Monday, April 28, 2008


"Hey, Clem! You got anything?"

"Nope, nothing yet. You?"

"Nah. I already forgot what we were looking for."

"Maybe looking in the same place at the same time wasn't too smart, either."

"I wouldn't say that. At least now we're doubly sure it isn't here, whatever it was. What do you say? Keep looking, or should we stampede again?"


"I had a feeling."

They're stripping the paint off of the deck with their huge paws, but they're having a good time, so it's a fair trade.

This picture makes Win look like he has enormous fangs. They're actually a trick of the lens, the sunlight reflecting off of his lower teeth. His illusory cuspids make Clem look positively benign in comparison, like a cuddly, harmless Muppet. Believe me, readers, when all eighty pounds of that big, rangy dog are barreling toward you at speed, it's absolutely terrifying.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Monday, April 21, 2008


"Oh, hey there, Pirate Skull Planter. What's up?"

"I feel that my charms have been sorely underrepresented in these waters, and I'm lookin' to remedy the situation, if you take my meaning."

"Pirate Skull Planter! Don't I frequently feature you in WIP and swatch pictures? Haven't you been mentioned independent of knitting in this blog at least twice?"

"Not good enough! I've bad news for you, lassie. I'll be takin' over your enterprise."

"Pretty tall order, considering you don't have hands. Or a body. And that you're made of resin. And that you have air plants hot-glued to your head, which require me to dunk you upside-down in a mug of tepid water twice a month. You don't exactly call the shots."

"Yar...I be powerless in the face of your mobility."

"Be happy with your lot in life, Pirate Skull Planter. Let's show off the swatch now, O.K.?"

"Ay. Fer now. Ye've not heard the last of me."

Fisherman's rib ho! Big needles, few stitches, wearable in summer, from the stash. I've got a good feeling about this one.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tumbling Forward

Lately, I've had this feeling that I'm tumbling forward through my days, like I'm running downhill and I want to stop for a second but I can't. I'm going so fast, and it's O.K. because I'm not taking any bad steps so I'm still on my feet. If another hiker were watching me, I'd appear to be confidently striding over the ground. Only I know that I'm terrified, that I don't dare stop for a drink of water or to catch my breath because I'm afraid of what will happen if I...

...what the Hell is going on up there? Winston! What are you doing?

He's probably up there tearing his cage apart, the Woman. Shall I go and check on him?

No, Buddy. I think that would be an extraordinarily bad idea. He's unhappy enough being crated all day. The last thing he needs right now is to see you outside the wire with that look on your face.

I'll simply pop upstairs and tell the blunderbuss that I'm proud of him for being tricked into captivity every morning.

NO! Buddy, that's part of the problem right there, fella. I don't have a moment's peace, what with Win wanting to play and you wanting to, oh I don't know, terrorize him? Is that what it's called? What are you trying to do when you walk up to him and howl angrily in his face?

Love him, in my own, special way, the Woman. I am trying to give. I am a giver.

Oh, you're giving, alright. You're giving me a headache that's extending all the way down my spine to my ass. Let's get back to the matter at hand.

My need for more live animals in my diet?

No, my feeling that everything in my life is being held together with the most tenuous of bindings.

Have you discussed it with the Man?

Well, I have, but I'm not able to explain it very well...

Because I'm sure it would be a very small matter to buy some feeder mice and just set them free in the garage.

Are we talking about me or about your wacky plan to create a hunting ground around the work bench?

Which topic is more likely to please me?

I give up. Let's just talk about the sweater.

My own, again. I looked to the Bold and Bulky cardigan in Fitted Knits for a start, but only for the number of stitches to cast on across the back and arms, and roughly where to put the markers. I love the patterns in that book, but I'm finding it more useful as a cast-on guide. If my yarn is (x) gauge, look at (y) pattern.

For the record, it's 35" around, 20" long, with armscye depth of 7.5". There is no waist shaping.

Araucania Limari in color 556 - Vina del Mar. I had five skeins, one of my last impulse purchases from They only had five skeins left, and I thought, "EVER! They'll never have it again! SOLD!" When it turned out that the did have more of it a few months later, and that Webs had a huge closeout of it as well, I resisted the temptation to buy at least a couple of additional skeins. The whole point was that this was a stash-busting project. We don't buy more yarn in order to reduce the stash. This, then, was another "if I only have this much yarn, how far will that get me" projects. I only had 305 yards. I know Yarndex says that it's more, but my skein tags and Webs say 61 yards.

I didn't have a button that matched exactly. I came up with the idea of putting these two buttons together until I could get to Britex to find the perfect one. Turns out I like this solution so much that I'm probably not going to look for anything else.

Addi Turbo US17. For some reason, I have three Addi circular needles in this size, including the 16" that I used for the arms. I used a Brittany Birch crochet hook, size M, for the borders.

I don't know, maybe two weeks? I couldn't work on it full time, because the furry creatures take a lot of attention in the evenings. It was only a few hours of actual knitting.

Modifications/Design Thoughts
I started with Big and Bulky, but I wanted a straight front so I cast on for the same overall width as the back neck. From there, I was on my own.

I came up with the idea of adding a very slight bell to the sleeves because I've found, strangely enough, that adding more bulk to the sleeve actually makes my whole forearm/waist vertical zone look slimmer. A narrowing bulky sleeve has the same stumpifying effect on me as pegged pants. I ended up splitting the skeins in order to make the arms match.

The crochet borders turned out better than I thought they would. I made it around the neck and body one time before I started to get worried about running out of yarn. Every individual edge after that was done with great anxiety, because I was afraid that I'd get back around one side and the bottom hem, but not have enough for the other front edge. I had just enough yarn to get a second round around the body. There were only inches-long scraps left.

I wish I weren't on a yarn buying freeze, because I love working with Limari. Now that I know it's not necessarily going to make me look like I'm wearing a parka, I'd love to make more things with it. I have all of those books for Rowan Big Wool, and so many patterns that would look great in colors 558 or 567. Now I know about what I could make with five or six skeins of it, I wish I had more.

I really like this bulky little sweater. I think I'll get a good bit of wear out of it, even over the summer. It's going to be perfect for sitting out on the patio in the evenings.

With the blunderbuss.

Yes, Buddy, with Winston.

Why does he get to venture outside with you, while I am forced to watch from behind the windows?

Because this is what happens when we leave him in his crate. That's a pile of 'revolutionary Tempur material' next to him.

Curious. And yet my favorite bed is still intact. Who is the troublemaker now, hmm?

Pretty sure it's still you, guy. If you'll excuse me, I have to pop a Zantac and head off to work.

Steady on, the Woman. Steady on.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Walk

"Hey, Mom! Yeah, getting ready to head to work... I sound stuffy? Oh, yeah, because I'm wearing my new sweater, and it's really fuzzy. I'm kind of worried that it makes me look broad...a little more than a month from now...yeah, I have a running program. Starting today, I have to run/jog/walk twenty miles a week. I think I can do it if I walk to lunch and go to the gym on the way home every night this week."

Later that day, I stepped out into the bright, warm day. Here is my account, written minutes after I returned, overheated and uncomfortable, to my desk.

April 10, 2008 - 12:45 p.m. PDT

0.1 mile - two geese fly overhead. "Geese are so beautiful," I think to myself. "Maybe I should stop eating meat again."

0.2 miles - Realize that I'm wearing an angora sweater over a black shirt. It's a gorgeous, sunny day, probably 80 degrees. Stop at the light, pull off sweater. Do not turn back to put sweater in the car.

0.4 miles - Smell the blooming shrubs. "I'd never notice how lovely they were if I weren't walking. Good for me!"

0.5 miles - I am walking with the weight and heat retaining equivalent of a Pomeranian slung over my arm. Shift sweater to other arm. Feel how hot it is already. Shift it back to original arm.

0.7 miles - Cross over the freeway. Get a little panicky on the overpass. Cars appear to move much faster when they're speeding past below you.

0.9 miles - Start to think that walking was a bad idea. Wonder if anyone from work would come to pick me up. Remember that I don't have my cell phone.

1.1 miles - Stop in for a moment at the chick gym. "Hey, Ellen! Just taking my friggin' angora sweater for a walk and thought I'd pop in." Leave the following note for my trainer: "Amazon -- Walking to Jamba. It sucks. I'm hot. Halfway there. -- Me".

1.3 miles - Notice that there aren't lights at the pedestrian crossings on the Crow Canyon overpass. Avoid being hit by cars entering the freeway.

1.5 miles - Stop at a light. There's a guy with a sign advertising a lunch buffet at Pizza Hut. He's waving the sign back and forth. Wonder if his arms get tired by the end of the hour. Don't actually ask him.

1.7 miles - Buy Jamba. Pause long enough to notice that I'm drenched in sweat. "I've been walking for a long time! I bet it's further than I thought."

1.9 miles - Think to myself, "Don't be disappointed when it's not further than you thought. Don't be disappointed when it's not further than you thought." This becomes a mantra.

2.1 miles - Concentration on mantra broken when two cars smack into each other at the Norris Canyon/Camino Ramon intersection.

2.4 miles - Get back to my car. Climb in and drive route I just walked. Determine that it's 2.4 miles. Am disappointed when it's not further than I thought.

Pattern - Fluffy Angora Menace

It's my own. I wanted to see how far approximately 700 yards of yarn would go toward making a garment, because I've got a lot of 700-yard bundles in the stash. I've also got a few 500-yard skeins, and now I know that they'll at least be good for vests, because I knit the body of this sweater with less than that.

I was at the same gauge as the Two-Tone Shrug, so I figured if I cast on the same amount of stitches it'd fit across the neck and shoulders. I knit from the top down, increasing every other row at the raglans, every fifth row at the neck. When I started to think the v-neck was going to be too deep, I switched to every three rows, then every other row to close it up faster. It makes a nice, sharp u-neck instead of a v-neck.

I knit 3/4 sleeves because I wanted to sleeves to be exactly one skein long. Also, I was bored by the color and irritated by inhaling the fluff, so I wanted to just be done with it.

As I was knitting it, I kept changing my ideas about what I wanted it to be. I started off wanting something classic and Ann Taylor-ish. Then I thought it'd be better if it were more rustic, sort of like 3x Chic. I couldn't decide what to do with the collar, and I kept thinking I should make a shawl collar and then remembering that I'm allergic to angora, so I'd have to keep it from touching my neck. I ultimately went with a simple crochet collar.

The thing that's kind of hard to see in this picture is the texture. Every fourth stitch on every other row is twisted. The fuzz is obscuring this detailing.

Yarn - Elsebeth Lavold Angora in 'Driftwood. I used a little more than seven skeins, and only broke into the seventh skein in order to do the crochet edging. The important thing to know about this yarn is that it's been in my stash for at least four years. It's one of the big amounts of yarn that I bought because I didn't yet understand that 'closeout' didn't mean 'you have to buy it now because you'll never be able to get anything like it again and you'll regret it for the rest of your life'.

I love the feel of this stuff, but man does it get messy. This weekend, I spent two hours with a sweater stone and an electric shaver trying to knock the halo down. I succeeded, but it was hard work. Unfortunately, I was doing the defuzzing in the breakfast nook, and apparently I didn't get all of the tufts of fiber cleaned up. Buddy's been sneezing violently for three days.

Needles - Addi Turbo US#6 (body and arms) and Addi Natura US#4 (ribbing). Size F Brittany Birch crochet needle for the edging.

Time - February 13th to April 9th. If I could have tolerated knitting it all the way through, without throwing it on the bar and leaving it sit for more than two weeks, it would have been done on March 23rd. I had everything but the neck edging done at that point.

Modifications - None, because I made it myself.

Conclusions - I'm proud of it. It's not a flashy sweater, so it doesn't get much notice when I wear it, but they don't all have to be flashy. With a solid shirt under it, this sweater does a great job of framing necklaces, which was one of the results I was hoping for. I wore it again yesterday, and A.B. said I looked hip.

I'm figuring out that I'm not so much a fan of top-down knitting at the moment. I like having pieces to finish. Top-down is good for projects where you don't know how much yarn you're going to use. I certainly have a few yarns in the stash that are going to require this type of construction because I didn't buy enough of them and I can't get them anymore. I'm not swearing off of it forever. But I'm not going to make another top-down anything for a while.

After last week's heat spell, we've gone back to normal springtime temperatures. I should get at least a couple of more wearings out of Fluffy before logic and reason dictate that I put it away until November. It might even fit better by then, if I keep up the running. I look broad in it...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Cat of Action

Friday, April 04, 2008


If you came by my desk and saw this little arrangement, what would you think of me?

My whole cubicle seems strange to me today. Turning only ninety degrees to the left of my monitor, I can see the multiple memento mori, a toy jacktrabbit wearing the baby rattlesnake vertebrae necklace, the tape dispenser and stapler that were so often stolen that I painted my initials on them with White-Out so that I'd be able to track them down, my 1988 Outstanding Service Award plaque from A&W Restaurant, and my plastic spider collection. My bookshelf contains two programming books, Ian Flemming's 'You Only Live Twice', a translation of the Popol Vuh, and 'Stiff'.

I begin to wonder if it's not time to straighten things up again. I am, after all, about to be under new management, and there is renewed interest in our deparment now that there are so few of us. We used to stay tucked away for weeks without seeing anyone from any other part of the company. That's different now. Important People come around. How do I want them to see me?

I'm still working on my spur-O-moment bulky cardigan, and I've run into a tiny snag. I knew that Limari didn't have dye lots, and I knew how different my five skeins were when I wound them up. What I didn't count on was that I'd be at a pivotal point in the project with the three most heterogeneous skeins still in front of me. I don't want the arms to be different from one and other, nor do I want the body to be wildly different from the arms at the point where they'd align when I wear the garment. Complicating things further, I do not want to have to split the balls up because I don't want to weave in additional ends. This thing's bulky enough already. I think two of the skeins are close enough to each other that I can knit the arms from them. Maybe I'll just deal with the more muted colors of that fifth skein on the body. If it's wrong, it's only a matter of ripping back and redoing it. It has taken me longer to debate the issue with myself than it would have taken to knit the rest of the sweater. It's not like I'm knitting with fingering weight yarn or anything. This should be an easy, stash reducing, worry-free project. Why have I spent my lunch hour staring at it instead of knitting?

That's just me. It's who I am and it's what I do. And now that I think about it, that's why I'm not going to take down any of my tchotchke.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The April Fool

I have a great picture for Wordless Wednesday, a concept that I blatantly stole from Bobbi's blog. It's a really neat shot. I was all ready to post it when I realized that I'd have to forego posting anything else today, and that would mean putting off important business until tomorrow.

What important business? Why, thanking Karen, of course! I'm wearing my new vest today, and I love it. I'm still trying to find the perfect shirt to wear under it, but the one I have on will do in a pinch. I couldn't wait any longer, in part because I was so excited to wear it, but in larger part because I believe I may have brought a curse down upon myself, and I'm hoping that the vest will dispell it.

Yes, friends, a curse. I must have done something to bring the last ten months upon myself, right? Well, a couple of months ago, after my then-boss' brother died and my dad died, I told my then-boss, "Crap start to the year so far. Maybe in April we'll all start over." April 1st. The year restarts, and no hard feelings there, Cosmos. I told Karen this as well, and she wished me good luck with my (re)new year plans in the lovely card that she packed with the vest.

April 1st, didn't go so well. I arrived home after a day of being inexplicably irritated by everyone around me, including the radio DJs yammering as I drove home. "Tapdancing CHRIST! Just play the damn SONG and quit babbling about it like we're all sitting around getting high together, you dumb broad! Oh, are you f*$king KIDDING ME?!? NICKELBACK??? F*$K YOU, BONE!"

I went upstairs to let Winston out of his crate. It turns out that he's having a hard time adjusting to his new bag of food. Or rather, he's having a not-so-hard time, and when a dog has to do what a dog has to do, he does it. He has a wire crate. It's in our bedroom. The first day of my freshly restarted year was literally splattered in shit.

As I was kneeling inside his crate with a bottle of Pine Sol and a handful of rags, it occurred to me that starting 2008 on April Fool's Day might have been a bad idea. While drenching the pale beige carpet by my bed in Nature's Miracle, I decided that my new year really didn't start until today.

Happy New Year! Like my new vest? Me too!

I'm trying to keep busy on the knitting front. Fluffy Angora Menace is still on a time-out, so I decided to do something with one of last year's impulse purchases. I have five skeins of Araucania Limari in Vina del Mar. I don't know what this is ultimately going to be, but I like it so far. I think I'm going to knit one more skein on the body, then knit the arms and see how much I have left over. I tried it on last night, and was pleasantly surprised by how cute it was. Fingers crossed that it doesn't end up making me look like Mr. Stay Puft.

Here's my Wordless Wednesday Picture. Apparently, a spider has taken up residence in the rear deck of my car. I turned my head as I was pulling out of a parking space, and the sun caught it just right for me to notice it. I don't know how long it's been there, because I haven't had my car cleaned in months, and I rarely have anyone in the back seat. The web stretches from the left headrest to the seatbelt pulley. It's beautiful. I can't bring myself to sweep it away.