Rhymes With Fuchsia

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Look! Up in the Sky!

Is it a bird? A plane? A frog? No...

It's an FO!

A small one, to be sure, and I have to weave in the ends, but it's an FO all the same. I took the second half of my double-knitting class today. The class was taught by Alasdair, the double-knit ninja himself, and hosted by the ever-gracious Lucy at Mind's Eye Yarns. The goal of the class was to learn double knitting in the round and decreasing by making a hat. In the first class we learned a double-knit cast-on technique and got some pointers on choosing a design for the hat body. In the second class we were to decrease for the crown of the hat we had started in the first class. Our homework between classes was of course to knit the body of the hat, which, being a Very Bad Student, I hadn't done.

So I decided to knit a crown all by itself and call it a coaster. Shortly after casting on I remembered how passionately I hate double-knitting stubbornly inelastic cotton, but I persevered — and the best part of working a circle from the outside in is that each round goes a little faster. With Alasdair's expert guidance, I was more than half done by the time class was over.

I started with 72 pairs of stitches, decreasing 6 pairs on each round until I was down to 6 in the middle. I ended up with 3 stitch pairs each on 2 circs, and I separated the blue from the white at that point and grafted 3 to 3 on each side. For a first try I think it's not too bad, and I have some ideas for more double-knit round things.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday's Flowers

All right, so I'm behind the curve as usual, but as a dyed-in-the-wool Massachusetts liberal (and proud of it, dude), how could I not?

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Actual Knitting

I am in love with this yarn. I want to marry it and have green, stringy children with it.* It's Dream in Color Smooshy in the Blue Lagoon colorway. With all the sock yarn I've had marinating in my stash, for years in some cases, it seems somehow unfair that this one has jumped the line, swept me off my feet, and demanded that I wind it up and start swatching immediately. But passion is passion, and true love cannot be denied. (I wound it by hand, as I think the ball winder pulls too much, and I wanted to show proper respect. Usually I get a nice cake similar to what the winder produces; why I created a boob in this case I cannot tell you.)

The yarn is springy and squishy and soft and, well, smooshy. The color variations ripple subtly across my swatch like shadows on water. The stitch definition is crisp: I don't know how well you can see in the picture, because I've just started to fool around a bit, but I marvel at how nicely it shows the stitchwork. I need to come up with a pattern that has some plain knitting and also some stitch manipulation in it, because it would be a shame not to see the play of color clearly, but also a shame not to let the yarn show off. I will be making socks for me, of course — I like to think of myself as a generous person, but there are limits — and I will be flashing them brazenly at every opportunity.

Inspired as I am, I feel equal to the task.
*I will be seriously impressed, although probably not to the point of forking over yarn, if you can tell me what 21st-century novel contains the line I am paraphrasing here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

End of the Tunnel

As the saying goes, I hope that light I see is not an oncoming train. I really do think that the work crunch is nearly over, which means that I'll soon be able to resume reading and commenting. It'll be nice to see everyone again.

It'll also be nice to post pictures of actual current knitting, of which there is some, really, instead of more recycled sky and water. Although as recycled pictures go, this one is not bad, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This One I Can Do

Today's Ten on Tuesday is 10 Favorite Time Wasters: ways to procrastinate and waste time without noticing until after it's gone.
  1. Reading blogs, of course. And reading the blogs they link to, and the blogs they link to...
  2. Playing Wordtwist. After an embarrassingly large number of games I now get a semi-respectable score once in a while.
  3. Messing around with pictures: cropping them, blogging them, putting them in my wallpaper folder.
  4. Reading reviews of things we might want/need to buy: cameras, cars (don't look at me like that: our cars are 12 and 15 years old, and we're looking for better gas mileage), laptops.
  5. Drooling over things I might desperately need to buy: yarn, fiber, spinning wheels.
  6. Reading about politics, sports, current events, history, and politics.
  7. Two words: Ravelry forums.
  8. TV game shows. They're my no-longer-secret vice.
  9. Trying to decide what yarn to use in my next pair of socks. Since I have a bewildering quantity and variety of sock yarn (see #5 above), this can take a while.
  10. Trying to decide what stitch pattern(s) to use in my next pair of socks. Since I have about half a dozen (all right, eight) stitch dictionaries, not counting books with stitch-dictionary sections and online stitch dictionaries, this can take a while.
How about you? (If you're one of those people who live happily on three hours of sleep every night and efficiently finish everything on your to-do list by 8 each morning, please go read some other blog.)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Frozen Over

Yesterday I talked about days when my mind is a complete blank, so instead of a post with actual ideas expressed in words you get pictures of flowers, or yarn, or cats, or cats with flowers, or... anyway. Rarely have I experienced such complete brain-freeze as I did a week ago last Tuesday, when the official Ten on Tuesday was ten things you're really good at.

Excuse me?


Knitting? I'm not bad at that. In fact not at all bad. Almost sort of good, I might say.



Well, kind of. I mean, I am a professional writer, so I must be decent at it or I wouldn't get paid to do it, right? But I write online help for software programs (if people look blank when I say "technical writer" I usually explain, "you know how you open up the box and pull out the user guide and after about 15 minutes of vigorous swearing you say 'what kind of idiot wrote this gibberish?' that would be me."), hardly a creative pursuit as we normally understand the term. I have written exactly one short story in my entire life, for the amusement of my friends and family, and never even tried to publish it.


Cooking? Haven't done much of it in a while; it's sort of hard to get ambitious about cooking on the Diet From Hell. Photography? You've gotta be kidding.

Being a mom? Wife? Daughter? Not as good as I should be. Most days I just muddle through.

I'm not fishing for compliments with all this, really. It's just that I happen to know I'm not the only one who has an extremely hard time coming up with even three strong suits, never mind ten. This would help to explain, among other things, why resume-writing services flourish. And, although I read somewhere that men are more likely to attribute success to talent and hard work, while women tend to chalk it up to dumb luck and pray no one finds out that they don't really deserve it, I don't think it's an exclusively female trait either.

So, two questions: do you have trouble identifying what you're good at? (The one interview question I dread and drill on the most is not "what's your biggest weakness?" but "what are your strengths?") And, whether you do or not, why do you think so many people do?

I'll close with a picture of someone who never thinks about being a great swimmer, but just swims.

Nice work if you can get it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


That's how many days (counting this one) I've now blogged consecutively. I didn't sign up for anything when I began, because if I had, sure as anything something would have prevented me from getting to a computer on January 6, and I would have looked like a doofus. (Grant would say it's doofus-like of me to be superstitious, but I am, and he'll just have to deal with it.)

It's been an interesting experience. There have been days when I had very little to say, and days when I've just written whatever was in my head. I've blogged more about politics than I usually do, and certainly more about trees. The ABC-along contest for the letter I was a godsend, because although I didn't win I did get motivated to catch up by posting G, H and I all in the same week. (I have a K and an L in mind, in case anyone's counting, but I'm not sure yet what to do with M.)

There are people who don't blog every day, but who have a lot to say when they do; some people who blog every day manage to be consistently interesting and funny, which I can't pull off. If my blog post consists of nothing more than a cat picture, you can be sure I've opened all the closets in my brain and found nothing but moths and old sneakers. And, let me tell you, when I do have something to say, it's hard work making it come out anywhere close to the way I want it to.

For a professional writer I have a lot of trouble writing. When I write about politics I still fear offending people — I can just about guarantee that at least a third of the population disagrees with any political opinion I (or anyone else, for that matter) may hold, so I do my best to express myself civilly and hope for a minimum of catcalls and rotten tomatoes. When I write about Taz I'm afraid I'll sound whiny, as I'm truly not looking for sympathy, been there, done that, onward.

Nonetheless, I plan to keep working on it. It's good exercise, I think, and I'm finding it easier the more I do it. Please bear with me.

What? Oh, OK, here you go.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Six on Saturday

Six of the many things I'm thankful for today:
  • Miss B's soccer team got to practice last night and play their game this morning, due to uncharacteristically dry weather.
  • The teams were very evenly matched, and after a hard-fought and well-played game Miss B's team prevailed 1-0.
  • Immediately after the game Miss B left for the weekend to go camping with a friend's family. (The friend's sister was on the other team, so by prearrangement Miss B brought all her gear to the game.)
  • Grant and I have now been (more or less) alone together for ten hours.
  • Dry weather is forecast to continue all weekend.
  • I get to see skies like this all the time.
And you?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday's Flowers

Happy weekend, everyone!

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

J is for Jasper

It all started so innocently, when a friend showed me hers. I didn't think anything of it, but it looked so appealing, and it felt so lovely, yielding yet firm at the same time. I still didn't seek it out, but whenever the opportunity presented itself, I'd have just one, maybe two. I knew I could stop any time I wanted.

But of course that was only the first step. I couldn't just go out looking for it without attracting attention: what if someone I knew saw me? Soon I was surfing the Internet, catching my breath as a whole new seductive world opened before me. It's a perfectly harmless pastime, I told myself, and — I must stress this — legal in all states.

Still, there were bridges I'd never crossed: the Trekking, the Koigu, even the Bearfoot might lurk in my secret stash, and I'll never forget my first Smooshy — ah, bliss! — but I'd never bought any STR.

Until now. How could I resist? The allure of a colorway rumored to be discontinued, but suddenly there for the taking.

The softly varied color, the deep pinkish-red shading into purple.

My name is Lucia, and I'm a sock-yarn addict.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Campaign Poster


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Tuesday, May 20, 2008



Monday, May 19, 2008

Hey, Hey, We're The Monkeys

On Saturday I drove Miss B to the first performance of her ballet recital (Sleeping Beauty — beautiful indeed); she was pretty wired, especially after we got into a minor accident when I stopped for a pedestrian in a crosswalk and got rear-ended. There were no injuries and there was very minor damage to the other van, none to ours, but it threatened to push her over the edge she had already been teetering on. Our conversation consisted almost entirely of what she had forgotten (nail-polish remover — luckily we were able to borrow some) and if it had really been necessary for me to stop short like that. (Legally, yes, but it probably wasn't my smartest move ever.) Still, we got there only a bit late, she eventually calmed down, Grant arrived in due course, and she danced splendidly in our rational and unbiased opinion.

Sunday it was Grant's turn for chauffeur duty, and, as you might expect of Science Dude and Science Kid in slightly calmer circumstances, the level of chat rose quite a bit. At one point they had the following exchange:
Grant: Some people who are skeptical of evolution ask, "If people evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?"
Miss B: Well, that's silly. Just because some monkeys evolved into people doesn't mean all monkeys did.
She went on to give a reasonable lay explanation of allopatric speciation (part of a population gets separated from the main group and adapts differently to the environment until, even if the respective descendant populations get mixed together again, they don't interbreed in nature, having become separate species).

"Great," I said on hearing of this, "our daughter is smarter than Larry King."

Now, I don't actually mind if she's smarter than Larry King (richer would be nice too), but it's a bit annoying that the country's most popular prime-time talk-show host asks questions that a sixth grader can tell are silly, even if he just does it to yank a scientist's chain. It's even more annoying that every biblical fundamentalist in the country thought that he'd refuted evolutionary theory with that one silly question.

And about that word theory, I have a question of my own: why is it that relativity and heliocentrism are never called "just theories"?

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Conan's Corner: Who's Whose

You may (or, more likely, may not) recall that on his first appearance on the blog Conan had worked himself into a lather over the proper use of its and it's. Lately he has observed that not only does rampant confusion between these two forms continue, but similar difficulties exist over whose and who's as well as their and they're.

Therefore he would like to reiterate: never, no, never in the English language does a possessive pronoun contain an apostrophe. The apostrophe followed by s (or re) in the peskily identical-sounding words is a contraction of is or has (or are).

Armed with this knowledge, you can happily watch "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" with friends of yours.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Saturday Sky: Garland

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday's Flowers

Running with Kim's brilliant idea...

...to give you crabs.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Dancing Beauties

Miss B's ballet school is doing Sleeping Beauty for their recital this year. She just got home from dress rehearsal. I love this picture, even though it's out of focus. *Sigh*... grace in motion.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Mind of a Cat

Realizing that it had gotten dark a good while ago and Callie was still outside, I went to the front door and called her, and she immediately appeared and looked like she wanted to come in, but she was dithering about it and I wanted to make sure Achilles couldn't escape before I held the door open for her. So I did that, and then I opened the door again, and she just stood on the front walk looking at me, then meandered in the other direction.

So I went to the kitchen door, opened it, and she shot in before I could say a word.

Why do cats do stuff like that? Do they have some inscrutable feline reason for scorning one door for a different one 15 feet away, or do they just enjoy playing with our heads? (All we wanna do...) (Aaaaaargh! Stop that!)


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I Think They Got Me

It's very hard to think of a respectable post when you have this going through your head all day.

Monday, May 12, 2008

After the Fall

As pretty much everyone who was there knows by now, a vendor's cash box got stolen at NHSW. Amazingly, it was found later, with the cash gone, natch, but with the checks and credit-card receipts intact, which is at least something. Apparently the vendor was covering things and closing down on Saturday afternoon, turned her back momentarily, and turned around again to find she'd been robbed. (I joined the steady stream of people who headed over to her booth to improve matters a bit by buying something, and did I snag some awesome laceweight. Pix to come.)

Hearing this, I felt as if I'd reached into a basket of beautiful sock yarn and grabbed a scaly coil instead of a skein. Chris ascribed the crime to our becoming known as easy marks, too honest, too trusting. It's disheartening to find that snakes have crawled into our yarn basket, making life just a bit darker and harder for everyone.

Yet Chris also told me that not only was there thievery in Maryland as well, there were incidents within the knitting community, involving brazen attempts to copy other people's work. Now, I photograph beautiful things I see at festivals all the time, and I think most of us take inspiration from fellow knitters (I might wish it otherwise, but unlike some designers I can think of I wasn't born a genius), but hanging out in a booth with pencil and paper diagramming a pattern? Taaaacky.

Of course I knew that even in the world of fiber arts all is not always sweetness and light. I still think that we're a nicer-than-average crowd on the whole, but from now on I'll keep a closer eye on my wallet, and on my friends' cash boxes. And I'll remember that we are, after all, human beings, for better and for worse.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Scenic New Hampshire

Is the lovely and colorful Judy smiling because she just sold me yarn?

The gogh-gogh grrls compete in the fleece-to-shawl...

...and emerge victorious despite looking considerably less angelic than the opposition. Everyone did a great job.

Hell's Enablers confer on the selection of their next victim.

Ducks and mom teach Herding 101.

Chris talks to the hand.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I is for Iris

Iris, the flower, is a lovely thing, but although they grow like weeds for a lot of people I don't have much luck with them. Too much sun? Not enough sun? Beats me.

On rare occasions, however, I've been lucky enough to capture what happens when there's exactly enough sun, at the right angle, at the right time.

Iris, the rainbow.

I took all of these in Rangeley, the best place for sky pictures in general and rainbow pictures in particular that I've ever seen.

I could stand and look at them for hours, if they lasted that long.

But if they did they wouldn't be half as magical.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Eye Candy Friday


Thursday, May 08, 2008

H is for Hoard

Miss B belongs to a cooperative Girl Scout troop; it meets once a month, and each mom gets to lead one meeting. This month it's my turn, and after racking my brains and failing to come up with anything outside my comfort zone, I decided to go with a contribution to Afghans for Afghans. Each girl makes a square, and one of the other moms and I each make a couple to come out with twelve squares, which of course will become an afghan.

Only thing is, Afghans for Afghans requests wool yarn because of the brutally cold winters there (say it with me: synthetics don't insulate!), and although several troop members had yarn, they didn't have wool. "Don't worry," I said, "I have plenty, and I'm happy to share."

I'm not sure these women understand what I mean by "plenty."

And I'm not sure I want them to.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

G is for Grandmothers

It's taken me a long time to get to G, partly because I wasn't sure what to do with it, and then because I needed to find the pictures, with help from my lovely SIL.

Grant knew both of his grandmothers, but remembers his mother's mother better. She seems to have been as stern and tough as she looks in her pictures, and she needed to be: her husband died in 1929, leaving her with a farm and five children, two boys and three girls (the oldest was about 14, I think, and the youngest about six). She ran the farm singlehandedly throughout the Depression, doing well enough to keep it going and eventually put all five kids through college. The farm is still in the family.

She was staunchly opinionated, placing Hoover campaign posters in her front windows and making sure that her neighbors knew that she was voting for him, and why. (I never found out why. Had I ever met her, I hope I would have had the good sense to nod politely and keep my own counsel.)

His father's mother was quite different, a large, cheerful lady full of hugs for her grandchildren. She must have been no slouch in the brains department either to produce my father-in-law.

Because my parents were divorced when I was very young, I didn't see their wedding pictures until a few years ago. My dad's mother died before I was born; she was another Depression widow, supporting herself and my dad by teaching and eventually becoming the headmistress of a private school. She was a wordsmith like him after her and me after him. I look a lot like her. I had no idea she was so tall.

My mother's parents were fixtures throughout my childhood. Every month or so they would whisk us off for a day's visit to their house. Grandma Ruth would play board and card games with my brother and me, starting with "go fish" and eventually working up to canasta, or read us "just so" stories. She was born in 1898, and she remained a Victorian (I once used the word heck in her presence, and I remember it yet), but she was full of quiet humor and loved a pun, the groanier the better. "Film on teeth forms night and day," an early TV commercial had it; "Phil Monteeth," sighed my grandmother, "how worn out poor Phil must get with all that marching." She didn't subscribe to the "no idle hands" ethic, but if I ever needed help with sewing or knitting, she would produce any needed tools and handle them expertly. She loved bold colors and braved hay fever to tend a brilliantly blooming flower garden every spring.

Grandma Ruth was always one of my favorite people, but I didn't really know her well until after my grandfather died and she moved into a nursing home. He was a kind, generous, and boisterous man, effortlessly taking up most of the space in any room he entered. "You had to understand Harold to love him," she once said, "and you had to live with him to understand him." In his shadow and beneath her proper exterior she knew me better than I had ever suspected at the time.

I've been told that although I don't look like her, Grandma Ruth's aura hovers about me. It's one of the best compliments I've ever received.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ten on Tuesday

Today's official Ten on Tuesday is ten places you want to go and have never been to before. I had every intention of sticking to that, as I'd have no trouble at all coming up with ten, but then I read Stephanie's post on San Francisco. I love San Francisco, and I haven't been there in at least ten years, if you don't count flying in for my oldest friend's wedding and only seeing bits of it in the dark going to and from the airport. So I'm changing things up a bit.

Ten Places I've Been and Really Want to Get Back to Someday
  1. San Francisco, obviously. Before moving north my oldest friend lived in the Castro, then in the Mission, and my brother at one point lived in North Beach, great neighborhoods all. It has hills to make your calves cry and a smell all its own. It's the only place outside New England that's ever felt like home to me.
  2. Montréal. Grant and I honeymooned there — we didn't have time or money until we'd been married a couple of years, but Montréal was worth the wait. Incredible restaurants, great botanical gardens, and a terrific water park on Île-Ste-Hélène.
  3. Old Sturbridge Village. It's a living museum of Colonial life located, strangely enough, in Sturbridge, MA, which is only an hour or so from my house, but I haven't been since I was a kid on a school field trip. I admit that I didn't think of this one until I was making this list, but I definitely want to plan a family outing.
  4. Nova Scotia. My family vacationed there when I was 18, staying in government-run campgrounds to save money. Absolutely gorgeous place. I went swimming in the Bay of Fundy, one experience I'll feel no need to repeat if I ever make it back there.
  5. Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, France. Paleoanthropology central, the home of Font de Gaume, the only polychrome prehistoric cave paintings open to the public, and Lascaux Deux, an (almost) exact replica of Lascaux. (To preserve the original paintings from environmental damage Lascaux itself is open to a very limited number of people each year; there's a long waiting list, and it helps to be an internationally known paleoanthropologist, which I am not.)
  6. Old North Bridge. Another historic site even closer to my house than Old Sturbridge Village. If you grow up in Concord, MA, you get surfeited with Revolutionary War history along about third grade, but I discovered by going along for Miss B's class field trip last year that the Old North Bridge is a really cool place. Another family outing to plan.
  7. Toronto. I've only been there on business, and from what I saw of it (airport, hotel, streets, bank, conference room) I could have been anywhere. I'd like to go back, preferably in the summer, and borrow Lene's eyes for a while.
  8. Salt Lake City. Same as Toronto, only this time I need Margene's perspective.
  9. Carcassonne, France. Castle on a hill. What can I tell you? I'm a sucker for romance.
  10. Shelburne Falls, MA. Funky old bookstores, the Bridge of Flowers, a really cool yarn store in a tiny yellow house.
How about you?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Georgia On My Mind


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Going With the Flow

You may have noticed lots of sky and water, no knitting, on the blog lately. A large part of the reason for this is that I'm stuck on required knitting again. My second double-knitting class is less than a week away, and I've barely started my homework, which is to pick a pattern and knit a hat up to where the decreases begin. I got stuck on the cast-on: we learned a perfectly lovely cast-on that leaves a decorative purl ridge on the bottom, but I wanted to try a tubular cast-on. This turns out to be very hard to do, because a tubular cast-on doesn't take kindly to being lined up on top of the needle so you can be sure it's not twisted. Even when I tried knitting back the other way, I came to a place where the cast-on had gotten reversed somehow, so that the purls were knits and vice versa. (I'd show you a picture, but you've seen tangled yarn before. It's not pretty.)

So I need to quit trying to do things My Way and accept this as a learning experience if I'm to have a prayer of being ready for class.

Man, I hate that.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Saturday Sky: How About This One?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Eye Candy Friday

Only three more months...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Head in the Clouds

This one's for Karen and Roxie, because I'm glad you both liked yesterday's picture so much. I love clouds too (and, if you must know, I have little else to talk about today). This is Sunset Point, taken 40 feet from my parents' front door.