Friday, August 31, 2007

The Monster Giveth, And The Monster Taketh Away

Happy Labor Day! (at least to those of you in the United States)

Thank goodness summer is almost over. I hate the heat. Let me repeat myself. I HATE THE HEAT. When we lived in Phoenix, I used to start moaning when it hit 80 - you know, in February. I wouldn't stop moaning until December. I hated Phoenix. Sacramento wasn't much better. At least I had the pool there and got to ruin my skin baking in the sun with water cradling my body. Here, it's much cooler. The pool doesn't see a lot of use.

But I digress. That isn't what this post is about.

First of all, today's porn shot of yarny goodness.

With the exception of the cake in the center, all this yarn is Spunky Eclectic. I'll get to the cake in a minute. In the usual order:

Tough Sock - Navajo Gems
Tough Sock - Hot Rock
Skinny Socks - Dinah
Skinny Socks - Breathtaking
Skinny Socks - Ravelry

The cake in the center is by Prairie Daisy Handspun and is called "A Touch of Autumn".

I also got a killer yarn bag (I'll do a picture of all my yarn bags over the weekend) by a lovely seller on Etsy (not my usual bag, but a really good one). Get ready to fall off your chair. And this is after I debagged. I have to sell about half of them, so once the picture is up and anybody is interested (I'll let you know which ones are for sale), just give me a holler. I'd rather sell them to my readers than list them on eBay. What a pain in the ass.

So what's up with the Monster, you ask?

Last night was not a good night for knitting. We ate dinner at a reasonable hour for a change, and I settled into the Monster for an enjoyable evening of horror movie watching and knitting. One of my all-time favorites, "House of 1000 Corpses" was on the tube, so I put that on (no having to muscle through commercials every five minutes), picked up the swatch that will never work, and set to it.

I opened my eyes to find that the Monster had swallowed one of the DPN's, the movie was rolling the closing credits, and I didn't know where I was. Those pills are killer, I'm telling you.

I found the missing needle, confirmed that the swatch was not going to fly, unraveled it, wound it back on the ball so the kink would work its way out of the yarn, picked up my own socks, and began knitting those. Unfortunately, there was nothing else on TV that interested me, so I started watching "People's Court", which I TIVO every day.

When I looked at the TV again, People's Court was long gone and some strange show was on. There was also some strange time on the clock - something like 3 a.m.

Oh good, I thought - I still have lots of time for knitting. So I began knitting again. But then something made me set down my work. I knew the Monster had eaten something else, but I didn't know what. I just KNEW that something had disappeared into it's bowels.

I bought the Monster new as part of the furniture we got for this shithole of a house. You'd never know it by looking at it. Cigarette burns (and all you have to do is wave a flame an inch above the chair for the microfiber to disappear), coffee stains, and who knows what else have befallen this poor thing. In other words, the perfect knitter's chair. And the back looks worse than the front. Unbeknownst to me, every time I leaned back to get the footrest up, part of the back edge of the chair was literally TRENCHING into the wood trim around the hole cut in the wall so you can enter the hall. Not only was the wood full of deep trench cuts, the chair had gone balder than me and had a piece of metal sticking out. The back had pulled away from the chair in this location, causing me to shove it back into place. But the metal remains for all the world to see. Sigh. So I know what's going on here. The Monster is punishing me for being a bad chair owner. That's why it ate something of mine.

So I heaved myself out of it (no small feat, because I have to remove everything from the footrest (I use it as a shelf), put it on the part of the chair where I sit, put the footrest back down, and then try to get out of it (remember that it's a chair and a half and very deep), which usually causes other things to fall down between the cushion and the side of the chair. I began running my hand down along the cushion to see what was there. Nothing. I ran my hand down the other side. Nothing. But I KNEW that the Monster had taken something as retribution for my carelessness.

I sighed. I sat back down. I hit the lever on the side for the catapult footrest to come springing up (it can fling a ball of yarn clear across the room and smack it into the wall - really, I've done it), adjusted my jammies (well, a nightshirt - it's too hot for jammies), and there it was. Hidden in a spot I'd never have thought to look. Buried way under where the footrest resided when it wasn't being used and under the cushion. Just the tiniest flash of metal sticking out. I KNEW the damn thing had eaten something.

I pulled it out. I looked at it. I looked at it again. It was a stitch marker.

No big deal, right? Except that I didn't have any stitch markers out and hadn't been using any. The only ones I've got in use are the ones on my socks, and those are rubber bands. This was one of my nice stitch markers from Hide and Sheep on Etsy.

That can mean only one thing. The Monster walks when I'm sleeping and eats random things. It must be influenced by the monster movies I so dearly love.

So I put the stitch marker back in its zippered pouch, set that back in place, and began knitting again.

So far, from about 10:00 last night to 9:00 this morning, I've managed to knit a grand total of one round. Yep. You read that right. At this rate, I should be done with this particular pair of socks some time in the winter of 2013.

I think maybe I should start another hobby. Something simple. Like pot holder weaving.

I did get a bit of interesting news today which has nothing to do with knitting. I got a letter in the mail that had been forwarded from my old address (it took a month - I only moved 100 miles) asking me if I would be interested in teaching Native American flute to inmates at the California State Prison in Reseda. It was legit - it gave the name of a disc jockey and the prison chaplain who are running the program. So I gave the chaplain a call. The upshot of all this is that they're going to start my clearance paperwork so I can enter the prison and get up close and personal with real live inmates. For a prison program junkie like me, this is a dream come true. I'm also performing in a benefit concert this October down in Poway (by San Diego), which is very exciting, but this is PRISON. I have to go through metal detectors and the whole nine yards. Since I'm from a cop family, I'm well aware of the dangers, but danger is my middle name (at least this week). Too bad I don't have my 50th birthday present to ride up there (a Harley Heritage Softtail Classic in white with gold trim - sweet), so I'll have to settle for taking the lid off the T-Bird and ragtopping it down the freeway with my flutes sticking up and belted into the passenger seat. A bike would just make me look bad. I have the tats. I have the bald head. Too bad I don't have the muscles, but I think the boys will overlook that when they see the melons in my shirt. The chaplain told me to keep my cell on in case there's a last-minute problem. You know... like a lockdown. They can't let me in then.

Hubster is all for it. He thought it was very cool. In fact, he only asked one thing of me, since he knows that I talk to anybody and seem to draw people like flies to a turd:

"Please don't give them our address and phone number - you know, for if they have problems playing or something."

What does the man think - that I want an inmate moving in with us? It'll never happen.

We don't have the room.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Size Matters

Good Morning, Dear Readers!

Before I tackle today's missive, I have a picture to share with you. The Yarn Fairy came yesterday.

As usual, from the upper left and going around the front to the right:

Woolly Boully Meanie - Neapolitan
ShiBui - Color 51301 (this is from one of my myriad clubs - there is no color name on the label)
Cider Moon Flurry - Avocado
Cider Moon Flurry - Harriet The Spy
Cider Moon Flurry - Lava
Cider Moon Icicle - Sweet Potato Pie
Seacoast - Chocolate Cherry

If you're wondering about the large number of Cider Moon skeins compared to the others, it's because I was dumb enough to go to their online sale. I really thought I did well, considering all the lovelies they had. I love Cider Moon - it's got such a wonderful hand, and the colorways are incredible. And that ShiBui! I think I mentioned it before, but it's just fantastic. I don't know what they do that other dyers don't, but just fondling it and rubbing it and playing with it (I know you all do it, whether or not you admit to it - and I'm talking about yarn here, not Mr. Happy or some other body part) makes you a contented person (just like uh... well... playing with a body part). Their colors are also highly saturated. This particular skein in person is BRIGHT. It's a good thing I love bright, or else I'd be an unhappy camper. If there is a complaint about it, it's that the put-up is small. I think it has 191 yards (or something very close to that), so you have to buy a minimum of two for a pair of socks. If you're me, then you have to buy three. The pattern they sent with the skeins (there are two of them) calls for two even in my size, so we'll see when I get around to doing them sometime in the year 2025.

Okey dokey, then. Let's talk about size.

I embarked on a new project just to give myself something other than the Monkey Socks to work on. I like to switch back and forth to keep from getting bored. That means I don't get things done as quickly, but so be it. At least I get things done. Well, sort of. I still have to block those stupid ponchos.

Anyway, I always do a gauge swatch since the first pair of two socks/two circs debacle. Those socks would have fit Bubbles the Hippo at the San Francisco Zoo. I also keep a binder with all the pertinent information on every project I do (yarn, gauge, behavior of the yarn, problems, etc.). That way, if I use the same type of yarn in a different color, I don't have to go back and make another swatch. All the info is already recorded.

But did I decide to use a yarn that I already had info on? Noooooo. That would have been too easy. After all, I am The Yarn Goddess. I can do anything. No yarn will beat me down. No pattern has too many intricacies to befuddle my brain. I looked at the gauge on the pattern and thought, "Oh yeah, this yarn will work great! Who cares if it's fingering weight?".


I knew from reading the recommended gauge that the pattern was calling for something in-between fingering and sport or DK. I knew they recommended using a size 2 needle. I knew this yarn wasn't really suitable. But I'd been dying to use this particular yarn - it was a new one for me, and the colors were just incredible, and I had to do it. What I should have done was to find a pattern better suited to the yarn (I always do everything backwards). But The Yarn Goddess will not be denied.

So I began my gauge swatch using a size 1 (2.50 mm). After all, that's what the yarn called for. Never mind that I wasn't knitting a sock and was using sock yarn. I mean, lots of patterns are written using sock yarn or fingering weight and aren't socks. I figured that I would get 9 SPI and 12 RPI. And that's exactly what I got. I was very happy.

Then I read the pattern again.

The pattern calls for 7 SPI and 10 RPI.

I wasn't worried about the rows. I can always fudge on those - put in an extra pattern repeat, or dork it up in any number of ways. It was the stitches per inch that was bothering me. A difference of two stitches is a lot. Even I couldn't overlook that glaring discrepancy.

So I decided to try a size 2, just like the pattern called for. No problem. I had lots of needles laying around, so I found the 2's and began knitting. Then that new pill I told you all about kicked in and I fell asleep, gauge swatch clutched firmly in my giant grimy paws.

When I woke up, it was some hours later (it's amazing what sleep does for you - I had forgotten), and I began knitting again. Admittedly, I was a little groggy and should have waited at least 15 minutes so I'd have a chance to wake up, but not I. I was anxious to get this show on the road. So I knit. And knit. And then I looked at the swatch.

When I do swatches, I always put a purl row on the knit side so I know I've changed needles. I usually start with the smallest needle and go up in size so it's easy for me to tell what needle I've used at any given point. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that there was a big hole between two of the stitches. The problem was that on the left side of the hole were two rows. The problem was that on the right side of the hole were four rows. I stared at it. I turned it around. I stared at the back. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. And then realization hit.

I had turned the work around, just like I was doing a short row, and knit backwards instead of going in the correct direction, thereby adding another row on one side of the swatch and leaving a big hole right in the middle. The other extra row came into play because I had started to knit back again.

What to do? I could just keep knitting and not worry about the hole, except that it would look like hell and would skew the measurement. I wracked my brain for solutions. And no matter how much I thought about it, there was only one solution.

I had to frog it. A swatch. A shitty little swatch. I had to frog back to the right edge, then back to the hole, and then back to the right edge again so everything was evened up. All that for a crummy little swatch. What's worse, I made the mistake of showing it to Hubster. He started laughing, which got me to laughing. But it wasn't a laughing matter.

Since I'm a perfectionist, I had to do it. Thank goodness there weren't many stitches to frog. It didn't take long; that wasn't the point. The point was that this was a swatch, not a sock or a garment. It was insulting. It was a slap in the face. I wasn't a Yarn Goddess at that moment. I was pissed.

So frog I did, and now I'm merrily knitting away, even though I can already tell that the fabric is going to be too loose. I have one more set of needles to try - a real size 1 (2.25 mm). I don't know how much of a difference it's going to make, but I have to try it.

I've already ordered the right size yarn.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You Can't Go Home


I didn't realize going back to Sacramento would be so emotionally exhausting. It had to be done, but I guess I had hoped for a different outcome.

Before I start whining, moaning, and bitching about that, the really bad news first. There is no new yarn to photograph. There are no new WIP's to wave around. The only yarn I got in the mail was from various sock clubs, and I don't want to be a spoiler. I will say, though, that one of the clubs sent me ShiBui, a yarn I haven't tried yet but have heard a lot about. Oh my. It's gorgeous, with a softness you have to feel to truly experience. I can't wait to get that on the needles!

Now on to yesterday.

I had to pay my pain doctor my six-month visit. It's very difficult to find a good doctor in that genre, so I make the trip instead of trying to find a new one here. After all, we've been together for ten years and have a history together, so I'm loathe to just leave him. First, he was on a conference call and tried to have some broad in the office send me out some scripts. No way, I told her. I needed to talk to him. So a few minutes later, I was escorted back and he came striding in. I have to admit that I've had the hots for him since the first time I met him - what's it like to do it with a doctor? You know... they know anatomy intimately, so it must be... ahem. I digress. So we sat down, he said, "So? You needed to talk to me?", and I promptly burst into tears.

The thing is, my meds have stopped working. They haven't worked for about two months now, and this sleeplessness thing has gotten really old. I explained what was going on, and that turned into what was going on in my life, and then I started yelling at him (I'm sorry, Dr. T!), and then I was in his arms sobbing on his shoulder (I always like that part). The upshot was that he increased my oxy and gave me a new pill to try. I took one of them this evening and was out like a light. Wow. I think I may like this new pill.

So after there, we headed over to my old salon for a mani/pedi. Yes, I know that's the new trendy way to say they're going to whack away at my hands and feet, but it's easier to type. My old gals were waiting for me with arms open. We hugged, I sat in the big vibrating chair, and entered an hour or so of pure bliss. I still have some of that fragrant oil on me.

We left there a little after 6:00 p.m. and headed for my old LYS. Now, I've been with this shop from the beginning. I was their top teacher. When I had oral surgery, the owner brought me homemade soup. I even have a key to the place. I walked in and there were a group of women at the table in back (only a few of which I knew), and the owner got up to hug me. We moved up behind the cash register and started gabbing. I was shocked at how little had changed. The stock was basically the same, all the things I had bought for the store were still there (although sort of stuffed into corners), the colors were the same - in short, it looked like I had never left. There weren't even any sweaters or projects hanging on the wall. I had tried really hard to help the owner get off on the right foot. I've told her time and again that she needs to increase her sock selection, bring in some indie dyers. She showed me her sock yarn section. I was appalled. She had gotten Wildfoote in every color they make. That was her big yarn surprise. I just looked at it and said, "Oh... uh... that's really uh... nice.". I've told her that she needs to expand her notions section and also bring in a lot more books. The selections were worse than before I had left. Now she's thinking of doing a TV commercial. There's one other yarn shop in town (who I think is barely hanging on), and I'd be all over that like a fly on a turd. But she just doesn't seem to get it. She's doing things like cruises, nursing beginners along (I had tried to get advanced classes in, but her clientele is sort of challenged - they like to make simple scarves or chemo caps - a worthy cause to be sure, but they don't allow a lot of room for growth in the knitting arena). They had a bad spring, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the year. I'm so hoping that things will turn around for her, but I don't know. I used to own a shop, so I know of what I speak. I guess she just doesn't want to listen to advice. She did do a couple of things I had suggested, but I think it's too little too late.

I think what was most troubling was when I hugged her good-bye. Right before that, I said that I had better go. She stood up, and in the voice she uses for customers who are strangers or have only bought a skein of yarn or a pack of needles, she said something like, '"Come back again and see us!" The whole thing was upsetting. I left the store without having bought a token something, which I normally would never do.

I guess the saying that you can't go home is true. It certainly was in this case. The nail parlor was fine, but then again, they're not the people I would call to go out to lunch with. Sometimes it's easier to forget those who have moved away rather than put forth an effort to keep in touch. I think that's what has happened here.

Will I go back? I don't know. We really didn't have a lot to discuss, so I think that maybe the next time I go up there, I'll drive in the opposite direction, hit the yarn shop in the town northeast of them, and do a little gambling in the Indian casino. My chances of being happy there are pretty damned good. They have a Fatburger.

Back to knitting while my sleeping pills work - then it's off to slumberland for a while, and when I wake up, into the pool for the afternoon. I don't know what to do with myself - swimming? It's supposed to hit 90 here today, so it warrants an afternoon of doing laps, then tanning in my floatie. Maybe you can go home in some respects after all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Back Tonight

Dear Readers,

I'm about to depart for the pain doctor's and having a very long, hot day. It's supposed to be 104 in Sacramento. While I would almost welcome this when I lived there (warm water and a whole day in the giant bathtub out back), just visiting and being in it aren't my idea of a good time. After my requisite naps this evening, I'll have lots to tell you about.

Until then...

Monday, August 27, 2007

What Happened to Customer Service and Stocking A Store?

My dear readers,

I'm afraid that I don't have any pictures for you today; instead, I have some things I need to get off my chest.

The odyssey began yesterday when we went to the yarn store. As you know, I needed to get some needles. We got there with plenty of time to spare, and Hubster dropped me off while he went in search of something sweet - like a donut. I went into the store and headed straight back to the needles.

This store has an impressive collection of needles - unless you're trying to find 6-8" DPN's in metal. They carry all the sizes that Addi makes (and will be one of the first stores to carry the new larger size of their lace needles), so I figured that finding what I wanted would be a breeze. They had aluminum Addis in a dinky 4" length. They had steel and aluminum Addis in an 18" length. They had bamboo Addi Naturas in an 8" length. They did NOT have any steel or aluminum needles in the length I wanted. I went through every single needle they had on the wall (which was a considerable number). I finally had to settle for the 18" steel (which did have a 2.25 mm for a size 1), some bamboos in the 8" length (gack), and two 12" circulars in sizes 1 and 2. At least they had those. I made some small talk with the lady who works there, went outside, sat on the curb waiting for Hubster, and then we left for our next location - Borders.

I wanted to go there to find some new knitting books, specifically technique books. Even though I've been knitting for 47 years, I love technique books and usually find something that I didn't know about. I also wanted to look at their sock books. Since we once again were going to fail to go through my room, I had to buy some books which I probably already had (albeit buried in the huge piles in the studio). Once we got there (after navigating one of those modern parking lots that have short rows set at odd angles to each other and trying to avoid being hit by every Yuppie mother in her Luxus or Benz SUV), we entered the store. Nice. Clean. Obviously pretty new. Hubster went off in search of his science fiction books, and I went off in search of the craft books.

I searched. And searched. And searched. Finally, I had to break down and ask one of the employees where the craft section was. She promptly led me to a small bookcase in the very back of the store (the aisle wasn't even marked), pointed to two shelves of books, and proudly proclaimed that this section held sewing, quilting, beading, knitting, crocheting, and all other manner of crafting tomes. Then, with a smile that said she had done something out of this world terrific, she left me alone to peruse the partial shelf of knitting books. My grands have more Tommy the Train books than this store offered on knitting. I went through every book at least three times and selected a couple on technique and one on socks. Their variety was truly mind-boggling. I was also able to find some English knitting magazines (it always cracks me up that most of the advertisers in those mags are American ones), rejoined Hubster, paid for our wares, and headed out the door.

After ten minutes of navigating said parking lot looking for the exit, we discussed where to eat for dinner. I threw out two choices - Val's, which is a hamburger hut icon, and Olive Garden. Hubster was in the mood for pseudo-Italian food, so off to Olive Garden we went. That's where the trouble really started.

Hubster (as the man of the house) went up the girl (and I do mean GIRL) running the seating desk and asked for a booth for two. She told him that there was a 15-20 minute wait for a regular table and a longer wait for a booth. No matter. I didn't mind waiting. Then Hubster asked if we could just reserve a booth for 45 minutes later so we could leave, do something else, and come back. She very carefully explained to us that the tables were given out on a first-come, first-serve basis, so if we put our names down, we'd have to be there for the table or it would be given to the next person in line. I listened to her with the sort of slack-jawed, glazed look one gets when your insurance agent is talking about actuary tables and how they apply to you. I finally said, "In other words, you don't take reservations." "No, we don't!", she practically sang out with a look of smug superiority. I told her to leave things are they were, and Hubster and I retired to a bench out front where we could have a smoke and watch people.

About 15 minutes later, our little buzzer thingie went off, and we went inside to claim our booth (heaven forbid that it should go to the next person on the list). The booth was just fine, and as we were settling in, this very young girl (obviously a summer job for her) showed up holding a bottle of house wine. She launched into the standard script about how the restaurant had chosen this very special wine and how we were being given a complimentary glass. We both told her thank you, but no, since Hubster doesn't drink (unless he's gambling) and I can't drink because of my meds. She then decided that we wouldn't discuss alcohol at all (wow - that was uh... perceptive of her), and we placed our orders. Then she uttered something I've never heard in my long dining-out career: "Would you like your appetizers brought out with the meal?"

I just looked at her. I could feel Hubster looking at her. Instead of being the complete ass I usually am under such circumstances, I simply said, "Please bring them out before dinner". That completed, we then settled back to chit-chat.

About five minutes later, his salad appeared. This didn't bode well, but neither of us said anything about it.

Then a young man with a large tray appeared. He was about to set out meals in front of us when I asked, "Where are the appetizers? We asked for them to be delivered before dinner.". He looked at me like I had just informed him that his fly was open and his member hanging in my risotto and replied, "Well, I'll take these back and see about your appetizers.". We both stopped him from doing so, since we knew the plates would sit under a heat lamp for a half-hour (congealed risotto is such a delicious dish). Hubster asked me if I still wanted the stuffed mushrooms. I told him yes, I did. A few minutes later, the mushrooms appeared (which HAD obviously been sitting under a heat lamp). Gack.

Then our summer job waitress appeared and apologized profusely for the mix-up. I said to her (bear in mind that I can only take so much), "Has everyone forgotten the concept of an appetizer? That its supposed to show up BEFORE the meal so you have something to much on and whet your appetite for the main course?" She looked at me even odder than most people look at me, apologized again, and disappeared. Thank goodness the food was tasty and hot.

Now, when we go out to eat, Hubster starts with a baseline for the tip he'll leave. He tends to overtip, which doesn't bother me because I know waitstaff makes most of their money on tips. As things begin to go wrong, he starts subtracting from the tip. By the end of this meal, her tip had fallen to zero. He, too was fed up with poor service, appetizers arriving with the dinner (or forgotten all together), and any number of other things that typically go wrong during a meal.

We left for home after that, whereupon I put on clean jammies, sat in the Monster, and managed to knit half of one sock all evening (due to the frequent naps). I woke up this morning (one hour sleeping, one hour awake) at 10:45 a.m. Hubster had to go into work today for an 11:00 a.m. meeting. Needless to say, he's working from home today. Tomorrow I have to go see the pain doctor in Sacramento, and since we'll be there, I'm taking the opportunity to have a manicure and pedicure done at my old place, and if I have time, I'm going to drop in on Anna at my former LYS.

It is such a pleasure to dine at places like Alioto's in San Francisco, where being a waiter is a time-honored and traditional occupation for Italian men. And these are grown men, having supported their families, put Junior through college, and taken family vacations all on their waiter salaries. You won't find a college person anywhere near the customers in a joint like that.

What has happened to people? Is working at a restaurant something that only young people do in order to make pocket change to party with? Has gentility all but flown out the window? And the bookstore - don't they stock more than a few stinking books on something noble like knitting, which has been around forever and shows no signs of letting up soon (quite the contrary)? What has happened to us?

I think we've all grown fat and complacent about customer service. The big-box stores, while convenient for many with their unlimited numbers and lower prices, have virtually no customer service at all (unless you count some old bastard standing at the door saying, "Welcome!" and sticking a happy face to your shirt - if you're over 12, forget it, you don't get one - I know, because I tried). These are the stores which are putting the mom and pops out of business, not to mention the smaller chain stores who just can't compete. It's a real shame. I'm ashamed of being a consumer.

Speaking of consumerism, there are about a dozen packages sitting on the Monster which the Yarn Fairy just delivered. I should have lots of pictures for you tomorrow, my dear readers, although not until late in the evening since we'll be gone all day. I'm hoping we can visit a yarn store in Rocklin, and since Thunder Valley Casino is pretty much right up the road from there...

I hear they have drinking in joints like that.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I Think It Finally Happened

I apologize for the lateness of this post. As my regular readers know, I usually post in the wee hours of the morning - pre-5:00 a.m. Here it is, 9:15 a.m., and I've just finished taking pictures. What happened?

The inevitable. I slept most of the night in the Monster.

I didn't mean to. I was working on my socks when it started happening. I slept through two cups of coffee (poured and waiting for me to drink, not already consumed). I slept through a documentary on obesity (I find that stuff really interesting). I slept through everything. I finally woke up long enough for Hubster to say, "Would you like a cup of coffee before I go to bed?" This was at 6:30 a.m. Then I dozed some more. Egads. You think I finally got more than an hour's worth of sleep? Personally, I think my body finally just broke down.

Whatever. Now I have all day to tackle this:

I know that you've seen pictures of the stash (which is included in these pictures - or at least a small part of it), and I apologize for the blurriness of one of the photos, but there's no room to move around in there. I was looking for something earlier last night and couldn't find it, so I had to face up to reality. After I pay a visit to my LYS (I need another size of needles - can you believe it?), then I get to roll up the proverbial shirt sleeves and charge in. There are at least six Hefty trash bags full of garbage to be thrown away. I used to take my Yarn Fairy deliveries into that room, sit in the rocker, and just fling the empty boxes wherever they happened to land. No more. There IS no more landing room. Argh. I hate doing this kind of shit. Hubster told me he'll help, and that will be interesting. For as you probably know, Hubster and I cannot do home improvement projects of any kind together. I think I'll bag up the trash first, then let him in there to help me unpack. I have to be careful, though. He can't see to what proportions the stash has grown. In fact, I have to stop at OSH and get yet another container.

Speaking of stash, I was very good at the Loopy Ewe's last Sneak-Up. Here's what I scored:

Starting from the upper left and swooping down around the front of Gabby to the right:

Spritely Goods - Peppercorn Blend
Spritely Goods - Marble
Spritely Goods - Patina
The Knittery - Orchid
The Knittery - Orange Blossom

I also got my Booty Club skein, but I won't show that in case someone who reads this hasn't received theirs yet.

I know that what I got from the Sneak-Up is paltry compared to what I usually get, but remember that I'm trying to be a good girl. I fear, however, that next week's Sneak is going to do me in, if the names of the dyers floating around are indeed going to make an appearance.

The only interesting thing that happened yesterday is that I decided to go water my flowers and plants out front. Let it never be said that I'm a bashful broad. In fact, when we lived in Sacramento on that lovely acre (sigh), I bought Hubster a John Deere tractor/mower. I rode it down the street (well, we lived in a cul-de-sac) in my fuzzy slippers, jammies, and robe. He even has a movie of it. I also swim stark naked in the backyard. In Sacramento, our back fence consisted of stone pillars with an open iron fence strung between them. On the other side of the fence was a horse path, biking path, and foot path. Our pool was angled in the far back corner of the yard. So I'd sit in my floatie with a smoke in one hand, a drink in the other, and bronze my body to mahogany glory. No bikini lines for me (like I could fit the moving boulders into a bikini; I'd also never find the bottom once I sat down and my ass sucked it up). Anyway, I just didn't care who came behind our house, and after a while, people, horses, and all other living creatures stopped coming by.

I digress. So I went outside in my jammies (the ones with the panda bears dancing all over them - flannel bottoms and a matching top with pandas embroidered on the front... how sickly cute is that?) and my big, floppy, sheepskin slippers. I marched over to the hose, turned on the water, and proceeded to water the flowers I'd planted around the base of the 75 year-old sycamore tree (there's a brick planter that goes all the way around it). Then I moved to the front of the house and began watering the plants there. I was merrily washing down the side of the house (it's got that siding shit and was full of webs) when I noticed it. Actually, them. Swarming around my legs. Yellow jackets.

So my neighbors were treated to the sight of the crazy lady in the panda jammies yelling, jumping up and down, spraying water in a seemingly random pattern in the air, and beating the shit out of the yellow jackets I took down with the water. I'm deathly allergic to anything that stings (bees, yellow jackets, hornets, etc.), and I don't have an epi kit (stupid me - I need to get one), so I felt the need to soak and destroy. I hastily watered the rest of the plants, filled the little solar fountain I have sitting next to the mailbox stake, ran back to the tap, turned it off, and went flying into the house, whereupon I collapsed in the Monster and stared at my soaking wet slippers. Oh well. I did my gardening deed for the day.

Well, dear readers, I'm off to work on my socks until I have to wake up Hubster and take off for the yarn shop. It looks like it's going to be a loooong day.

I'm still considering that drinking thing, especially since I found a bottle of gin in the freezer...

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Yarn Fairy Giveth, But Let Him Try To Take It Away


The Yarn Fairy was late yesterday. Not an acceptable situation. I expect him around noon, and if he's not here, then I know that Art the Yarn Fairy (no, I haven't told him what I call him) is on vacation and a replacement (or Yarn Fairy In Training aka YFIT) is here. YFIT showed up around 1 p.m. and didn't ring the bell. Oh no, I thought. No packages. Usually ATYF is so loaded down with stuff that he rings the bell with his knee, then gently stacks the boxes in my arms, slipping the "important" mail in between the boxes so I don't lose it (like I give a rat's ass about, oh, the water bill - I do need electricity so I can knit under my high-powered lamp). So I hear him rustling around, and since Hubster was up (sigh), I asked him to bring in the booty... uh... mail. Fortunately for me, there were only four boxes this time, as opposed to my usual stack that could serve as a support pillar for the porch. He brings everything in, sets them down on the chair awaiting my attention, and then goes back to work.

I have trained myself to not instantly rip into the packages, preferring instead to wait for a while so my appetite is whetted. After all, if I rip into them right away, what am I going to do all day? Since I had an appointment at 6:00 p.m., I decided to try and take a nap. I managed to get in an hour's worth of sleep, got up at 4:00 p.m., and promptly sat down to see what goodies had arrived.

The first thing I noticed was that there were two from Woolgirl! Oh yes! I had been expecting something from her that I knew was being mailed a couple of days ago. Since she's just in Oregon, mail gets here pretty fast on the Pony Express. I carefully chose which of the two boxes to open (after I shook them, of course), and found out immediately that I had opened the wrong one - the one that I had been waiting for and wanted to prolong the excitement on. So I set it aside before I pulled everything out and opened the other one. Yarn. Gorgeous yarn. Yarn that is going to be used for my pal's Monkey Socks (I know you're reading this, oh pal 'o mine - waves~~~!), as well as the yarn I'm going to send her to make the pattern she chose. No, I didn't take a picture of it. I'm not giving a thing away. But then I opened up the anticipated box and found that it was even better than I had thought:


That ultra-cool Yarngirl bag came because I'm part of the Wooly Woolgirl Club (having placed more than seven orders made me a member). The bag was filled with delightful goodies, which I am not going to divulge because I don't want to spoil the surprise for other Wooly members, but suffice it to say that it's really good swag. I spent a half-hour ogling everything in the bag and absolutely marveling at one of the items she sent. Thank you so much, Jen!!! (~~~~~~waves xoxo)

This next picture is of the promised shirt. There was one on Etsy that was in full color and a little different than this one - about two months ago. I wrote the shop owner and asked if they had a certain size in a boy cut (those little girly things do NOT hold in the 44E's - they smoosh them down and make me look like I've got two raccoons wrestling to get out of a sack under there), and after some time, she wrote back and told me that an order was forthcoming. She told me that she would write to let me know when they arrived. I waited a long time and wrote her again, whereupon she told me they were there but hadn't been photographed. That was at least a month ago. Hmm... maybe the whole episode has taken three months. No matter. I've written it off, even though I really, really wanted that shirt. Clownbitch. Anyway, once again, courtesy of Lime & Violet's Daily Chum, I give you the Pirate Yarn Shirt from the good folks at Jinx.


Of course, there was also yarn. Only four skeins today (at least, four skeins that I could photograph (snicker)), but they're gorgeous, plump strands of yarny goodness. I present to you - The Yarn.


The yarn is all by Strings and Yarn, who can be found at:

She includes a gorgeous stitch marker with each skein (these are particularly lovely). Please ignore the artistry in arranging - Hubster was good enough to take the pictures for me today since I was shaking (sleep deprivation, most likely), and he was going for a pleasing composition rather than showing off each individual skein. No matter. The names of these are Piano Concerto No. 2 - Rachmaninoff; Hebrides Overture - Mendelssohn; Morning Mood - Greig; and La Mer - Debussy. I believe the lady who makes these also plays (or is simply a classical music aficionado, but I get the feeling she's a violinist), so naming the colorways after a piece of music is particularly inspired. I think she translates the feeling she gets from the music into what colors she envisions them to be.

There. I've done my good deed for the day and given three plugs.

The rest of the evening was sort of a blur. We had dinner at Tony Roma's (St. Louis-style Carolina Honeys ribs), went to Michaels (I hate that store, but they had some stuff I needed), and came home, whereupon I grabbed my socks, began knitting, and just as promptly fell asleep. The rest of the night continued on in a similar fashion. We put on a Dragnet DVD (part of a boxed set of the really old ones), and both of us fell asleep. Then I put on my TIVO'ed stuff, watched People's Court four times (to catch the parts I missed while I dozed), and now here I am, late on the blog but at least doing it.

Sometime during the evening's partying, it happened. And at a really shitty place.

I had the last three stitches of the row fall off the needle.

I looked at them with bleary eyes, said some rather appropriate words, and carefully slid the stitches back on the needle. It's a shitty place because with socks knitted in this manner, the last stitch is always a bit wonky. Because I was still out of it, I only slid HALF of the last stitch on the needle. Out came the trusty crochet hook, snagging the rest of the recalcitrant yarn and putting it in its place. When I went to knit them, I found out that I had put them all on backwards. No matter. It was a simple matter to just turn them around. I knit another row and looked at them, and everything looks okay. The stitch count is right, so I'm assuming that all is well. I'll just stick that side on the bottom so nobody sees it, even though there's not a damn thing wrong with it.

Today I start knitting the Monkey Socks. DPN's. Gack. I haven't used those in ages. But use them I must, so I will. It's an adventure. If I get good and pissed, I'll rewrite the pattern for use on two circs. But I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.

For the time being, I'm going to read some blogs, have a cuppa, and go back to knitting my socks (which have been patiently waiting for me while I finished the ponchos - which I have to block today).

And I'll wait for the Yarn Fairy to cometh ...

Friday, August 24, 2007

It Is Not Good For Woman To Be Alone

Since I'm usually sitting here alone in the wee hours of the morning or the darkness of the night, I decided that I would do a Harlot. I needed a mascot for my blog. I needed someone to listen to me rant, sit with me as I slogged along down the blogging road, someone who wouldn't judge no matter what I said or did. So I began looking around for a companion - one who wouldn't need a lot of attention, one who would be content to have her picture taken with the yarn and the projects and the general silliness that is this blog, someone... well, judge for yourself. May I introduce to you, dear readers, Gabby.

Gabby has traveled from clear across the country to be with me. The dear lady who created her was thrilled that Gabby was going to have adventures untold as she blogged along with me. She has a penchant for licorice, and she also loves to gossip. That, combined with the fact that she's made of a sock, made her the perfect candidate. Please join me in welcoming Gabby to my strange and goofy world.

Today hasn't been a good day. As usual, I was up all day and planned to go to bed in the afternoon. Hubster had a meeting he had to attend in San Jose, so I figured I would sleep while he was gone. Instead, I began working on the poncho and fell asleep in the chair while Judge Judy rolled on the tube. All was not lost, however. I present to you the ponchos.

All that remains is to wash them, block them, and put the fringe on. When Hubster goes into work next week, I'll send along the ponchos and backpacks with him to my mother's house to give to the monkeys. I can't bear to go over there right now. Our pets are still over there because we still haven't made room for them (thank goodness this summer hasn't been horrible there), and I don't want to see my puppy blind. It breaks my heart. My life right now is fraught with enough unhappiness that I don't need to heap any more on it.

I was awake when the Yarn Fairy arrived, so I have these pictures of today's haul to share with you.

This picture shows (read from the left rear and wrapping around to the right:

SparklyLoves Fiber - All I Want to do is Keep You
UrbanGypZ - Ave Maria Sangria
thankewe - Kiwi Lemonade
UrbanGypZ - Magical Pavement
SparklyLoves Fiber - Mountains Under Mist

This final picture shows you some gorgeous alpaca from WindSong Fibers Farm, from their own alpacas (the name of the animal is on the tag) and spun by the owner. The spinning is exquisite, as is the fiber, and the picture shows it in its' natural color as well as a beautifully dyed skein. As we speak, the owner is spinning some more for me (for socks, of course) and will be sending some fleece from her male. It's soft, lofty, and very warm. It will also be a pleasure to knit with.

Gabby has informed me that she loves rolling around in the yarn. She feels like she's rolling in a field of sweet clover, she says. While Hubster thinks she's adorable, he's adamant in his opinion that I'm merely copying the Harlot. Steph, if you're reading this, it is not my intention to copy you. I'm just tired of being alone when I type. Then again, if he's sitting here, he's blabbing and I can't concentrate, so it's a Catch-22. Gabby is the blog mascot and, as such, wants to get in on the action.

So today drifted in and out of sleepiness, all the while holding my knitting (I'm so proud - I've neither dropped any stitches nor drooled on my work). When Hubster came home, I showed him a few of the things that arrived (oh... I got this cool shirt which I'll take a picture of tomorrow - I found out about it from Lime & Violet's Daily Chum), and he instantly berated me for not going to bed. "If you can sleep in the chair, why can't you go to bed?" he demanded to know. I didn't have an answer for him. I just know that if I go to bed, I lay there with my eyes open. Perhaps I'll be able to get in a little sleep today, since I have an appointment I can't miss at 6:00 p.m. We've been sniping back and forth all evening. The last major yelling match was when I went to post this entry and found that he had logged me off everything - he was updating his iPod and can't do it on his work computer, so he uses my Mac and doesn't bother to put things back the way they were. I guess I am tired - I blew up at him after getting him out of bed and demanding that he fix my box. We couldn't even accomplish that without yelling. Sigh.

The only other thing that happened today was the first of what I think are going to be many phone calls. One of my students from the infamous sock class called at 5:29 p.m. - right when Green Mountain Knitting Bags was due to post. Now, these bags are hard to get and when she posts, there are stalkers who snap up the bags so fast it makes your head spin. So I'm trying to talk to this clownbitch while I'm also trying to score a bag for ... well, for someone. She didn't understand how to do the toe increases. ARGH.

I very carefully explained to her about knitting two stitches, then increasing in the third, then placing a marker, knitting all the way across until there are three stitches left on the needle, placing another marker on the right needle, increasing in the third stitch from the end (the stitch immediately following the second marker), and then knitting the final two stitches. I told her to make sure she put a plain knitting row between the increase rows. I told her to ALWAYS increase in the stitches before and after the markers. I told her to increase to the number she got on her big foot chart. I told her to knit straight after the increases were done and a lifeline put in until she had the length dictated by the numbers on the big foot chart. I told her all this as if I were speaking to a small child

Did she get it? I doubt it. I fully expect another phone call.

Oh... one other thing did happen. I had ordered Cat Bordhi's new book on knitting architecture for socks. I had purchased her original book called something like "Two Socks Soar on Two Circulars" or some such thing. I was less than impressed, even though everybody else in the knitting world raved about it. I tried her method and was lost. I didn't like the writing, I didn't like the progression, I just plain didn't like it. Then I found "Crazy Heels, Crazy Toes" (or something like that) by Queen Kahuna. Even though the method is similar, it's different enough that it made perfect sense to me. It's also a long book with tons of photos. Since Cat's new book was about a different subject, I thought I would give it a try. I've just begun reading it, so I can't render an opinion. But it looks as if you can place the gusset increases anywhere on the sock. Once I've read it and tried her method, I'll let you know what I think. This is only the first of a scheduled three that she's writing. I figure any knowledge is a good thing to have, which is why I'm giving it a college try. I'll let you all know what I think before you buy it. I know that she has a devoted following, so it is not my intent to try and turn people away from her. At the same time, however, if I think it's a piece of crap, I'll say so.

On a closing note, I looked at some pictures of me holding the babies when they were about a month old. I had a killer tan. Deep mahogany. It was beautiful. This year, for the first time in 12 years, I look like the underbelly of a dead fish.

Today will be a better day. It has to be.

I may have to reconsider this drinking thing.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Monkeys, Stash, and Strangers

Odd title, isn't it? Well, it might make more sense as you read.

If you look at the left sidebar of the page, you'll see the buttons of some of the blogs that I read. I'm a big collector of buttons. I don't know why, since I don't like buttons in "real" life. I just find them fun, colorful, and a great way to help others link to the sites I enjoy. Anyway, you'll see an animated monkey and a Monkey Swap button. It's that Monkey Swap button which is the first part of this entry.

I joined the Monkey Sock Swap (as you can tell from the questionnaire I answered a few posts ago) and began the wait for a pal. It seemed like an eternity, but then it happened. My pal was assigned! I promptly went over to her blog, printed out her preferences, and began to comb through my favorite online yarn shops for the perfect yarns - not only to knit her socks with, but also to send her along with a pattern of her choosing so she could knit some herself. After two hours of considering and discarding many choices, I finally found the perfect yarn. It had all the colors she wanted. It was by a dyer I love. It was PERFECT. The store had enough in stock. I promptly placed my order with a request that it be expedited so I could start the socks this weekend. For as long as I've been knitting, I've never been a fast knitter. I'm exact and my stitches all look the same, but I've sacrificed speed for quality - anally so. No matter. I just knew I had to give myself plenty of time to finish the socks and get them to her before the deadline, especially since we're going on vacation a week before the swap ends. I found the pattern she wanted. I bought it. I've bought some gifts already. Everything was going great. Then I found the perfect yarn for her pattern. Same thing - it was by a dyer I love, the store had enough in stock, and the pattern was promptly downloaded. This was a snap, thought I.

Then I got a letter in my e-mail - a highly anticipated letter - from the lady who has me as her pal. She told me she'll be reading my blog (hello, secret Monkey Pal!!) and that she couldn't tell me her name, but I got the feeling that she's watching to see if i want or need anything (well, maybe that's because she told me so). I'll have to be careful what I say here. Anyway, those two things made for a glorious day.

For whatever reason, I decided to look at my stash today just to see if I had anything which could be used in the swap. Mind you, this was after I had already spent two hours looking and buying the PERFECT yarns for my pal. I opened up just one of the 14 bins now in residence in my room and found ...


Naturally, I very carefully laid all of these skeins on top (just in case I really don't like the ones that are coming - HA! fat chance) - and took out three of them to show to Hubster. He looked at them and said, "Wow! Those are PERFECT for your pal's color preferences. Look at this one! It has ALL THE COLORS your pal likes!" (Hubster takes an active role whenever possible in my fiber-induced hazy world.) Then came the inevitable statement. "But you already bought some yarn for the swap." Then came the inevitable question. "Why didn't you look in the stash before you ordered them?"

I looked him right in the eye (no mean feat, considering that I'm a pudgy 5'7" and he's a pudgy 6'4") and said, "The stash is sacred."

Whereupon he looked at me, shook his head, and went out back to turn the filter on in the pool.

I went back to the bin, put the skeins away, and stared at the mountain that is my stash. How did I become so unfamiliar with what's in it, I thought? This is the pile of yarny goodness that comforts me when I'm sad, makes me even happier when I'm already in a good mood, something I've carefully built up over the years, a living, breathing thing which I have no relationship at all with. Yes, that's right. I don't have a real relationship with my stash anymore.

Back in the early days, when I had only a few precious skeins, I knew them by heart. I knew every intimate detail about all the skeins, from the dyer to the colorway to the yardage. Now, it's an enormous pile of skeins lovingly packed away in bins to keep them safe from moths. They're in a room with the drapes drawn so the colors aren't affected by the sun. I go in there all the time and open the bin most convenient to me, fondling the yarns on top. But do I really know what's in there anymore? Nope. I can still tell you the dyers (most of them, anyway), I still have my Opal bin which contains nothing but collections and rare balls of Opal (and which I'll never use since I found out about indies), but my system of having a bin for cotton, wool, sock clubs, yarn clubs, etc, has long since fallen by the wayside. I just didn't have enough bins. And for those hellish months we had to live in a residential hotel, my precious bins were put into storage at Bekins, far out of my reach. I only had room to take a shoebox-sized bin with some of my favorite skeins to work with. Then I discovered Etsy. Then I had to buy one, then two, then five under-the-bed flat storage bins for all the yarn I bought there. And that all brings me to today.

We were going to go through my room last night, but my sleep-starved body is finally rebelling and fell asleep with a piece of pizza still clutched in my hand, I tried to stay awake, but I fell asleep at the computer again. So here I am at 7:30 a.m., a little sleepy but nowhere near ready for bed, writing my daily missive. And I'm a little disturbed. When did I lose touch with my stash?

What scares me is how many other skeins which are PERFECT for the swap are lurking in the other bins. I honestly didn't think I'd have any, since her colors aren't mine. But I have them. Lots of them. And I'm willing to bet that by the time I take a peek into each bin, I'm going to have an enormous PILE of them.

I hope Hubster has a good day at work. I also think it's time to become reacquainted with my stash by biting the bullet and inventorying the skeins on Ravelry.

But first, I have to go yarn shopping. I saw this incredible colorway which I KNOW I don't have.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Some Days, It Doesn't Pay To Leave The House

Before I get into the reason for the title of this post, please allow me to show you some yarny goodness. This is yarn that has arrived over the past couple of days, lest you think I'm a total yarn hog (which I am, but that's for another post):


Starting from the rear left, we have Yarn Pirate - Calamity; Sleeping Dragon - Mahogany; Sleeping Dragon - Winter Thaw; Sleeping Dragon - Mossy Frog; See Jayne Knit - Hunka Hunka Burning Love (and it is a hunka - almost 900 yards); in front of the hunk is Sleeping Dragon - Purple in the Sky; Sleeping Dragon - Purple Night; Doodlebirds Creations - Doesn't Play Well With Others; Doodlebirds Creations - Farmers Market; and lengthwise in the front are Dream in Color Smooshy in Beach Fog and Petal Flower.

I apologize for the end of the picture being cut off, but you get the idea of what the yarn looks like.

I have just discovered, after looking at this yarn and remembering what yarn is yet to come, that I need yet another container. I've just laid that fact on Hubster, prefaced by "You're not mad at me, are you?" Of course, I timed this carefully so I asked when he was ready to fall asleep. He said, in a very sleepy voice, "No, of course not". Whew. Dodged the bullet yet again. That will teach me to buy a smaller container because I had talked myself into the misguided belief that I really had cut down on my yarn buying.

I have to say at this point that Sheri at the Loopy Ewe is a huge enabler. She had a Sneak-Up tonight, which totally shattered my best intentions. I went over there "just for a look" because I had a credit; I wound up buying uh... well, some more yarn. I actually bought far less than I normally do, all in the spirit of cutting back. I have finally and truly realized that I have far more yarn than I will ever knit in this lifetime. But then again, stash isn't about actually using it. Stash is for comfort, for viewing, for the sheer beauty of the yarn. I do knit from it, but then I promptly replace the yarn I've used with four times as much. Oh well. I could have a drinking problem or something. That would endanger others. I'm just endangering uh... well... he doesn't like the stash. So maybe I really should slow down.

Someone on Ravelry was astonished at the sheer volume of my sock yarn mountain and proclaimed that I had more stash than she did, could you just imagine that? I was a little taken aback, and then a weird sense of pride stole over me. I look at each purchase as one less opportunity to go out to dinner in San Francisco. Big deal. I grew up eating in San Francisco, and I certainly have enough flesh landscape as it is. So there - I'm saving myself from getting even fatter. (I knew I could come up with a justification for all this.)

I can hear you thinking, "Enough with all the extraneous chit-chat - let's get to the reason for the title.". Very well. I teach knitting classes - lace, modular knitting, cables, felting, and all manner of other types, with a heavy emphasis on socks. Therein lies the reason for the post. Tonight was class two of the four-week series on how to knit two socks on two circulars.

The day didn't start out well. Hubster left early because his boss was in town from North Carolina, so he was meeting with her and some other people, then going out to dinner tonight. I hate when he's not here. We've been together almost every single day - all day - for many years, and it's difficult to adjust when he's not home. Anyway, I've been suffering from a major case of insomnia - I'm out of remission, and my pain meds aren't working. Whether or not that has anything to do with it is anybody's guess, but I hadn't been to bed since Sunday. Needless to say, I was a bit punchy. Around 1:00 this afternoon, I was sitting here answering e-mails, leaving feedback, etc., when it happened. I woke up at 2:00 with my face plastered to the keyboard (and it's a new keyboard with chichlet-style keys, so I thought they wouldn't indent my face so much - wrong). I finished the feedback I was leaving (Jayne, I'm sorry for the gibberish - I hope I clicked the "positive" box) and went to bed, setting the alarm for 4:00. The cat crawled onto my ass and I fell asleep. The alarm went off at 4:00, I woke up, and came out here to read stuff on the computer. I figured that by getting up at 4:00, I'd have time to wake up, dork around, and get myself in the shower at 5:00 - more than enough time to be ready to leave at 6:15. Then it happened again. I woke up with my face plastered on the keyboard, and with a bleary eye, I looked at the time on the screen. It was 6:00. SIX O'CLOCK. Oh shit.

I shot up from the chair, ran into the bathroom, and got ready in a half-hour flat. Then I called Beth at the yarn store and told her I'd be a few minutes late because something had happened (I didn't elaborate). I threw my things in a yarn bag and took off out the door.

I got in the car and realized that I couldn't see a thing. You see, I rarely drive my car - I've had it five years and it just turned 4,000 miles (that's not a typo), so I didn't realize how much dirt had fallen on it while it sat in the driveway. Rather than use the windshield wiper fluid, I grabbed the hose and hosed it down. That got all the loose dirt off, but succeeded in plastering all the leaves on the windshield. I got back in the car, backed out of the driveway, and zoomed off down the road. I'm sure people were wondering what the hell I was - all they saw was a turquoise blur zooming towards the freeway with a fan-shaped torrent of water and leaves blowing off it and being left in its' wake. I hit the freeway doing 70 and shot down the road like a bullet (thank goodness for big V8 engines and Jaguar suspensions - I drive an '02 T-Bird, and the thing is a screamer), and I thought that I might make it just a few minutes late. Then the inevitable happened. There's a chain of hills that border the Tri-Valley area and separate the Bay region from the gateway to the inland areas, and this particular area is called the Dublin Grade. I had just crested the grade and was hurtling downhill when I had to slam on the brakes. There was a MAJOR accident that had traffic stopped. Dead. Nobody was going anywhere. I reached for my phone to call the store to tell them I was going to be more than a little late, and then it hit me. I had left the house without my license, my phone, and any other type of ID. I had my smokes, though. So I rolled down the window, lit up (which I rarely do in my car), and waited to crawl by the accident. It was a bad one. Someone had plunged over the side of the hill, and somebody else's front quarter-panel was hanging off the guard rail. We finally made it past, and traffic just disappeared. It always amazes me how that happens. I got to the shop at 7:30 for a 7:00 class. Sigh.

Last week, I spent the entire class just getting these people (and there are eight of them) to get the hang of doing a long-tail cast on onto two needles. I couldn't even get to the toe - I just told them to practice the cast-on and left it at that. Thank goodness they finally had the gist of it. So we spent the entire class trying to do the next two rows. They just didn't get it. They didn't understand that they had to turn their work to get at the other side of the socks. They didn't understand that they had to turn their work in opposite directions in order to avoid tangling. They JUST DIDN'T GET IT. I finally gave up, told them to practice it, and moved on to explaining how to do the toe increases. It's all in their books, so I gave them the corresponding page numbers. Their homework for the next two weeks is to finish the toe increases and knit straight until they reach the point where they're supposed to start the gussets. Then they're to stop. I have no doubt that they'll finish the toe - barely. Will they make it to the gussets? Nope, and here's why. They JUST DON'T GET IT, and I don't think they know how to read, either. But the main problem is that they didn't fill out their measurement charts. In the first class, they measured their feet in several key locations. Those measurements were to be recorded on what I call the Big Foot Chart (it's a picture of a foot with all the measurements described and places to record them). It's kind of important. Argh.

After 2-1/2 hours of this torture, I finally ended the class and got into the turquoise bullet, praying that I would make it home without falling asleep. I had called Hubster to tell him I was on my way home, but he didn't answer the phone. He was asleep, which pissed me off. So much for him caring about my well-being. (Normally, I would have just brushed it off, but I was tired and cranky.) I made it home just fine, cooked my dinner (a hamburger patty on bread - yummy), and sat down to knit. I woke up around 4:00 a.m.

So here I sit, writing to you, dear readers. I apologize for the length of this post, but I had to barf out all the garbage that happened today/tonight. Tomorrow/today will be better. We're going to attack my studio. The really great thing today is that my scale will be delivered. Now I can accurately divide skeins of yarn in half in order to knit my socks without fear of making one ball larger than the other. This will also cut my yarn bill in half, since I usually buy two skeins of the same type of yarn in order to knit without having to rely on my crappy counter to divide a skein.

At least that's what I'm telling myself for the time being.

An addendum: I tried to post this thing over two hours ago. Blogger was down and told me to retry in 30 seconds. I did. Several times. So I went off and played a game for a while. When I came back, it was up. However, when I hit reload, all it did was reload the stuff that was already there. This post is long, and it appeared to be lost. I had to wake up Hubster aka The Computer Guru Blond Love God, to see if he could find it. It took him almost a half-hour, but he found the post. Thank goodness. I'll have to do something nice for him today.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Monkey Sock Swap Questionnaire

Well, fun lovers, I've joined the Monkey Sock Swap and have to post the following questionnaire in order for my pal to know what I like and don't like. The swap sign-ups run until August 31; if you would like to join in the fun, you can reach the Swap Mother at

Here goes!

Monkey Sock Swap THREE Questionnaire

The basics:
Do you consider yourself a beginning sock knitter, an intermediate, or have you been doing this so long you could probably knit a pair in your sleep? I've been knitting for 47 years, so I guess that makes me a sleeping knitter

The measurements:
Shoe Size:   10
Foot circumference:    Ball of foot - 9" (10.25" minus 13% for toe-up on two circs) Instep - 10.75"
Foot length: 10.50"
Yarn Preferences:
What colors do you love?   Orange, all greens, yellow, all blues, darker purples, rainbow mixes, turquoise, teal

Do you prefer solids or variegated? Variegated!!
Do you prefer wool, cotton or acrylic yarn?  Definitely wool

What colors would you never wear?   I wear all colors; I truly love them all

What are your favorite brands of yarn? I usually buy indie dyers, so any of them are what I love (found on Etsy)

Are there any new brands you would like to try? No, I'll leave that up to my pal if she chooses commercial yarn

Cookie A. Patterns:
Which of her patterns have you already knit? None

Which pattern(s) would you like to knit and don’t already own? Pomatomus

Other pertinent information:

Would you be willing to have an international Monkey Pal or do you prefer one in the US?    I'd prefer US, but will take anyone who needs a pal

Do you have any allergies? No

Will your knitting be exposed to smoke or animals? No

Are you on Ravelry yet? If you don’t mind having new friends, what is your Ravelry name? Yes; my name is pjyarngoddess

And there you have it. Now you know more about me than you probably cared to. Let the festivities begin!

Oh... and if anybody feels like knitting me a pair of socks, you have all the information you need ...

The Wheel Goes Round and Round

Time for something a little different today, my dear readers. A good friend of mine asked me to post a picture of Emily, my Majacraft Rose. It's not a very good picture, having been taken in the Den of Fiber (aka my studio), but its the best I have. So, for your viewing pleasure (like you've never seen one of these before), I present to you, Emily.

Since one cannot spin without fiber, I decided to drag out the Rubbermaid bin which contains my fiber (at great peril to life and limb, I might add), and take a picture of that as well. For your added viewing pleasure (like you've never seen any of this before, either), I present to you, the Fiber.

Since it's difficult for me to name all these without a picture to stare at (I was an idiot and uploaded from Blogger instead of using Flickr), I can tell you this much: these are from Funky Carolina, Perchance to Knit, Elizabeth's Fiber & Yarn, FatCatKnits, and Copper Pot Woolies. The big black/rainbow colored one in the center back (I think) is from Susie at Perchance to Knit. She enclosed it with a yarn order as a gift. She's such a sweetheart. If you ever get the chance, check out her shop at:

So what have I done with this fiber? Nothing. Not a damned thing. Well, that's not entirely true. I've fondled it. I've hugged it. I've taken it out and looked at it. It's a paltry amount compared to Mount Yarnamajaro. But it will make some gorgeous yarn, certainly enough for several pairs of socks (and perhaps a shawl, should I decide to spin laceweight).

I don't mean to suddenly go off into left field, but I just heard the mail truck outside (its' door makes a distinctive sound when it opens), and after glancing at the clock, I realized it was too early for Art, our usual mailman, to arrive. Oh shit, I'm thinking... what the hell did I order that a special truck was dispatched for? Did I order some huge mountain of yarn I've forgotten about? And worst of all, I hear the footsteps approaching. Oh no! OH NO! The doorbell just rang! (By now, I'm scrambling madly to remember what's coming and what I'll tell Hubster, who is at this very moment heading for the door.) It's a special mailman! NOOOO!!!!!! Hubster is signing for this monster package that required an entire mail truck to deliver and making a sarcastic joke about the number of packages that arrive here. Uh oh... the package is in Hubster's hands. I ask him (innocently, of course) what he got, since I heard the mailman ask him his name. It must be something from Cisco, I'm thinking. Hubster is half-asleep and can't figure out who the package is from, and I know good and well that many packages that come have his name on them because my PayPal account is in his name, so that's what many people use. He hands this enormous, badly beaten-up box to me. I can't find the sender, either, but I notice that one of the tags on the top say "Global Priority Mail". Uh oh. Then I turn the box around and see, on the side:


Now I'm really sweating, and my mind is going a hundred miles an hour. Thank goodness he's not fully coherent yet, but I'm running out of time. I grab the box cutter, slit all the tape, and lying safely cuddled inside is:

I forgot that I had them commissioned for my grands. Whew! It wasn't for me! I have to remember to write the lady who made these beautiful horses a thank-you note for her hard work and wonderful craftswomanship. They were a custom job. You see, we're going to be raising our granddaughters (probably beginning in November or so), and I'm trying to get some unique toys that they can snuggle with. Since there are two of them, I have to buy two of everything. She was kind enough to show me a variety of yarns, and we worked together to make these two. They actually stand on their own, albeit a little wobbly (just as a real baby horse would do). I can't wait to see the kids' faces when they get their stuffies: a doggie, rabbit, the horses, and their backpacks. If any of you handcraft stuffies, please let me know. I'd like to get them OOAK items crafted by people who read here and shop at places such as Etsy. No... I don't love the little mokeys. Nope. Not one bit. They're just my heart and soul. OK, since I know you asked, here they are when they were just mere babes (and I KNOW you haven't seen these before).

That good-looking guy is Hubster. You think I'm bad with loving the kids, you should see him. I rue the day some poor sap comes to the door to ask one of them on a date. I think Hubster already has his list of questions ready, as well as telling the unlucky dude that he and his date will be driven wherever they want to go. Personally, I think it's sweet and endearing. They adore their grandpa, too. Every time the phone rings or someone comes to the door, they start yelling, "Grandpa! Grandpa!" Screw Grandma. I'm just the one with the big boobs they used to love to sleep on. Of course, they're 3-1/2 now, so they're actually little people, but I so love the baby pictures of them.

So that's pretty much my post for today. I didn't get a thing done this weekend other than knit. I thought I would be done with the poncho, but after yet another unscheduled nap, I had knit another whopping 15 stitches. An improvement over the night before, but not much. So I knitted until I reached the end of the skein and put it away. There's always tonight. Maybe tomorrow, I'll have some pictures of the ponchos for you.

But don't count on it.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I Can't Believe It

Right now I'm so mad that my little bald head is radiating heat more efficiently than a space heater. I have just spent a half-hour writing my latest addition to this ongoing account of my life when I decided to preview the post. After I was done with that, I figured I could just use the back arrow to return to the main entry page and then post it. But NOOOOO. The whole damn thing crashed and burned, and I had to turn the computer off in order to make the spinning rainbow wheel go away (I have a Mac). So the entire post was lost. SHIT.

My original gripe was about incompetent and stupid people. Here's the story in a condensed version. The TKGA conference is coming to Oakland next month (about 15 minutes down the freeway). They're having some special thing where if you belong to a guild that's at least 10 years old (I posted about this already), you get a ribbon for your name badge. Besides, I thought it would be nice to belong to a group of people instead of knitting alone every night with just the TV to keep me company (Hubster is usually working, so I try to not bother him). Since I'm still a kid in a saggy, wrinkled body (yes, I still dig through the cereal box for that wonderful prize), I decided to see if any of the local guilds met that requirement. Miracle of all miracles, the town next door to mine has one. The TKGA website has a list of guilds and their contact people, so I looked up the lady who is in charge. She didn't have an e-mail addy or a blog, so I called her. No answer. I thought the whole think was kind of hinky because the number had an incorrect area code, but I thought maybe she had been given her same number with the new area code (happens al the time). So I called again, this time using our area code. I got an answering machine that belongs to another lady in the town on the OTHER side of me (I reverse looked-up the number, and the owner of the number is definitely not the lady TKGA lists). Clearly, the woman's information is out of date. Why can't they submit an update to TKGA? So I wrote TKGA a letter explaining my situation and asking them for current information on the guild. Have they answered? NOOOOO. Just to cover my bases, I also wrote a letter to the contact lady for another local guild asking how I could join. Did she answer? NOOOOO. Maybe I'll get an answer from someone next week. Maybe I'll also win the lottery. If i don't hear anything soon, I'm calling TKGA to find out what the hell is going on. SHIT. I just don't do well with incompetence or stupidity. It would seem that there are both those uh... attributes running rampant around here.

I sure wish I remembered what I said in the last post. It was witty, fun, and full of informative tidbits. Yeah. I'm also a size 2.

So did I accomplish all the things I wanted to do this weekend? Welll... ummm... no. I did pick leaves out of the fabulous 10-minute fountain. I went to buy a scale but got to the store at 9:02 p.m. (you can guess what time they closed). I bought a new mascot for the blog - an adorable little dog named Gabby who's made of socks (Etsy). I also bought a really cool T-Shit with YARNNNNN above a skull and crossbones on it (no, not from the Pirate, but rather from a link on Lime and Violet's Daily Chum page). I put on clean jammies (I don't sleep in them, but I do lounge around the house in them and ride with Hubster to the store). I ate a cheeseburger the BBQ Master (aka Hubster) grilled. I got some more yarn in the mail. And then I sat in the Monster to knit for the evening. This was at midnight. At 4 a.m., I awoke to find that I had knitted a grand total of six stitches and had drooled all over my clean jammies. Better them than the poncho, I guess. So I knitted like crazy until about 8 a.m. I'm happy to report that the poncho should be done tonight, and then I'll fringe the two of them. I'll take a picture after they're totally done, along with the backpacks I got to go with them. After that, I can return to my beloved socks.

Speaking of socks, I just joined Monkey Sock Swap 3. I would never have known about it if I didn't read Pursuit of Fiber's blog. She kindly put a link on her page. It's my first swap (I usually find out about them about a day after they've closed), and I'm really excited about it. It will be a lot of fun buying things for my pal (I love giving gifts). I know what project I'm taking on vacation! Now I can tell Hubster that I MUST go to Rodeo Drive to find a monkey thingie for my pal. Maybe that will work. Maybe he'll buy me a Bentley tomorrow, too.

So today, I'm going to go back to buy the scale, deadhead my roses, get Hubster to plant all the poor things that have been waiting in the backyard, and I'll freeze my ass off as I sit in my floatie in the pool directing him. Really, it's the only way we can do household improvement projects together.

I also didn't tackle my studio. I've got so much junk in there that I don't know where to start. I'd really like to get it organized. Since it looks like we'll be here for about three years, I need to make this place a home. That requires work, though. I'd rather be knitting.

I know I wrote a lot more in the original post, but since it's gone and I'm brain dead, I guess I don't have anything else to report. I'll be posting a picture of something tonight. What, I don't know. Maybe yarn. Maybe my spinning wheel. But I like to post pictures, and I have far too few on here.

My eyes are getting heavy, so I'm off to bed to try to sleep for a few hours. Have a terrific Sunday, and I'll speak with you tonight.

First, though, I have to read... uh... you know.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

And What A Fine Morning It Is

I'm telling you, Sheri at the Loopy Ewe has her act together. This week's Sneak-Up was massive, and so was my order. It arrived today in all its' yarny goodness, soft and smelling delicious. Much to my surprise, it also came with a sock pattern. I thought perhaps you'd like to see a picture of it, so I arranged them on the Monster (I've decided that a chair that large needs a proper capitalized name). Following the picture, I'll identify the yarns for you by dyer and color.

Beginning from the upper row and going from left to right are two skeins of Lavender Sheep (all yarns are fingering weight) in "Midnight Rose" and "Mountain Sunset". Next is J. Knits Superwash Me in "Happy Anniversay to Ewe", dyed especially for the Loopy Ewe. The next two are by Duet Skinny Sock in "Urban Bean" and "Wild Sunflower" (these are cool because the smaller skein attached to the side of the large one is meant to be used for toes, heels, striping, or wherever you want contrast). The last two skeins in that row are by Woolly Boully in "Sunflowers, Texas, Fields of" (that's how the label spells it out) and "Moonflowers". The bottom row (again left to right) contains two skeins of Woolly Boully in "Luna Moth" and "Sunshine Family", followed by Lime & Violet Sasquatch Sock in "Hideaway" and "Spooky Pooky". Hm. An unintentional theme seems to be presenting itself. Sunshine and Sunflowers. Sun. I hate the sun. Well, sorta. I like the sun when I can lie in my floatie in the pool and turn the color of most people's furniture (the dark variety).

The pattern propped up in the back came (I believe) along with the anniversary skein and is entitled "Celebratory Chevrons Socks" by Debbie O'Neill, (c) 2007. Since it wishes the Loopy Ewe a happy anniversary on the back of the pattern, I'm fairly sure that my assumption of it coming with the yarn is a good one. And, of course, there was the little sack of peppermints which Hubster devoured. It's his part of the package - he buys me drugs... uh... yarn, and he gets candy. Sounds like a good deal to me. The Lavender Sheep didn't come via Sheri; I got that one directly from the dyer by way of Etsy (I don't remember if I mentioned it or not, but Etsy has become a dirty word around this house; I've spent enough money there (and with Sheri) to buy another 'Vette.). So now I have to put it all away safely in its' Rubbermaid container (assuming, of course, that I don't have to buy yet another one). After that, I have to decide which of the myriad of skeins I'm going to cast on next, since I found a pair of size 1 needles and am getting tired of the socks already on the needles, as well as the poncho.

Ah yes. The poncho. It's almost done - I worked on it all night - so you'll be getting a picture of the two of them soon. The kids are going to love them, and I'm going to love getting them out of the house. It's a very simple pattern - definitely for a beginner - so I knit it while I'm asleep or watching TV. After the knitting is done, then a row of single crochet goes around the neck, the ends are woven in, and I'll fringe both of them. Then off they go with their knitted bear backpacks (also an Etsy purchase - a custom job which matches the colors in the ponchos) to the little monkeys. Actually, I can't wait to see their little faces when they put them on. I'm going to take those girls in hand and teach them the finer arts of knitting, crochet, and sewing, not to mention cooking. They're old enough. I was two when I was first taught.

I also went to the doctor today and have to have a battery of tests done for all kinds of things. I'm not well, nor have I been for a long time now, so it doesn't bother me to have to give blood. Besides, I have enough tattoos to cover a building (I have a LOT of flesh for the artist to work on), so it's not like I'm afraid of needles. In two weeks, I go to see my pain doctor in Sacramento - a two-hour drive from here. I'm ambivalent about the trip. There are many bad memories there because of the way we had to move, but he's a good doctor and I'm loathe to try and find a good one here. I also get to go to my old manicurist, sit in the giant vibrating chair, and fall asleep while my nails (hands and feet) are worked on and said appendages massaged (ah, the pampering). If I have time, I'll head over to my old LYS in Elk Grove, The Yarn Shoppe, to see everyone. I still have a key to that shop. Maybe it's time to give it back. If you're ever in that area, stop in and say hello to Anna, the owner. It's a warm and wonderful place to sit, knit, and drink coffee from Peet's. Even that store has some bad memories. I started the Elk Grove chapter of TKGA at that shop and was only able to chair it for two meetings before we moved. Since March, they've grown quite large. I'm proud of that fact, but what really gets my panties in a wad is that my vice-president (now president) acts like it was all her idea. Oh well - the story of my life. Today I have to call a lady about joining the local guild here. Then when I go to TKGA's conference in September, I'll get some sort of fancy ribbon for my name badge and two goodie bags because the guild is over 20 years old or something like that. I love that shit.

This weekend is work outside and get the flower bed looking nice weekend (as well as beginning to put my studio together). Gack. I hate gardening, and I especially hate digging holes to plant new plants. I've got 12 bush plants in their little containers (they've been there for four months), a giant Bird of Paradise, two lavender plants, and some kind of mini-tree to plant. At least the dirt here is real dirt, not the ultra-rocky crap we had in Sacto. They had a hard time digging through it with a Bobcat, so you can imagine what it was like for me with a shovel. Something else I've noticed about the flower bed, too. It's suddenly filling up with plants that are like offshoots of the big plants already there. I'm not complaining, mind you - they're filling up the planter bed. And all my indoor plants are sitting on the front porch waiting to be brought inside. I guess I'll really have to make this joint into a home. We can't stay here for three years having it look the way it does now.

Enough rambling. I'm actually sleepy, so maybe I'll get to bed before this afternoon. It would be nice to cuddle up next to Hubster (aka The Blond Love God) instead of sleeping with my face pressed on the keyboard. I've found some interesting things that my face has typed. Too bad I don't read Hindi.

Make some comments, dear readers. Let me know you're out there. My counters all tell me you are, but you're the quietest bunch of knitters I've ever seen. Say hello. Say kiss my ass. Say anything. I'll be here.

Have a lovely Saturday - I'll post again tonight (or actually, in the morning).

Well... I'll go to bed after I check Ravelry.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wasted Days, Wasted Nights...

Crap. And I had such good intentions.

You see, I have a major sleeping problem. It's gone past insomnia. I'm literally up all night and don't go to bed until sometime the following afternoon. While that's good for things like the Loopy Ewe's Sneak-Ups, it plays hell with the rest of my life. Appointments? Difficult to get to. Knitting group? Haven't seen them in a month. Getting things done around the house? Forget it. Even though I'm awake, I think my body is saying to me, "Not in this lifetime.". All I want to do is go to sleep while it's still dark. Foggy, overcast days are the best in my book, but it's not the same as going to bed like normal people and sleeping during the night. So now I'm facing another 14 hours of being awake with shit on TV and not a lot TIVO'ed. I guess I'll get some knitting done.

But that doesn't even work all the time. You've read about my drooling, slobbering episodes in the monster. I doze, but even that is becoming a thing of the past. Maybe I'll finally stay awake all day and all night, then pass out for a day or two. If you don't see any entries, you know it finally happened.

But enough about maudlin crap. Let's talk about today's haul!

I said I was slowing down in my yarn buying. It's true. I didn't buy anything today. But things I had already paid for came in the mail today. A very heavy box from Woolgirl filled with all kinds of yarny goodness - full-sized skeins, mini-skeins to use for heels, toes, or stripes, and little gifts that Jen likes to stick in the box. An outrageously beautiful orifice hook (no, not THAT kind of orifice) for my now very dusty wheel (this thing is incredible - it's made of glass with this cool green dimensional spiral encased in the handle; I found them in the IK ads). The first-ever installment in the new Simply Socks sock club (Sleeping Dragon - the first time I've had any). A couple of counter bracelets and some stitch markers from Hide and Sheep. And a pair of new slippers from Pawfelts (you can see them on her blog - I snapped them up as soon as I saw them). And even though it has nothing to do with knitting, a gorgeous Native American flute (and here you thought all I did was rub two sticks together and stab myself in the thigh). Quite the haul, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, Hubster was home when it all arrived. He signed for one of them. He carried them all in the house. He put them on the monster. He stared at me for a long moment, then quietly walked off. That's scary. That's dangerous. That means he's about ready to say something to me about my irresponsibility, my lack of fiscal awareness, the fact that we have to save money. That's okay. I'm not joining the Zen String club until 10 this morning. Speaking of that, I counted how many clubs I belong to. Let me put it this way: I belong to more clubs than most people have sets of underwear.

So what did I do all day other than open boxes? Well, I put together a solar fountain and stuck it in the flower planter out front (problem is, it's foggy most of the time, and when the sun is out, it doesn't hit the front of the house). Duh. The fountain ran great. For 10 minutes. I may have to rethink this one. I played on Ravelry. I answered e-mail. I played on Ravelry. I read blogs. I played on Ravelry. I had some coffee. I read some more blogs. I played on Ravelry. And then I slept for three hours.

No pictures today, dear readers. But I'll have some for you tomorrow. Hubster has a doctor's appointment, so I think I'll sleep while he's gone. I'll take pictures of something during the day. You know... during those 10 minutes of sunshine.

And then I'll play on Ravelry again.