Rhymes With Fuchsia

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


This is a test of the Emergency Cat Sweater Construction System.

This is only a test.

If this had been a real sweater (rather than a last-minute contest entry), I would have used prettier yarn.

And smaller needles.

No cats were harmed in the creation of this contest entry.

You would think at my advanced age I wouldn't have to put up with this sort of thing.

Oh, no, paparazzi!

Would you quit pointing that thing at me?

Humiliated, maybe. But not harmed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Spirit Was Woolen (and Cate Cut a Steek)

At Rhinebeck last year I experienced an unexpected attack of reunionitis: that feeling you get (well, I get, anyway) at class reunions that you are 15 again and everyone but you has turned into an international investment banker, or famous knitwear designer, as the case may be, and OMG is that a zit??? I just know it is I can feel it OMG look at all those gorgeous shawls and sweaters what made me ever think I was a knitter?

I am easily intimidated.

This year was completely different, whether because I had sternly adjured my inner 15-year-old to stay in her room and read The Catcher in the Rye until I said she could come out or because I know a few more people now or... who knows, let's just say it was totally great. It began with Cate's cutting the steek in her gorgeous Autumn Rose, and just got better from there.

Cece meets the WoolyBabe. WB appears unimpressed by Cece's amazingly gorgeous beaded shawl, but she'll learn.

I get to meet a beautiful blonde woman wearing another stunning shawl, and promptly forget her name. I also meet Anne and Jess, who assures me that I'll get into Ravelry really soon. Her prediction is correct: I got in on Monday and have done nothing productive since. Thanks, Jess!

Justine and Denise are arrayed in knitted glory. Solomon, eat your heart out.

This one's for Dave. See, Dave? No room for doubt.

I have more pictures, but it's getting close to my bedtime. There was knitting, and there was shopping, but I was really quite restrained. Tune in next time for details.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I'm taking a brief time-out from Rhinebeck madness to tell you about my contest swag: after a geological age of entering contests with wild abandon and winning nothing at all, I won three in succession — and then there were a couple I didn't win but yarn rained down on me anyway.

Clockwise from top right: a lovely ball of Saucy from Lisa, a whole collection of goodies including the Trekking 126 as well as some pretty Post-its, a very cute sheepie magnet and a yellow Chibi from Jane, three balls of Jo Sharp Silkroad Tweed from Roxie, some splendid pink and purple handpainted sock yarn from the multitalented Dave, and a stylish and practical Blogger Bingo button from Norma. Many, many thanks to all of you! Yes, Dolores, I do feel lucky.

And speaking of Blogger Bingo, I took Roxie's advice, and Grant took another picture.

Not a whole lot better. What can I tell you? I guess I'd better go finish winding that yarn.

If you're going, I hope to see you there. If you're not going, I'll miss you, and I'll take lots of pictures.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Yarnal Concupiscence

In the last two days, in between beetlemania and trying to figure out what to take to Rhinebeck (two changes of clothes: yes, I know that, smartypants, I mean of course what knitting project(s) and what spinning equipment), I've managed to get several pictures taken for the benefit of bingo players who don't know what I look like. This one is the least crummy of the lot, which gives you some idea of how bad the others were. (I don't photograph well, as you can see above and from these examples.) Since naturally I have still not managed to complete a sweater, I will be wearing the shirt shown in the picture, at least on Saturday. Just a hint btw: if you'll be there on Saturday and you have Ruth and/or me on your card, that would be the time to hunt us down. We will be there on Sunday, but not for long.

A couple of weeks ago my parents spent the night in our guest room on their way further south. This meant, of course, that I had to make the guest room beds visible available for sleeping, which meant that I had to put all the yarn away in the stash closet. It turned out to be a rather tight fit, so I immediately vowed not to buy anything else until I'd used up a few things to make more room.

Stage 1, promising to mend my ways, was unsurprisingly followed almost immediately by stage 2, temptation, in the form of the gorgeous socks Cookie knit for Norma, Jane's new socks, Margene's Monkey business, and... you get the idea.

Self, I said to myself, right before Rhinebeck this state of mind is a Very Bad Thing. In an attempt to focus on something else I pulled out the skein I'm holding in the picture above. I dyed it last summer, and I didn't really like the results: color transitions too abrupt, greens too bright, blues too brassy. Maybe, I ruminated, it'll look better knit up. Yesterday, finally facing the fact that there was only one way to find out, I cast on and knit a few rows, switching from stockinette to lace to see how that would look, since there's enough for a shawl.

"It'll look better knit up" turns out to be an understatement. I don't have a picture because I frogged the swatch and started winding immediately, but the colors had me thoroughly seduced after the first row. I found that I liked them much better in itty-bitty st st than in lace. So, while I realize it'll win me no style points, I've found my Rhinebeck sock yarn. It'll keep me busy and save me from kid-in-a-candy-store syndrome.

Shut up. It totally will.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

An Inordinate Fondness for Beetles

It's pumpkin-beetle season here in the Northeast. They seem especially thick this year, clustering by the dozen on the outside walls of the house.

I was out there for quite a while this afternoon, cooking up a little Rhinebeck surprise and getting beetle-bombed.

Where did they come from? I grew up in the next town over and don't remember ever seeing one. They were probably accidentally imported on a rubber plant, or something like that. In any case, they're sort of cute in a beetlish way.

As you may have guessed, I'm talking about beetles because I've got nothing — and because they really have been on my mind, not to mention my glasses, my hair, my clothes. Tomorrow: a bit of knitting, as well as a visual aid for Blogger Bingo players.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Interview with Roxie

I've never met Roxie in person, a lack I hope to rectify someday, but we met on the Woolworks board about ten years ago, and I do take at least partial credit for starting her down the primrose path of blogging. Roxie is a Certified Master Knitter, good friend, all-around hoot, and published author of Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice. The story begins when 15-year-old Sanna leaves home to attend the Thon Academy for Young Ladies of Exceptional Talent. It's a rip-roaring read, full of knitting, magic, intrigue, a warrior prince, oh, and did I mention knitting?

Roxie was gracious enough to agree to an interview about the book, and today it's my distinct pleasure to welcome her to my humble blog. (Dave interviewed Roxie a few months ago; he asked such great questions that it took me this long to come up with some semicoherent ones of my own.)

Welcome chez Fuchsia, Roxie. It's an honor to have you here.

It's a pleasure to be here! Thank you for having me.

The first conflict Sanna faces on arrival at school is created by another girl, Ionetta, who is very unhappy and makes everyone else unhappy too. Is there any hope for Ionetta? Do you think people can learn and change?

This reminds me of a joke. How many psychoanalysts does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but the light bulb really has to want to change.

People do the best they can with the tools they have available to get their needs met. Everyone needs to feel safe, but Ionetta has not learned to trust anyone around her, and she has formidable tools to help her get her own way without help from anyone else. Unfortunately, she doesn’t see that her way will never actually let her feel safe. Like people who think that money will buy happiness, and if they aren’t happy, they just don’t have enough money, Ionetta will continue to think that the more control she has over her life, the safer she will feel, and if she doesn’t feel safe yet, she must not have enough control. I think it would take a serious crisis in Ionetta’s life for her to really want to change, since things seem to be working all right so far.

That serious crisis and her changes would make for a very interesting future book.

I agree! Both Miss B and I eagerly await Sanna's next adventure. How many more Sanna books do you plan to write?

I dunno. Depends on how long I live. Book # 2, Sanna and the Dragons, should be available from Amazon by early December. Sanna Meets Dauntless Swiftsure has been written, and should go to press next year. Book # 4, Sanna Goes South, is fermenting in the back of my subconscious even as we speak.

Will Sanna age in subsequent books?

Yes, she goes from 15 in the first book to 18 in the third. And wait till you see her 19th birthday party in the fourth! The material becomes more adult as she ages, too.

(Guys and stuff. You know.)

Is Sanna a feminist?

This is a trick question, isn’t it? What do YOU consider a feminist? Sanna would never deny someone a chance to do something just on the basis of their personal plumbing apparatus, but she is comfortable with the idea that there are some things most women do better than most men, and vice versa. Most women do not have the upper-body strength to be a blacksmith. Most men do not have the patience and fine-motor skills to be a superb embroiderer. That doesn’t mean that no man could ever decorate a pillowcase, and no woman should ever shape a hammered copper bowl. It’s less a case of what one SHOULD do, and more a case of what one is drawn to doing.

Does Sanna think a woman needs a man? No more than she thinks a fish needs a bicycle. But most people long for a trustworthy companion, and many of us find that someone of the opposite sex shows strengths that compensate for our own weaknesses.

Sanna has a gift that demands all her time and attention. Like the Olympic athletes and performing-arts prodigies in our world, a young Sorceress doesn’t have enough hours in the day to have a social life while she learns her art. So the Guild of Sorcery provides the companionship and security she needs. It’s not an ordinary life. Great gifts require great sacrifices. Sorceresses don’t get husbands, boyfriends, or babies.

No, I didn't intend it as a trick, really. I have to admit that I would really like to see Sanna find a man, maybe a fellow Sorceror whose Talents complement hers, and vice versa?... or not. It's interesting, though, that you use embroidery as an example of a good application of feminine detail-orientedness; Newsweek did the same thing in an article many years ago and I was struck by a letter in response to the effect of, "funny you said women were good at detail work requiring great concentration, such as needlepoint, rather than '...such as neurosurgery.'"

Embroidery versus neurosurgery emphasizes the more feminine aspects of being able to stick with a detailed, tedious project for hour after hour after day after day, while the masculine types revel in the dangerous, heroic, relatively short-term feats of daring. Yes, there are female neurosurgeons. They don’t often leave the operating room with shoulders thrown back and a big grin on their faces, getting high fives from their assisting staff. There’s a joke that every nurse I have ever known just adores. How many surgeons does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one. He holds it up to the ceiling, and the entire world revolves around him.

Hmm... I don't know about the feats of daring part. A tricky neurosurgical operation can last six hours (like Taz's first one) or more, and the surgeon has to take great care to cut the right thing and not the wrong one, which may not look all that different. And it's very long hours and different patients but the same procedures, day after week after month.

I may be influenced by my acquaintance with Taz's neurosurgeon, who is not the egomaniac type. Once when Taz had come over from the rehab hospital to Children's for some minor non-neurosurgical procedure, my dad and I were having lunch at a nearby food court when Dr. M walked through on his way to the hospital. He saw us, sat down, and chatted for a few minutes about life in general. Taz didn't have an appointment with him that day; in fact he hadn't even known we were at Children's until he saw us. Another time I told him I wished we could afford to buy him a Mercedes, and he said not to worry, his Subaru ran just fine.

Dr. M sounds like a jewel! I do have to say, though, that cutting into a living brain seems pretty doggone daring to me! And a tricky six-hour operation sounds awfully heroic! Quite unlike spending six hours embroidering the bodice for a high-end wedding gown, though the finesse and concentration required may well be identical. I think the average guy (I know! There is no such person.) is more likely to run with scissors than the average woman. Something about that XY chromosome seems more receptive to risks. How many female neurosurgeons are there?

I would guess that you're right that there aren't that many — but I wonder if that could have as much to do with the time and energy required (like a sorceress, a neurosurgeon has very little time for outside pursuits such as family, and it's a longer climb through med school, internship and residency as well for neurosurgery than for, say, family practice) as with inclination to derring-do.

That said, I think you're probably also right that the preponderance of men has something to do with the high-risk nature of it, however tedious the procedures themselves may be. But let's move on...

Do you believe in magic?

Absolutely! Magic happens all the time. And I don’t mean the airyfairy cast-a-lovely-spell sort of magic. I mean stuff that we have gotten used to and don’t even think about anymore. Grape juice plus airborne yeast becomes wine all by itself. That’s pretty astounding. Or look at a sheep. How does that stinky, greasy, tatty mat of hair become stockings? There’s a whole series of fairly magical things going on all along the process. I could look at a foot every day for my whole life and never come up with the concept of a flap and the turn of the heel. Some one figured that out. Looks like magic every time I do it. Just because science can explain how something happens, doesn’t make it less magical. You inhale, oxygen from the air goes into your blood, and toxins from the wet inner parts of you turn into gas and you exhale and blow them out your nose. Scientists still don’t know exactly how that happens. They can use the process, but they don’t fully understand how it works. Sounds like magic to me.

And every morning, my husband wakes up and he still loves me. Alakazam! That’s magic for you, baby!

Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice would make a great Christmas gift for my nieces. Where can I buy it?

The book is available from Authorhouse Press and from Amazon, or you can go to your local Borders Books and order it. Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice, by Roxanna Matthews. Published on demand by Authorhouse Press.

This has been great fun, Roxie! Drop by any time.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Stalking the perfect model to display my socks for Jane's contest, I tried the cats first, but not even Ed would accommodate me. A 20-year-old cat is very slow, but not slow enough. I needed someone who would sit still for almost anything.

Gymnast Dude to the rescue! (Click to embiggen.) On his one available foot he is wearing the surviving member of the first pair of socks I ever made. They were horrible, made of a cotton/acrylic blend with no give whatsoever, but Miss B wore them valiantly until, to our relief, one of them developed a hole in the toe. (I think the holey one has gone to the Great Sock Drawer in the Sky; I was pretty surprised even to find this one.)

On his head he is sporting a pair of socks in progress that are patiently waiting for me to finish my gift knitting and figure out what pattern to use for the legs. He'd make a great original Star Trek alien, don't you think? He and the deely-bopper guys could hit the bars together.