Wednesday, March 29, 2006

At least they don't need socks

oh, very well, Doug, have it your way. People are cutting through the backyard.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Monday, March 27, 2006

Fiber fest April 22

We are having some kind of fiber party here April 22. I mentioned this last month but I think it might be an idea to mention it again. I hope some of you all can come. There is a remote chance my Loom Room will be fully functional by then, if we get the gas fake-woodstove thing connected, only 11 months after I think the second "I hope it's ready by" deadline.

Regardless, the hot tub is doing well and it may be warm enough to be outside, in which case Doug and I will mix up some dyes to play with on the porch. We plan to have food and drink.

My email, as I have not said often enough, is lauraej atttt tds dought net, if you want to repondre, SVP, or get directions.

And I must thank the fabulous Claudia LB for her gift of needles to the Smith dorm Knitting Library. I have to find a way to glue a tiny brass plaque onto each one, with the donor's name; maybe I should put what size needle it is on, too.

Blogging is

so much more important than paying bills, right?

My dreadful mood has evened out. I am almost caught up at my job because the boss has been away for four days; unfortunately he's coming back and he will find more things to do that will take roughly two and half hours each.

I have been using my new elliptical trainer regularly, and while I am not taller or blonder or thinner I think after three weeks my knees and ankles are stronger. It was not cheap, but it lives in my bedroom and is very, very easy to get to, even in pajamas, unlike a class or a healthy walk outside. I hope for fat to melt away, but I will be very pleased even if I just get stonger and don't feel wifty when I leave my rut like I did on the trip to New York. I was appalled by my general unfitness and the fact that I really could not see in any detail very far. So I decided to get the elliptical thing, and I have a really great pair of glasses from Sears. I can see. And I can walk up more of my driveway without needing medical intervention.

And it has been warmer. You might as well live. In today's photos you may note an unusual effect -- _bright light_ coming out of the SKY. Very strange.

Yesterday, although it was not really very warm and only sunny for a microsecond or two, I worked in the garden.

Chainsaws on sumac and stainless steel loppers,
No bugs except for some poor cold grass hoppers
no sweat and few leaves to hide anything
These are some reasons to garden in spring...

You can see me dancing around on my hillside in a dirndl with the chainsaw.... it's electric and I had about 150 feet of extension cord going. I don't think I could dance with a gas chainsaw, as they are almost too heavy to heft. They probably work better. The loppers worked very well and gave my switch-gripping hand a rest. I got about a third done and now I _really_ need a chipper-shredder.

There were old stumps where the sumac was temporarily discouraged by a previous owner; I do not entertain hope that I will do anything but keep it to a murmur. Underneath it was a festive mix of carnivorous rose and bittersweet, a pestilential vine that strangles trees. This is not going to be be easy to make into a patch of anything else. I need something invasive and aggressive with shallow roots. It is the edge of the septic seep-field and I am not supposed to grow anything with serious roots. I didn't grow the sumac, but its very definite roots add a certain legitimacy to my desires to cut it down.

It's not that I hate all sumac; I have another patch if I need to use it for natural dyeing. I am trying to cut back a festering ridge of it so I can see a little farther downhill to a meadowy bit with a nice stone wall -- actually it grows fruitless crawling raspberry, poison ivy, bittersweet and carnivorous rose, but it looks serene from a distance. I once saw a fox there and I think a woodchuck lived under the burn pile -- which is a festering sore in itself and needs more sorting out and a truck for the things the previous owner never burned... There's lots to do here.

Like the bills and the taxes and this weekend is the Smith science fiction convention and I am also putting off getting more ready for the spinning workshop, the one I am giving, you know, maybe I should get a few things together....

Image hosting by Photobucket

Here are some scarves.

The blue and magenta one is Debbie Bliss alpaca and silk. Imagine the yellowy one twice, since I have made two of it, and imagine a purple one in the same yarn. And, visible, a Manos of Uruguay one-skein wonder, I hope; there was a yarn sale at the Fiber Studio this weekend. I only got this and one other thing, well, three skeins of the one other thing. And two very small balls of another. And a flax spinning workshop. I mean, compared to Doug I was very well-behaved.

There is certainly not a cat in this picture, regardless of what Asterix thought there ought to be.

Image hosting by Photobucket
This is the ZigZag Hat,

which is not quite done and I have to rip the crown back and count the divisions more accurately. Could be worse.

Image hosting by Photobucket

It is probably the tidiest thing on the inside I have ever made and very soothing.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Now this is a picture of a cat. He thinks it's very bright all of a sudden, too.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


See, a change of scene. Now the sane person: I did finish a soft little alpaca scarf for Doug, which he likes and I hope he doesn't sweat through it too much before I take a picture. I liked it, too, since it looks tidy on the front and the back and this is never asomething to take for granted.

I have half of an inconsequential Firenze scarf for which I have misplaced the second skein. I am hoping it got left in Northampton when I picked up the daughter at school. Then I cast on a Trekking sock and a scarf and a hat. The sock will go on, in a bit. The scarf may get frogged and restarted (I was having trouble following the pattern in the midst of the conversation that day, and there is a slight fear in my heart that it may be just hideous -- the yarn is a bit odd. But will the recipient think it is hideous?)

The hat is a ZigZag hat designed by Kelly Bridges, one of the goddesses at the Elegant Ewe. It involves two contrasting skeins of Koigu or similar (I am using a blackish Koigu and a mottled red Tradewinds. because myy son has a black-red thing going on)with a rolled rim, a braid, and then a nice big zig-zag. I cast it on on Sunday and I am about half done, which goes to show that it is easy yet interesting and satisfying in its increments. And I will post pictures really soon. Knitting is good.

Wicked speryts

So you know, I have already remembered to take the motherwort, and I hope it helps. I used to get PMS in advance. I still do. But the last couple of months it's also been great fun around the first couple days of the period, WITH cramps, thank you, and yes, I have wished myself and quite a few other people dead.

So I hope I feel better soon. I think I might like a few days on the Gulf of Mexico but no one would go with me and I wouldn't like them anyway if they spoke to me or breathed or anything pushy like that. I can't think of much else I would like, although sleeping more and not going to work would be on the list.

Kind people whom I like ask me how I am and I try to manuever around the fact that if we talk about anything consequential I will probably cry, and nothing new is the matter, except that last week I could work in the garden and this week I could get frostbite.

I think I am also at the part of New Job where I have been there for four months and I feel like I should know everything and I don't. It feels like every day something new comes up that I ought to have done, and every week I find out new things I hate about Microsoft Outlook. It must be nice to be whomever it was designed for.

It is indeed nice and sunny. I know there are people out there going for walks and seeing interesting birds. I think it's too damned cold and I am tired of that, too.

I do have a couple of snowdrops and some optimistic birds telling one another about sex and territory.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

First garden-exhaustion of the year

It was warm again today, though not sunny, and rain was forecast. Unusually, I got my act together and went outside to work in the garden, with the result that I was shot to flinders by 1:30.

Doug had announced his intention of mowing over the hillside to get all of last year's goldenrod stems, etc. I think the birds have got all there may be to get off these stalks, and we knew we would not discommode too many grasshoppers (there are a few, small brown ones who must have hibernated) and no toads at all this time of year. So I marked all the daffodils coming up with pin flags (which actually looked pretty festive, a remark about how little color there is this time of year) and Doug mowed the daylights out of almost everything in sight.

I pulled up two huge bags of God-awful trailing raspberry out of the strawberry patch, pulling up relatively few strawberries, and there were actually some that lived through last summer.

Then I mowed through a hug patch of crown vetch, reduced by winter to a wispy hay that Doug raked into a good position so I could reduce it to dust. I love my lawn mower. It helps itself go up hills. It eats small sticks. It is not exceptionally heavy or deafeningly noisy.

The good thing about gardening this time of year, where it isn't too muddy, is that it's not too hot to wear all-leather gloves. We got no sunstroke, and no bug bites. The only trouble was that those raspberry roots that were lower than about three inches were set in ice, and would not come out. I do think, however, that I have slowed it down and it shouldn't take over the strawberries again for at least a couple months.

Then tonight I spent way too much money on the Stark Bros. catalogue. I am usually threatening to evict Doug as soon as he finishes unpacking, but now he has something to hold over me. I am going to need help digging holes.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Sheep-Shearing at Shaker Village

I had been wondering, given that they only have two sheep, how it would go and whether anyone would come.

Given the breezy weather in the 50's (sweatshirts! no hats, no mittens!) and the human desire to get out of the house and go somewhere pretty,Sarah lucked out. She deserved good luck because she had made careful preparation: she had lined up a bunch of volunteers, and she had rented sheep. Actually, some 3 or 4 Tunis sheep, including a ewe with twin lambs, came with the shearers. They were a woman who knew a lot and and man who did the shearing. Althoung with the sheep, they brought (and used, powered by bystanders) a really fine mechanical set of shears with a hand-cranked power-source, from sometime early the last century, perhaps?

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Note the weird and very successful iron jointed arm attaching the shearer to the grinder. The crank part made a fine noise, more threatening than a sewing machine but not too different.

After I watched the sheep-rassling, I went inside. There were enough people wanting know what the carder was and how the spinning wheels worked that I barely had a chance to demonstrate the spindle, and I didn't notice that 10 am to 2 pm neatly overlooked lunch. Apparently they had over 200 people come through. I think Doug and I did some fine enabling, particularly of a young man of maybe 10, who really got into color-blending on the carder while we taught his mom and dad to spindle spin. He said, "I have a loom at home I haven't done much with lately. Now I want to go home and use it." He planned to get his mother to spin for him, which we said was fine but he could also learn to spin himself. His father said to his mother, "There's a loom in our house?" We suggested they should go to NH Sheep and Wool. She said she thought she would prefer getting herself a spindle in Peru. A family I liked.

Then Doug and I went home and had tea with my parents, who had arrived in spite of warnings about the condition of the house and were found chiseling detritus off the stove and washing the sink. Not the dishes in the sink, which were now in the dishwasher, but the sink. These people are welcome any time. It was after 3 by then but still warm enough to sit on the porch in the sun without special protective clothing.

They refused to stay for dinner so Doug and I were forced by our exhaustion to go have a tasty supper in the village.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

on a cheery note

My daughter does not knit, but I like her anyway. Alert readers may have noticed I am fond of the other women on the hall in her dorm too. Many of them knit. It would be hard to describe a Smith student as underprivileged, but the individual young women don't generally have money to burn. They knit for each other and for charity and they are financing part of the Smith science fiction convention (ConBust, another undertaking dear to my heart, and my daughter is actually involved in that one) with the proceeds of a craft fair.

Since I end up driving people to WEBS whenever I can when I am there, I usually have a ball or so to wind myself. While I was holding someone immobile with her hands out I had the (to me, at least) brilliant idea to endow my daughter's dorm with a swift and a ball winder. This grew into The Knitting Library.

I think it will look like a large box, with some donated yarn, some donated needles, and a three-ring binder to hold some patterns and some lists of good places to go online and Dulaan flyers and how to dye with food coloring in your illicit microwave and so forth. We think it should be in the custody of a senior and passed on when she graduates with some ceremony. The house has great esprit de dorm (yes, they do like to sleep, but that wasn't what I meant), so I think the Library will remain vital even after I stop dropping in on it.

If you want to unburden yourselves of any yarn or needles or patterns, this will be a good home. I am composing a bookplate type label, and since I keep my short and circular needles in a three-ring binder full of labelled Ziplock bags, you can have a set of needles donated in the name of a loved one or something, the full college endowment experience but without the bricks and brass plaques.

Or if you have a child away from home in a communal setting you might want to endow a knitting library yourself.

Knit on, regardless

So I have had a couple of days paying the dues for membership in the "No, of Course I'm Not Bitter[most of the time]" Divorced Persons Club (if you need the link to the NYT storythat set me off, go look in Enchanting Juno's comments) and I went to archaeology lab to wash rocks (and incidentally introduce two of the sweetest, cutest, most-likely-to-get-you-booked-on suspicion-of-Dealing pocket-sized tenth-of a gram scales, on which we weigh flakes of rock) and see the new issue of American Archaeology, which has a very nice story about SCRAP, my NH archaeology outfit, and used one of my pictures. Printed full-page, in color, and credited to Laura E. Johnson.

Which is not my name. Try the third president, not the 36th, okay?

There are just days you can't win.

They misspelled the author's name, too. He has 2 L's.

And their website doesn't load.

Friday, March 03, 2006

really, I have left for work

Tonight I am zooming to Northampton to see the daughter and then zooming home Saturday afternoon, when, of course, I will take the cardboard blocking the entrance of my house to the recycling center and tidy the downstairs and sort and put away the laundry... or maybe I should stay in Northampton until Monday morning.

I was faithful to the pink sweater during the Olympics and am now about 1/3 done with both sleeves. And I made a little fuzzy Firenze scarf, because it was 14 st across, in garter stitch, and so much fun I have the yarn for another one for the daughter and a third promised for someone else. Firenze is on sale at the Elegant Ewe. It is not a serious yarn and has no natural ingredients.

While I was getting an 18" circular for the sleeves, and incidentally the second batch of Firenze, I started fondling some Debbie Bliss alpaca silk and talked myself into a small very squishy scarf for Doug the housemate. Right now scarves seem to be like potato chips and I want to eat more than one.

Pictures will follow.