Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Weekends

This holiday weekend has been especially lovely. Not only did Andi and her husband host a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with two kinds of stuffing and cranberry sauce with crystallized ginger and other undisclosed special ingredients, but I got to hang out with friends on turkey day and knit. Being invited and included meant a great deal to me.

I had planned to take Rum Balls. I planned ahead for the ingredients and shopped in advance -- except for one crucial ingredient. Many years ago, I bought a giant bottle of rum and kept it in a kitchen cupboard next to my recipe box. (This doesn't qualify as a family tradition -- more of a family habit -- but if I were looking for rum at my parents' house, grandparents' house, or sister's house, the rum would be in a lower kitchen cupboard next to the recipe box.) In any case, when I moved out of my parents house, I bought a bottle of rum to use when I made things like rum balls. Since then, the bottle has always been there and always produced when called upon. The holiday cookies, the occasional rum and coke in the summer, the special ice cream sauce. . . until this Thanksgiving. The never-ending bottle of rum produced only a quarter cup of rum before the bottle was empty. I was shocked, but managed to recover and scrounge around for a different offering. Andi didn't blink at a substitution and happily accepted a bottle of wine instead. 

The rest of the weekend has been filled with crocheting and knitting and spinning. Since the green stuff roving is all gone, a replacement was in order. The crimson combed top from Christopher and Nancy Mercer's The Naked Pines was impossible to resist. I tried very hard. From the moment Mimi carried it out of the backroom at Twist, I wanted it. The reasoning about having several pounds of BFL at home that were waiting to be dyed or the several pounds of Border Leicester didn't make any difference. This needed to come home with me, and I'm glad it did. It is spinning up beautifully in subtle shades of a dark red. Mmmm. Just what I need to fuel the holiday spirit.

Mom even came to Twist to knit with me and Jill. She's working on a Christmas stocking for a grandchild. These stockings have a long tradition in our family, and she said this is her twenty-first stocking. It is the traditional bright green, red, and white intarsia stocking with a little bit of blue as an accent. She was having a hard time focusing on the stocking since she was sitting right next a bulky Rowan wool and some lovely worsted alpaca. She was also intrigued with a striped scarf that Jill was knitting with Noro. I think she might be interested in some non-seasonal knitting.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bye-bye Green

The green paint from the dining room is almost entirely gone. There are only a few little bits along the baseboards and the windows that need to be removed. It was surprisingly easy to pull the old wall paper and paint off of the walls. My father recommended that I fill up a sprayer with warm water, find a good tv show, and mist the walls on every commercial break for an hour before starting to remove the wall paper. It worked so well. I should listen to Dad more often.

The wall preparation and removing the texture from the ceiling will keep the me very busy for awhile. Looking at the brown of ancient sheet rock that is offset by the creamy-colored joint compound raised the question of what color the room should be. The late 90s hunter green doesn't seem right anymore, but I liked the way it was the complementary color of the red entry way. Between the entry way and the dining room is are very neutral beige living room walls. The couch is slate blue and probably the only upholstered item that I'm committed to keeping unchanged. I see my future. It is me surrounded by paint chips and muttering about color combinations. It frightens me. 

The green roving that I've been spinning for a very long time is finished. To my way of thinking, everything is practice. This project has amounted to only practice. Projects that are practice and end up being useful or liked are the best scenario. These finished products aren't things that I like, but I know so much more about dying roving and spinning yarn that I did at the outset. The names for the colorway varied from Kermit in a Blender to OMG, You Didn't or, on a particularly vexing day, Holy Fuck It Is Green.

I knitted a really rough looking scarf and still had about half of the yarn left. Then I gave the scarf to Mom, who was extremely polite about it, but it was a cool day and she was glad to have it. She was really surprised by how warm it was. Ugly can still be warm. Finally I told her my plans for the scarf had been the trash can. She looked so relieved. As for the yarn, I'm not sure what will happen with it. Maybe it will be good for tying tomato plants to stakes next summer. 

In the meantime, I'm trying to decide what color the next batch of BFL superwash will be. Purples, blues, reds? Brown, blue, pink? Whatever it is, one pound is way too much for one Sally to spin in the same color. Four ounces sounds like a very manageable amount. Maybe I'll try out the painting color schemes with the roving.

Monday, November 17, 2008


The iPhone and the G1 are terribly appealing. They have applications that can identify music and price items in the store. What I really want is a phone that can tell me more about yarn: ply, weight, fiber, colorway, dye lot. That's what I need in a phone. Maybe it could double as a drop spindle too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Winter Popcorn

It is cold and dreary and darker than usual today. To cheer myself up, I stopped by the Indian Hills Ace Hardware store and purchased an Atom Pop popcorn popper. One of my favorite meals is a bowl of popcorn and a glass of milk. The Atom Pop is my Dad's favorite popcorn maker. I have to agree. It has more flavor than the microwave popcorn, more grease than an air popper and the steaming pan warms the air in the kitchen. 

The real reason for my trip to the hardware store was for a spray bottle. The years and years of wallpaper and paint on my dining room walls had begun to come lose. I've been walking past the same barely attached piece of wallpaper for five years and resisting the urge to pull on it. Last night, I had to do it. I tugged and the piece came free. The paper surrounding it stayed tight to the wall. I can tell that the future holds much spritzing and scraping before I will be able to repaint. Further examination reveals that there aren't clear stopping points between the living room, dining room, hallway and entry way. Those rooms have arches between them, but no trim work that would be an obvious place to stop wallpaper removal. 

Last but not least, an interesting group moved into a small shopping center near my house. They call themselves the Kalpa Bhadra Kadampa Buddhist Center, and they offer meditation classes. I'm intrigued. I'm also feeling shy. One of these days though, I'm going to wander down there and meditate with them. It's been years since I sat with the Zen group, but I'm feeling the tug toward quietness.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


A year ago, I started took a spinning class, and yarn has never been the same. Yarn has short fibers, long fibers, blends. It has varying degrees of processing before it arrives at the doorstep. I've briefly considered owning bunnies (too much work) or sheep (too big to hide) in order to have fleecy goodness in the backyard. The idea of meeting the sheep whose fleece I was knitting became  possibility.

The four November Saturday mornings that I spent with the more seasoned spinners were magical in their own right. I grabbed some coffee and drove to the south part of town to an apartment complex community building. It must have been a very glamorous early 1980s setting with mustard yellow vinyl seats with coasters, a bar, and a wrought-iron fire place. Now it feels very comfortable and unassuming. The amenities are still very enjoyable but don't inspire the grasping feeling that brand-new, highly fashionable items foster. The huge windows cover two walls and overlook trees by the lake.  Geese lurch by the window. The sun feels warm through the windows. The spinning wheels would whir soothingly and we talked. We talked and talked and talked.

It was just four of us. Dawn, our teacher, Rhonda, and Connie. The group was quiet and boisterous by turns. We petted fleece and carded and looked through fiber magazines like teenage girls deciding what dreaming about what make up to wear.

I was very tense and fragile then. The spinning wheel wasn't coordinated with what I wanted to do. Yarn barf seemed to be the best that I could produce and I desperately wanted to be able to spin beautiful yarn. I still haven't relaxed enough to learn how to spin beautifully, but I can now make ropey awkward yarn. The wheel spins with a regular speed, and I enjoy seeing the bobbin taking up the yarn.

My life was tense and fragile too. My Ex and I were skirting the issue of our deteriorating relationship. The denial was huge and the truth threatened to be exposed at every turn. It took so much work to pretend that things were okay. Or, if it were a day when I was willing to admit that things needed work, pretending counseling could help was hurdle. 

Those Saturday mornings allowed me to be a beginner -- a very slow-learning beginner. Everything was a possibility and the other spinners were so encouraging and happy for me. It was a very safe place.  I'm still a beginner but it is less tenuous and halting. 

So yesterday morning Jill, Andie, and I met for breakfast. Then Jill and I took off for this oasis that I hadn't seen for a year. It felt so different. I'd started the day with people who I loved and cared about without the complications of conflict and expectations. I didn't have a husband (still a sad point), and I had my own spinning wheel. 

Frankly, I was worried. What if it weren't the same? Sometimes memories are better. Rhonda wasn't able to attend, and we'd brought friends. What if they didn't like it? As I began to pull my wheel out of the car, Becca arrived in her little yellow car and took out her Victoria. My heart began to lift. Dawn was making tea and cutting pies. Jill heated her soup in a crockpot. Laura and her daughter brought their wheels and rainbow roving. Connie eventually arrived with her usual enthusiasm. 

We spun and spun and spun. Jill knitted. We talked and ate. It felt so right and I had a quiet, contented feeling. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vote your conscience

It's a beautiful day to vote here in Kansas. The air is warm, and the trees are starting to shed their autumnal colors in big, crunchy, showy drifts. People are smiling and voting. 

Tonight I'm going to Mom and Dad's house to eat dinner and watch election returns. Dad will show me his flat screen tv, and I'll show him the Slate feed on Mom and I will knit. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I'm a little behind on seasonal obligations, but I'm ready to for fall to start now! The picture is my kitchen sink full of basil. The night of the first hard freeze found me scurrying around the garden and clipping delicate herbs. Then I made and froze pesto until I ran out of olive oil.  Six bags should be enough to last all winter, right? 

This might appear to be an unrelated topic, but my knitting was on the kitchen counter right next to the basil mess. A clapotis from the Hand Maiden Sea Silk. I was enchanted with the pattern and the yarn. So enchanted that I neglected to correctly calculate the yardage. Alas, it has been frogged, which is probably just as well. This project had many false starts and do-overs. I even changed needles and upgraded to Lantern Moon in the hopes that more expensive needles would make the project go better. 

Such thinking is pure foolishness, but those Lantern Moon needles are lovely. I haven't given up on the yarn or the pattern. They just aren't right for each other. The needles are perfect for me.

Last but not least, friends have been coming to visit me. At my house. This is a big deal. When things started to be tense with the Ex, I stopped inviting people.  I didn't feel welcome at home, so how could I have other people visit me? Now, it is really nice to feel like this is my house and to have company visit and laugh. To my delight Oscar loves it too and really hams it up for visitors. I think it is just his way of luring them into complacency so he can taste their wine when the are distracted by him.