once in his life, to flee from sensible advice.

He dies a slow death who doesn't travel, nor read, nor hear
music, who doesn't laugh at himself.

He dies a slow death who destroys his love for himself, who won't
let himself be helped.

He dies a slow death who spends his days complaining of his
bad luck or of the neverending rain.

He dies a slow death who quits a project before
starting it, not asking about what he doesn't know, or not
answering when asked about something he does know.

Let us avoid death by gentle insallments, remembering always
that being alive demands an effort much greater
than the simple fact of breathing.

Only firey patience will allow us to conquer
a splendid happiness.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Finally! I'm worth something!

OK, so I've seen the "How much is your blog worth?" thing on several other people's blogs. I have tried it regularly for the past couple months, but it was starting to piss me off. Make me feel worthless and unloved. I kept telling myself that it doesn't mean anything, that my blog has value because I enjoy writing it. But I now find myself forced to admit that I really do care, at least a little bit. Because today, for the first time ever, when I entered my url, it gave me a blog value of more than $0:

My blog is worth $6,209.94.
How much is your blog worth?

Yay for me! And yay for all the people who read and comment and link to me, or whatever you have to do to give someone's blog monetary value. I heart you all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Birthday surprises

Yesterday was my birthday, and given the circumstances (Taz stuck in India, everyone back at work after Thanksgiving, family living far away) I expected it to be a very quiet, almost ho-hum day. And I was totally fine with that. But the people who love me would have none of that maybe-no-one-will-notice-i'm-getting-older attitude.

First, on Sunday evening, Taz called me, saying "It's already your birthday where I am!" My parents had sent me a package, which I was saving to open on Monday, but Taz and I decided to have a mini birthday party for me over the phone, so I unwrapped the gifts from my parents while describing them to Taz. All the gifts were wonderful, but the one that made me burst into tears was this wonderful movie, which I have loved for years.

The next morning (when it was actually my birthday here), almost as soon as I arrived at work, I got a surprise phone call from my brother in Japan. And a little after that, this arrived at my desk:

I am so loved!

My parents felt bad that Taz couldn't be with me for my birthday, so they sent this gorgeous bunch of flowers to help. That evening when I got home, there was another huge floral arrangement (of a dozen red roses) waiting outside the front door, sent by Taz:

They really make me feel more like he's here with me.

All in all, it turned out to be a very flowery and surprise-filled birthday. Taz's aunt and cousin even called to wish me the best! I don't feel any older, but I have definitely been reminded that a lot of people care about me. I am still glowing today from all the love.

Finally, on a non-birthday note, I can't help but share some cuddly cat pics with you. Ben and Ivy spend most of their time when I'm around wrestling with each other, or at least randomly smacking each other on the head. But having so much time at home this weekend allowed me to catch them as I always hoped they really are together:

Actually relaxing on the same piece of furniture!

Right after I took this, Ivy even started licking Ben's ear!

"Wake up, Ivy! She caught us! Quick, bite my leg!"

Here's to love, flowers, surprises, and secret cat love!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

You show me yours and I'll show you mine

Um, I'm talking about craft skills here, people. For Thanksgiving, I drove up to Providence to visit my dear friends. (Yes, alone. Taz's consulate appointment did not go well, and he'll have to make another one for late this week or early the week after. By then there will be less than a week left until I go to India myself, so it looks like that's when I'll be seeing him. Sigh.) The three of us attended two separate Thanksgiving feasts, and I sincerely believe that I ate several times my body weight in pie alone. Needless to say, Friday was not a day for jumping out of bed at the crack of dawn to drive back to New Haven. Instead, Jessie did homework, while Mishmish and I decided to trade craft lessons.

If you've checked out her blog, you know that Mish is an amazing and creative crocheter, but she also wants to learn to knit. So we started with a knitting lesson, in which I taught her the long tail cast-on, as well as how to knit and purl in both the British and Continental styles (hey, just because I'm a thrower doesn't mean I don't know how to pick), and did a quick demonstration of binding off. She caught on very fast, and was soon a few rows into her first...whateveritsgoingtobe. Then she took a break to teach me some crochet basics. I already knew how to chain stitch, and I thought I knew how to double and treble, but, um, yeah. I was wrong. Who knows what I was really doing--somewhere between a double and a treble is what I thought was a treble--but she soon put me back on track. It was a wonderful way to spend the early afternoon. Yarn-happy and still overstuffed, I finally drove back to New Haven arriving just in time to swing by Sami's place for some spicy canapes and a chance to experience the Law & Order Marathon Time Warp.

On Saturday, between having already used up my fresh skein of the alpaca for x-mas surprise #5 and being so inspired by my newly learned skills, I decided to use up some stash yarn and get in some crochet practice at the same time:

Shell stitch using Microspun (which splits like hell, by the way).

It's about 12 inches so far. The foundation row is waaay too tight, but I decided to forge onward, mostly because I couldn't figure out how to get it looser, even after ripping out and starting over 481 billion times. If I'm really feeling inspired, maybe I'll crochet a matching hat. If I have enough yarn. Knowing me, that's a big if.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


I am approximately 1/3 done with x-mas surprise #5. Even though I went and bought another skein of alpaca last Thursday before SnB, this is how much I have left:

Yeah, just the label.

So it looks like I'll be needing at least two more skeins to finish. I obviously have no skill whatsoever in eyeballing how many stitches I can really get out of a certain amount of yarn. Lucky for me, Eklectika now works part-time at our LYS, so she's going to see if there is any she can set aside for me to pick up tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I will be knitting like a fiend on the Merino Lace Cardigan to try and distract myself from the stress. Seriously, my stomach is doing some major acrobatics here. Taz has his consulate appointment tomorrow, and only today was told that they may not have received his paperwork enough in advance of the appointment. If it doesn't go well tomorrow, he'll have to get a new appointment for some other day, and I probably won't see him again until I get to India myself. Gah!

One thing I'm happy to say, though, is that I have finally mastered spit splicing, at least when it comes to single-ply merino. An early entry in this blog described my frustration in trying to splice yarn when I would come across this situation in my knitting:

Oh no! I don't want to have to weave in that ugly end!

I already knew that you're supposed to fray the ends of each piece slightly:

Fraying is easier if you untwist the yarn (against its own natural twist).

And then you're supposed to lay them over each other and wet the yarn with your own sweet spittle:

Mmmmm, gooey!

And then you rub it between your fingers, and it somehow magically becomes one piece of yarn. But what I didn't realize before is that for one thing, "wet the yarn" means really get it totally goopy and slimy drench it (a little puddle in your hand is good), and for another thing, you're really supposed to rub it between your palms, hard, until you build up a lot of heat from the friction. When you do it this way, it really is like magic:

Yay for no ends to weave in, and for efficient yarn usage!

Can you honestly tell what section of this yarn is the spliced part? Didn't think so. And no, it's not because I just took a picture of some other part of the yarn that had never been broken. A small victory, perhaps, but you have to look for joy wherever you can find it.

Please send good vibes for Taz. And a stiff drink or two for me. Or yarn.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The Great Wall of Yarn

What? I'm talking about The Point! You know? Where I went to meet other knitbloggers yesterday evening after work? OK, maybe a picture will help:

Massive wall filled with basket upon basket of tempting yarn...

OK, maybe not. I must have been feeling tipsy from all the yarn. Either that, or the lens was wet. The torrential rain made for a small group--just me and Jon and Sahara, but I really enjoyed meeting them both. Here they are, posing for a glamour shot just before I had to run and catch my train:

Sahara and Jon at The Point

Sahara was working on a hoodie cardigan in a beautiful purplish wine color, and Jon was about 2 inches into the Doodle Vest. (I looked for a link to the book that has that pattern, but I can't find it anywhere, so you'll just have to visit Jon's blog to learn more about it. But trust me, it's super soft and complicated and knit on tiny needles and involves steeking. Need I say more?)

As for what I was knitting, well, it wasn't x-mas surprise #5, unfortunately. You see, I had two skeins of light gray angora I was going to stripe with the dark gray alpaca I had left over from Jessie's wrist warmers. However, I have less leftover yarn than I thought, and the angora isn't going as far as I had hoped, either. So tonight after work, I'm going to swing by the LYS on my way to SnB and pick up some more alpaca. I don't think I can get (or afford) more of the angora very easily (I got it at Rhinebeck), whereas I know exactly what shelf in the store the alpaca is on. So meanwhile, I reconnected with a long-neglected friend, my Merino Lace Cardigan (mine's in aubergine, you may recall). I'm still about 20 rows (of hundreds of stitches each) away from putting the sleeve stitches on holders, and each row will be 8 stitches longer than the last. Ugh. But in a way it's good that I've been forced to work on this a bit. Otherwise, it might be, oh, 2015 before I actually get to wear it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


In a blatant attempt to divert your attention from the fact that I don't have time to write a real post (though I swear, there are at least two "real ones" in the pipeline), I offer you the following quiz results:

This one is my favorite (sort of, if you ignore the herpes comment):

You scored as Love Machine Cat. Look out! The love machine is on the loose. You might want to take off a night of permiscuity and go get your junk checked out. Nothing sadder than a cat with herpes.

Which Absurd Cat are you?
created with

Then we have these two, which make me out to be far more girly than I thought I was:

The Maid of Honor
Deliberate Gentle Love Master (DGLMf)

Appreciated for your kindness and envied for all your experience, you are The Maid of Honor.

Charismatic, affectionate, and terrific in relationships, you are what many girls would call a "perfect catch"--and you probably have many admirers, each wishing to capture your long-term love. You're careful, extra careful, because the last thing you want is to hurt anyone. Especially some poor girl whose only crime was liking you.

Your exact opposite:

Random Brutal Sex Dreamer
We've deduced you're fully capable of a dirty fling, but you do feel that post-coital attachment after hooking up. So, conscientious person that you are, you do your best to reserve physical affection for those you you can respect yourself.

Your biggest negative is the byproduct of your careful nature: indecision. You're just as slow rejecting someone as you are accepting them.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Battleaxe, The Stiletto, The Sudden Departure, The Dirty Little Secret

CONSIDER: The Maid of Honor, someone just like you.

Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.

The Traditional Princess

You are generous, graceful, and practical with both
feet planted firmly on the ground. You tend to
be a little on the old-fashioned side. You
value home, hearth, and family life and love to
be of service to others.

Role Models: Snow White, Maid Marian

You are most likely to: Discover a hidden talent
for spinning straw into gold.

What Kind of Princess are You? - Beautiful Artwork (Original Music is BACK!!!)
brought to you by Quizilla

And here's one I totally, utterly disagree with:

Your Birthdate: November 28

You have a Type A personality so big it makes other Type A's shrink away in shame.
You never shy away from adversity - and you love to tackle impossible problems.
Failure is not an option for you, and more than a few people are put off by your ego.
You tend to be controlling, and you hate leaving anything up to chance.

Your strength: Your bold approach to life

Your weakness: You don't accept help

Your power color: Bronze

Your power symbol: Pyramid

Your power month: October

Happy quizzing, y'all!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Random Monday

I swear, this neglect is not because I've been lazy. A little busy, at least over the weekend, but not lazy. I had a post all planned on a specific topic, but I got writer's block and kept putting it off. But I have now realized that I will just have to blog about something else. And there are a bunch of things I've been meaning to tell you, so here they are, in no particular order:

1. On Wednesday after work, I'm going to The Point to meet an out-of-town blogger and some of his other stalkers. Should be great fun because he's a riot, and he'll only be the second blogger I've met in person who I didn't already know. And it'll be my first visit to The Point.

2. I finished reading this book:

Same author as Sex and the City, by the way.

It was OK, but for most of it, I hated all of the characters except the protagonist's sister. You have to admit, it's really hard to get through a book when you hate all the characters. However, I persevered, and something happened in the last fifth or so of the book to make me feel more sympathy for the protagonist. I'm not sure quite what, but it worked. I still can't say I understand on a personal level what drives her, but at least I cared about what happened to her by the end.

3. I'm about 8 rows away from finishing the second one of these:

Another wrist warmer gauntlet thingy. Recipient's name withheld.

4. On Friday I went to the medieval torture chamber where they stuck me full of sharp objects clinic to get all my travel shots, and my arms? Still recovering. So is my wallet, actually, since they weren't covered on my insurance. I also got a prescription for 30 days' worth of malaria medication, and I'm halfway through taking the four pills that comprise the live typhoid vaccine. The "live" part is what really creeps me out. In case you're curious, I got these four different shots (just boosters in some cases), pills for this and this, and although they're recommended, I didn't need shots for either of these two, because I had already had them. I'm trying not to think too hard about how pissed off my immune system must be with me right now. All I want is for it to do its job and make lots of nice little antibodies for me so that when I go to India, all I'll have to worry about is sunburn and whether or not my belly can fit just one more piece of roti.

5. On Saturday, while at a string quartet concert, I was commissioned by the boyfriend of the second violinist to knit him a pair of wrist warmer/gauntlets. I'm totally flattered, but I hope he doesn't expect to see them anytime before about mid-January. After all, I've still got holiday knitting to do!

6. You know you've made the right choice when everything seems to conspire against you, yet it all works out OK. Like when you decide that you really do need to catch an international flight halfway around the world due to a family emergency and you find out five hours before departure time that your employer is actually OK with you being gone for a week right now even though you have a month-long vacation scheduled in three more weeks, and then you call the airline, only to discover that if it's less than six hours to departure, you have to buy the ticket at the counter, and then you drive what's normally a two hour trip in two and a half hours (which is actually great time, considering it's a Sunday night heading toward NYC, and that a Giants game happens to let out right before you have to pass the stadium), and then when you get to the airline ticket counter they tell you that their credit card reader is broken and you have to shell out $1400 in cash or you can't go home to be with your family when they really need you, but then by some miracle the ATM gods are smiling on you and you manage to scrape it all together, and then you have your ticket but only an hour to get through security and on the plane, but then for some amazing reason security only takes five minutes, even though you are the kind of person who usually gets pulled aside for cavity searches by the we-never-racially-profile-anyone-ever-except-when-we-think-you-might-not-be-white TSA people. And you make it to the gate and on the plane with time to spare. No, this wasn't me, but I was there.

7. I have a truly amazing and wonderful man in my life (see #6 above), and I can't believe how lucky I am even just to know him, much less to share so much love with him.

8. I also have really great friends who will take me in and feed me and distract me for Thanksgiving if Taz hasn't returned by then.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Mmmmmm, candles...

My apologies for being such a slacker and not posting since Friday. It's just that I've actually had stuff to do at work this week, believe it or not. Anyway, here's the latest:

On Sunday, we took a daytrip to my college town. Even though it was misty and overcast, we had a perfect day. We got there right around lunchtime, and after parking a few blocks away from prime restaurant and shopping area, we wandered up and down Main St. looking for a place to eat. There was no shortage of yummy options, although my favorite pasta restaurant was closed. We ended up eating at an interesting Mexican fusion place that had things like tandoori chicken burritos and catfish enchiladas. After that, we engaged in a bit of window shopping. Though the Queen of All Yarn Shops was closed, we did poke into this other LYS, which wasn't too shabby either. Miraculously, I kept myself from buying anything at all, although I must admit my fingers were twitching by the time we left.

Then we decided it was time for something different, and I thought it would be nice to show Taz one of my favorite little hideaways in the world. We drove a few miles further north, and after some twisty country roads, we arrived here. Rooms and rooms of used books, other rooms of used music, and a great little cafe overlooking the old mill stream. There is even a place there that sells handwoven shawls and things. We ambled around among the books, finding long-lost friends and meeting possible new ones, and eventually found a seat in the cafe, where I knit and we both read and enjoyed vanilla ice cream in port wine, and a grilled peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. There were also several games of Connect Four, most of which I won (sorry, Taz). After soaking in the atmosphere and watching dusk fall through the warped glass of the ancient windows, we left for one last adventure before heading home.

Just a couple miles away from that haven of bookish tranquility, lies the museum-tourist trap-restaurant-outlet store known as Yankee Candle Company. You might say we went a little nuts:

Mmmmmmm, candles...

Still, most of that was on sale, so we didn't have to feel tooooo guilty. We dipped the rainbow candles ourselves, which was fun. We also splurged and had a color caricature drawn of us. No, I'm not going to post it. You have to know one of us well enough to visit our house and stay in our guest room for that. We drove home in the pouring rain, exhausted, and happy to see our kitties again.

No knitting pictures today, sorry. The only things I've finished are gifts for people who do occasionally read this blog, and it would be really obvious what was for whom if I posted the pics. Soon, though, I promise. Meanwhile, I thought I'd bring to your attention an interesting knitting-related scandal, which Kat with a K asked about in Friday's comments. Everybody's Favorite Yarn Company has just come out with a new book. It seems great, but apparently it takes quite a bit of its content from a charity knitting website. The founders of the website are quite upset, saying they were not consulted or told about the book at all. Our knitting group received a note requesting that we join the "girlcott" (boycott? personcott?) by leaving a comment on the customer service form on the company's site. It's up to you what you'd like to do, but I think this incident serves as a good reminder that not even our cozy little knitting world, which many of us think of as a refuge from the stress of real life, is safe from scandal and hard feelings. Sigh.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Be a good girl, now

Help those in need, early to bed and early to rise, don't eat too many sweets, and always swatch for even the simplest knitting projects. Then, if you're a really really really good girl, maybe you'll get what you want.*

Well, so far, this karma thing seems to be working. I started out the week by rededicating myself to the diet I started back in April. I've never followed it down to the letter, especially since I find a lot of their published recipes rather boring, but it did help me lose 20 lbs. in about four months, and I had recently hit a plateau. So it was time to get back on the bandwagon. Or the treadmill. Whatever. Anyway, that was the first "good girl" thing I did this week. I also got up at 4:45 AM two days in a row and all the other days by 5:20, which has me covered on the "early to rise" thing.

Then on Tuesday, when I was in fullblown stress-out mode because of all the difficulties surrounding Taz's visa validation situation, I had to run an errand. I was on my way to the post office, when I was stopped by a nice young man, dressed in a yellow shirt and carrying a clipboard. Alarm bells and sirens immediately went off in my head, but as I tried to sidestep him and look all businesslike, we made a split second of eye contact. Then I knew it was all over. "It's OK," I told myself, "he's probably just doing a survey for a shampoo company. This can't possibly take more than a minute or two." Ha. Next thing I know, I have signed up with his international charity to sponsor a little girl somewhere in the world for a monthly rate. This is something I always swore I wouldn't do. It's not that I don't care or don't want to help. I studied International Relations in grad school, and I work for a UN-affiliated NGO, for heaven's sake. It's not even that I don't have the money. I just got my grad school loans consolidated, and I am fully aware of the fact that I am among the most privileged people on earth. It's just that, working at a nonprofit, I'm keenly aware of the need for "unspecified funding" to cover expenses that may not be directly related to the mission of the organization, but that have to be taken care of if the organization is to remain in existence. But there you have it. He roped me in and hypnotized me, and now I'm waiting to find out the name and location of my sponsoree child like it's the frickin' Night Before Christmas. Call me a sucker if you want, but there is no doubt in my mind that my little moment of weakness helped generate some much-needed good karma.

Because the next day, after I was exhausted from walking 80 blocks and getting crapped on by a pigeon and worrying all day that Taz would end up getting stuck in India if he even went at all, he called me. He told me that the US consulate in Bombay had finally responded to his e-mail, and that there is apparently a provision for "people already working in the US" and who are going to "need to return to their jobs" to obtain an emergency appointment at the consulate, even though there are no open slots. I told him to print out that e-mail so he can show it to them when he goes. And then I nearly wept from relief.

Far be it from me, however, to rest on my laurels. Or my good karma. I won't breathe easy until he has the appointment confirmation number in his hands. Meanwhile, it looks like I'll have to stay on my best behavior for a little while longer. Hence this:

Test swatch of 2x2 ribbing and stockinette in
the gray tweed alpaca I won from Give a Little.

I finished up x-mas surprise #3 last night, and immediately began the swatch for #4. I even managed to get some hand and wrist measurements this morning for the recipient, so this evening on the train I can get going on the project itself. Now as long as someone's chocolate craving isn't contagious, I ought to be good. Toes crossed! (You need your fingers to knit, duh.)

*Though even if you don't you shouldn't complain, because goodness is its own reward.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Still waters run deep

I'd like to take a moment to welcome the love of my life to the wonderful world of blogging. His blog is called Resonant Silence, and he just started it last night. This is the best possible name he could have chosen for his blog--it matches his personal vibe even better than he thinks. I don't mean to imply that he's highly secretive or that he's one of those guys who only says two words a year. It's just that he always thinks before he speaks, and this means that what he has to say is always worth hearing. He's a good writer, too, so I think blogland has a lot to be happy about, now that he's joined us. So go stop by and say hi!

Taz's first post is about red tape. He doesn't go into too much detail, but I have to say that getting organized for this trip to India has been a veritable (red) sea of paperwork and bureaucracy. A partial list of some of the things one or both of us has had do in order to prepare for this trip:

-Negotiate and schedule vacation time (this involved us changing the dates on our respective bosses at least three times. Each.)
-Buy plane tickets (which couldn't happen until we knew when we could travel)
-Schedule medical appointment for travel vaccinations (for me, but not covered on my insurance. At least I saved myself $500 by deciding that I'm not really going to be at great risk of contracting Japanese Encephalitis)
-Decide how much, if any, travel insurance to buy
-Apply for tourist visa (this one was only for me, but I discovered that before I could do so, I had to renew my passport--and pay double to "expedite" the process)
-Renew old passports (we both ended up having to do this)
-Go to the Indian consulate in person (again, we both had to do this. In my case, it wasn't too traumatic, except for waiting outside in the cold for an hour before they opened the doors, and getting crapped on by a pigeon)
-Get US visa validated (only Taz for this one, but boy is it a nightmare).*

Eventually, once this all works out, we will be able to breathe again, and have time for things like packing and buying hostess presents. Meanwhile, I've been doing a lot of knitting to calm my nerves (pictures soon, I promise), and reading the Lonely Planet Guide to India. I am sooooo looking forward to seeing Taz's mom again and meeting everyone else (including his lovely niece) in person and seeing new places and things and just generally having a great time. Fingers crossed that all goes relatively smoothly from here on out.

*He is supposed to have it done in India, but the nearest US consulate there is booked solid for this type of appointment until the Spring. So now he has to figure out if he is permitted do it somewhere else, but it's just so much more delightfully complicated than that. Even if they did have open appointments, in order to get one he'd need to have a family member in India go to a specific bank, make a payment, and get a receipt. Then he would have to use the receipt number as his reference number in making the appointment. Of course, if he had known back in, say, July, the exact dates he'd be in India, he might have been able to get an appointment. But if we had known our travel dates that far back, we would have paid about half as much for our plane tickets, too, so it's not like the delay was on purpose. Oh yeah, and if this doesn't get sorted out, he can't travel when we planned, since without a validated visa, they won't let him back in the country when we try to come home. I have faith that it will all work out, but it sure has been frustrating.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Let's just say, I didn't go dressed as the United Nations Headquarters building. I really did mean to. I had even bought all the materials I needed to make the costume. But somewhere around Sunday morning, I realized I had a choice: I could (a) spend the entire day working on a costume that probably wouldn't look right and might fall apart at any moment, not to mention winning my own personal prize for Geekiest Costume Ever (and that's saying a lot); or (b) return those (as yet untouched) costume materials to the craft store, spend under $18 on raffia, duct tape, a straw hat, and a plaid shirt, and have a rockin' Scarecrow costume. Um, yeah. I went for option b. Instead of spending a whole day carefully measuring and cutting foam core board, I spent 20 minutes before bed sticking pieces of straw-colored raffia between strips of duct tape. I made two bracelets and two anklets, with plenty of "straw" left over to stuff in my shirt. I even got a crow to attach to the hat, to show what an ineffective scarecrow I was. Then it was off to the office party this afternoon:

OK, so here I just look like a hick, but trust me,
there really was straw sticking out everywhere.

Believe it or not, by complete coincidence, our head of publishing dressed as Dorothy, and our HR person dressed as a witch. Read into that what you will. Unfortunately, there were no other even remotely decent pictures taken on my camera phone, and all the other cameras at the party were (oh, the horror!) not digital. So I may get copies of those other pics on here in about 20 years, after my co-workers develop the film, scan the prints, and e-mail them to me.

I dashed out of the party to catch an early train, in the hopes that I would get home in time to give out candy to the trick-or-treaters. Well, I guess I missed the after-dinner rush. There were exactly three knocks on the door, one of which was the same kids coming back a second time. (To their credit, I don't think they were being greedy, it's just that we live in a condo complex where all the houses look pretty much the same. So in the dark, while looking through two slits in a mask, and already high on candy and spray confetti fumes, I can imagine how they got confused). I left the light on until 9, but no one really came after about 7:45. All the while, I could hear the candy calling to me from the bowl by the front door. But I was good. I only ate a couple of pieces right after giving candy to the first batch of kids. The bowl is still sitting down there by the front door, but it's cold down there now, and it's far enough away that I can't hear the sugar's siren song anymore. Now if I can just stay strong long enough to stick it in a bag and leave it in the kitchen at work (not on my own floor, though) I should be OK. I feel a little sugar-sick right now anyway, after quite a dose of candy at the work party, and a piece of yellow cake after dinner. Ugh. I would say something like "thank goodness this is only once a year" except that I realize there is a Candy Holiday just about every other month. Christmas. Valetine's Day. Easter. I'm starting to feel queasy just thinking about all the sugar.

I'm going to go watch the Wizard of Oz. Though I might have to fast forward through the "We Welcome you to Munchkin Land" part, though. What with the Lollipop Guild and all.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Merci, fée de laine!

For those who (like me) don't speak French, that's "Thanks, fairy of wool!" Yup, my Secret Pal sent me a package, and it arrived yesterday. From Belgium! I am absolutely thrilled with my gifts--such generosity! Unfortunately, this is not the best picture, but it was late at night, I was tired, and I wanted to get a picture before the cats disemboweled the skeins like they did before:

Ivy loves the silk merino blend and the bamboo needles.
I think what has her puzzled is the "Yarn Songs" CD.

The color is far too dark in that picture. The yarn isn't black. The color is called "Raisin," and they really couldn't have picked a more accurate description. Not quite brown, not quite dark purple. Truly gorgeous. And sooooo soft? I just want to put my face in it. Too bad balaklavas are out this year. But I definitely want to wear it next to the skin, so maybe a scarf? We'll see. As someone always says, the wool will tell me what it wants to be. I haven't had a chance to listen to the CD, but I'm very curious to hear what constitutes "knitting music." Thank you so much, Woolfairy! You totally rock!

I was hoping to have FO pictures for you of the thing I was making with the Kidsilk Haze, but it's not quite done yet. So instead, I will proceed to show you just how geeky I am. Halloween is on Monday. Up until yesterday, I had no plans for Halloween, except maybe to give out some candy if I happen to get home while the neighborhood kids are still trick-or-treating. But then we get this e-mail at work. Something about a Halloween party. And a costume contest.

As anyone who "knew me when" can tell you, I have come up with some pretty weird costumes over the years. In 4th grade, I found an old cape in the attic, made a tiara out of construction paper and went as the "Lady of Lost Love." Don't ask. There was also the year I went as a crow. Not too weird in and of itself, but by the end of the night, no one could have guessed what I was. You see, in my hometown, it almost always rains on Halloween. That year, I made my own costume, by gluing black feathers to a nylon cape (probably originally intended for a vampire costume). Not too many people had glue guns in those days, so I just used regular old Elmer's, which, as you may recall from your kindergarten paste-eating days, is not only non-toxic, but also water-soluble. I left a trail of little black feathers around the neighborhood that night, some of which could still be spotted in people's shrubbery after the snow melted in April. I have also done some more "normal" costumes, such as ladybug, bat, mime, sailor, gypsy, fairy princess, elf and witch. Then there are the geeky costumes. One year (6th grade?) I went as a sheet of music. My mom totally did all the work herself helped me make a sandwich board style costume out of while posterboard, complete with a real piece of classical music stenciled onto it. It was even a piece I knew how to play on my flute. But this year may top them all on the geekiness scale:

The United Nations Headquarters building in NYC. Thanks to the UN for the pic.

What can I say? It's a work party. I work at a UN-affiliated NGO. Someone else is going as Harriet Miers, so I won't be the only geeky one. Besides, the materials for this at the craft store were much less expensive than all the leaf garlands I would have needed for the "autumn tree" costume.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ah, Monday...

I'm actually in a surprisingly good mood for a Monday morning. Today is Zarzuela's first day on the new job, and we took the train together this morning. I knew that having pleasant company for the commute would make the time go faster, but I didn't realize just how much faster. It seemed like one minute we were sitting down, the next minute I was pointing out how pretty the sunrise looked behind the Bridgeport-Port Jefferson Ferry (I wish I had gotten a picture of that--it was truly lovely), and then we were suddenly in NYC. Between that and having had time to sit down to breakfast with Taz before he left, it was a really good start to the week!

The weekend was lovely, too. Friday night we went to a cool place to listen to some great folk singers. It had been a long time since I'd heard live folk music, and it was a real pleasure. I even bought a couple CDs to give my mother for her birthday. I also got a lot of knitting done on x-mas surprise #1. In fact, on Saturday, I finished it:

A large wool hat (recipient to remain nameless).

It looks a little tall and square in that picture, but it really looks like a normal shape when someone puts it on, I promise. It was made on US #8's from the gray and blue two-ply wool I had, the brand of which I don't know. The pattern was basically made up, though I did use a free pattern from Red Heart to help me figure out the basics. Since my gauge was between gauges for their pattern, and the head I was knitting this for is larger than any of the sizes offered, and I was knitting it in the round rather than flat, I basically had to wing it. I did do 2x2 ribbing for 6 inches and then stockinette for another 4 inches before starting my decreases, but that's about all I did that was in the pattern. I wanted to decrease down to fewer stitches than called for so that I could have just 4 sts left over to go straight into the i-cord. Anyway, I started out decreasing 4 sts per row, and about halfway through, I began decreasing 8 sts per row. If anyone wants a more exact explanation of the pattern, let me know.

Anyway, getting that done with allowed me to begin x-mas surprise #3, and to put an end to my kidsilk haze virginity:

I swear the picture's not blurry--it's the yarn that's fuzzy!

I'm not telling what it is, or who it's for, but many of you can probably guess. In case you're curious, it's color #595. Everyone refers to this stuff as fiber crack, and I agree that it's very soft, especially for something that contains mohair, which I often find scratchy. However, counting cast-on stitches for this stuff was really difficult, because the stitches are very hard to see when they're close together on the needle. In addition, you may have noticed that I'm using the magic loop for this, and all I can say is that joining the first round on metal needles was like wrangling an eel. Now that it's started, though, things are going smoothly, and I kind of like the sensation that I'm knitting cotton candy. OK, so maybe it's cranberry-wine flavored cotton candy. Mmmmm. If my next post includes a picture of me coughing up a hairball, you'll know why.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


OK, I'll be honest about it. I haven't made lots of progress on x-mas surprise #1 in the past few days. I'm not yet done with the book I'm reading, so I'm not ready to let you know what I think of it. I don't even have a lot of pictures to provide you with visual distraction. But I do have needs, at least according to Google. This is a meme that I've seen on several different blogs. You just google "[your name] needs," and pick your ten (or so) favorite hits. There weren't many hits for Sneaksleep, so I had to go with Bryna instead. So, apparently, Bryna needs:

To create miracles amidst the pain
A workout
To guard the back door
To be updated
To sell out and work for the Man
Transportation solutions
To know there is a plan
A scooter
To find her personal tipping point
To stay cool under all the protective gear
To make him think more
A janitor
Some action

Only a couple of those are totally off the mark, actually. I'll leave it up to you to figure out which ones.

And now, in case that didn't distract you enough, a word from their royal highnesses Ben and Ivy:

"The only reason we're not locked in a deathgrip
with each other is because we're sick of coughing
up each other's hairballs. And this sweater smells
like a prey animal. And we want you to think we're
cute and feed us greenies."

Picture courtesy of male cat staffperson Taz. Foot courtesy of female cat staffperson me. Just be glad I posted this version of the picture, and not the one that shows my big behind whole leg (Taz took this while I was sleeping like a log).

What? You still want knitting and spinning and book content? Too bad. No soup for you! Or yarn. Whatever. SnB's not til tonight, kids. So hold your horses. Or your llama (duck). More fiber and letters soon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Lusciousness

So, you all wanted to see my haul from Rhinebeck. Ask, and you shall receive, because here it is. I apologize in advance for the low resolution, and more importantly, for the less-than-accurate color in most of these pictures. What can I say? Now that we're into late October, even skipping out of work a little early doesn't get me home in time to take pictures using natural daylight. And no, my camera phone, though it has been very good to me, does not have a flash. Anyway, the show must go on...

The first thing I bought was actually for myself. Some beautifully dyed wool mohair to knit myself a hat and scarf set (pattern still to be decided):

Wool Mohair from Kid Hollow Farm in Colorway "Fiesta."

Next, I stopped by the Morehouse booth and got a treat for my Secret Pal. I don't think she's ever done lace knitting or used yarn this fine, so I wanted to make sure I got her something simple:

The Bijou Scarf. Not sure which colorway.

After those two purchases, I spent a really long time fondling different yarns, trying to decide what was the best thing to get for the x-mas surprise I'm going to make for Taz. Since it will be worn next to the skin, it had to be something soft, but of course all the softest yarns were also very expensive. Then I remembered the leftover charcoal gray alpaca I have from Jessie's wristwarmers, and I decided to look for another shade of gray to match that. I finally chose two skeins of this gorgeous angora (the bunnies were right there at the booth for me to pet, too!):

From Cozy Rabbit Farm. The color here is totally off.
But trust me, it's a very pale gray color.

I also bought him some venison jerky, but I didn't bother to take a picture of that. I know better than to think anyone visits a books-and-knitting blog hoping for pictures of dried out mystery meat.

After all that spending and decision-making, it was time for me to get my spinning lesson with the Queen of all Enablers. Under her sage eye, I picked out the following:

Roving in "Merlot" and " Heather" (just picture
these colors with a little more red and purple in them)
and a bottom whorl spindle.

If you want to see pictures of the actual lesson, check out yesterday's post. I have managed OK on my own since the lesson, but I still have a great deal of trouble getting the spindle to actually spin in the right direction for more than two seconds. So I've been doing a lot more of the pre-winding and then drafting thing with the spindle held between my knees. Oh well, with any luck, I'll get another lesson from Eklectika soon, since she seems to know her bottom whorls so well.

And last but not least, after a long day of fiber fondling and yarn ogling, I arrived home late at night, to find that a package had arrived for me:

Hand dyed by Judy. For a better idea of the color,
go here (though it's actually a little more muted
than her pic shows).

Yes, it's the yarn for my Hanging Vines Stole. It is every bit as luscious and beautiful as I had hoped, and I can't wait to use it. But I am going to be good and finish my holiday knitting first. And I'm thinking it will probably be a good idea to knit up this shawl, the kit for which I bought back in February, to get a feel for lace before I attempt the stole.

By the end of the day on Saturday, I was feeling quite fibered-out. But after a full day yesterday away from my pretty new purchases, I was starting to get withdrawal symptoms. Now I am feeling jumpy and my fingers are itching to cast on for all these new projects. But I must have some self-control. I'll just have to learn to knit like a speed demon so I can get done with all this pending stuff first.

Monday, October 17, 2005

In which I meet some wonderful people and am introduced to a gateway drug

What a wonderful weekend! Taz and I went on a lovely fall hike yesterday at Sleeping Giant, which, though full of amazing views and lots of fresh leaf-scented air, took away all my energy. Seriously, I know I'm out of shape, but there was no explanation for how tired I was. Or maybe there is...

Saturday at Rhinebeck was spectacular, despite it taking the seven of us New Haven SnB-ers much longer to get there than we expected. When I pulled into the parking lot with Zarzuela, who grew up in the area, she noted that the lot was almost as full as it gets at the height of the Dutchess County Fair in the summer, which is saying a lot. And we got there just an hour after it started. After taking care of our hunger with some yummy food, we all went off in our separate directions. I was supposed to meet someone at the fleece sale so I could be introduced to the wonderful world of spinning. Not only did I get to meet her in person, and find out that she really is as awesome and funny and down-to-earth as you would think from reading her blog, but I also got to meet a couple of other knitbloggers, including Juno and Asia. They're both really cool, and I feel compelled to note that Juno is much taller than I ever imagined. Our very own Woolybuns was at the festival too, though I had no idea she was going to be there, and didn't get to see her.

Anyway, back to the story. While Cate was in the "Filene's Basement for spinners" (her words) fondling the prize-winning fleeces and filling up her hands with lanolin (I swear, fleeces are greasier off the sheep than on), I wandered around and found fiber to satisfy most of the needs on my list (see the end of my last post). I would show you what I bought, but I want to milk this for all it's worth, so I'm going to show you tomorrow instead. That, and I didn't get a chance to take pictures of it all yet anyway. So after some big spending, and tasting some wine that was waaaay to sweet for me, I met up with Cate again, and she advised me and Zarzuela in the buying of roving and spindles. I couldn't believe how much cheaper roving is than yarn. Then we all went outside to have a spinning lesson, and I realized that yarn is more expensive because that pretty, even fiber doesn't happen by accident:

Learning how to draft. [Photo courtesy of Zarzuela]

Getting the "hang" of it? (p.s. See those bags behind us?
That's her haul from the fleece sale. And I do mean "haul,"
since she didn't get around to taking it to the car and
instead carried it around all day slung over her shoulder).
[Photo courtesy of Zarzuela]

Thank goodness Cate is so patient. See that little halo over her head? It's gonna take me a while to get this right. Noting our frustration, she did tell us that the learning curve is steep at first. I think she just wanted to make sure that we don't give up before we get addicted. Nothing to worry about on my account--it is just so cool to make fiber! Who cares if it's lumpy and thick-then-thin and if some parts are a bit on the fuzzy side? I'll just have to learn how to ply it, and then if it still looks weird, I'll knit something funky with it.

The New Haven gang met up at the last possible moment of the day to carpool over to dinner across the river. Good thing Lauren was wearing her bright yellow sweater or we may not have been able to see her in the flood of fiber lovers leaving the fairgrounds. Just as we were leaving, it rained for about 30 seconds, which was just long enough to give us the perfect parting gift to end the perfect day:

OK, yeah, so some of us got lost on the way to dinner. And a couple of us who had already blown our budgets got sort of delirious waiting for others to finish picking out their treasures at this place, where we stopped on the way home. But we all had a good time, and we all made it home in one piece. And believe it or not, there was actually room for five people's yarn in the way back of the station wagon. So either we all had incredible self-discipline, or we all opted for small-but-expensive. I would like to say that I am in both categories. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see the yarn p0rn lusciousness.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Pre-Rhinebeck stash check

OK, here's the deal. Even though I have every intention of being good and not spending a fortune this Saturday at Rhinebeck, the upcoming fiber orgy did make me think about how much yarn I already have. Although I have far less than some people, I still have far more than I will probably ever use. This is mainly because a good portion of my stash consists of things like this:

Red Heart, Lion Brand Microspun, and other random acrylic

rounded out by a bunch of this:

Homespun. Need I say more?

And let's not forget the freebie I got from Bernat. Don't ask what I'm going to do with this:

No comment.

Then, there are the leftovers, none of which, at this point, go very well together:

Everything from Hip-Hop to King Tut Cotton.

Luckily, I do also have so really nice yarn. For example, I have all this stuff that is already destined for various different holiday gifts:

Kidsilk crack, alpaca tweed, merino blend, and plain old wool.

I also have a basket full of yarn which is either waiting to become a gorgeous shawl (the steel blue lace weight merino) or is waiting to be used in a WIP (the purple lace weight merino, the Lion Brand Trellis, and the blue-gray two-ply):

More of the plain wool two-ply, two colors of lace weight merino,
Lion Brand "Trellis." Oh, and some wool tweed that is actually leftovers.

Finally, there are the future felted bags:

Mmmmmm. Lopi.

And yes, there will be more than one, because not all these yarns match, and even if they did, can you imagine how huge that bag would be? Oh, and let's not forget the hand-dyed fiber crack I just ordered (low-res camera phone pic to come when it arrives at my door). That's gonna be a Hanging Vines stole.

Phew! So assuming I find a way to get rid of use up all that crap yarn bright acrylic, I will have plenty of space for new treasures. However, I need to be nice to my wallet, especially if I plan to afford that trip to India. So this is a list of what I am allowed to buy on Saturday:

1. Yarn and other small treats for the second package for my Secret Pal
2. Yarn for the x-mas surprise for Taz
3. The bare necessities for sticking my big toe in the water of a potentially addicting new pool--spinning. (Though I'm sure certain people will make every effort to see that I fall in and get completely soaked).
4. A small amount of really special yarn for a small project for myself.

And that is absolutely IT! I must force myself to stick to that, or I'll have to start knitting my own pork chops and salad if I want to have a decent dinner. Do you think Metro North would accept a knitted monthly ticket? It would be good intarsia practice...