Rhymes With Fuchsia

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Favorite Places for Online Shopping

Once upon a time I loved shopping, mostly for clothes; now I hate it. I have too many clothes, and I am fat. But online, as one of my favorite cartoons has it, no one knows I'm a dog. I can shop for clothes and shoes and fancy hair foo-foos — rarely actually buying anything — without any teenaged salesgirls' asking me how I am today. (Fat.)

It's late, and I'm too lazy to put the links in. If you want to be enabled you'll have to meet me halfway.
  1. L.L. Bean. They're the perfect store for middle-aged frumps. I even have their credit card.
  2. The Loopy Ewe. This afternoon I missed a Wollmeise update, which is probably not such a bad thing, since 1) I have some yarn already 2) we are trying to be sensible. When I'm not stalking the elusive Wollmeise I flit through Dream in Color, Shibui, Bugga... yummm.
  3. WEBS. They have almost every yarn I could possibly want.
  4. elann. One of the best yarn vendors for cheapskates.
  5. Knitpicks. The other one.
  6. Ravelry destash. This is not a store, of course, but no one said my favorite shopping places had to be stores. Almost any yarn you want, someone is trying to get rid of.
  7. Barnes & Noble. Thanks to Knitpicks book sales I haven't bought many books elsewhere lately, but when I do, it's usually from B&N.
  8. Minuteman Library Network. Like Barnes & Noble, they have almost any book you could want, but free, as long as you bring it back on time.
  9. Zappos. Alas, I've never been into cute shoes. In the last few years I've been on a quest for shoes that don't hurt my feet. These seem to be a pair of old hiking boots a friend gave me and Keen sandals. I think I'd do well with other Keens too, but here's a case where there's no substitute for brick and mortar. Meanwhile I admire all the pretty foot-punishing shoes I will never buy.
  10. France Luxe, purveyor of fancy hair foo-foos. I found them online while looking for plain pseudotortoiseshell bobby pins, which stopped being sold in stores for quite a while. They've since made a return, but meanwhile I discovered better ones at France Luxe at a higher but still reasonable price. They also sell all kinds of crystal-encrusted creations (why does attaching little pieces of glass to something octuple the price? inquiring minds want to know) at highly unreasonable prices, but looking is free.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday

After much fun and feasting with family, I'm getting this post in under the wire. But it has been a long and wonderful day, and I'm thankful to have lived it.

Warmest slightly belated Thanksgiving wishes to everyone! I raise a glass in your general direction.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Things I Love About Thanksgiving

(photo credit: Katherine Dunn)

  1. Cleaning. All right, you got me: I hate cleaning. What I love is having a clean(ish) house after cleaning. By clean, since we have a cleaning lady, I mostly mean less cluttered. This year part of cleaning will be packing stuff up to be given to charity. I already gave away a bunch of clothes, and I believe there are quite a few more I can clear out.
  2. Menu planning. We are having the traditional fare — turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash. Negotiations are proceeding as to what else we are having and who is cooking it. Grant loves creamed onions, for instance; I wouldn't go out of my way for them, and I certainly wouldn't peel them. We'll see if Joy's trick (throw them in boiling water for a couple of minutes) helps with the peeling.
  3. Shopping. The crowds, not so much, but there's a farm stand on the other side of town that always has fresh turkeys for the holidays. I don't go there often, because 1) it's expensive 2) it's on the other side of town, but it's a wonderful sensory-overload experience. They have amazing fresh fruits and vegetables at all times of year.
  4. Family. This year we are hosting my parents and my brother. There will be walking and laughter and possibly even bridge.
  5. Baking. I love to bake when I have time. There will be much pie. (Hence the walking: we have to do something to counteract some of those calories.)
  6. Food. See menu planning and shopping above. There's something about making it all edible for my family that restores my soul. Hokey, I know, but I love it anyway.
  7. Watching football. I don't watch it a lot, though I'm much more of an NFL fan since the Patriots got good (I know, I know, but for the first 25 years of my life they were perennial cellar dwellers), but football just goes with Thanksgiving, don't ask me why. (Plus this year the Patriots get the dubious honor of playing on Turkey Day.)
  8. Time off work. 'Nuff said.
  9. Playing games. We all love card games, board games, word games, the goofier the better.
  10. Thinking about Christmas. This year we will host Christmas as well — it's really easier for us to manage Taz at our house — and I'm not ready to think about it until after Thanksgiving, when it is officially the season. Some years we observe all the standard family rituals, and others we throw a new wrinkle or two into the mix. I'm looking forward to this year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Monday Musings: Taking Out the Stash

The yarn I ordered for Red Scarves from WEBS finally showed up. For some odd reason it took them a week to ship it, but once they did it got to me pretty fast. Have I taken a picture of it? Of course not: that would be too easy. I got Di.Ve Zenith in port, Knit One Crochet Too Camelino in garnet (now sadly sold out), and Noro Yuzen in 13 (I guess when you're Noro you don't need to come up with sexy color names). I've already started a scarf in the Zenith, which is a beautiful yarn, soft, squishy merino with terrific stitch definition; it's also splittier than a Hollywood couple, but probably not so bad if you're not cabling without a cable needle. At this point, however, I would get more impatient with using the cable needle than with the splittiness. Just be aware before you order this yarn, which is on closeout at WEBS at a terrific price, that it looks like it's cable plied, but it's not: it's just six tiny plies fairly loosely spun, and any maneuvers beyond knit and purl can get a bit tricky.

Grant and Miss B were in Ohio over the weekend to take in a high-school production of The Wizard of Oz, with his sister's daughter in the role of the Scarecrow. I was not stunned to hear that they had a great time and she did a great job. Taz and I held down the fort at home.

While Taz watched Toy Story 3, his new favorite video, I addressed myself to the house. I'm trying to get it, if not exactly spartan, at least a bit less cluttered before the holiday company shows up. I made considerable progress in this endeavor over the weekend: I have put huge quantities of clutter in the kitchen and living room in their place, and now have to slog through the residual wads of paper that always remain. Those wads are pretty small, however, compared to, yes, my stash. I don't really know how much yarn I have, just that it's a lot, and decluttering would probably be easier if I had less. Let us suppose, however, that I have a hundred balls. I'm pretty sure I have more, but let's say a hundred for the moment. If I knit up a skein a week, not an especially ambitious goal when I'm focused on getting a project done, I'd dispatch that yarn in two years. As you might guess, the mere idea of being out of yarn gives me the willies, but, truthfully, I am quite confident that at that rate I wouldn't run out in two years, or even three or four, but I would free up a significant amount of space. This of course assumes that I wouldn't buy any more yarn in the meantime, which, let's face it, isn't terribly realistic, but I really haven't been buying anything lately just because it's there. (Well, all right, Wollmeise, but it's not there that much, hence the temptation.) Even the WEBS purchase was motivated by the fact that I had very little red yarn, odd as that seems. Therefore my goal: I will consume at least one skein of yarn a week until I can fit all of my yarn into a closet and a wardrobe. The majority of this will be gift and charity knitting — since, if I keep everything I knit, I may find myself with less of a yarn problem but more of a clothing problem. I will refrain from buying yarn except for charity projects for which none of my existing yarn is suitable, and even then I will be circumspect. I will also do a monthly State of the Yarn post.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday

So many blessings grace my life that trying to write about them can be hard: where to begin? Should I write about friends, family, work, yarn, home? Today my mind keeps focusing on a very simple one, so simple that it almost seems foolish to mention it.


Every chilly night I change into my PJs, which are not really PJs but flannel long johns, and I slip between flannel sheets and tuck myself into a blanket and two quilts. Almost every night it strikes me that not everyone is so lucky. (I have remarked on this especially the last couple of days, after a certain evil cat did a Very Bad Thing on one of these quilts, and I had to wash them both just to be on the safe side.) I am a sucker for any charity blanket project that comes my way, because heaven knows everyone should be.

Every chilly morning I make sure the thermostats are turned down before leaving the house (note to self: get programmable thermostats and learn how to use them), and every chilly afternoon the first one home turns them back up. We don't turn them down at night because Taz sleeps downstairs, and he can't get up and get himself an extra blanket if he's cold. But when we do turn them up, the house gets warmer, because there is oil in the furnace, which we're lucky enough to be able to pay for.

Every chilly day, usually several times a day, I cook something hot for my family to eat, there being nothing like a hot meal on a chilly day. I have a stove and an oven and a microwave that work, the electric bill having been paid. I'll admit that I don't usually think that much about this one, but it is amazing. I just turn on the oven or the stove, and cook hot food.

The end of the year, when we do most of our charitable giving, is coming up fast. I'm thankful that we can give so that more people can be warm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Wisdom and Wondering

Yesterday's Ten on Tuesday was ten movies you want to see in a theater. I couldn't come up with even one — although, once Ruth mentioned it, I realized that I could be persuaded to go see the new Harry Potter. What usually happens, however, is that Grant and Miss B go to see whatever new series movie comes out, and I knit and help Taz hold down the fort and eventually get to see it on DVD and/or cable. Taz is not big on crowds, and I'm finding I'm not either: the older I get the more I seem to have some weird form of agoraclaustrophobia, wherein sitting in a public place hemmed in by strangers, at least one of whom nearby is guaranteed to have some annoying habit (even if it's only sitting in front of me while tall), is not my idea of a good time. I even prefer to watch sporting events on TV, at home, where, if I wander downstairs for a snack, I won't find myself at the back of a line of 14,000 fans in various stages of inebriation.

Anyhow, I was going to come up with some other ToT theme, but I didn't quite get there. Instead I present a random dose of Wednesday wisdom and wondering, the former falling under the heading of "things I've learned over the years, whether I wanted to or not," and the latter being things I still haven't figured out and doubt if I ever will. Without further ado:

  • Any time a cookbook says "stir constantly until thickened, about 5 minutes," it will be at least 15 minutes, even if you sneak half and half into a recipe that calls for milk.
  • Anything involving government takes at least three times as long as it needs to.
  • There's one in every crowd. Often it's me.
  • You've all heard me kvetch about the relentless lengthening and crassifying of the Christmas season. Radio stations start playing wall-to-wall Christmas music before Halloween, retailers tart themselves up in red and green before Columbus Day, nay, before Labor Day, etc., etc., o tempora, o mores. Bah humbug aside, however, there's something I don't get: let's say that along about mid-July, hypnotized by the glitter of tinsel, I pull out my wallet and spend my usual amount on gifts at my favorite retailer. (For the purpose of this example let's assume that the cost of the items I buy doesn't change between July and December.) If I would have spent that same amount on December 23 anyway, how does that help the retailer? OK, axiomatically a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow, and if retailer is thisclose to going belly up, it's certainly better to stay in business today and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. They probably also hope that as the days shorten people filled with Christmas spirit, eggnog or whatever, will pick up one extra gift. Of course early decorating doesn't work on knitters: if I get inspired to start working through my Christmas list in July that just gives me more time to knit. But, anyway, have you ever worked in retail? How do these equations get worked out on the other side of the counter?
  • Why is crocheting so much faster than knitting? Srsly. I finished my first granite-stitch scarf in two days and my second in one. (It looks just like the first one, except a teeny bit narrower.) Sure, if you triple crochet in bulky yarn, especially if you do a lacy pattern, you'll produce a given amount of fabric in a lot less time than a knitter would, but granite stitch is 1) single crochet 2) perfectly solid. Being no speed demon at either craft, I'm glad to have found a good-looking crochet stitch I can use to crank out some quality Red Scarves, but I'd love to know why it works that way. A single-crochet stitch is three quick movements: hook with loop from previous stitch into stitch/space/whatever, draw up loop, draw through two loops. Likewise a knit stitch for a picker: needle through stitch, pick yarn, needle out, stitch off. I know that sounds like four, but really, needle-out-stitch-off is one motion. Any efficiency engineers out there?
  • Why is Callie petrified of every human being on the planet except me? When she sees me she purrs, she rubs, she leaps onto any available railing or furniture so I can easily pet her. She wants to be where I am, helping with whatever I'm doing. (This isn't always a good thing: see picture above.) When she sees anyone else, including Grant and Genevra, she doesn't see much of them since she bolts. No one has ever threatened her in any way, and she and Achilles are littermates, and he likes everyone. Maybe a cat shrink could explain this, but I will admit to harboring doubts.
What are you wondering about today?

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Happy Hooker

That would be me. Remember my discovery of crochet granite stitch during my squaremania? I planned to use it for a Red Scarf (everybody knows about the Red Scarf Project, right? of course, silly me), and that's exactly what I am doing. I started the pictured scarf Wednesday night. I took the first picture yesterday and the second one a few minutes ago. This puppy is fast. Also addictive. It makes a solid fabric with the perfect drape: substantial yet fluid. I'm about six inches from the end, which means I'll finish it tonight. What then? You'll just have to tune in next time: we bicraftual types are unpredictable.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thankful Thursday


Carole suggested that we devote November Thursdays to blogging what we're thankful for, and I'm thankful that she had such a great idea in the first place and that we're doing it again. As usual, I hardly know where to begin: I am truly blessed, we are truly blessed, and I'm thankful for blessings large and small every day. So today I'll do three knitting-related ones. I am thankful for:
  1. Time to knit.
  2. Friends to knit with.
  3. A home to store my yarn in come home to.
What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fear of Plying: Laceweight Edition

Did I mention that I finally finished spinning the Eternal Blue Merino? I don't think I did. Sorry about that. Well, I finished spinning it, and I decided that since I'm a relative novice at plying and I've never plied laceweight, I would wait for spinning group to begin. Being a bit nervous about it because the laceweight is very thin — well, of course it is, otherwise it wouldn't be laceweight, but in places it's even thinner than that, and I don't know what to do if I break a single while plying, other than sit in a corner and cry — I thought it best to try it in the company of accomplished spinners who might be able to give me a few pointers on keeping it from happening in the first place and recovering if it still did. I was really looking forward to spinning group last night.

Until Grant drove us into our driveway, and such a huge wave of relief and contentment at being home swept over me that I knew I was going nowhere but through my kitchen door, not to emerge again before sunrise. Our sitter had even made lentil soup (I had done some of the prep before leaving for work); so domestic was I feeling that while Grant and Miss B ran a quick errand I made biscuits. (I used a mix. There are limits.)

So, my accomplished readers, have you ever plied laceweight? How did it go? Did your single break? What did you do then?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ten on Tuesday

Ten Dream Vacations

If you've been around here for a while you know that we take a dream vacation in Rangeley every August: its being cheap and (relatively) close doesn't make it any less dreamy. And I fear that in my kids' lifetime if not in mine world travel will become as out of reach for us ordinary folk as going to the moon. Still, that's the beauty of dreams: I can go anywhere, including the moon, just sitting right here. (I wouldn't want to vacation on the moon. I hear they just opened a new restaurant with great food but absolutely no atmosphere.)
  1. Germany. Grant's been there, but I never have. I want to see the castles and the cathedrals. I want to climb a German mountain. (If I can find one small enough. I'm ridiculously out of shape.) I want to leave Grant happily drinking beer in Munich while I sneak a side trip to Pfaffenhofen.
  2. France. I've been there. I want to go back.
  3. The Yucatan and/or Cozumel. I've been to Mexico, but just for a long weekend, and I'd love to spend a couple of weeks exploring the ruins, the history, the architecture. I might even take in a beach here and there.
  4. Arizona/Grand Canyon. I'd want to learn a little geology first. Talk about history written on walls.
  5. Italy. The architecture, the paintings, the sculpture, the culture. Oh, and the food.
  6. Iceland. More cool geology.
  7. Israel. A friend of mine told me she'd never understood what the big deal was — why was everyone willing, nay, eager to fight over this tiny piece of land? wouldn't Long Island work just as well? — until she went there and found it so beautiful she understood why three major religions think it's where God lives.
  8. Spain. See Italy.
  9. Hawaii. You will have gathered by now that I mostly want to visit places that are beautiful and historic. I'm making an exception here: Hawaii doesn't need to be historic, any more than Brad Pitt needs to be smart. (I have no idea if he is or not, and I don't need to know.)
  10. Anywhere I haven't been. Wait: anywhere warm I haven't been.

Monday, November 08, 2010

A Time to Join Squares Together

The Pine Street Inn Knit-a-Thon took place yesterday at the State House. What a total blast. I went with my knitting-group buddy Lynne (not to be confused with Lynne), and we were joined by Kathy and her daughter and perpetual good sport Julianne at the event. We also met the lovely Lauren, and the fun began. We picked out 35 squares we liked. We arranged, reshuffled, and recombined until we had the perfect layout. And then we crocheted like the wind. Behold the result:


The State House is a pretty amazing place. I hadn't been inside it since a school field trip (mumble) years ago, but it was as grand as I remember: inlaid mosaic floors, marble, granite, stone, skylights and stained glass.


If you ever have a chance to visit, you should definitely grab it. You won't be lucky enough to see the grand staircase the way I did, though.


...Well, maybe if you come with me next year.

(By the way, my fundraising page is still open for donations. Just sayin'.)

Monday, November 01, 2010

It's Hip to Make Squares

Don't say I didn't warn you: I am all about the squares until Sunday, and there will be square puns. I finished another square in Twin Rib (blocking will happen), bringing my total to 11 (I think: it might be 12), and started another one in one of my go-to square patterns, Seeded Rib Check from Barbara Walker's second treasury. It's amazing what can happen just with combinations and variations of k3, p1. I find squares the perfect excuse for trying out Walker patterns, the dirt-simple-yet-great-looking knit-purl combos in the first chapters of her first two books. What can I tell you? I am easily entertained.

So, you want to encourage me in all this rectitude, don't you? Of course you do. Here's that link again. Go ahead, encourage me. It could increase my efforts geometrically.