Thursday, February 22, 2007

Some pictures and stuff

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Finally, a picture of Toby/Tobermory/Toblerone/Orange Thing/Small Stuff. He is worshipping the spinning wheel, which he finds an ingenious source of dental floss.

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Here he is in scale with Marten.

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My spoils from Spa. I have been having all kinds of ideas for the Hitch-Hiker: glossy black with big pink painted lips -> Rolling Stones Tongue -> DeadHead with Rose.

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Some (maybe most) of the Spinning Men of Spa'07 -- Doug, Scott, and their gifted student Bart. Men of few syllables.

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It snowed.

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Doug dug.

And because they don't see why the little orange job gets all the press:
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Sunday, February 18, 2007

My left foot is tired, the expanded version

We had a very good time at Spa. We made landfall in Portland on Friday night, and I really liked the Hampton Inn, but the event was at the Doubletree, so we had somewhat less social than we might have. The hotel offered a serious breakfast, as well as clam chowder and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches offered free the night we came in. They also had a hospitality room for the knitters, which was too small, so we moved into the breakfast room. But we didn't last too late.

I wish I had taken a picture of the eggs at breakfast; they were tasty but widely considered scary-looking.

I finished the vest I have been working on as we parked at the event Saturday morning, so I had something knitted to wear besides socks.
I intended not to buy much and to do a lot of spinning. I spent the first day talking to people in the dealer's room and making small, sensible purchases: some patterns, a pair of earrings I split with Doug. I showed a couple of people how to drop-spindle, and I hope I corrupted them well. MedStudentWhoKnits and I co-enabled a young woman whom I next saw spinning frog hair (one of those annoying beauiful young and gifted people, evidently), and Leslie the Shawl Pin (and hair-pin, as my hair is long enough to put back again)and I worked together for while; she has someone who will loan her a wheel. It was good seeing Linda Diak and meeting Kim Kaslow and re-meeting a bunch of people (some of whom I will need to meet several more times, but it's my problem, but theirs). I was spinning with my Spanish Peacock heart-whorled spindle and I have never had so many requests from people to let them have a spin. Perhaps because he is an SCA merchant, whose wares were new to this audience.

(There was an interruption as I was writing this last night, when the orange kitten came and fell asleep on my right hand).

Anyway, the vendors' room was quieter and cooler and had more air; the spinners' room (not that that there were not people spinning quietly everywhere else they could find that did not block fire lanes) was beyond labyrinthine and the press of chairs made it impossible to circulate. I was delighted to be with so many people who made perfectly civil, sensible conversation, even if it tended to be about wool.
It was being able to wander to and fro and meet people I knew a little or would enjoy knowing and chat and be able to breeze away with no sense of loss; I would see them again, at least that day.

I was sort of hungry. Doug said he had just had a banana. Leslie the Shawl Pin ran away from her stall and we found the bar had a menu. This did not mean it actually had food, just the promise of food. After some delay they did feed us, and then they even fed Too Much Wool. She was vexed with me because I would not tell her I preferred her new hat to her last year's hat. But later she took me to her room and produced PG Tips( hey, Cassie, they have a knitted monkey mascot; I guess the real chimps became too political) so neither I nor Leslie would faint dead away from caffeine withdrawal.

I went to try to sit down in the spinning room again, but I was distracted by a fiber event going on in the swimming area. I didn't actually get to it:About two years ago, I taught someone to spin at the Canterbury Shaker Village Wool Day, and since then Pam pops up and says "Thank you!" and I say, "You're welcome! Who are you?" I saw her several times in 24 hours, recognized her DESPITE a change of clothes, and maybe now I will know her again. (Did I take a picture of her? No. Nor of the lovely Meg Swansen Turkish Maple Leaf sweater worn by the nice woman nor the illusion knitting... Am I like, emotionally disabled, or just dumb?) Anyway. PAM (use her name several times not to forget her)'s very nice and a great spinner, with a penchant for Babe's Fiber Garden products. I had not seen the Babe Charka before. Her mother(in law?) wants her to make enough khadi homespun to weave a sari for her and a dhoti for her husband; Pam is planning to use a tabletop Western loom. I don't think Gandhi's Authenticity Police will come after her. I hope not. Pam had found a place of peace, airy space, and reasonable noise: when your wheel is PVC you have no worries about spinning at the poolside.

I was becoming kind of spacey from the socialbility and ended up again in the vendors' room, now closing for the day. But not soon enough, for I was looking at the Hitch-Hikers from Merlin Tree. I tried one last spring but I could not work the single treadle; it went in both directions. The wheel that had caught my eye this time (not a particularly unusual one, just butternut and plywood) was a lefty. I knew I was mixed brain-dominant and arhythmic, so it was not altogether surprising to find I am a left-footed spinner. David Paul and I bonded over butternut blight. He said he has only sold about 7 left-footed Hitch-hikers and two of those were for people with injured right feet. I am special.

Then 15 of us went to the Portalnd Margarita's and it was dark and noisy and two margaritas and a decent conversation and I went home and went to sleep. Doug stayed up a bit later in the hospitality room at the hotel.

The next day I wanted to get better at this single-treadle thing, so I had to buy roving. Indigo Moon is ceasing operations for a while. Wish her luck. I bought some eye candy colors from her and from Friends'n'Fibers (no website) and actually sat and spun whie the last set of doo prizes were given out. Then Doug and I found Juno and Too Much Wool and Jackie and Stitchy and Kelly and Laurie and sat and waited for lunch. I had the Hitch-Hiker and was able to spin, discreetly, under the tablecloth. People became pale and listless from lack of food and Cassie euchred Juno into doing the finish work on her hat.

Eventually, we ate. The food was good. We were all reluctant to leave, but but It Was Time. It is indeed possible to use a Hitchhiker in the front passenger seat, and I spun two ounces on the way home. Which is why my left foot was tired. It is better today.

The cats were all alive and not even too angry at us.

one thought

"Pimp my Hitch-hiker."

Having a wonderful time at Spa. More will follow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

quick summary

Life= not bad.
Major snowstorm = enroute
Vest = nearly done.
Kitten= elusive, charming.
Self= at work.

Link of the day= or take the Valentine's Day quiz and say you hate it.

quick summary

Life= not bad.
Major snowstorm = enroute
Vest = nearly done.
Kitten= elusive, charming.
Self= at work.

Link of the day=

Saturday, February 10, 2007

kitten sighted

Actually, I even got to hold him today, although at the time of writing he has apparently evaporated. One assumes he is still in the Daughter's room. Although Hobbes is a good name, he is tending toward Toby (short for Tobermory, but we hope he will be nicer than the cat in that story). Hobbes is for an older person; Toby is small.

Today he made no sounds like a short-wave radio, and seemed cautiously cheerful. I waited till noon to give him breakfast and included some chicken liver;he liked it. He ate kibble out of Doug's hand (and a chunk of Doug's thumb, but Doug says no malice was intended). Marten and he sort of played; both of them seemed eager to get to know the other, as when Marten grabbed Toby from under the bedskirt. Toby looked surprised but not upset; he rolled away. Marten definitely seemed the younger of the two ("Come on! Wanna play? Come on!") Toby looked like "So, this is a cat _not_ from my family, wow, he's BIG." No hissing. No yowling.

This may just work out.

Later Cindy B and her friend Susan came and we all did handwork, except for the cats. Susan edged a woven blanket in crochet; Doug worked on his hat. Cindy is making shooter's mitts, except they are for horse-drivers; they have breed-specific horses in intarsia on the back, and the tip of the thumb flips off like the mitten-top. I made three wristlets today, completing two pairs. They are 30 stitches around and about 6 inches long, so this is not cyclopean labor. I also wasted about two hours having every possible setback trying to make a tag for the sweater using t-shirt transfer paper. After doing everything very carefully, Cindy, who has recent transfer practice, decided my paper was old or something; we could not get the transfer-print to separate from the backing-paper after it was ironed on.

Perhaps pictures tomorrow.

Friday, February 09, 2007

I may need an intervention

SO Asterix, whose health is restored - he's still old and deaf but he's gaining weight and being annoying, which is always a healthy sign in a cat - is 17, and Mena is a sprightly nine and plays Secret Agent Kitty and is plainly SO BORED SHE COULD SCREAM. SO we decide to get he r a playmate, ideally a nerdy male kitten named Hockey Puck (Daughter suggested Robin Goodfellow had more style). Daughter is a Better Person than I am and pointed out that older shelter cats need homes too, and were harder to place. We adopt Marten, a delightful goofy maybe a year and bit old. He likes to play Ninja Kill Kitty, and he and Asterix have reached a good place, where they rarely come to grips and although Marten would dearly love to play with Asty's tail, he usually doesn't.

Mena still hisses at Marten when she sees him, and the cold snap has her playing Secret Agent Kitty in my bedroom.

Marten is SO BORED HE COULD SCREAM. He's living with codgers! Codgers! Cats to whom a hanging fringe of blanket is nothing, instead of a place to hide and leap on unsuspecting motes of dust.

And I still wanted a kitten to burn off some of my neoteny needs.

So I brought a runty little orange guy of 12 weeks home and gave him the Daughter's room as a sanctuary and he went under the bed and became invisible. He and his 3 month old litter mates and their pregnant mom ended up in the Penacook SPCA night before last, by way of one of their admin's apartment and baths with her extra silky conditioner shampoo. I think the whole family were in shock and exhaustion; although warranted healthy, they were agreeable but boneless. This morning, I have heard and seen New Guy stealthing around the room, but he is lying catto under the bed, hoping I will tell him where I keep the booze and kibble and go away. I think he needs some time to get calmer before he meets Marten.

There are not quite cats in every room in the house. I don't know what to name him ( "Hobbes" has been suggested, after a fine cartoon tiger); if he is to be Marten's sidekick then PintSize would fit, but what an awful name for a serious person, as I imagine New Guy will be in a few years. Or flat, rubber, and cylindrical.

The sweater is done. I washed it so the place I had to pick up a dropped stitch could morph into relaxation, and laid it on the floor of the fiercely cold/hot glassed-in porch to dry. Yesterday morning it was frozen absolutely stiff, which was funny. I hope to mail it off this weekend. Meanwhile, the easiest lace I have ever done - so easy I didn't need to start more than once - I have finished a Road to China wrist-mitt for my mom and started the next one. Very satisfying. Picture of same will follw, probably sooner than a picture of Orange Zorro.

Monday, February 05, 2007


I have finished both of the sleeves for the OBD sweater. Now to put them onto the body and make a neck. I don't think I have ever made anything this fast (except back in the Dark Ages when I made three vests for me and both very small kids out of rainbow-colored bulky acrylic on size 10 needles in a couple of weeks. Unfortunately they were ugly). The Daughter wants a kind of loose mock turtle neck so she can wear something underneath with no colors in common with the sweater. I don't think she worries as much about itching or about spontaneous combustion as I do. I hope the yarn holds out.

I also wanted to say that I went to the pre-Superbowl sale at the Elegant Ewe and only bought a book I did not need, a pattern for fancy wristlets, and a skein of Silk Road to make them. I like the idea of pre-Superbowl sales; I suppose one could be knitting during the game, but I prefer to think of it as a counterattack.

Friday, February 02, 2007


Except for swingeing PMS and a collision with some ofthe spirits of bleak that I have been avoiding lately, NOT HELPED by the death of Molly Ivins, I have been doing okay. Not knitting as much as I ought to, because I have been having a little Patrick O'Brien festival. But I was underfed and low yesterday when I happened upon this utterly-without-redeeming-social-value clip of an HBO show called Extras. I have a great devotion to Diana Rigg and my respect for Daniel Radcliffe (he was polite to Regis and Kathie Lee, ewww) has only increased. He cannot possibly be too hung up on himself if he can play this. I wonder how much he had Monty Python running through his mind? Anyway, it made me laugh.

It might snow. That would be good. If it's going to be February it would be pleasant for it to be pretty.

Missing Molly Ivins

One of the consolations of the blogoshere is the company when we, separate people, lose someone we knew only from a distance (like one another, barring a fortunate fiber festival), we have company.

The New York Times
February 2, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Missing Molly Ivins

Molly Ivins, the Texas columnist, died of breast cancer on Wednesday. I first met her more than three years ago, when our book tours crossed. She was, as she wrote, “a card-carrying member of The Great Liberal Backlash of 2003, one of the half-dozen or so writers now schlepping around the country promoting books that do not speak kindly of Our Leader’s record.”

I can’t claim to have known her well. But I spent enough time with her, and paid enough attention to her work, to know that obituaries that mostly stressed her satirical gifts missed the main point. Yes, she liked to poke fun at the powerful, and was very good at it. But her satire was only the means to an end: holding the powerful accountable.

She explained her philosophy in a stinging 1995 article in Mother Jones magazine about Rush Limbaugh. “Satire ... has historically been the weapon of powerless people aimed at the powerful,” she wrote. “When you use satire against powerless people ... it is like kicking a cripple.”

Molly never lost sight of two eternal truths: rulers lie, and the times when people are most afraid to challenge authority are also the times when it’s most important to do just that. And the fact that she remembered these truths explains something I haven’t seen pointed out in any of the tributes: her extraordinary prescience on the central political issue of our time.

I’ve been going through Molly’s columns from 2002 and 2003, the period when most of the wise men of the press cheered as Our Leader took us to war on false pretenses, then dismissed as “Bush haters” anyone who complained about the absence of W.M.D. or warned that the victory celebrations were premature. Here are a few selections:

Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? ... There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now.”

Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”

July 14, 2003: “I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction come true and I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. ... We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants.”

Oct. 7, 2003: “Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. ...

“I’ve got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I’ve had a bet out that I hoped I’d lose.”

So Molly Ivins — who didn’t mingle with the great and famous, didn’t have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East — got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?

With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war — or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn’t see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.

Was Molly smarter than all the experts? No, she was just braver. The administration’s exploitation of 9/11 created an environment in which it took a lot of courage to see and say the obvious.

Molly had that courage; not enough others can say the same.

And it’s not over. Many of those who failed the big test in 2002 and 2003 are now making excuses for the “surge.” Meanwhile, the same techniques of allegation and innuendo that were used to promote war with Iraq are being used to ratchet up tensions with Iran.

Now, more than ever, we need people who will stand up against the follies and lies of the powerful. And Molly Ivins, who devoted her life to questioning authority, will be sorely missed.