Thursday, March 31, 2005

Because I am lazy

No pictures. But the signs of spring are becoming almost ominous:
The state of NH suggests we take down our birdfeeders by April 1, as the bears will becoming out of hibernation. My local bear or bears is an early riser, and bent a quarter-inch steel rod in a bracket straight down, removing a birdfeeder from a height of at least eight feet. That was Sunday morning.

Sometime recently, Sarah ordered a dozen Araucana chicks, due here the first week of May.

On Tuesday, the cat and I wondered what was up because crows were making a racket. We looked out the window. We don't usually even have crows. Or a red-tailed hawk in the big tree over there... it made a few remarks about the placement of chicken coops and left.

I drove out a bit later, passing I think a doe, certainly a deer, a white-tailed deer, most of the way down my excessive driveway. I stopped to check the mail and heard a red-winged blackbird. This suggests there is at least a dampland there. Cool.

When Sarah and I got back from our weaving class , she surprised a possum, who ran under the porch.

I am not as far along in the warping as Sarah is, but I haven't messed it up yet, either. Go me!

Last night I ripped out (the first border and the second one up to half way through the messed-up second repeat of) the flower-basket shawl all the cool kids are making (see Sarah again, and the Harlot, and everyone...) and started it again in purple Rittrata. I like the homespun I was using but the object had too much fudging by the time I pulled it out, and the loudness of the yarn was not making it easier to follow the vagaries of the pattern. God willing, I will make at least two of these small shawls and get to use the homespun again. It is peach/raspberry melba colored tencel and silk I spun at least eighteen months ago, seduced by the color and shine of the roving.

My father likes his socks. My ex likes her scarf. These are gratifying things. Now I want to start a pair of socks for my contractor (though if I want him to finish up and leave, it's supposed to be a sweater, right?).

I have been giving my right index finger a rest and not spinning much (I think it has tendonitis. A copper ring, arnica, and aspirin all help). Today I am leaving for Northampton, by way of picking up an Ashford traddy Doug has bought from someone and Helen of Bay Colony Farm. Once in Northampton, I will take a two day class on Tablet Weaving at WEBS, and then go to the Smith science fiction convention. And bask in the sunlight of my daughter's presence till Sunday night or Monday.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

For once I was the good guy

Yesterday my friend Doug came over to help me organize the basement, install lights, varnish the new room, demolish part of the deck. Only first he wanted to go to the Fiber Studio
because he wanted to get his friend Jackie in Florida a drop spindle (if I made Doug into a spinner and he makes Jackie into a spinner, am I entitled to 25% of her stash?).

I visited the Fiber Studio a week ago Friday (needed Sof-Twist), last Saturday(sale), last Sunday(visitors from MA), last Wednesday (to ask about wheel), last Thursday (to put the new wheel together), and then yesterday with Doug. On Tuesday, Sarah and I are starting a three hours a week for the next eight weeks weaving course. But I don't need to go there often, I can stop any time.

As it happened, they had a couple of drop spindles, and now have three fewer. We both bought silkweight Woodchucks and he got Jackie a nice Emily. I also got a small bump of silk and Merino and wandered around harmlessly. Doug found a pair of two-pitch Indigo hound combs and a couple of small shuttles and just one skein of rayon handpainted.

We went back toward my house, stopping in Henniker proper to look into the quilt shop. It is a lovely small quilt shop, and I have behaved very well there so far. Doug has a new sewing machine, but what he really wanted was white woolen flannel to dye for rug-hooking. The very nice woman uggested the Fiber Studio, but we had just been there. "Well, " she said, "Dorr Mills is just down the road."

Doug and I bought soup and apples at the grocery store and set out for Newport. Dorr Mills sells nice Pendleton clothes and blankets in a rather bleak setting, then you go into the next room... a sensual buffet of beautifully dyed woolens, well-displayed rug-hooking pattern and everything you need, including igolochokoy needles. I already have igolochkoy needles. I even already have rug hooks, because of Curlypurl, and a failed first project looking awful in a box. So I only bought a smallish piece of monk's-cloth and a small frame, which was under $15 and exactly what I knew I needed from trying it on a hoop. Doug got his flannel and a fine cat rug design and many bits and pieces.

We went back, at last, to my house and removed one box and two armloads of the previous owner's detritus. We surveyed the proposed subtractions from the deck, which will permit a decent view from the new room and provide lumber for Sarah's chicken coop (she is expecting a dozen chickies the first week of May). I tacked my cloth onto the frame and made about four stitches. Then we went out to dinner and and came back and Doug knitted another couple of row on his bunny square , and I made freeform loops out of a pile of really pretty yarn I imagine I space dyed but I can't recall ever having seen before (some things probably leave one's own stash and go to someone else's through L-Space).

Pictures will follow. My new wheel is fine. It works. I have to go to Boston. I wish everyone a good feast of whatever sort of resurrection she or he needs most.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


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Snowdrops and crocus.

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But Roosevelt, the last of the three guinea pigs we moved here with, has passed on. I hope he finds a nice herd in heaven.

My father's socks continue. My ex's scarf is finished! With two skeins of Sof-Twist and two and a half of Cancun, you can make a 20-stitch across scarf on size 13 needles.

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I am also working on scarf that will be for me, because I have messed up the lace pattern. I could tear it out. In fact, I did tear out the first set of confusion. Why this pattern (two rows, one all purl: not rocket science) waits to mess until I have knitted four to seven inches of it, I do not know. But after the first misadventure, I discovered Portrait ( a lovely Monet-colored mohair --oh, now I remember why I don't ever buy mohair...) was not only wispy and lovely but magically _self-felting_. It does not rip out. Either I admit I have made the cat another fetching little shawl, or I live with some snarls. It's still very pretty, in a kind of cyanobacteria, primeval slime way. This picture shows the scarf before the second set of mistakes. It is indistinct, which is accurate, but not as good a color as the real thing. It's much longer now. As a first venture into lace it could be much more discouraging.

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you got the hippy cookie
yo, respect to you, love to all

find your inner cookie
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Actually they need a gluten-free cookie. I suppose she would be slimy and very dry.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blame Massachusetts. I have no backbone.

There were a few Thrillers who were supposed to come visit the Saturday it snowed a foot here. I advised them not to come. I thought maybe they would be able to visit this weekend. I know they had excellent reasons for not coming yesterday, but after I mentioned the sale at Fiber Studio (still going on today) you would have thought they'd have realized the dangerous position they put me in... Sarah has THREE wheels, so the voice of reason was clearly not living in this house.

I ordered a Kromski Symphony, even though my Joy still works just fine. Shame. Excess.

The one in the shop (already spoken for, alas) was so elegant, and so stable. The clear finish.
Pam thinks I should have it maybe by the end of the week.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Sunny, sunny, SUNNY!

with much melting. I love it. And there are at least two, possibly three orange-breasted nuthatches visiting my feeder, to say nothing of the usual gold and purple finches, juncoes, chickadees, and woodpeckers.

The living room is still tidy, I think because I have not sat in it. On Wednesdays, one washes rocks at the lab in Concord on behalf of the living ( the people of New Hampshire and specifically, us in SCRAP (see link at sidebar)) and the very dead, in this case say 7-9000 years ago. They sure made a mess in that quarry. We have been washing some of the returns from that dig since the summer of 2000. They are not very interesting, even as flakes of weathered gray stone go. My morale has been lifted by Dawn, a volunteer/part time contract digger part-time Wal-Mart employee, who says her mom and her friends constantly complain about her obsessive tendencies. They are so very welcome in the lab. Just seeing the neatly stacked, carefully inventoried stack of plastic bags (of horrible rocks) helps me believe we will one day finish the stuff. And then some lucky grad student can study it.

My ex came for lunch. The main reason he is my ex is that he was transsexual and is now legally Jennifer. I am making her a garter-stitch scarf in Charles' Cancun and Sof-twist. It is kind of busy but very Eastery and I just wanted to knit something in pastels. Please don't look down on me.

My father tried on the first complete sock today; I am about a quarter of the way up the second cuff and he refused to risk injury trying on the second. Since he and my mom were buying lunch I could hardly force the issue. Lovely as the Mountain Goat Moose River is, it's NOT springlike colors.

We have now completed Ellie's mittens, even to a fancy button so she can hang them to dry. The button is not a quiet color, but then neither are the mittens. She likes them. I really, for whatever reason, enjoyed twining them and having them turn out thick but flexible and still fluffy (even if working with half-alpaca for the mittens and kid mohair in the socks is making Wendy Merino seem kind of harsh by comparison).

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This doesn't quite show the colors true.

Since I have been working on this entry rather sporadically, it's now Saturday rather than Thursday. Last night Sarah and I spun. Because of Yarn Harlot, the time spent preparing the fiber and pre-drafting was noticeable. Sometimes actually preparing the roving helps, unless the roving has been savaged so much by cats and carelessness that the neps are irrremovable (I know a lot about this). In the process of tidying I found a roving I dyed one day when the Sheep Thrillers got together. The Yarn Harlot navaho plies. I do not, at least yet (Sarah did, though, and it came out nicely as her yarn usually does. It's a good thing I like her).
I split the roving down the middle and then fluffed it out.
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To my surprise and delight quite a lot of the colors in each ply spun together. The barber-poling is not overwhelming. I only wish I had more than maybe 15 grams of the roving. More dyeing is in my future. Would New England-area readers want to try to get together here with Sarah and me sometime?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

After all, the Red Sox won

So I have been doing serious housework (abetted and sometimes aided by my dear daughter). Also tomorrow her father is coming to visit (the best ex-husband in the world), the next couple of days my parents are coming to visit, and on Saturday there might be a pair or perhaps even a trice of Sheep Thrillers.

So I vacuumed under the couch cushions and found a number 4 sock needle. Virtue likes a reward on the side.

Yesterday Ellie and I did Archival Tidying in the kitchen. Archival Tidying means doing things that are perceptible after more than, say three days (unlike laundry, dishes, or sweeping). She reorganized the spices (this is heavier lifting than it sounds) and I put an shelf up int he pantry so we now have real room for baking stuff (gluten-free and gluten-inclusive) and things like canned fruit. This involved Doing Something, part II, with the Mead. I went on mead-making binge last year while I was trying to find this house. One is supposed to let it age a long time, recanting it monthly. I let it rest about five months and the airlocks dried out, not surprisingly. So I was not amazed that the jug I tried last week (Part I) was kind of icky. Alcoholic, yes, but only Doug seemed to like drinking it. So I apple-jacked it, breaking federal law, and put it outside to freeze. The water ice was really nifty, in very thin wafers with mead in between the layer. I drained it in a sieve, losing about half the volume and tried some. It did not seem much more alcoholic and it tasted wonderful.

I expected the next couple of jugs to be similar, and I have set one out to freeze (in a plastic bowl). One of the other, whowever, was _delicious_ and does not need applejacking. It also had a kick like a mule; about a quarter-cup -- less than half a wineglass -- and I was anybody's. Fortunately no one was there but Sarah and I sobered up by dinner time.

Today I have stayed straight (vacuuming and alcohol don't mix) . The kittens are off being spayed and it is very quiet here.

What sort of pie am I?

Sweet... sweet... cherry pie.
You are:
Cherry Pie

completely over-sexed. You're so sensual that
it's ridiculous. You can't stop thinking about
things that make you feel good. Which would be
ok, if you didn't keep leaving stains

Happy Pi(e) Day! What sort of pie are you?
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I kinda like this, I must say. Superficial though the questions were.

In other news:
Photos and comments on climate change, which is to say, global warming:
Surfaces clean of ice for the first time in 11,000 years. This is actually turning up some interesting artifacts in the Arctic, but on the whole I would prefer not to see them.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

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I knit nearly all the rest of Ellie's second mitten, I tidied the kitchen (a little), I spun some previously dyed roving while I tried to decide whether I should pin a bunch of fine yarn and dye it, or dye roving, and I reread _Practical Demonkeeping_. Everyone toted wood and fed it to the moderately helpful woodstove. Ellie made gluten-free battered tofu and chips.

The mitten is apparently a different pattern from the first mitten. Since I wasn't using a pattern, this is not too surprising. The first one is more beautiful and the second one fits better. I am not ripping either one.

More pictures will follow. It is indeed too damn much snow, but it is so very pretty here. I wish I had more birdseed, but I am managing to keep some going on the surface for the birds who prefer not to use the feeders. Why goldfinches are so messy that they get about half a tub on the ground BEFORE every snowstorm, limiting the resources for themselves as well as everyone else... mutter.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Why, can it be?

Yes, it's snowing again.

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This postpones two Sheepthrillers' visit from MA, coming north to wrest riches and find fiber from sheep's warehouses, filling cars with warm snow-whiteness and rainbow's weavings[ed. note: ie, fleece and dyed yarn-goods], infusing the camellia and spreading sweetness [could mean some kind of dye-process or a reference to TEA, qv "The Importance of Caffeine in Fiber Gatherings of the Northeast"]; hardy shoppers, but not fool-hardy, they will wait to try their tires on tarmac, not the glarey glaze of ice and slush...

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or I could just be losing it, here. They are suggesting we'll get a foot.

Which could mean I will finish my father's second sock, now up to cuff, and my daughter' second mitten, now nearly down to thumb.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What Sarah and I did last Saturday

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

an innocent comment provokes more response than she probably wanted

Sara Lamb, who bears my near-drooling admiration with characteristic grace, writes:

> Is your new book Woven Into The Earth? It's a little deep for me (I glaze over) and the pictures are all *brown* things (duh, they've been in the *earth*), but it is a great read.

That's the one. I used to feel that way reading about archaeology and fiber, but I can finally cope. Not that I really want to be on a dig with surviving cloth (in this country it would probably mean Colonial or later, ewwwww) but I get a warm feeling seeing that some of the dead get credit for the _immense_ amount of work they did to stay alive: all of that cloth from spindle-spun and they still had the energy to make decorative edges.
I am working with some garish handspun that struck me as not _quite_ the right gauge, so I added some nice Frog Tree alpaca to change the texture about one needle size up. In a matching purple, and I could just go take it off the shelf. No raising alpacas, harvesting fleece, cleaning, preparing, spinning, and dyeing (though all of these things are fun if you have the choice not to do them). I suppose if you add in the drive to Concord, the cost of the car and the roadways in personal and global terms (although, to be fair, I hope producing the Frog Tree is helping out some Peruvians)... not quite so cheap. But imagine the luxury we have in being able to get any color, _amazing_ , unnatural variety in kinds of fiber... a certain amount of choice in whether to wear a sweater in the first place, and in this context particularly
You can carry it everywhere. You can do it in bed (with blankets and a warm beverage). It doesn't have to cost too much to get started. You can make, at least in theory, any width of fabric. It's stretchy. It can be economical of spun yarn, no thrums, no need for clever cutting. Those poor Norse had to weave everything. Their loom was relatively portable (compared to a floor loom) but not something one could use on the subway or in the fields. But none of the un-citified peoples seem to have had knitting, it developed so late.
One of the reasons I do archaeology is that both the activity and the science enhance my pleasure in simple things. Digging means you get tired and dirty and your muscles hurt. The value of un-humid weather, very light breezes, sunlight or shade goes up exponentially, along with appreciation for effective bug repellant, waterproof boots, sharp pruning shears, and one's hat. Unlike the people I am digging (even when they were alive), I can go somewhere to a warm, soft bed, a laundramat, a restaurant, a yarn shop, and the Internet so I am not doing anything of these things without a fairly specialized, moderately interested community.

Even with all the nagging discontents, organic depression, political despair, need for a root canal and real and present CATS ALL OVER MY KEYBOARD (you know who you are, Abbey) I still wonder at how rich I am.

Meanwhile, it snowed again yesterday, about 8". This meant Sarah Housemate stayed home from work (she is running a week-long fiber-based daycamp; today they weave) and the peer pressure meant I had to spend the day knitting. First I turned the heel on Sock One of my father's Mountain goat socks, and gave it a nice start on a cuff: P2, K2 (twisted), P2, C1 back. The 'back' was foolish and the other on will be C 1 front. Most of two inches up. (Now it's Friday. My mother spoke to me firmly about the need to work on my father's socks before it gets too warm for him to wear them. As if. Though he does run warmer than either she or I do. Five inches up, mostly done at H&RBlock.)

This was a day of unravelling: first the sparkly camo-colored scarf I had lost affection for after about 18" (sometime I will make Cool Mittlets for myself) and a doomed hat. Last fall I bought a 2 oz bump of variegated purple-pink roving and a bag of Foxfire sparkly purple at the Canterbury Shaker Village Wool day. I pleased myself no end by actually spinning it all up the next day and started a hat for the purple-tinted daughter. It became obvious that there was not really enough yarn for a hat, even with the added Frog Tree, and it languished. RIP.

I went to cast on a quick and dirty thrummed mitten. But my copy of the OOP Twined Knitting book had arrived, thanks to, and I was forced to peruse it while knitting, which meant that I found I was making a twined mitten. Not quick, even though it was worsted on size 6 needles instead of sport-weight on size 2's. Possibly uniquely hideous. But it feels wonderful (30 grams of alpaca will do that). I am making it from the tip down, because I make my socks that way by preference, and I got to make the thumb separately and stick it on. This was fun. Since I was technically without pattern, the first attempt at thumb was an interesting failure: think reservoir-tipped psychedelic mushroom. The second try went much better, and the attachment was quite exciting until I realized I had carefully attached it upside down.

I can start the second mitten, I figure, after I cast off my father's sock. The second one of those is done up to the heel.