I need to vent something

I need to vent something, folks. Indulge me.

Okay, here it is: I’m not a Harry Potter fan. In fact, I don’t really like Harry Potter very much. I’ve read some of the books; I’ve seen the movies. I’m familiar with the fandom, and I understand it, understanding fandom at large. Indeed, in my life, I’ve had my own experiences of fandom. No, really, I have. If the absolute, unvarnished truth must be told, there was a time in the 1980s when I wouldn’t leave the house if I wasn’t going to be able to be home between 7:30 pm and 8 pm and able to watch PBS channel 44 out of Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, I had a pen shaped like a sonic screwdriver, and I did, in fact, knit fandom scarves (which were, I’ll add, the last thing I knit before I swore off knitting for 20 years or so). Yes folks, it’s true; in my adolescent and teenage years, I was without a doubt a hard core Doctor Who fan. Not to mention a comics collector. So there’s no high ground for me here in this vent. I by no means think anybody isn’t entitled to their fandom, of whatever variety.

But, like I say, I’m not a fan of Harry Potter. I have found the books to be juvenile and somewhat remedial from a fantasy reader’s perspective — which is of course fine, since they’re children’s books. I think I’d have loved them when I was a kid, and been thrilled not to be the only weird kid reading fantasy and science fiction. But all in all, I find the books to be a little bit trite, high school social melodrama couched in a mildly fantastic setting with a liberal dash of a thematic element which never fails to please the teenage, being a misfit with super powers who must save the day against the wishes of both The Man and The Bullies.

As far as young adult fantasy is concerned, I don’t feel Harry Potter has the oomph of a number of other books I read between ages, oh, 8-14. A partial list would include The Chronicles of Prydain, Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series, Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time, Earthsea, Pern, Aahz and Skeeve, or slews and slews of Alan Dean Foster books. And that’s not even getting into the science fiction side of things!

Some of the books on that short list are dark, brooding; some are thoroughly light-hearted. Personally, I’m especially fond of the ones steeped in things Arthurian, in part because there’s absolutely no end to the Arthurian reading one can do, and there are centuries worth of stories and versions of those stories, none of which were pushed past focus groups and carefully marketed to sell quick and formulaic spin-off products. And, were my son to presently be obsessed with all things Arthurian, or with the Mabinogion, I suspect I’d be far less burnt out on it than I am on the way all our household conversations lately seem to go like this:

“Hey, do you have any suggestions for dinner?”

“Yes mom, and did you know that Professor Umbridge really, really has it in for Harry, and this is partly because she is evil, and that’s why she’s seizing control from Dumbledore?”

“You don’t say. Nope, I didn’t know that. So what did you want for dinner?”

“Also, the Petronas charm is really powerful, and when dementors are after you…”


Now, I’ll be honest. We’ve faced this with other childhood obsessions. And like I say, I’ve had my own. My mother (and I think my niece) reads this blog, and I know for a fact she’d never let me get away with pretending I didn’t ever walk around explaining how Davros was the progenitor of the Dalek race, who came from Skaro and fought the time war against the Time Lords of Gallifrey. Like I say, I admit it. And even if my mother didn’t call me on it, there are other folks reading this who also could (hello, Ayse!).

Yes, we have faced Spongebob obsession, for example. And Spider-Man. And Pokemon. But these have all paled in comparison to the Pottermania, and there’s one major reason why: none of those things have also been an obsession for vast numbers of adults in the world as well, at the same time.

At no point, for instance, has the town I lived in made a concerted effort to turn itself into Bikini Bottom. But starting Friday night and going through the weekend, the little train line in town, which is a tourist draw, will be remaking itself as the Hogwart’s Express, with packages including a “start-of-term welcoming feast” to take place at local landmark The Golden Lamb. And I’m not kidding about town on the whole:

Diagon Alley: Historic downtown Lebanon will transform itself into Diagon Alley. A program of participating merchants will be provided to direct you to the Harry Potter Activities.

There’ll be no getting through town. I mean, I thought it was bad when they did Thomas the Tank Engine, but the whole downtown area didn’t turn into the Isle of Sodor (yes, we had the Thomas obsession back a few years ago too).

And it’s not just town. I can’t argue with any of the businesses doing a Potter-themed shtick; if I had a yarn shop by the train station, I’m sure I’d be selling Weasley sweater kits and materials for Slytherin scarves. I fault no one for the mania. But man, I can’t escape it, you know? It’s all over everybody’s blogs, all the mailing lists, every imaginable business is having a Deathly Hallows sale of some kind or another, the counselors at my son’s camp are talking about it, it’s all over the TV, the radio, the newspaper… augh!

You know what it reminds me of? One time, some years ago, I was watching the NBA finals, suddenly, things cut to a shot of a white SUV being followed slowly by some cop cars. I couldn’t believe it. O.J. Simpson? So what? Tell us later, there’s a serious game going on here, folks! And then it just kept going; every water cooler, every barroom conversation, every random person on the bus, every cashier and clerk and stranger and relative and just… everybody, all the time, nonstop talking about the stupid Simpson trial. You couldn’t get away from it. It was like the rest of the world had decided for me that I MUST CARE ABOUT THIS.

But you know what? I didn’t; I really didn’t. Yes, I’d have read the news about it. But I didn’t care about it to the point that I wanted to talk about it with every single person ever, hear about it nonstop, be unable to engage in my normal day to day life without “Have you heard the latest OJ news?”

Similarly, I just plain don’t care about Harry Potter. I don’t care if this is the last book. I don’t care who dies. I don’t care if Snape really is evil or not. I don’t care if someone spoilers it for me. I wouldn’t even be buying the book… except for one thing. One. Thing.

Isn’t that a good kid? Look at him go.

I started madly, compulsively buying books for him about a week after finding out I was pregnant with him. I’ve been taking him to the bookstore for mother-and-son fun for his whole life. We work hard at keeping him in reading material. He can’t sleep without reading first. Everybody knows he loves to read. He’s proud of how much he loves to read. And right now, he’s obsessed with this whole Harry Potter thing about which I simply do not care.

Except for the fact that he does. Except for the fact that I’ve spent his entire life acting as a reading enabler to a degree that arguably surpasses even the fibery enabling I do for a living.

So, tomorrow night, instead of staying home and enjoying a quiet Friday in my recliner, knitting or spinning, ask me what I’ll be doing. Go ahead. Ask. Okay, don’t ask; I’ll just tell you. First, I’ve already reserved his copy of that book. Second, I have to go at 5pm to a bookstore on the other side of the worst rush hour traffic in the area, and get a ticket that assigns me my turn to be in line to pay for the book. Then at sometime-after-9pm, during what should be his extended-late-night-summer-reading-on-the-way-to-sleep time, pile him into the car, head back to that same bookstore, let him party party party with whoever else is there for this obsessive fandom scene, wait our post-midnight turn, acquire the book, and come home well after my bedtime.

Oh, the misgivings and anguish! Why couldn’t he want to go to, I dunno, a Star Trek con? Maybe anime would be easier. I might rather camp out for Grateful Dead tickets. But I’ve told him we’re doing this, and we’re doing it. And Saturday, from the moment he wakes up until he’s finished that book, well, I guess I can sleep in, and build up my mental strength for hearing all about it.

There is obviously no force on earth stronger than a mother’s love. I’d have thought there was no force powerful enough to make me go to a midnight book release thing of ANY type, let alone for a book in a series I’m thoroughly burnt out on hearing about. I should probably call up my mother and thank her for a few things. In fact, we probably all should; there’s doubtless a long list of things just like this that our mothers did for us and we never thanked ’em.

I’m telling myself over and over that it’ll be fun. Or I’ll get lots of knitting or spinning done while waiting in line. Or something. Keep me in your thoughts. And I’ll take any survival tips anybody has.

Foggy, Foggy Dew

Well, I’m making progress on the Foggy, Foggy Dew shawl, though it’s reached the point where things seem to move at less than a snail’s pace. It’s about 15 minutes per plain purl row, 20ish for a pattern row. So this seems to translate to about a repeat per day.

I weighed things yesterday afternoon, before finishing the latest repeat. There were 74 grams remaining in the ball… and the work in progress, including the 60″ Addi Turbos and the beads, weighed 55 grams. Oy. I’d say that there’s about 40 grams of yarn worked up so far… or… roughly 35% of the total yarn.

That would make me about a third done. I can’t stretch the piece out to show it in a triangle at this point; the legs of the triangle would be more than the 60″ needle long, meaning (oh I’m so good at math!) over 5 feet.

The base of the triangle — the top, that’ll be at the neck and shoulders — is about 41 inches across. Not blocked, remember, but still, stretched out to make things sort of visible and roughly ballpark how big this thing is getting.

As I’m working on it, I keep thinking about Sara Lamb’s Anatomy of a Project post from January of this year. She said:

Most times, after the first blush of excitement, there is just the daily effort. Just More. More stitches, more shots, more miles. The real work. The work without surprises, without wonder, where the planning shows in the ease, or lack thereof, of the doing. Sometimes it comes at the body, sometimes it’s the sleeves, the hours of throwing the shuttle, the hemming, the pressing, the blocking, sometimes it’s the endless miles of edging.

Yeah. So I have been pondering what keeps me going through that part. It’s the part that’s work, not play. I think it’s different in every case, with every project, but this time, the truth is, it’s because I want to see the finished object, and look at it, and know how it came out. And then I want to start the next thing with a clear conscience.

I want to see it. And if I want to see it, I have to do it.

This is my first beaded knitting project. I think maybe on the next one I’ll know what the heck I’m doing. While I’m doing this one, I keep thinking about the others. And in fact, with that in mind, I stashed up for some.

Yeah, I’m a stasher. Was there any doubt? But I swear I’ve been stashing the beads with an eye towards specific projects. Look:

Garnets are my birthstone!

So I got some nicer ones, and some irregular ones. I’m looking forward to putting them on this merino/silk yarn.

And these coppery beads are slated for this merino/silk.

With a little luck, these rhodium-plated beads will fit on this merino/tencel.

I’m looking for red and orange beads for the Hot Lava Optim. I haven’t found quite the right thing yet. And I got some little cultured seed pearls, drilled, to put on a cashmere/tussah yarn… but I think they’re too big. I have to let that idea gel.

Having concluded that the soonest I can possibly be done with the Foggy, Foggy Dew shawl is realistically mid-August, I felt gloomy. Odds are I won’t be done with it that quickly; there’s too much else I have to do. That called for some consolation.

“Lovely day for a Genius!” Edward always says. Hah! That isn’t, of course, a Guinness; it’s a Boddington’s. Settling, getting ready for me to drink it. Mmmmm.

Oh, I’ve started actually looking at the heap of WordPress upgrading and tinkering that I need to do. I’ve at least reached the point where I have a shell open on that box and I’m jabbing things in the appropriate directories with the needle-like acuity of my relinquished geekdom. I think it’s reasonably safe to say that this former sysadmin has, in fact, recovered. I wonder if I should stop by the old haunt and let whoever’s left there know. Assuming anybody’s left there.

Anyway, that does mean that coming up in the next… whenever I get to it, there could be all sorts of peculiar blog experiences for my loyal readers, in the event that I decide to eschew any semblance of past professionalism and just make all sorts of changes to live systems and upgrade things in a thoroughly unprincipled manner. You’ve been warned! Any weirdnesses, though, will be short-lived. I promise.

Shout-Out Saturday, and Online Fibery Stuff

I’ve been thinking about the net and the fiber community lately, for no real reason other than that, well, I guess I’m often thinking about that sort of thing.

As long as I’ve been online (which goes back to the era when .com was the least populous domain and email addresses were often bang paths and even some connectivity providers did it with modems), the same social dynamics have been in play in every online scene. You’ve got the net.curmudgeons talking about how it’s not like it used to be, the newbies making stupid mistakes despite all sorts of earnestness, a chorus of people saying “But did you read the FAQ?” You have recurring flamewars that devolve into flamewars about whether or not to have a flamewar. People come and go and folks wonder where they came from and where they went. Small, cozy groups turn into big, anonymous-seeming institutions. Groups split, and merge, get more active, die down to nothingness and disappear. Thriving subcultures pop up unexpectedly in the strangest of places. A handful of people devote tons and tons of time to making community stuff go, and hordes of people are able to avail themselves of those things. Sometimes folks doing that kind of stuff burn out and scenes change forever. Sometimes things get too big and noisy to really function well anymore. Sometimes you just can’t find the signal you’re looking for amid all the noise.

There are lots and lots of fabulous folks in the fiber world online, and lost of wonderful resources. And lots of us take the ones we know about for granted, and assume everyone already knows about them. Sometimes we’ll discover new ones and become addicted to them, but not stop to think of mentioning them to our other pals. I’m terrible about updating the links to blogs I read, for instance. I read TONS of you who I haven’t linked to yet.

So I’ve decided I’m going to make an effort to do a Shout-Out Saturday thing every week. What does this mean? Every Saturday, I’ll give a shout-out (or several shouts out!) to folks whose online fiber work I appreciate. With Shout-Out Saturdays, I want to take a moment to say thank you to the people making efforts, bringing fiber stuff into my online life, working on fiber community, and so forth.

So, here are my first shout-outs:

Sandra’s Loom Blog

Sandra Rude is a production weaver, who does a variety of things, and talks in very understandable ways about technical weaving topics. Her photos are amazing, as is her work. I’m really fond of her recent Fire Scarf series. While there are a fair number of things you can find online about more basic weaving topics, Sandra is one of very few people covering more difficult topics, more advanced stuff, higher-end weaving.

Mostly Knitting

Sarah is a real powerhouse. Seriously. Just look:

Knitting And…

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been googling for some rather random thing (you know, like “leafy lace pattern chart vintage oak leaf roses vine edging” and the answer’s at knitting-and.com, and it’s there because of work Sarah did transcribing, documenting, and so forth. Sarah’s the woman behind the Knitting Wiki… for which I’ve promised content and not yet delivered, *cough*!

Ask The Bellwether

If you think I answer a lot of questions on lists, in forums, whatever, check out Amelia. Seriously. All that, and she has a fabulous shop!


Ellen is writing about fibers, quite a bit about fibers. Ever wonder “What’s so great about Merino anyway?” Check out Sheepwreck.


I don’t know how she does it, but Marcy finds the most amazing historical, cross-cultural, ethnographic, anthropological, and archaeological spinning content and images of anybody I know. And I know a lot of people with that set of interests! I’ve seen things pictured at her blog that I’d never even heard of before, and believe me, that’s saying a lot.

So to the five of you this morning, I say thank you. Each one of you contributes to my online fiber world in tremendous ways, and I’m glad you’re there (whether you read this blog or not!)

Tune in next Saturday for more shouts out.

Dear Cassie

Dear Cassie,

It’s been very nice getting to know you online the past little while. I’ve been enjoying our correspondence, and I am thrilled that you’ve been so happy with your Creamsicle fiber. As I think I may have mentioned, the merino/silk/camel blend is absolutely one of my favourites to spin. So I felt very enthusiastic when you said something about “red,” and even more so when you expressed such confidence in me and said, “Oh, just make something nice.”

So enthusiastic, in fact, that I dyed no less than 7 different reds on 3 different fibers yesterday. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and fed (no doubt) by recent rains, the geraniums on the deck were starting to bloom afresh. I rather suspect that, as I was thinking about reds, I was staring at those blossoms in their little clay pots with a pleasant breeze tickling them. As the merino top, silk sliver, and loose camel dried, their colours lightened (as you’d expect) and they kept growing closer and closer to various hues of geranium.

Still, though, I felt the silks were too pink. I had to take those out of the running. I feared I was off to the blue side with the merino top, too. The camel, though, 60 grams of it, came out an absolutely delicious scarlet — the very shade you see when you… okay, when I jab myself with a needle and a drop wells up before attempting to stain whatever it was I worked on at the time. Nothing gets redder than that.

This morning, once everything was dry, I took it all to Cardzilla, and we got started. Things were actually worse than I’d thought, alas. Parts of the merino top — which I had dyed to be variegated so as to create some depth to the colour — were outright pink. While this is always a risk with dyeing anything red, I was disappointed. I also had to eschew the silks that I’d dyed for this purpose in their entirety; while they’re lovely deep pink, that isn’t red. I was forced to look around for other red silk (fortunately I do have a little).

Tragically however, when all is said and done, I just don’t think you’re going to like this fiber at all. Now, before you say anything, please rest assured that I’m not writing this letter to you because of the tendency you and I discussed, where I tend to not sell the merino/silk/camel blends because I like them too much. Of course that’s not what’s going on here, and I’m sure you’d never accuse me of anything so crass. Really, it’s just that this fiber is terrible, and you wouldn’t like it at all. The colour is completely wrong. The proportion of silk isn’t what I originally planned for. Everything’s just completely off.

Also, my son touched it, so it has boy cooties. Those are contagious, you know. But since he’s my child, I’m immune, so clearly, the only thing for me to do is put this in my stash and keep you safe from it. I’m only doing this for your own good. It hurts me more than it hurts you.

Best wishes,


P.S. Here are a few pictures so you can see how awful it is.

P.P.S. It doesn’t match the geraniums at all.

P.P.P.S. So I don’t think it has a natural-looking red to it like you said you like.

See? It’s terribly primary coloured.

P.P.P.P.S. Sucker! You didn’t believe me, did you?


What I feel like doing today: sitting in a recliner knitting on that shawl, drinking lots of coffee.

What I will be doing today: packing boxes and making a post office run, and dyeing this pile.

Everyone should have such problems, eh what?

The several days of rain — for which I’m incredibly grateful, after the June drought — seem finally to have lowered the dew point below 75F, and dropped us out of the mid to high 90s. I’m hoping the absence of crushing heat, combined with high doses of caffeine, will conspire to cause incredible productivity today.

Oh, so what’s in that pile to be dyed? Well, I probably won’t make it through the remnants of that Merino bump (and yeah, there’s another one on the way). My superwash/tencel isn’t here yet, so that won’t be on the list. That brown blobby looking stuff is loose camel, which is destined for blends. There’ll also be some tussah silk (not pictured) for blends, plus a few special requests for silk colours. Oh, you know — have you ever seen a bump of tussah silk sliver?

Now you have. A typical 4-year-old could probably lay down next to it and be similar in length. The 4-year-old would be heavier, though; this is 6 kg (or 13.mumble pounds). It’s floppy; the silk bumps are in a put-up essentially like what you often get with pin-drafted roving. They can be a little hard to wrestle into a storage area neatly so you can pull fiber off them in a hassle-free way. I often wrestle them into submission in the hall as a result, then move them into the pre-dye closet which isn’t exactly the same as quarantine since I’ll dye stuff before quarantine is up, due to the fact that I dye with prolonged heat, which kills, you know, the eggs of the M word. But otherwise, it’s a 3-6 week quarantine on new incoming stuff, just in case. I really can’t talk about that more though, because They might be listening. You know, them. I don’t want them to find me.

So anyway, here’s the in-progress tussah, which I think is about half gone. I’m sort of okay for tussah right now, what with one full bump and about a half of another, right? 20 or so pounds oughta be enough to do a little work with, I think (not counting what’s already dyed).

Okay, enough of that! Here’s what I think you’ll really like, though:

Yeah. Know what that is? I guess it doesn’t look like anything all that awesome in this form. You know… yet. C’mon, somebody knows what that is! Anybody?

If we’re all lucky — seeing as how I have already blown my “personal stash” budget for the month, and shouldn’t really go into hock to Franquemont Fibers (yep, I have my own bar tab, and it comes out of my pay) — that last stuff will be up for sale this weekend. In all sorts of colours. You will all be saying “Ooooh,” even though right now, it looks like… nothing.

And that sort of gets to the real point of this post, which is: look what a difference colour can make. I mean, there’s some fabulous, incredible fiber here, but yet, this is about the blandest blog post ever. It needs… more zazz. I might as well have just written a list, and included no photos at all.

Oh, Kaylee says she loves the days when boxes come in. Here she is with an empty to play with, taunted by a pair of boxes which contain my new motorized Mr. Skeiny that I still haven’t had a chance to unpack.

I think that Shrek bucket was giving her a hard time, truth to tell.

And with that, I leave you, to go slave over hot dyebaths all day.

One More Rainy Day

I spent rainy yesterday tidying a bit. It was a day of impressive thunderstorms. Storm the third for the day was reported on the evening news as having dumped 1.65 inches of rain on this town specifically, in about 90 minutes. Not a good week to want to dry things outside, I suppose.

So, I picked up some trash.

Just random bits of drum carder offal, and an ounce or so of merino.

It’s mostly sort of lavender with flashes of colour.

See? I spin not thread sometimes. This’ll be for a felted project — the Trash Bag. Coming soon.

That only took about 90 minutes all told though, for blending and spinning. And it got Cardzilla clean! And I finally did hit that bead shop in town. This, in turn, meant I could work on that shawl — which after everyone’s help and suggestions and everything, I’m calling the Foggy Foggy Dew. Naming things after songs amuses me, but perhaps all the more when they’re arguably a little obscure or even ambiguous. Depending on how you define obscure, I suppose; within its familiar genres, the song’s not at all obscure, but they’re perhaps niche genres. In any case, I love ballads — any ballad — and old ones with histories and apocrypha, all the more.

I did end up staying up past my bedtime to reach a stopping point I liked, and take some pictures. Oops. It wasn’t an evening without incident, despite the manchild’s assistance in luring cats away from bead-sorting efforts; at one point, my mother called (it’s all her fault of course) and I left the project sitting on my chair while I walked off talking with her and my niece. When I returned, I had to kick Kaylee off it. And I found…

Oh, that is going to be annoying as that ball gets more used up.

I did reach this point, however:

Then the help turned back up.

Then the more help.

Paimei was incredibly helpful. He bit the head off a pin so it was impossible to remove from the carpet without tools.

Still, my sense of the size of this project is aided by this. It is, after all, not even big enough to be a cat blanket right now. 34 inches across the top edge (not blocked, really, though).

I had to finish the last row I finished, or I was going to be at risk of starting, and not remembering what I was doing, even though I know exactly what I’m doing.

It’s in the leaves. This time through there are 2 5-diamond diamonds bounded by leaves.

I guess they’ll sort of look like squares when the thing is done, though, since it’s knit diagonally.

But it should look more diamondlike when it’s being worn.

Odds of finishing this project this week: zero.

Oh, and in other news, I’m sick of looking at the same inventory right now, so it’s all 10% off, here:


starting in about an hour, all through Sunday.

The kindness of strangers…

…I’ve decided to make a Sprout. Clearly I’m bingeing on Amy’s work right now, eh? I’ll have to spin something for it.

Several of you have suggested a dew themed name for the triangle. I like that. It is now the Dew Drop Shawl… and partly charted. I hope you can guess what that means! Thank you all for suggestions.

I’d planned yesterday to go to the bead shop in town and buy some nicer beads to switch to at the logical point in the shawl to do so — which was 2 rows away, so clearly, I had to go now. Unfortunately though, this was not to be. I had a pile of packages outbound from over the weekend, so I loaded them into the Trans Am and headed to pick Edward up from day camp, figuring I had a clear win with “Help me with all these packages and then an errand to the bead store, and you get a slushy on the way home.”

The proposal was definitely a win; unsurprising, since it was pushing 100F, and on the muggy side. We made it to the post office without event, and the manchild was a tremendous help getting everything shipped, then opining on the differences in cost between shipping to the UK and Canada. We hopped in the Mommy Car, I turned the key, and she went CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK WHINE, reset all the electronics, opened the rear hatch and popped the trunk.

Oh my.

Now, mind you, the Mommy Car, whose name is Ginny, is 7 years old; but she’s a creampuff. They really don’t get much more creampuffy than she is. In 2000 when I bought her new, there was talk of her discontinuation and you had to know that she was getting on towards being the last of the real American muscle cars. She was built to eat the Interstate Highway system for lunch and come back for dinner, then belch loudly, cruise slowly down the street with a V8 growl, hover in anticipation at a red light and, when it turns green, leave anybody else there in a cloud of rubber-scented smoke waiting to follow twin black streaks of rubber into the distance where, by the time they catch up, Ginny’s already set up a picnic and taken the t-tops off and makes a killer stereo too.

Or, you know, pick up the kid from day camp, run to the post office, hit the supermarket, that sort of thing. And let us not forget take the t-tops off and opt for the back roads at 45 or 50, smelling the breeze and blinking in the dappled sun filtering through the trees, hair a tangled mess and slathered in sunscreen, running an errand a few towns over. Mmmmm.

I mean, okay, so she isn’t built for heavy hauling. Or long road trips with more than one passenger. Or being easy to get in and out of. Or being easy to park, especially if you feel like opening the doors. And she definitely ain’t built for the ice and snow (as the snowplow guy warned me vigorously and earnestly this past winter when he saw her in the garage), and actually, with the wrong tires on her, I’d hate to drive her through a big puddle (even though she did brilliantly last summer carrying Edward and I safely home from New Hampshire through a thunderstorm so bad there was literally nowhere to pull off to the shoulder of I-90 through New York, because everybody else had already pulled over). And yeah, the driver’s side window keeps having that annoying problem with raising.

Make no mistake, though, she’s mine and I adore her. Man, did I pitch a colossal, epic, Latina-style temper tantrum in Spanish at the car wash guys who chipped her paint last year when I was getting her cleaned up for her trailer ride to her new home. Yep, I know where every scratch and ding she’s gotten is, and how they all happened. I know there are plenty of folks who think I’m silly about this — like the people who’ve tried to talk me into selling her over the years (seriously — like when we were buying Chad’s truck, and the guy, thinking he might make another sale, asked me what I was driving, and I told him, and he ended up trying to convince me to take $5500 less in trade for her than I’d paid new 6 years before — as if!) She’s good to me, my creampuff! She’s a loyal sweetheart. You can’t have her.

So there I was at the post office, Edward in the passenger seat, all the needles flat, the starter clearly working fine, can’t roll the windows up and down, everything that can be opened electrically open, miserable, her clock flashing 12:00 and the odometer not reading (even though I know full well it says 19,793). Oh, hell no. I turned off everything powered, and tried again, to no avail. “Oh no, poor Mommy Car!” Edward said. I gave him a warning look (you know, don’t talk bad about her, she’ll be fine! Watch your words, whippersnapper!) and got out to check connections on the battery.

“Do you need a jump?” asked the lady parked beside me, shutting off her car and stepping out.

“Dunno,” I said. “Looks that way.” I looked for my AAA card, and remembered I’d forgotten to send back that RENEW NOW thing a couple of months ago. Aw, crap. The kind lady then insisted on calling AAA on her card, and waiting. I couldn’t believe it, and thanked her profusely. “You would do the same for me,” she said, “and it’s hot, and you have a kid with you, don’t even think about it.”

No sooner had she gotten off the phone than a fellow in a battered pickup truck pulled up on the other side of me. “You need a jump?” he asked. “Yeah, but she’s just called AAA,” I replied. “Oh heck no,” he said, “You could be here waiting for hours!” But then he found his son had run off with his jumper cables. I’ve no idea where the ones I used to have in the back of my car are, either. The guy dashed into the post office, and emerged a minute later with a young woman who trotted over to her car and returned with cables. Everybody then proceeded to orchestrate the parking lot traffic such that the guy could pull his truck up in position to jump start Ginny, who started right up. “It’s probably just your battery,” said the pickup truck guy, “but you’ll want to get that checked out to make sure it’s not the alternator. You live close? You got everything you need to get home and whatnot?” I assured everyone that I did, and everything was allright, and thanked them all profusely, thinking again how much I like my small Midwestern town, where multiple strangers of obviously varying racial and economic backgrounds, ages, careers and so on, wouldn’t dream of not springing into action to help out a mom with a kid and car trouble on a miserable hot day.

The same thing proved out at the GM dealership not a mile away, as I decided — it being almost 5pm by this time — that if I just headed home, I’d have the same problem, and be down a dead end road a few miles out of town, so the smart thing to do would be to see if I couldn’t just manage to get the problem solved forthwith. I pulled into the service area, hopped out (leaving the car running and Edward watching it as I stood a few yards away) and explained my problem and that, with my better half out of town overnight, we’d no other transportation for now and so on. “We’ll take care of you,” they said, and some 90 minutes and a new battery later, all was well.

I couldn’t help thinking how if this had happened in the parking lot at, say, Fry’s Electronics, I’d probably still be sitting in the parking lot today, unless somebody had called the cops on me for loitering, or something. It wouldn’t have been a virtually stress-free inconvenience causing nothing worse than missing the bead shop’s hours and a late dinner.

“Hey, Edward,” I said later, over that dinner, “Did you notice how lots of people went out of their way to help us out today?”

“Yeah!” he replied. “Why did they?”

“Well,” I told him, “we were lucky, for one thing. And we should be sure to remember to be grateful for it, and be the same kind of people ourselves.” I reminded him of the time he and I had given a lady with a flat tire a ride to her in-laws’ house, taking 30 or 40 minutes of our evening to do so, somewhat to his irritation at the time.

“Does that mean we’re all even with the karma of it now?” he asked.

“Well, some folks would definitely say it was karma that meant we got helped, when we’ve helped someone before, but I don’t think there’s any real making it even,” I said. “I think the way it works is that if you want there to be people in the world who’ll help a stranger, you have to be a person who’ll help a stranger. After all, if you wouldn’t do it, why should anybody else?”

He nodded, thinking about that. “Makes sense,” he said. That’s the thing I’m happiest about with this whole story — that it makes sense to him in that way, that it’s good for a person to be helpful and kind without a clear motive other than kindness and doing right, because the world needs people who are kind and generous and helpful and not looking to get something out of it. I’m glad of an object lesson that shows him one gets out of the world what one puts into it.

I’m also glad that, instead of having a dye day today as I had planned, I decided to sit down, have one more cup of coffee, and write this up! Why? Because shortly after I sat down, it began to thunder and rain, and close to an inch has fallen while I’ve been writing this. With lightning getting closer, I think I’m going to shut off unneeded electronics and go sit and spin a while instead.

And hey — Ginny’s battery could have given up the ghost in this downpour instead of last night. We’ve just got all kinds of great luck, and I’m thankful for all of it.

Triangle Progress

In-progress shots of lace are always so disappointing. But I’m sure enough of you are lace knitters to know that, and thus be able to do a little light imagining…

The Triangle (will somebody name this for me? I am no good at naming things, I fear) has grown to the point of being about 30 inches, unblocked, across the top.

I’m not sure if I have enough beads to complete this as I desire. I’ve also reached the conclusion that these beads are not of particularly high quality, and this means I’ve reached that point in a project where the first real pangs of remorse set in: this was a time-consuming yarn, it’s time-consuming knitting, and I’m putting $3 worth of cheap glass beads on it? What was I thinking? Could I not perhaps have shelled out, oh, $5? What if, when I get this sucker wet to block it, the beads turn into crap?

But I’m committed.

Oh, for a better view of the beads, look here for the mega-fullsize version, Flickr style.

Of course, that’s them in the full sun… and they’re sorta iridescent. So they almost look better here:

In other news, I’m less than 20% done, it would seem; the remaining ball of yarn weighs 3.25 ounces, and the skein weighed 4 ounces. But because of how it’s built up, I do not anticipate that this means the finished shawl will be 12 feet across. I’m guessing more like 6 feet.

This weighing, too, creates project angst and remorse. What was I thinking? If I work on this straight through in all my evening time till August, I’ll have… a massive thing. Maybe my original plan is flawed. Perhaps I should change it (No, Abby, continue with the plan, you know you always do this, continue with the plan!) Maybe I should put it aside for a while (You can’t do that, it’s on your 60″ 2.5mm circular needle and you are NOT to leave that stuck in a UFO!)

Nope. Nope, it’s time to summon up the project faith. It is a good plan, and a good project, and it will work out wonderfully. Keep going.

Oh, the random! But there is fiber content, I promise.

Saturday morning dawned, and with the boy at his grandparents’ house we were waking up slowly. Chad made some smart-aleck remark, and I retorted, paraphrasing the episode of “Deadwood” we’d watched the previous night: “I no more need your witticisms than I do a balloonist!”

I looked out the bedroom window and there, drifting just above the trees bordering the neighbours’ horse pasture, was a big red hot air balloon. “Hey Chad,” says I, “There’s a balloon out here, really close!”

“What was that about a balloonist?” he quipped. I laughed. “Can you see how many people are in it?” he asked.

“Two, maybe three?” I guessed. Heading downstairs with thoughts of going out for breakfast, we both watched out the windows as we went. Standing in the kitchen, we looked out and saw the balloon was now very close, with two guys in it. I peered out the sliding door to the deck, and one of ’em waved, from his vantage about 20 feet over the corner of our deck. I waved back, and opened the door.

“Can we land?” the guy asked.

“Sure!” I said, and he told me he’d land right over in the front yard. “Sounds cool!” I replied, looking for my shoes. Having found them seconds later, and grabbed my camera, I headed out the front door… and saw no balloon. Instead I saw this, down by the neighbours’ driveway.

Plainly a ballon chase vehicle, having found its way down our dead-end road, no less. I left the porch and rounding the corner of the house…

As I walked over, the two fellows in the balloon introduced themselves; one was an instructor and the other was a balloonist getting his certification for commercial balloon work. The instructor hopped out, and making it look like nothing at all,

walked the balloon over to the driveway as the chase truck backed its trailer up the driveway.

We chatted as they prepared to pack up (and the chase truck driver brought up the newspaper! Delivery by balloon crew!) They made it look like an absolutely trivial thing to do…

Ever the yarn dork, of course, I was intrigued by the process of dropping the deflating balloon without the fabric or lines tangling.

I hadn’t realized there was an opening at the top of the balloon as well as the bottom, and some sort of rigging lines inside as well as out.

They just laid the whole balloon down right there evenly along the driveway. Packing it up involved tipping over the basket, and then the chase truck crew fella brought out a device that looked like nothing so much as a giant Majacraft flyer hook (you know, an open-ended twist of metal tubing, like the yarn guide on ball winders, too). They passed the fabric through this smoothing things out, then started to cram the balloon into a giant stuffsack. Once this was done, they loaded the basket on a small wheeled trailer, put everything in the truck trailer, and thanked us for letting them use the yard and driveway for landing. The instructor gave me his card and then they were off; it might have all taken half an hour.

Unlike Amy’s recent experience, we didn’t get rides; but it would have been on the early side for me to think about anything like that anyway. I was just sorry that Edward missed it. However, you know, one of the things about this particular part of Ohio — and maybe it’s Ohio at large — is that it’s nutty for anything that goes up in the air. Seriously nutty.

From spring to fall, every single weekend, the air is filled with hot air balloons. I’ve been standing on the deck and been able to see 8 at a single time (though 3 or 4 is more common). Last summer, one landed across the road. And I think there are roughly a trillion small airports around here. There’s more than one hot air balloon festival. And I’m serious about it being aviation type stuff in general, of every type — there’s a small neighbourhood not a mile away as the crow flies which has a little airstrip of its own and folks have their small planes parked next to their driveways or in little hangars on their property.

In 2003, for the Centennial of Flight, well, that was a year when the aviation-type activity here was heavy. We were out visiting, and one day driving down the road, there were literally 8 dirigibles (blimps, airships, you know) visible in the sky — and it seemed like practically every “bigger” airport had an airship hanging out at it. That year, we all met the folks crewing the Fuji blimp, which was at a nearby airport. We were there keeping our distance looking at it, and someone walked up to Edward and said, “You guys can walk right up and touch it and stuff if you like. Wanna see inside?” He got to get in. And I can’t find those pictures!

My periodontist is up by the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, and one recent visit I was sitting in the chair watching big planes land — like I hadn’t seen since the year they landed some of those same unbelievably massive planes at Moffett Field a few years ago. As an aside, let me tell you, those things are BIG. I mean BIG. I will never forget driving along 101 as one of ’em came in for a landing and there it was in front of me, over me, blocking out the sun, looking far too massive to possibly be in the air — those things just defy the brain’s image of what it’s possible to put in the sky.

Let’s see, what other evidence of local aviation-madness can I find… ah! Going to do certain kinds of shopping requires driving past the home of the Wright “B” Flyer and nothing in the area lets you forget the Wright Brothers did their thing in Dayton. And occasionally, here in town, you’ll hear about Neil Armstrong, who recently moved closer to Cincinnati, but lived here for decades, leaving an almost disconcertingly unassuming mark on the place, in things like teeny tiny plaques that are all but hidden from sight in places he helped out at (like the Y where Edward goes to summer camp).

In fact, digressing a little bit, that whole attitude largely characterizes the local mindset — everybody’s just some dude who wants to be a regular schmoe, mow the yard, wave to the neighbours, be regulars at the same restaurants and businesses, raise kids, go to school plays, watch the fireworks from the back yard, and be generally friendly and personable but not intrusive in anyone else’s life. I swear the culture shock almost killed me (but in a good way), moving here from Silicon Valley.

Anyway, so the hot air balloon guys are just out doing what they do, which is no big deal or uncommon thing, and they’re very polite about the use of someone’s yard for landing, which is a routine enough matter that — I later heard from my mother-in-law — the standard, acknowledged convention is that people put a bedsheet in the yard to let balloonists know it’s totally cool to land. So, it wasn’t like it was a special occasion or anything; in fact I’m sure if I walk outside right now and look up, I’ll see hot air balloons. Just not one landing in my yard.

Oh, and before I move on to the actual fiber content for the day, I’d just like to state that in my opinion, the Transformers movie is the best summer blockbuster type movie in quite some time. Therefore I won’t say anything else about it, really, save that Edward totally numbed my arm clinging to it during incredible CG effects-laden fight sequences, when he wasn’t sitting with his mouth agape in glee or identifying which guys were which for me. And yes, it’s an incredibly good GM commercial, and that doesn’t detract from the summer-blockbuster-ness of it at all. Special effects galore, no more than 90 seconds without action sequences, exactly what you need in a summer blockbuster. Pure entertainment.

So anyway, yeah, the fiber content. It’s still too hot to spin, even with the air conditioning on (as it has been and will continue to be), so I’ve been working on that triangle again.

It’s now that big, or actually maybe 2 inches wider at the top part now, so 25 inches across the top unblocked. Shown here, I was moving it from the short 2.5mm circular needle to the long one, so this was a great chance to take a picture.

I decided that certain design elements in this shawl were simply going to end up being far too understated, and that disappointed me as I felt they were among the cleverer parts; the parts that I had to throw in to keep me on my toes so I’d finish the project (since, as I’ve explained before, if I get bored, I stop knitting). Soooo….


Yeah, beads. Iridescent beads which I decided I needed to sort by colour. Talk about an exercise in … uh… trying to go blind perhaps.

Anyway, the shawl is top-down from the top center out, around a corner, so that the yarn will stripe in an interesting way. Building on that are diamonds, at a 45% angle to the stripes. Moving out from there, diamond-shaped blocks of 5 diamonds on a side are bordered with lines of leaves, which will be progressing in diamond shapes. This was the design element that I felt was too understated. So, now it’s being punched up with the centers of the leaves being beaded, so that when the shawl is all said and done, there’ll be lines of beads at a 90% angle to the stripes, along the centerline of some of the diamonds, progressing in a diamond-shaped pattern throughout the shawl. Lastly, a beaded edge is planned for the legs of the triangle (not the base, at the neck side).

Wow, does that ever make no sense to describe! You’ll just have to keep watching as this progresses. And it promises to be large — remember, there’s 1100 yards of this yarn, and my plan is to go till I’m done. I’d say that right now I’m probably through the first 20% of the skein. Maybe. Honestly I’ve no idea; I would have to weigh the skein or something, and I can’t be bothered!

Friday Morning, huzzah!

Friday morning, and Thursday did result in almost all the batt club boxes making it out the door. The remaining 4 go today, whew!

Yesterday also brought me this:

Thank you, Amy! As it happens, I was just thinking, “man, I need a little bag to put some of these things on my end table into, it’s a disaster area.” But more important…

…she nailed me with these batts. Again! These are BFL, mohair, silk, and alpaca, with the mohair and alpaca being from farms in Maine. I love love love this colour, too.

While I was snapping pictures, I threw this in the White Reflective Box Thingy With Lights Pointing At It (that’s the technical term).

That’s the plied, skeined Hummingbird yarn from a few posts back, when it was shown on the bobbin.

I had big plans of spinning those Spunky batts right up, but by the time I got downstairs to the slothing chamber and seated in my La-Z-Boy with a fresh bobbin on the Suzie Pro, I realized it was just too hot and muggy for me to feel like spinning anything. So instead, I gave in to startitis!

…what? Okay, it’s this:

which is that merino/tencel skein from yesterday, and some US 2 Bryspun bendy needles, and a bit of random started lace.

By the end of the evening it was this:

and soon, it’ll move to circulars.

Oh, why is this so early, you might ask? I was awakened.

Good morning!