Friday, December 10


Oh lordy, of course I have to make this complicated. Don't update anything yet--I've just registered, but it's going to take a little while to get everything set up and the typepad site linked there. I'm doing this because after wrestling with typepad, I can tell I don't want to get locked into that system forever (sheesh, anytime you want to do anything YOURSELF, you have to upgrade!). So if I just register a domain, then I can move things around with minimal disruption to you, gentle blog reader.

So, who can tell me how to add my bloglines blogroll to my typepad sidebar. Anyone?

If anyone is still reading me by the time I finish messing things up, it will be a small miracle, I think.

I No Heart Blogger

I'm glad y'all are commenting, because if I had to rely on my own perception alone, I would say that my blog had disappeared. Happily, I received two comments via email today, and they didn't say "what the heck is wrong with your blog, girl?," and even referred to actual blog content, so I'm thinking that maybe you're seeing something I'm not.

So, why is my blog a big mess? It's because...

I'm movin' on up!

To typepad.

Just as soon as I figure out how to correct the feed, and maybe even put an automatic redirect thingy on here, I'll do it.

Why am I moving? I want categories. I want 'em bad. I want to be able to respond to the kind souls who comment here without having to divine their email addresses from the ether. I want to escape from the shame of a standard blogger blog on a standard blogger template (okay, so now I have a standard typepad template, hey, I didn't say I was moving that far up). I wanna be a cool kid.

So come on over. If you have me on your blogroll (and I know about it) I'll be emailing you with my new address. And slowly, but surely, I'll be putting up curtains and cleaning the carpets over there. Don't hold your breath though. I think I lived in my current house for 3 years before I put up curtains.

Does anyone have a Queer Eye for the Lesbian's blog link?

Thursday, December 9

Tell us about those "moral values," will ya?

We're back to more red-state cognitive dissonance, but this time it's me who can't seem to parse the difference between what they say and what they do.

It started when I heard from a friend of a friend that an old mutual acquaintance whom I knew had voted for Bush, is a "swinger," along with his wife. The have three kids and live in the suburbs. In a red state, of course.

At first I said, "oh, wow, they're poly!" But upon hearing more from my friend, no, they're not poly. They're swingers. They go to sex parties and hook up.

That's cool, whatever. I mean, they've been doing this for long enough that it doesn't seem to have affected their relationship. According to my friend, they are happy, and that's great. I'm happy for them. Everyone is consenting, they're all adults, and they're enjoying themselves. Bravo, I say. Have fun.

But then, to vote for someone who opposes gay marriage, I mean, what the fuck? In a way, the two have nothing to do with each other from my perspective. If we weren't the same sex, we would be the most boring, run-of-the-mill couple you'd ever meet. We have been monogamous for over 12 years. Our lives revolve around our kids, our jobs, our home, and our community. We do exciting things like knit and scrapbook. Sex parties are not even on our radar screen. Just. Can't. Imagine.

But it seems that the red states think that I am a threat to the moral fabric of our nation. Not exactly sure what that's all about--I guess I figured they thought we were having kinky sex all over the place (let us pause for a moment to laugh cynically--um, ever lived in a house with twin toddlers?). But shit, apparently they're having kinky sex all over the place in those red states, and here I am trying to figure out how to get dinner on the table and worrying about transitioning to preschool, this is where my brain just loses traction and starts to spin out, you know? And it's not just my old acquaintance who is doing this. There's a whole club he belongs to in his red state suburb. How many of them do you think voted for Bush? And, um, uh, what the fuck, huh?

So you know, I'm not coming out against swingers. Like I said, have fun, consensual adults, safe sex, all that. No problemo. But uh, could you please not vote for people who have pledged to take basic civil rights away from homosexual Ward & June Cleaver?

So dude, if I'm going to be maligned and vilified for my "lifestyle" (because it is very, very, stylish--in an Erma Bombeck kind of a way), I think I really need to make my lifestyle a little more interesting. Being an upstanding, responsible, tax-paying, faithful, monogamous, church-going (ok, UU, but it still counts!), community-minded citizen hasn't done shit for my image. I'm pretty much a pervert, as far as red America goes. And I though that they just had a really low threshold for perversion, and while I thought they were very wrong and didn't understand, it turns out that they've got "lifestyles" of their own and are busy doing stuff that I don't think is perverted, but hey, you can't deny that it's a little kinky. But what exactly does a girl do with that kind of information? And this may be really sad to say, but I don't WANT to start a suburban sex club here in my blue state. I'd rather go to knitting night. I am telling the gods' honest truth. How sad is that?

In a much more depressing piece of red-state hypocrisy, see what Republic of T just posted about a little more red-state morality:

Sigh. If someone can explain this to me, I'd be grateful. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 7

Knitting Presents

I am now wearing a wrist brace. Too. Much. Knitting. As if there was such a thing. It's mostly a matter of prevention, but things were getting a little wonky there, and I know wrist injury is not something I want to mess with.

The multidirectional diagonal scarf is *almost* done. I think I will abandon the plan to do a mitered square hat, at least on a deadline basis. I may be struck with insanity, give the scarf for birthday (Sat.) and then make the hat an Xmas deal. Yeah, that's crazy. I'll probably do it.

I am also making THREE scarves with miserable novelty yarn for my kids' 3 daycare teachers. I think they'll like them but oh lordy, give me wool!

The Lopi sweater is coming along around the edges, but I'm procrastinating it to the last minute because I know I can work on it in the car up to NH where we're celebrating Xmas, and I don't think I'll see the recipient until Xmas night or even the day after. So I have TONS of time on that, and the scarves are going to be gifted the week before so back to the nylon ladder nightmare I go. Hey, the colors are pretty, at least.

Meanwhile, the voice of reason sounds from across the pond.

How to avoid a designer tea cosy

Props to Mary-Helen for the link.

Friday, December 3

Memo to the Nearly-Three-Year-Olds

I know you are getting bigger, and that like any normal children of your age, now is the time for you to become more focused and deliberate about your boundary testing. A year ago, you careened from one activity to another, pausing occasionally to see if I was paying attention and would tell you not to do some dangerous thing, but mostly you were simply bent on destruction exploration, and your limit-testing was more incidental—a by-product of your curiosity and exuberance.

But now, you are studying. Carefully probing the places where you sense any sign of weakness, whether it be the rare (yeah, right, I try, okay) inconsistent response, or the thing that makes me growl "NO" through gritted teeth. In short, you are checking out how best to piss me off.

I thought maybe we could all save ourselves some time. I will provide you with a list of things that piss me off. That way, you won’t have to check Every. Fucking. Day. to see if they still piss me off. In future, you can refer to this memo. I promise that if one of these things ceases to piss me off, I will update the memo to reflect my new attitude. I’m not expecting to do a lot of editing.

So here we go.

1. Putting your feet on my body, face, arms, etc. while nursing. What IS this???? And you BOTH do this bizarre behavior incessantly, even though you know that after 3 warnings the milky session is OVER. We’ve talked about touching with hands. We’ve talked about respecting mama’s body. But somehow, the feeling of feet (bare, socks, shoes, even rainboots, it doesn’t matter) against my body is just too appealing. It annoys the hell out of me. Sssssstop. K? Glad we’re clear.

2. Asking me for a cup of juice at dinner time, then climbing up on the table when I leave the room to get it. You know, I know you’re doing it when I hear the hysterical giggling. And you know that if you do it you are required to take a break from being in the dining room. You are allowed to leave the table whenever you are finished. No bonus for getting kicked out. So, well, this is pretty straightforward. I promise to be pissed about this every time you do it. As I think I have alluded to on more than one occasion in the past, it’s not safe, and it’s rude. So we can just stop with that little drama, because it’s not gonna change. Nope. I will remain this mean FOREVER. Just wait till I have car privileges to take away.

3. Demanding one single exact clothing ensemble, regardless of whether it is clean or not, and then whipping it off 5 minutes later and demanding another one, treading, of course, on the initial outfit in the process. Seriously. I already, surprisingly enough, have a fair amount of laundry to do. Not really necessary to create more by wearing a different outfit every time you walk into a different room in the house. And I'll tell ya right now, being completely naked is not always my favorite alternative, especially when I have EXPLICITLY told you that we are leaving in five minutes and when you are in the other room disrobing while I am putting your brother’s shoes on. Duct tape? Is that the only answer? And no, it’s not okay to go to the library naked. I don’t really have time to explain the many reasons WHY right now, but trust me, they are the same as the last 25 times we have had that conversation, okay?

I think that will do for now. There's more, oh there's more, but if we can start there things will run a lot more smoothly around here.

PMS? Moi? Shut up, it has NOTHING to do with that. Nor is it related to the fact that I have been home solo with the kids for the past week, and for 3 weeks in the last 6 (or something, it’s all a blur now; that’s a conservative estimate), and one of the weeks DP was home involved dinner for 10 and houseguests. And the freelance project and the 9:30 phone meeting with a fucking COMMITTEE (I love phone meetings on Saturday mornings with COMMITTEES reviewing my work--LURVE IT!). That makes me extra perky.

Over at Naked Ovary, one of Karen’s trolls used her cursing as evidence she that she is not ready to be a parent. In that case, three years into it, I am DOOMED.

I had to edit to add this from the comments:

Stephanie has a great #4:

4. I know that you like to nurse standing up and that it seems like a real time saver to you. Despite how this makes me feel less like a loving, nurturing mother and more like a SNACK BAR I am willing to do it if you will simply NOT JUMP AROUND with my nipple in your mouth.

(also, if you could stop stuffing the leftovers from your snack down the side of the couch I would like that.)

Um, yeah, that one too. Technically, the drive-through closed shortly after the take-out and delivery service went offline (pumping, that is) at 18 months. I think around 2, I insisted that all milky sessions be sit-down meals. We did have one session on some days where the rules were off and they got to stand up and SHARE (the other fun twin nursing excitement. You haven't lived until you've had your kids execute an entire wrestling session WHILE latched on). That one session has been spot weaned because I was going to start breaking china if I had to do it again. It was mostly the wiggling, but also the casual way they would turn, holding the breast in one hand, to see what was going on behind them. Sit-down diner from now on.

Thanks, Stephanie, and congrats on the book.

Cool Web Thingamabob #642

Check out TypoGenerator, a cool thingy for creating random text-based graphics, found over at The Other Mother.

What does your vanity plate look like?

Thursday, December 2

The Yarn of Froggage

So I think I mentioned that I would be making a Lopi sweater out of yarn frogged from a poorly-conceived sweater started in, um, 1989?

Well, I frogged the offending garment, and started my Lopi sweater, destined to be a Yule gift for my step brother-in-law, the (arguably) lucky winner of my gift in the sibling gift lottery this year.

I knitted away, watching with satisfaction as the thing grew swiftly, having only 128 stitches on the needle for the entire body.

Wait a minute....that looks a little small....

Let's try to explain my thinking here. Bear with me, this promises to be convoluted.

When it comes to ribbing, I almost always use the same size needles for the ribbing as I do for the body. Only the more traditional (or outdated) patterns tend to have that kind of drawn-in ribbing these days anyway, but when I encounter them, I typically rib with the larger needles, figuring it will draw in a bit because it's ribbing, but it won't have that dreadful boofy look that really tight ribbing can produce (we've already discussed my desire not to draw attention to that particular area).

But this time, since it's for a man with broad shoulders who will probably look good with a tighter waist, and since I figured I'd be traditional for once, I used smaller needles for the ribbing. This was a conscious choice. I remember deciding to do it. Well, now I do.

So, when it came time to change to the body stitches, I had a conversation with myself that went something like this:

Reading: "Hmm, change to larger needles and k 1 row in MC, increasing, blah blah."

"Change needles? I don't change needles. Those instructions are for people who follow instructions. Not me, no siree. I remain, immutably, a person who, as a matter of identity, does not change needles. Keep knitting there mama, and pity those poor pathetic souls who have to change needles at the top of the ribbing."

"Hey, colors! Fun. Keep that tension right. Follow that chart. Loop de loop, in and out, front and back, lalalalalala...pretty geometric forms....lalala..."

"Wait a minute. This fabric feels kind of thick. And you know, the body hasn't really started to expand below the needles as I knit. It's looking, well, like it's not much bigger than the circ needle circumference of 29". That's weird, I'm knitting a 40" sweater. My gauge can't be THAT far off. Let's measure."

"FOUR stitches to the inch? Must be wrong. Oh, definitely. Let's measure again. No, there really isn't any way I can claim this to be 3.25 sts/in, even in some sort of denial-fueled fantasy world."

"Hey. Wait a minute. These are SIZE SEVEN NEEDLES. Now it's not altogether unusual for me to go down 3 needle sizes to get gauge, but I have a vague recollection of only going down one needle size for this project. Now that I think about it.....ack! I *did* rib with smaller needles.....Hello, frogpile."

Sigh. This is not a brain with great powers of observation, is it? No, I don't think so either.

So I put the project in time out before frogging it (and not the positive, take a break time out my kids get, no, this was the shaming, you've been a bad, bad knitting project kind of time out), during which time I shared my tale of woe with Thanksgiving guest Sara, and drowned my sorrows in Eloise, who has met her own bump in the road, though at least it doesn't involve frogging, just waiting for yarn.

This past weekend, I refrogged it (this is the yarn that had already been frogged--should I just throw this stuff away and figure it's a bad omen? I think it has one more chance--you know, 1-2-3 Magic).

Luckily, frogging is not so painful when you're knitting with rope. By Monday evening I had this:

The whole thing is now on the backburner, however, as I frantically try to complete a Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf for Rhys, who is out of town with her sister, supporting her through chemo #4. BTW, solo parenting twin toddlers is TIRING and I have been doing it far too much the last few months. I'm glad she's helping her sister, but I'm also relieved Rhys won't be traveling much (except her one day per week in NJ) after this. The upside is I can (probably) knit her a scarf without her knowing, and that will be cool when I surprise her. (Well, that is if she continues her impeccable record of not reading my blog, despite having been given the address. Rhys, if you're reading this, tell me so I can stop sneaking around.)

I'm using some Kureyon in color 128 that Alison RAOK'd me a few weeks back. I think in order to make a respectable scarf, I'm going to need a 3rd skein. Webs' website claims they have that color. I want to put it in the middle of the scarf so any dyelot differences won't be too noticeable, so off to buy yarn with the kids tonight on the way home. Should be interesting. I'll look forward to being laughed at again...

Belated apology

When my parents were up for Thanksgiving, we did a Sorry Everybody photo. Here's our contribution to world contrition.

My mom is wearing the International Traveler Apology T-Shirt. (Perhaps we should also apologize for misspelling "traveler?" And "apologize." And for putting punctuation inside quotations. Oh, never mind.) The shirt was my early Yule present to her.

Still sorry over here.

Picture of Perfection

Go see my friend Sara's essay on parenting an "atypical wonder," a child with CP. Toby (and his big sister Hannah, aka the golden goddess of school-agedness according to my kids) came to be with us for Thanksgiving.

It was perfect.

Since she wasn't kind enough to share with you a photo of the smiling charming blondie boy, I thought I would do the honors.

See what I'm saying?

Monday, November 29

I think I have A Plan

Thank you, Norma, for pointing me the way. I have been wanting something as beautiful, as obsessive, as perfect as Shedir from the Knitty Fall Surprise. I loved knitting that thing, even though I did it at a snail's pace. I've been doing mindless knitting since I came back to it last year, and this reminded me how much fun it was to have a "thinker" project. I thought about Rogue, which even has the advantage of being from the same designer.

I've seen so many lovely Rogues made, but I just cannot see myself looking anything even vaguely resembling okay in a pullover with a pocket in--um--my least attractive area. No, we do not need two layers of worsted weight fabric in that particular zone. Even knitted without the paunch pouch, the hoodie thing makes me look like a marshmallow. So, with great regret, I left it behind.

Little did I know that the fabulous Claudia had made modifications to the pattern to turn it into a zip-front cardigan. Now this, I can work with. Much more doable than St. Brigid, which would probably take me a year to knit, and frankly, a lot more wearable too.

So what yarn? I have a closet full, you know. Just ask anyone who works at Webs, where they laugh at me when I walk through the door. No, not really, only when I go to the cash register.

But I realized, I have a couple of pounds of blue-faced leiscter roving that is just waiting to be spun. I have been knitting so much that I have been letting my wheel languish, and I miss it. So I am going to spin and then dye the yarn for my Rogue Cardi. In other words, don't be looking for photos of the WIP soon, LOL. But I have A Plan. And it is good to have a plan. I have spun a wee bit of the BFL to do some swatching. I haven't spun to spec much (my main experience was the mothy zeus that has just found its way to the garbage pile, and that time at least I had a photo to work with), so I'm going to find my way here.

But first, I WILL get through my current WIPs.

Like I said, Zeus is history. No pretty Aran cardi, not this year. If I happen upon a beautiful gray shetland fleece next spring, then you never know, but for now, I'm done. On the trash pile, grubs (YECH) and all. Oh, how I pray they haven't gotten into anything else!

Eloise, on the other hand, is almost done.

In fact, she would be done if it hadn't become absolutely clear to me that I was going to run out of yarn. You be the judge. That's one sleeve cap and a full sleeve.

Yeah, I think so too.

I have a long torso (came in handy when pregnant with twins), so I added an inch to the body length. I thought I had extra yarn, since the pattern called for 400 gms and I bought 10 skeins. Guess what? Blossom comes in 40 gm skeins. That would be, um, NO extra yarn. And for once, the designer was not overgenerous with the yarn requirements. And I bought all of the colorway that was in stock at the store where I got it. So, it's off to find someone who won't charge me 50% of the price to ship one skein of Blossom color #2. Or if you have one to get rid of, LMK and I'll buy it or trade for it. I have a big pile of yarn I will never knit wonderful stash.

The bottom line, Eloise is on hold. Which is good, because it was keeping me from my holiday knitting. I would have more fabulous pictures of said holiday knitting if blogger hadn't just trashed the rest of my post.

More tomorrow. That's enough for now anyway. Goodnight Gracie.

Saturday, November 27

A Real Holiday

Hi there! Wow, things have been busy around here. We hosted a wonderful Thanksgiving with chosen family and bio family. Our tiny house was full to the rafters with kids. My parents stayed at a B&B, which helped everyone have a better time, I think. Dinner was delish if I do say so myself, and Sara and I had an absolute blast spending obscene amounts of money at Northampton Wools and Webs. It's official: I am now at the point where they laugh at me when I walk up to the counter with a big pile of yarn. Yes, laugh. At me. Buying yarn. Sara, I believe, described it as a "guffaw." I got 10 balls of Kureyon to make another Klaralund. At some point. Hey, I got the 25% discount because Sara, my mom and I all combined our purchases, so it was like $6 a ball, okay? And that's no shipping, no tax. Okay? Guilty conscience, here. They did get very interested when I mentioned possibly trading some consulting for store credit. Now, in addition to my other freelance job (ugh!) I need to do a letter for Webs proposing the idea more formally. Guess which one I'm motivated to do?

I have been having some second thoughts about my decision to let my job go when the grant is up next fall (I know it's the right thing, but it's a very "good" job in all the normal ways, it just doesn't make me feel good about myself and my work), but this makes me feel a bit more confident that I will find my way and find something I'm more passionate about. I've always dreamed of working in fiber arts, ever since I was a teen, and I fantasized about becoming a professional weaver (have I ever learned to weave? no.). I need to have faith that I can do this, that I can have more than just a *good* job, but instead, a job that I love. Heck, I never really believed I'd have a good job, so it's amazing (and plenty scary) to grab for that brass ring. We'll see. I'm still not thinking of making a living as an artist, but using my marketing/marketing research skills in the fiber arts field, heck, maybe I'll be able to pay myself more than minimum wage AND work in fiber arts, right?

The holiday was so wonderful--perhaps the first time in my life I felt that warm glow people talk about during holiday celebrations. I thought, this is what holidays should be like--kids making a ruckus, people knitting, Harry Potter, eggnog with rum, and our course our longstanding family tradition of More Pies Than People. My parents had their wacky moments, but heck, my mom asked Sara and me to teach her how to knit, and she got off and running quite quickly. It was nice to have the sane counterbalance of Sara and Terry to neutralize my parents (and the b&b didn't hurt either!).

Ahhhh. Nice weekend. Too bad the end of it is marred by freelance work, and then a week of solo parenting while DP goes to Colorado to help SIL get through her fourth chemo treatment. She's hanging in there, but it's getting harder. Sara knitted her a chemo cap too, which Rhys will bring out.

When I get the photos off my camera (any suggestions for a digital camera with good macro capabilities that is EASY to download from--mine is a nightmare), I'll show you the knitting debacles I am engaged in, including Eloise on the verge of running out of yarn and The Lopi Sweater I Have To Frog.

Happy happy...

Saturday, November 20

Birthday Girl

First, THANK YOU to all the friends and email buddies and just plain nice folks who sent me birthday wishes. Today I am 35. I spend much of my time writing, administering, and analyzing surveys (well, I actually spend most of my time procrastinating the latter, but I understand that that just makes me more of an academic). So to me, this means that I am no longer "25-34," and even worse, I am no longer "under 35." Also, as an infertile, I am now in that steep part of the fertility graph, sliding down at increasing velocity: think of it as the toboggan of fecundity-doom. Okay, don't. Like it matters, anyway: being 29 when I started TTC did, um, exactly jack-shit (I think that's the medical term) for my personal chances of conceiving easily, and as the kids get older I am starting to feel more sure that our family is complete. Don't quote me on that one, though.

So, it's a little weird, a little freaky. I kind of feel like my life has been frozen since Henry & Eleanor were born; actually since they were conceived. I have to remind myself not to say "thirty-one" when people ask me how old I am (and don't ask me how they can be two and I can be 35 now and 31 when they were conceived, but it's actually true). So I guess I don't really believe it. I suspect I will feel more and more like this. I know my mom thinks that the fact that she's in her 60's is a big joke, except of course when she looks at her retirement funds.

So my day, it was nice. Ish. It involved a trip to a yarn store, because, you know, how could it not. Webs, of course. They were having this goofy radio promotion. I'm such a dork, I thought, "Hey, a drawing for a $250 shopping spree, there will probably be only a few hundred people in the hat, MAX. Definitely worth doing." So I get there right before it's about to end, and there are people milling around and I see the box for the drawing, but to enter you're supposed to shake some radio guy's hand and I have no idea who this guy is or where he is and it feels kind of wrong to just enter without doing the required steps (dork, remember? Yes, dork). So I just poke around for a minute and then get SUUUUCKKKED into the world of yarn.

I emerge a really very restrained 30 minutes later and the whole thing is over and it's too late to enter. Shit. I probably wouldn't have won anyway, but you know, I actually have won things like that before, and wow, it sure would have been nice. Can you say, "drum carder?" Or perhaps a swift and some combs? Or maybe enough nice English wool to make St. Brigid and plenty left over for fun?

So the worst part of it, and this is where I am such a huge dork that you really will be shaking your head in pity for my stupidity, the worst part is that I kind of rushed to get there before this thing was supposed to end at 2, and so I decided to go the pharmacy to get my inhaler at the end of my outing instead of at the beginning. Yeah, because breathing=optional; more yarn I don't have enough time to knit with and a contest I didn't even enter when I had the chance=much more important than breathing. (I should mention that I only get asthma a few times a year, at the tail end of a cold. And when I try to run. I was recently diagnosed with it and I'm new to this whole thing. My previous technique was to suffer through the colds and, um, never exercise if I could help it. Still haven't done anything about that last part.)

So did I mention that I was thinking about making St. Brigid? I know, nothing like going for the gusto, but I want a long-term thinker project, with cables, damnit! So I went to the library, which conveniently has Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting (no, I am not paying over $100 for it on eBay). And lo and behold, my local library, which has crapola in terms of infertility books, actually has a great fiber arts section. So I checked out more books than I can ever read to go with the more yarn than I can ever knit. And I headed over to the pharmacy, which, as the weather started to turn rainy, was becoming increasingly urgent.

And it was, and I say this in the nicest possible way, Fucking Closed. It closed at 3pm. Who closes at 3 pm on a Saturday? Well, apparently my pharmacy. I got there at 3:15. So it was off to the CVS to get some primatine mist, which I don't even know if it's okay for me to use but I was desperate and I had seen ads on TV with little arrows going through people's lungs in a friendly kind of way and I thought it might help. Mostly it just got me high though. Well, I survived 34 years without an inhaler, what's one more day, right? I just thought it would have been nice to breathe on my birthday. Totally My Own Fault, too, which really just makes it worse.

So that was a lot of bitching wasn't it? And apparently the anniversary of my birth brings out the sailor in me, language-wise, so apologies there. Despite not breathing and losing out on theoretical free fiber stuff, it was a fun day (oh yeah, and the part about having to do freelance work this morning, whatever).

Rhys made breakfast and brought me coffee on the couch; she corralled the kids while I bought yarn. Gifts included the third season DVDs from The West Wing (I need fantasy--Martin Sheen is my President!); some carded and dehaired cashmere MIL bought off some lady who was spinning it in Mongolia (note, it feels and smells a lot like wool--do you think she got ripped off? Is there a burn test or something I can do to check? Won't tell her, though); and my own little shopping spree. I got a bunch more Lana D'Oro and some pink superwash for a sweater for Eleanor. And shoes. On sale. For me.

Dinner was at our favorite BBQ place, and that was yummy, then we got a cake from Cold Stone Creamery. Cold Stone is kind of un-PC in our town because it's one of a few chains that have recently moved in after years of almost all of downtown being locally-owned (not to mention the cultural clash of singing ice cream scoopers in a New England town that serves attitude on the side of everything). But I wanted cake and it's my birthday. And the independent ice cream shops don't have cake. Okay? I'll try to do better next year, but man that is good ice cream.

The kids were about as cute as can be singing me happy birthday and DYING to eat the cake the whole way home with it. Nobody gets into the birthday spirit like a couple of two-year-olds.

So that was my day. All in all a nice one. Now off to watch the Apprentice I taped, before I read about what happened on someone else's blog. Stop blogging about my stupid reality shows before I have a chance to see them, people! (Just kidding, blog about whatever you want.)

Gratuitous cute kid shot, because, say it with me: it's my birthday!

Guerrilla Marketing

Look what's going on over at Brand Democrat | Oliver Willis.

Love it...

Also, alert commenter and RAOK ring neighbor Elka emailed me this link from John Kerry even before it showed up in my email box from the campaign! Go sign the pledge. Part of me feels so bruised from the defeat that I am having trouble getting up to fight another day with him, but part of me admires his leadership. I think I'm going to allow myself to be inspired.

Thursday, November 18

The "Talk"

Who knew I would be talking about sex with two-year-olds!

Eleanor is obsessed with babies. She will spend hours playing with babies at playgroups, showing incredible patience and tolerance of grabbing, slobbering, etc. She's just baby crazy.

So in the car this morning, she had her baby doll, and she was talking about how there was a baby in her tummy..."no there are two babies in my tummy. No, just one, a girl baby. I'm a mommy and I have a girl baby in my tummy and the daddy has a boy baby in his tummy." She said this with a certain inquisitive tone in her voice.

I wasn't sure what to do, but I figure if we talk about sex early and often it won't be a taboo subject. So I say "actually, the daddy puts a seed--like the seeds we planted that turned into tomatoes?--the daddy puts a seed in the mommy's tummy and it combines with the mommy's seed and a baby grows. So both girl and boy babies grow in mommies' tummies, but the daddy helps them grow."

Henry was not impressed: "I want a baby to grow in my tummy!" I just mirrored it back to him: "You'd like to have a baby in your tummy?" Then we talked about how, while our family has two mommies and a donor daddy who we don't see, in some families daddies are really important. I reminded them of the dad of one of their classmates who used to eat lunch with the kids. I said, "Some daddies are like your donor daddy and they only help with the seed but other daddies are like Tom and are really important in the family. Would you like to be a daddy like Tom someday?" Henry liked that idea. "I'm going to be Tom. I'm going to be daddy Tom." Ellie said, "I am going to grow up and have a baby in my tummy." Then the weird part: "Sometimes the babies fall out." I thought, yeah, hon, sometimes they do, but I hope it never happens to you. I didn't say anything, though.

I was on a roll so I decided to keep going. I said, "Someday you might find someone you love and you might make a house with them. It might be a girl or a boy, and then you can have a baby together." Ellie immediately volunteered that she wanted to make a house with a girl. Henry also wants a girl. Well, glad we've cleared that up, LOL, it will certainly make the adolescent angst go by quicker.

Then Henry started imagining himself as a daddy. Now, I swear to you, we are not shoving gender down our kids' throats, pink and blue pull-ups notwithstanding. "I'm going to have a beard. And a moustache. And I'm going to drive a truck. A garbage truck. No, a recycling truck." (I pause to thank the goddess that some of our influence has paid off here, LOL.) I asked "Is that what you're going to do when you're a daddy like Tom?" "No," announces Henry, "I'm gonna be a GUY."

Wednesday, November 17

Troll Starvation

Well, I confess I have done a lousy, lousy job of troll starvation. And the troll seems to be coming back for more. It's my own fault for linking to her posts in a main post. And here I go again.

So here's the deal. In future, I will delete anonymous postings at my discretion. In case it isn't completely obvious, I am not talking about postings that are categorized by Blogger as "anonymous," I mean posts where the poster does not sign her name and/or provide a link or url for her blog. (I'll just take this moment to say "duh." You don't have to log in to identify yourself.)

I would also love it if anyone who posts as "anonymous" for blogger purposes would leave their url because I love to find new blogs. I know that the structure of the blogger comment feature makes it easy to forget to do this; I suspect I've forgotten it at times.

Obviously, I won't delete friendly comments that are left anonymously. But I think my troll friend is having a bit too much fun.

And one other comment for my troll. Please, oh please, if you are going to identify yourself and continue to post (and I am willing to have a debate with you if you will identify yourself), can you please, please get a spellchecker for your browser. I think it's a bit petty for me to make fun of your spelling mistakes, but I'm telling you, I'm having trouble resisting the temptation. Please. It might make you seem slightly less ignorant. Well, maybe.

Tuesday, November 16

Cognitive Dissonance Redux

Newly emboldened to prattle on about politics and not knitting, I thought I'd return to a link that we all saw a lot a few weeks back, before the election. PIPA's report on The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters. Kerstin at HomeGrown Daisy (if you don't know the story, this is a formerly knitting, now political blog, great in both incarnations), linked to it again today, and it is timely once again. As those of us in the blue states ask WTF??? over and over again, as we gently bang our heads against the wall in the hopes that we might develop some form of brain damage that might make it seem like it's all going to be okay, this report seems to have an answer, at least a partial one.

Essentially, those Bush voters were all just believing what they wanted to believe. And I thought they were supposed to be the absolutists in the class--apparently one truth is as true as another, especially if it comes from Rush Limbaugh and Faux News.

So why do Bush supporters show such a resistance to accepting dissonant information? While it is normal for people to show some resistance, the magnitude of the denial goes beyond the ordinary. Bush supporters have succeeded in suppressing awareness of the findings of a whole series of high- profile reports about prewar Iraq that have been blazoned across the headlines of newspapers and prompted extensive, high-profile and agonizing reflection. The fact that a large portion of Americans say they are unaware that the original reasons that the US took military action--and for which Americans continue to die on a daily basis--are not turning out to be valid, are probably not due to a simple failure to pay attention to the news.

The roots of the resistance to this information very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11, and equally in the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake. In response to an unprecedented attack on US soil, with the prospect of further such attacks, Bush responded with a grace and resolve that provided reassurance to an anxious public. In the war with the Taliban he showed restraint as well as effectiveness. Large numbers of Americans had a powerful bonding experience with the president--a bond that they may be loath to relinquish.

While I take issue with the idea of pitch-perfect leadership (erm, the footage of his school visit in Fahrenheit 9/11) and with restraint and effectiveness characterizing his war with the Taliban (sure, if you don't count the part about letting Bin Ladin get away), I think it's true that there must be something blocking these people from parsing what is pretty widely-available information. Maybe it's a guilty conscience for the war. Or maybe they just trust authority so much that if W and Karl Rove say it, it must be true.

But here is the most prophetic statement of the whole report:

Bush appears to assume that his support is fragile. He refuses to admit to making any mistakes. He admits that he was surprised that WMD were not found, but does not say that the most reasonable conclusion is that they were never there and continues to talk about “disarming” Iraq. He asserts that he never said that Iraq was directly involved in 9/11, but maintains that there were contacts with al Qaeda in a way that implies that they were significant. Most telling, his supporters as well as his opponents overwhelmingly say that they hear him still saying that Iraq had WMD and supported al Qaeda. To remain loyal and bonded to him means to enter into this false reality.

Bush may be right. Admitting his mistakes may shatter his idealized image in a way that some supporters may not forgive. But there also risks in succeeding in getting elected based on false beliefs. The number of people in the public who see through the illusion will likely continue to grow, eating away at the implied mandate of an election. Further, the cohesion of society can be damaged by a persisting and fundamental division in the perception of what is real, undermining pathways to consensus and mutual sacrifice, and making the country increasingly difficult to govern. (Emphasis added.)

Sadly, I don't think Bush will really pay the price for this--what price is left to pay? I have no doubt as to how history will remember him, and it's the rest of us who have to rebuild this place. Perhaps people will learn to take a critical view of the information they receive. I can dream, can't I?

The Future

Thanks to Terri of Spinning Wheel (a great blog, btw) for leaving this link in the comments. Urban Archipelago

I have always enjoyed Dan Savage, ever since I first read his book The Kid, about his open adoption experience. Of course, I'm not entirely comfortable with his coining of the new word named after your friend and mine, senator Rick Santorum, but then I'm a lesbian, so the subject matter is not exactly up my alley (note: do not click on this link if you are easily grossed out--how did I suddenly become the queen of sm^t links anyway)? I do love a good anti-wingnut google bomb, though.

Anyway, there has been a lot of discussion of where we should go from here*, who is at fault, and how the democrats can recover from this loss and WIN. Talking Points Memo also questions the impulse to pander, as well they should.

I'm glad we're thinking and talking about strategy and WINNING, but you know, I think it's a fair amount simpler than all that. I agree with those who say that we should not be dumping on Kerry, blaming him for the loss. I did not think it was a choice between two evils; I liked Kerry. Yes, he made some expedient choices that I disagreed with, and I even wrote in a challenger in his last Senate race because he voted for the war (little did he know how much he would regret that vote). But I would have been PROUD to have him as a president. PROUD.

I don't think he did anything wrong in terms of policy or even the campaign. As a phone bank volunteer, I was stunned at the efficiency and accuracy of the phone lists I got on-demand on my computer. But I don't think he was a good choice. He would have made a great policy leader in the party or in a democratic administration, but in my opinion, it was a matter of substance over style. I know this has been said over and over again, but I want to say it again because I think it's simpler than everyone is making it out to be. We need to nominate someone with heart and energy. And I hate to say this, but we need to nominate that person with heart and energy, even if he's not the most qualified, most intelligent, most experienced person who's "turn" is up.

Perhaps it shouldn't be this way, but I think we democrats are just too inclined to nominate people for president who simply cannot connect with voters. Brilliant, accomplished, eminently qualified men, but people who are distant and policy-oriented and who think and speak in complexities and nuances. I don't want to pander, but I think we need someone that people can understand, and, more importantly, can trust.

Kerry was getting there, but he was only simple and straightforward and easy to relate to when he was talking about the war and GWB, and that's not enough. I admit that I never heard a simple, clearly-articulated "elevator speech" about why Kerry (not ABB, anybody but Bush, a worthy cause to me but perhaps not to swing voters), was going to do great things. He did not inspire. And speaking with relatively moderate republican family members who had deep concerns about Bush but voted for him anyway, they just didn't trust Kerry. As Atrios points out in the link above, any candidate will get the same treatment, but we need someone whose personalilty and trustworthiness shines through all that. Someone who will look into people's eyes, and suddenly none of that will matter.

Think about it. The republicans have tried to tar every single democratic nominee in the last 20 years with the same brush: they waffle, they only care about polls, they're too liberal, they have some skeleton in their closet. And who is the one candidate to whom did it not stick: CLINTON, probably the one candidate for whom most of those allegations are true. Don't get me wrong, thank god for Clinton, but the one difference between him and Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, and Mondale (heaven help us), is that Clinton was able to *outshine* the allegations with the sheer force of his personality and his simple likeability. And even post-Monica and post-everything else that went down, if Clinton were running for office today, he'd win in a landslide. Maybe that's because people think he could bring back the economy, but I don't think so. I think it's because people simply LIKED him.

If you haven't listened to Ira Glass's pre-election coverage of swing voters on This American Life (be aware that the pre-election hope may be hard to handle if you're still feeling sensitive), check out his discussions with Gig. Gig was dying for a democrat he could believe in. He was educated, informed, and reasonably thoughtful, but he just needed an emotional connection. And he found it in Bush. Lord knows I don't like him, but I understand why people think that he's a likeable guy. My partner had a very similar experience talking to my BIL, also a relatively intelligent, well-educated person. Do I want to wring his neck and disown him for voting for Bush, yes. But I'd rather give him a better choice next time.

I was not an Edwards supporter early on; I confess I was a fan of Dean. I was excited and carried away with the idea that a true progressive could generate such energy. But I am sad to say that I think Dean's proof of concept failed in Iowa, before, I might add, the scream ended it all, fairly or not. I would frankly love to secede and elect Dean president of the Northeast, but I doubt it's going to happen--those red states need our tax money too much to let us go quietly. But you know what, I think if Edwards had topped the ticket, he might have won. I wish he'd given it a few more years--he appears a bit too young at this point, and I'd like to see a little more experience--but he is a democrat who can shine in the way we need to shine.

I should add that I work with a similar issue every day. I work for an historic and important women's college, supporting the marketing effort (we don't call it that, it's Enrollment Management). There is so much here to be proud of: the history of women's empowerment and education, the quality of faculty and scholarship, the important women who emerged from here and changed the world, the connections students will make to that long line, the community that is built and rebuilt every year as new women join this community that has continued for more than 150 years. But you know, every time we connect with prospective students, we have to explain that yes, they will meet guys, no, they won't become lesbians if they don't want to be, and yes, they will have parties and a social life. In order to honor and maintain the higher purpose of this institution, we have to address some pretty base and lower-level concerns. There was a time when this institution did not stoop to address those concerns, and it lost ground in selectivity and prestige, which hurt its overall mission of educating women and helping them avail themselves of positions of societal power. I think we as democrats are making a similar error. It's not pandering, we just need to select candidates based on their ability to make an emotional connection with voters, to be trusted in the face of mudslinging and slander. That's the only way we'll swing the swingers, and even though it makes me sad, I think this election, right back to the primaries, proved that we do need to reach that group. I just think the job of reaching them is not as complicated (or as reliant on anti-gay or other divisive politics) as people think. William Saletan got it right in Slate the day after the election. Simple.

Oh yeah, and if the local democratic parties in "swing" states could please make sure that the elections boards allocate voting machines by population and not by penetration of republican registrants, that would probably help. Sigh. A full investigation might be a good idea too.

*Link at must subscribe (so worth it!) or subject yourself to advertising in order to read full text.

Sunday, November 14

Moving Target

I have finished Nick's Kureyon Cardi, blocked, buttoned, and woven in (I'm such a slacker about putting on the final touches). And lo and behold, he actually wore it. He actually likes it! Since I have now had the majority of the items I have made for them shrugged off and rejected, this is a small miracle.

So it seemed like a small thing to take a picture of the final product, being modeled by my son.

Uh, yeah, he's two. And my camera has a 1-second delay.

I decided to animate the scene for you:

That blurry one in the middle there, that's the one that started out "aw, what a great smile....whoa, where are you GOING???" Oh, to see the dog. Gotcha. (If it's not animating, try reloading--I set it to only go "around" once.)

The sleeves are a little short, but I think I can reblock and get those into better shape. For longer-term wear (since DS seems to only grow UP and never get a hair past skinny), any advice for lengthening sleeves, both from the cast on and the bound off edge since this was knitted side-to-side? I lent out my copy of The Knit Stitch, which I think has information on this.

As for other projects, I am trucking along on Eloise, but am still not sure how I feel about her. The colors are awfully loud; I just don't know if I'm going to want to wear it when I'm done.

I'm most of the way through the back.

My inability to fully commit to Eloise is causing me to get into a ridiculous frenzy of project starting. The only thing that makes me feel better is that they're all stash-busters. Here's a round-up:

At the top-left is a teeny tiny glove made with teeny tiny size 0 DPNs. It's still in the floppy stage of DPN knitting (I think I'm on all of row 3, and with 42 stitches on the thing I'm not exactly impressed). I'm using the 90% of a ball of Rowan Calmer that I have left over from Shedir.

Next, going clockwise, is sweater for Eleanor that I think I will call "Pinkola." I got this yarn on way-big closeout from Webs, I think a bag of it was $15 or something. It's a super-chunky chenille that I'm knitting at 3 sts/in. It's going to be a cardi for her, but since I'm already annoyed at the garish colors, big gauge, and non-wooly hand of Eloise, Pinkola is not exactly providing the balm I need.

Finally, at the bottom is a photo and the first two rows of a Lopi sweater for my step BIL. Rhys' siblings, step-siblings and spouses all draw names so that we don't all spend a bazillion dollars and hours shopping for everyone in the family. Three years ago I gave a lopi sweater, and I'm doing it again. This time I'm really staying in the dollar limit, though, because this yarn is from my stash. The black icelandic is from an ill-conceived project (hey, I need a black sweater--that will be cool for going out dancing--not at 3 sts/in you don't!) I started FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. You probably guessed that when I mentioned going out dancing, huh? Yeah, we were going out dancing to "Pump Up the Jam."

I even have proof. Check out the receipt, which was actually still in the bag. 1989. No lie.

Sheesh. Anyway, Froggy, you will be proud of me. Even though I hate to rip, I will frog that stupid thing and make it into a lovely warm sweater for step-BIL, who is a carpenter and works outside for much of the winter. I do think he'll like it.

Friday, November 12

The Backlash Against the Backlash

There has been a fair amount of complaining lately in the knitting blogosphere that people are getting too political, and that the anger and sadness and opinion being expessed about the election and the state of the US is inappropriate and unbecoming.

To quote Teresa Nielsen Hayen's brilliant post, Grieving Process "Oh, malarkey."

This post is just so right, so apt, that I have to do more than link it. Here's what I'm talking about.

I’m entirely out of patience with Americans whose whimpering plaint is that we Democrats brought this on ourselves because it hurt their feelings when we acted like we think they’re stupid.

To this I say: Oh, malarkey.

First response: Grow up. If they’re that big on self-esteem issues, let them go volunteer as helpers at their local elementary school, where it’ll do some good. It’s faintly nauseating to hear so many supposed adults whine.

Second: Bullshit. For the last ten or fifteen years, I’ve listened as Democrats, liberals, the French, and other groups have been treated to sneers, calumny, loutish bullying, and unashamed lies by the right. It’s been a terrible burden to the spirit, and has brought public discourse in America to hitherto unheard-of lows of infamy. Where was all this sensitivity, when that was going on? If they could bear years and years of hearing that thrown at others, with never a protest or reproof at its callous ugliness, they can surely bear up under a breath of implication that they’ve made a singularly disastrous decision.

Third, I say bullshit and malarkey again. They weren’t upset about the Democrats acting like we thought they were stupid before the election took place. It wasn’t an issue back then.

You know what’s really happening? They’re seeing our reactions, and they’re scared. It’s like that moment where someone tells you what they’ve done, and it’s disastrously wrong, a complete catastrophe; only they haven’t understood that until now, when they see you stagger and turn pale at the news. And as you’re standing there steadying yourself, feeling your heart pounding and a terrible weight descending on your shoulders … you realize that the other person is preemptively yelling at you. They still don’t quite know what’s happened, but they can tell they’ve screwed up big time, so they’re screaming that they certainly hope you aren’t going to pretend that this could somehow have been their fault, because …

They can tell we’re not just acting like we’ve lost an election. They know that politically, they haven’t been acting like responsible grownups. So now, their reaction is to raise and sharpen their voices, and say they certainly hope we aren’t going to pretend that this could somehow have been their fault …

Well, yes. It is. They’ve been stupid and self-indulgent and irresponsible. Not having to pay attention to what’s happening around you is the most expensive luxury there is; and they just went to the ballot box and wrote a blank check to cover it.

The truth of this is just staggering.

Like I said before, this isn't simply a knitting blog, so I don't feel like I have to back down from my bitching. You come here, you get the whole package. Frankly, I'm so concerned with boring the pants off of those who might not be interested in the endless knitting minutae that I may soon move over to typepad so I can have categories. But I don't think that any of the brilliant crafters who have been publicly grieving these past weeks should apologize for anything.

"Remind them that they are the creatures who knit the wool, not the creatures who grow it on their backs." -Barbara Walker to Elizabeth Zimmerman, 1971

Thursday, November 11

The Hat's in the Mail

Done! Thank goodness mamarhys pointed out to me that today is Veteran's Day, and therefore the post office is closed. I would have been mighty annoyed if I had gone all the way down only to find that out at the door.

Instead, I sent it overnight via UPS. Hopefully it will be there tomorrow morning. I tried to burn some CDs for her to include with it, but it took forever (who knew a book would take 10 CDs!), so I will send those with Nana. But I'm so glad I could send the hat right away. I want her to have it when she goes for the next treatment on Monday.

I went outside my office to take pictures of the hat in this tiny garden outside the administration building where I work. I know I looked a little weird. Of course, I had to have people I knew walk by, including the associate dean of faculty, who didn't make eye contact, lol. Ah well. If they haven't figured out that I'm odd in the 6 years I've worked there, they haven't been paying attention.

I give you...the FO:

Knitting night at Webs tonight was fun. I forced my friend the new knitter to swatch for her hat, especially since she's trying to do it in bulky yarn at 5 sts/in (I do think it will work with this pattern, a knit-flat garter stitch hat with a boxy look that will probably benefit from the stiffness of the fabric. It helps that the yarn is rather softly spun so it compacts pretty well). She bore up well under pressure.

I went a little hog-wild with books. I got Ann Budd's Handy Book of Knitting Patterns, as suggested in the comments, and cast on for the kids' gloves with my leftover Calmer and size ZERO DPNs. They're not bad once you get going, but those first few rows are pretty darn fiddly. That was a planned purchase.

Then I had to get Perri Klass' new book of essays on knitting, Two Sweaters for My Father. NB: While linking to this I found out this book is so new its release date isn't for another 2 weeks, LOL.

Then I was browsing though Knitting in the Old Way, and I know I'll have to buy it if I do the Master Knitter Program (the one at Webs), so I figured it would be an interesting read (and it is so far). It's not a cheap book.

And finally, to further work out my credit card, I got the only one of Barbara G. Walker's Treasuries of Knitting Patterns they had, which was book 3.

Ahh. Must calm down with the book buying.

Working on Eloise and not feeling hugely enthusiastic. I think I'll enjoy wearing it, but the yarn feels a little synthetic, even though it only has a tiny bit of nylon as a binder. It's just not rocking my world as much as I expected. So it's that, the gloves, a Xmas scarf, and a few back-burner projects. I have barely spun a thing in the last month or so, so maybe I'll get back to that. I do have an Aran sweater lined up if I ever get to finishing the gray shetland fleece I bought from my spinning teacher. It has a lot of second cuts in it (she sheared him herself), so it's a bit of a PITA. But I'm itching for more cables.

Anyhoo. I'm tired and babbling and the point was just to put those pics up. Nighty-night.

My Day for Random Links (warning, profanity)

Do be sure to check out this elegantly-worded missive* from the blue states to the red states. Not that I'm angry or anything. But, uh, yeah, pretty much.

Props to Norma, whose blog has just gone to the top tier of my daily reads. One of the only good things about this election is that I have found out that a lot of really interesting, talented knitters are also progressives full of great information and quick wits. See yesterday's posting for a brilliant quote on election aftermath.

*For my republican trollette, that's IRONY. (I-R-O-N-Y, look it up, and while you're there, check the spelling of divisive.) Look at the underlying URL. If you're offended, it will get worse if you click on it.

Made with Love by a Liberal

I'll be keeping an eye on this.

Made with Love by a Liberal

Props to Rose for the link.

Wednesday, November 10

The Best Laid Plans

Mothers make plans. Toddlers laugh at plans.

As mothers, we learn to roll with the punches, we develop the ability to be flexible and to understand kids' changing needs.


Shedir is blocking.

I'm going to miss this project. I think I might need an Aran sweater on my project list in the near future.

It was definitely an adjustment. Heck, lately, with all the garter stitch I've been doing, I've barely been purling much less doing single-stitch cables on #3 needles with a chart. But I just finished it and I kinda miss it. I need mindless knitting, but I think I need to have a "thinker" project going as well.

Speaking of mindless knitting, I've been working on Eloise here and there as well.

You know, I can see why Allison had trouble getting used to her Blossom colorway when she first started knitting with it. She had a different colorway, but you know, this yarn is kind I hate to say it, but, well...yeah. But I think as I get over the initial shock, I am going to like it. I don't hate it, but it's a bit intense. Hopefully when I wear it others will not have to go through the same process of initial shock, grin.

Oh yeah, the plans. We were reading a book about butterflies this morning, and the kids suddenly remembered the local Butterfly Museum . We hadn't been there since last winter, but suddenly they were all about going. I said it meant no singing meeting, but they were cool with that. I was shocked. I was a little sorry to not have the chance to commiserate with the other moms about the election--I learned about Kerry's concession when I left last week. But I was relieved that we wouldn't be sharing the tail-end of this cold with a passel of frail old people who are probably being denied access to flu shots because the government isn't rationing supplies (see above, sigh).

So I told them we'd go downtown to do errands first, then go to the Butterfly Museum. All good. We dropped my newish closed-back clogs that already blew out the side at the shoe repair place, had lunch at the crepe place, and hit the yarn store. This involved a walk in the cold around a very long block--probably the better part of a mile round-trip. Much of it with Eleanor on my shoulders. I got my workout for the day. It was fun, though. More downtown time for us, methinks. My kids are going to be cool Noho bohos in no time.

Once again, I found myself having to drag them out of the yarn store. Someone at the store pointed this out to me--why are you trying to convince your kids to leave a yarn store? The reason is that if I sat down and knitted, particularly Shedir, which actually takes more than 5% of my attention, there would be a yarn-throwing party in about 30 seconds. And not in a good way.

I imagined that perhaps the kids might sleep in the car, because last winter they used to in the 15-minute highway trip to South Deerfield, giving me a good hour of knitting and NPR time parked at our destination while they napped in their carseats. But they're almost a year older and nope, no nap. Oh, and I forgot to mention that somewhere along the way there they remembered that "the trains and Santa" were right near the Butterfly Museum. Translation: Yankee Candle. Forget butterflies. We're talking Santa, vaguely disturbing animatronics, model trains, and 25-foot rotating Christmas trees. They loved it. I had a decent time and, more importantly, picked up chocolate covered oreos and pretzels at their chocolate store.

Politically correct carrots were not procured. Nor were highly politically incorrect diapering items. Eleanor made do with regular gender-neutral disposable diapers, not gender-neutral fuzzi bunz because mama has not caught up on laundry. I will skip out of work early on Friday to get carrots and princess butt-gear. That means kid-free shopping, which is always expedient, though often expensive as I buy everything I might possibly want, thinking I will never see the inside of a store without the help of two fractious toddlers again.

All good.

So now I have 90% of a ball of Rowan Calmer. The kids really like wearing gloves, as opposed to mittens, and I think the Calmer would be perfect for making them gloves. Does anyone know of a source for a pattern for LITTLE kid (like size 2-4) gloves? I had no luck searching online, and of course none of my books have anything. I'm chicken to design anything more complex than a top-down raglan, so this would probably not be the place to start.

I'm hoping to take a better shot of the hat during the 3 hours of sunlight we have here in New England's November, but I'm thinking an express package tomorrow is not entirely unrealistic. Hope she likes it...

Tuesday, November 9

I Was Warned

I have been obsessed with Shedir, the amazing single-cable chemo cap from Knitty's Fall Surprise. I started last Sunday (Halloween):

The cabling needle there was too big, so I put it down for a day or two to get a new needle on Wednesday. I got a J-shaped one, which I really like. It's much better for this small-needle single-cable business than the butterfly style ones, which flip and flop and drop out of the stitch. At least they do for me.

By this Sunday I had hit my stride and was moving along:

Tonight I'm almost done. In fact I would be finishing it right now, except...

Follow that piece of yarn if you would...all the the end.

The pattern is quite clear: it says to be safe, get a second ball. But I'm a rebel, I'm a wild woman. Okay, I'm a cheapskate, I mean the stuff is $10 a ball! (Though with the 30% off thing it wasn't really...) But honestly, what was I thinking? I knit everything too big lately, and I didn't even swatch for this one. Flirting with disaster, I tell you.

So I'm stalled. SIL is losing her hair and shopping for chemo caps. I have 12 more rows to go, involving rapid decreases, so we're probably talking 20 minutes of knitting. I still have fantasies of express mailing this out from work Thursday.

Crazy? You decide:

Tomorrow I am solo all day with the kids--Rhys is out of town for the day, as she is every Wednesday.

We go to our "singing meeting" at 10:30 am. This is a great free program where toddlers have a sing-along group at a local nursing home. The kids live for it.

I also have to get pink pull-ups (don't ask me how the non-gender-enforcing, cloth diapering mom wound up shopping for pink pull-ups, at times, I am chagrined to say, even at wal-mart, sigh), and I have to go to our CSA (hey, local organic farming, this is a little more in line with what I envisioned for my family) to get a winter share, which is a big one we don't want to miss. The kids really must be eating lunch by 12:30 and napping by 1. The CSA does not open until noon and getting the kids out of the house in the afternoon is like extracting impacted molars. But less worth the effort. So the big question: what time does Northampton Wools open? If I can go at 10 sharp, I can get everything done.

I suppose if I blow off the CSA (I have to skip out of work early on Friday to exercise my last chance at this winter share--don't want to miss out on 20 lbs of carrots!), we can go downtown after the "singing meeting," which has the added bonus of giving us an excuse to get lunch downtown. Why do I think lunch in public with two two-year-olds is a good idea? Slow learner, I suppose. Pull-ups will be obtained (at relatively high cost) downtown as well. Sounds like a plan.

So, can I get Shedir knitted, blocked overnight near a heat vent, wrapped in the morning, and in an express mail envelope on Thursday, while simultaneously wrangling two toddlers singlehandedly and procuring an ironically incongrous array of household merchandise? Or will the cap have to be couriered by Nana to arrive next week, my family deprived of organic, local, anti-war, democratic carrots, and my daughter--gasp--forced to wear fuzzi bunz in gender-neutral colors? Stay tuned....

Thursday, November 4

Sometimes it's a Knitting Blog

I never said this was just a knitting blog. But I like to talk about knitting as much or more than I like to talk about politics, infertility, parenting, and life. And I like to read about other people's knitting too, so here we are. Anyway, here is some knitting content. This is actually the post I started on Sunday night, which was eaten alive by blogger. So this time, I’m actually composing in Word.

First, let’s talk about SEX, baby. Yes, that’s right, Stash Enhancement EXpeditions! What did you think I meant?

Last Wednesday, this arrived in my mailbox:

A slew of gift certificates to Northampton Wools, purchased at 30% off face value. I had called ahead to see if they had Noro Blossom, because obviously I need more yarn. No, actually, it’s because I want to make Eloise.

Because obviously I need more projects. Okay, whatever.

I practiced admirable restraint and refrained from going to the yarn store for THREE whole days. On Saturday, after my haircut, I had SEX. What fun. I’m used to Webs, a very different kind of yarn store. Webs has a huge amount of square footage, and their yarns are much, much more reasonably priced. I spent a little time browsing at Northampton Wools, and wow, there are some expensive yarns out there. I saw a hank of baby camel yarn that I think was like 25g or something, maybe 50 yards, that cost $25 each! Wow, if I had made the chemo cap with that, I would have spent $50 on it. Zowie.

But they had lots of Rowan and Debbie Bliss and Colinette, etc. Nice to browse, though the place is terribly small, dark, and cramped and, well, I didn’t get a hugely warm and fuzzy feeling from the manager when I asked about ordering other colors in Blossom. I assume this is attributable to the justifiable frustration she feels about KFI, in which she is not alone, I gather.

Anyway, though the selection of Blossom colors was meager, I managed to convert most of my GCs into this:

Ten skeins of Noro Blossom in color 2. I think ten will be more than I need, but this will be fun yarn to include in an oddball sweater.

I also got one ball of Rowan Calmer for the chemo cap pattern in the Knitty Fall Surprise issue, Shedir, for my SIL who is just about to lose her hair after her second chemo treatment. I had never felt this yarn before, and it’s lovely. I haven’t done cables in a while, and I don’t know if I’ve ever done a pattern that was ALL single cables, but it’s a big change from the mindless knitting I’ve been up to lately. I’m enjoying it, but I need to think about progress differently. I’m not going to be whipping out one of these every couple of days, that’s for sure!

Here’s my progress as of Sunday.

I’ve been working on it since this picture was taken, and I’ve done a full repeat of the cable pattern now. So it’s coming along. I think I have another week until my MIL goes out to see her, and last time I checked, the USPS delivered as well, grin.

Nick’s is coming right along. Everything is done, including the button bands, except for picking up the neck stitches. Here it is before the button bands.

I decided to stop just after that point, because I’d really like some help from an expert on picking up the neck stitches. While I have done this many times, it never looks quite right, and I tried a few times and wasn’t feeling like I was getting the right ratio of stitches. I now know not to pick up the holey spots around the neckline, but I was still having trouble. I knew I’d be going to knitting night at Webs tonight, so I just put it aside and worked on Shedir instead. I’ll show it to Jill, the instructor who provides help at the knitting drop-ins, and see if she can give me some advice. It’s just a few inches of a 1-inch garter band, so unless disaster strikes, that will be done tonight.

Speaking of finishing, I found the buttons for the Baby Albert cardigan. That is done, ends sewn in, buttons on, signed, sealed, and, well, not quite delivered.

Only problem: it fits my DD, who wears a 3T. Whoops. I don’t know, I seem to have a problem with gauge growing. I have decided to knit HUGE swatches, which I promise to bind off and let sit overnight from now on. Except for Shedir, for which I didn’t swatch at all. Ah well. So I don’t know, maybe I’ll never learn. I figured, hey, it’s a hat. Anyway, now I have to figure out whether to give it to the baby and let them keep it for a couple of years, or to give it to Eleanor and knit a new sweater for the baby. Just in case I need to knit a new sweater for the baby, I did get a few balls of Karabella Aurora 8, a lovely superwash merino worsted in a nice lavender color.

And I’m making a Really Big Swatch out of it. I swear. I might adjust Haiku to a 6-month size. Though at first glance the pattern sizes for 1 and 2 year-old sizes, now that I compare them to a chart of standard child sizes, seem way, way too big, which would partly explain my enormous handspun Haiku—the other explanations being a) my gauge problem and b) my handspun. Otherwise I will make some other clever side-to-side garter thingy. I will probably give the parents of the baby the option to choose. That would probably make sense.

Well, the day is almost over at work and I have done very little. I have spinning photos for the next post, but you’ll just have to wait! I will also take photos of the lovely Kureyon Allison of Six and a Half Stitches RAOK’ed me all the way from Australia. It really cheered me up yesterday, moments after hearing of Kerry’s concession.


There are some interesting maps emerging around what my friend Keith likes to call the interweb.

Worthy of reptition:

But also, here is a reminder that all those red states aren't totally red, and there are a lot of people all over the country who...well...have not lost their minds:

And then, soberingly, a historical perspective from

Now for some knitting content. Wendy talked today about sweaters reminding you of the time when you were knitting them. I spent my GOTV call time knitting a novelty yarn scarf for a gift. While some of the sweaters I made during the saddest times are treasured items, I'm not sorry I'm giving that scarf away. Hopefully it will take with it the hope and dedication of that time.

One more thing. Did you see the movie Friday Night Lights? If not, this might not make much sense, and it will be a spoiler if I explain it, but thinking about the campaign, and how progressives and democrats came together and gave it our all: we were perfect. That's something to hold on to.

Wednesday, November 3

Now You're Talking

A New Map?

Maybe I don't have to move all my stuff to a place with even worse weather than we have here. Stephanie at Yarn Harlot says that lots of them would vote for Martin Sheen. (See thing #4.) Do you suppose that if we brought Martin Sheen they'd have us? I know we sometimes leave the top off the toothpaste tube and we don't always do our dishes, but we're willing to learn French and we promise to take out the recycling.

Thanks for listening to the last thing. I felt much better after writing that. And Suz, not creepy at all, I think all us activists have to keep each others back in that way, and pick things up when the other one is too tired to keep carrying it. Thank you. You made me smile. And Emma, thanks to you too. Thanks for understanding that it's not all of us here, just some. Some of us don't understand them anymore than the rest of the world does. See the above map. :)

Hanging in there...

I'm Listening.

I’m watching Kerry’s car drive to Faneuil Hall to make his concession speech. I’m stunned. I don’t understand how he could have lost. I don’t even understand how it could be close.

My country has spoken. I’m trying to understand what they’re saying. There are people in Rhys’ family who voted for Bush. I am trying to find a way to understand what this country is saying to me, to its other citizens, and to the world. This is what I am hearing.

My country is saying that my family should be marginalized. That not only should we not have an equal right to marriage, but that we should be stripped of our rights to create legal contracts to protect our families and partnerships.

My country is saying that they want to “stay the course” in Iraq, despite our precious children coming home in body bags, despite 100,000 (that’s ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND) civilian deaths that would otherwise have not happened.

My country is saying that a supreme court that will overturn Roe v. Wade is a-okay with them.

My country is saying that a huge deficit, bankrupting our children’s future, is a small price to pay for miniscule tax cuts for the middle class and huge tax cuts for the wealthy.

My country is saying more John Ashcroft, more Halliburton, more aggression toward the middle east, more hatred of gays and poor people and people of color.

I am listening so hard to hear a voice of hope. A way I can live with this country and say proudly, “this is my home, these are my people.” I can’t find it. I do feel that with underequipped urban precincts, with dumped democratic registrations, with Sinclair and lies, and wedge issues, that the other side did not play fair. But none of that should have mattered. It should not have even been close. The wedges shouldn’t have worked because hatred of me and my family should not have motivated people. But it did.

Rhys works for an international firm, and her project is being adopted by Canada this year. If she volunteers, maybe does some moving and shaking, we could probably be transferred to Canada, probably Ottawa, next year. My grant is ending; I can work from anywhere. I know a lot of Democrats are talking about moving to Canada, but it’s a real possibility for us. Maybe now is the time. I told Rhys yesterday that if we lost, she should give me two weeks before she starts taking me seriously about moving to Canada.

Everyone has to live on this planet, and the US will be even more of a hegemonic power, and moving to Canada won’t change that. But right now, it feels like it might be the right choice.

The speeches are starting. I hope he can give me some hope.

Tuesday, November 2

Please Vote

Please go vote. Please vote for Kerry. Please call your friends and family who live in swing states and who support Kerry and remind them to go vote. Thank you.

I am sick today, so instead of going to NH, I went to a phone party here in town and called 120 people in Michigan to remind them to go vote.

Early numbers look good, but it is still very, very, very close. We need a decisive win to avoid a long and drawn-out court challenge.

If you, or someone you know needs a ride to the polls, email me and I will get you hooked up.

I wrote a long, detailed post full of knitting content, finished objects and photographs, and my computer died before I saved it on Blogger, and it is gone. From now on I will compse my posts in Word. Okay, from the *next* post on. I suppose I'll never learn.

But hey, we shouldn't be blogging or reading, we should all be getting to the polls to take back our country.

Thank you for voting...

Thursday, October 28

More Momish than Knitterly

I found all these links from BlogExplosion in my site statistics. I guess it surfs blogs for you, and then sends other people to your blog--you earn referrals to your blog by reading others' blogs. I don't totally get "earning" readers, but that's cool, it looked like fun and a no-risk thing to try, so I signed up. I enrolled my blog and the system pealed out into the blogosphere, with me lurching along behind, presumably bringing me to blogs that matched my content and links. The first blog was a whatever. I agreed politically but was not excited. The second was a parenting blog that looked good but I didn't stay long because I clicked here. A field guide to annoying parents. Can I just say...YES! Needed that today, since Sara and Terry, balm to my "yes, I'm human" mom-soul, just left after a very brief visit.

I wasn't going to post today, but um, was it just me last night, having a dream, that the Red Sox won the World Series???? Did that actually happen? In a four-game sweep? Really? It looks like it did. Meanwhile, the Patriots remain undefeated. I have to say, I think this will signal an identity crisis in New England. If we're not long-suffering underdogs who root for the home team in spite of every reason to lose hope and give up, then what will we be? What will we do without a curse on our heads? Do we know how to be a region with a winning team? With two? How will we cope? I really believe this will be a challenge. We need that sense of long-suffering faith, that hope in hopelessness, because despite global warming, I don't think we're going to start having warm winters or anything.

When they were interviewing the Cardinals' manager (I think that's who it was--I'm really not a baseball person; the interest for me is more sociological) he looked like he was about to cry, and he kept saying "we should have done..." and "if we had..." and I was like "DUDE. This was an ACT OF GOD. If it was going to happen, there is NOTHING you could have done. It's like floods or locusts: your insurance does NOT cover this." He should stop beating himself up. Really, St. Louis, it's okay.

Well, I'm out of my depth with this baseball stuff, so I'll stop. But I'm in awe, nonetheless.

I finished knitting on the baby einstein coat (slowest. sleeve. ever.) but have misplaced the buttons. Sigh. I am ready to be done with that thing. Hopefully they are in the "reliable car," which Rhys is retrieving from the Rhinebeck area this morning.

I'm already on the second sleeve of Nick's. I got my GC's to the LYS (30% off, cool), so once I am done with Nick's, I will go get some Blossom to make Eloise. I think I will hold off until I have another FO, probably Nick's. My knitting/spinning corner is looking a little nutsy right now.

Back to work...I find myself saying that a lot on this blog...

UPDATE: Edited to add that, listening to All Things Considered tonight, I found out that Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, has been reading my blog. Okay, not really, but he does a much better and more eloquent job of talking about the identity crisis this sudden winning streak will have on New England. Go listen here.

In other news, I'm quite proud of myself for just calling 15 people and recruiting 2 volunteers to canvass for Kerry in swing states. I have also volunteered to drive people to the polls in New Hampshire on Tuesday, but no one has gotten back to me yet. If you want to make calls (it's so easy, and being on the east coast, it was easy for me to call west coast numbers late at night, after the kids were asleep), click on the Kerry-Edwards banner in my sidebar and then go to the volunteer center on the site. It's easy to do--they give you a script and the names come five at a time and they've all said they were interested in volunteering. All but one were quite friendly. One miracle more to go. Speaking of which, check this out.

Tuesday, October 26

Klara Q & A

Thanks for all the nice comments on my Klaralaundry post. I really appreciate them. There were a couple of questions that I wanted to answer.

First, well, I thought I had a request for a shot of Klara *on*, but now I can't find it in the comments, so maybe I just hallucinated public interest in further viewing of my mug. Anyway, here is the laundered Klara being worn:

As you can see, it really didn't shrink much at all. I would say that the sleeves got a pinch shorter, and maybe the body did too. So pretty much more shrinkage in row gauge than in stitch gauge. I wonder if that is typical for fulling, which would explain my short fuzzy feet.

One commenter asked if I washed it in cold water. The answer is yes. I did everything I normally do for the gentle cycle: cold water, mild detergent (I don't use soap because it's even more alkaline, which encourages felting), and the gentle cycle. I also washed it all by itself, partly because the dye discharged when I hand-washed it so there was a danger of dyeing whatever was in there with it, but also because I didn't want anything rubbing up against it to felt it.

Jody asked if the 5% shrinkage I was looking for was about what I got. You know, I kind of thought that I did when I first laid it out, but after wearing it for a while (and I have worn it a LOT since washing), it has stretched out again, as you can see in the photo above, so I don't think I did get that much--maybe in the length but not in the width. As you can see from this picture too, it really didn't full that much: you can see my white bra through the stitches in front, sigh. Partly this is the stretch factor, but there's room for more is what I'm saying.

While I normally don't re-launder items that are fulled, since they will continue to full and get smaller and smaller, I think I will make this a machine-wash garment. I'll be very careful with it and be sure to wash it by itself, but it does seem to stretch out a lot after a few wearings. I should add that my 2.5-year-old son is very interested in pushing my buttons these days, and he's a pretty smart customer. He has figured out that grabbing any of my hand-knitted garments and PULLING really hard is a great way to get a big reaction out of mama. So I wear sweaters rather hard these days, sigh.

I'm waiting to see how Jenifer's Klaralaundry came out. Then I'll shut up about Klara and go off into the sunset wearing her. Until I knit another one, that is....

Baby Sweaters Galore

In other knitting content, I'm almost done with Baby Albert. I found some very cute buttons, and the manager of the store at Webs made a great suggestion about alternating them, so I have alternating stars and squares. Unfortunately, I didn't take a picture of the buttons, but you'll see them on the FO in the next few days.

Here's the sweater, almost done.

I literally have like 10 rows of sleeves, then weaving in ends and sewing buttons. Any minute now, I swear.

The pattern, from The Knit Stitch (a book I highly recommend, even for experienced knitters), has you knit pick up stitches from the body and knit the sleeves flat, with the seam at the top. I understand why she does that--it means that you really just have to sew one seam on each side for the whole garment, plus it's really the only way to knit the sleeves flat, as the bottom edge is already closed. But I didn't like the way the seam at the top looked, so I'm knitting them in the round. It's a little annoying to be doing garter stitch in the round. You know, if you are working in the round, I feel you shouldn't have to purl. But purl I do. The needles are also annoyingly small, but it's almost done, and I think the parents of its recipient are going to be pleased.

My attention has also been occupied with Nick's Kureyon Jacket. I found an error in the pattern, but Carol Sulcoski, the designer, who also designed this and this for Knitty, was incredibly helpful and responsive in helping me with this and other questions, and got me a correction right away. So now I'm cooking with gas on the jacket. I did rip the whole front right side. It had a provisional cast-on, so I thought I might get away from ripping from the "bottom" edge, since I had already attached it to the back at the "top" edge. It was really only a matter of a few rows and when I tried to rip from the bottom I realized I would have to pull the end through the final stitch on each row, which got increasingly annoying as I went on and the tail got longer. It's good that I did this, too because a) the old front had a really big strip of pink that I wasn't sure I liked, and b) amazingly, the colors lined up perfectly between the front and the back (largely due to me making an effort to match colors when I joined a new ball), so it flows seamlessly now. Here's its current state; note the much-improved symmetry of the fronts compared to this.

Caps and Yarn Shopping Strategy

The timing of Knitty's Fall Surprise could not have been more apt. SIL is one week into chemo, and I think she's going to get all her hair cut off this week, before it falls out. It is time for me to make a chemo cap. I can't really decide whether to make this:

or the hat in this picture:

I have *almost* enough handspun, handdyed silk to make the spin-off cap, and I can probably fudge the edges to make it work (and I can also comb my stash to see if I have another hankie dyed with those colors--I think I might). The silk I'm using is on the right in this photograph. I may just use the navajo-plied dark-purple silk on the left there as an edging, actually. I hadn't thought of that until I linked to this photograph. Hooray for blogging, grin.

I tried to ply those 25 wpi singles last night, though, from a center-pull ball, and ARGH! Anyone who has worked extensively with silk (this was spun from a cap, so it's not the smoothest stuff), will be laughing right now. Tangle city. Plying from a single ball is frustrating with wool. Laceweight silk is just ridiculous. So I have to figure out another solution. I suppose I can try to wind off onto two bobbins. That would be the sensible thing to do, but last night I was just too frustrated so I set it down and went back to work on the kureyon jacket. A little easy knitting for a break.

So probably I'll try to do both caps, but I need to focus on something so that I actually have something to send out to Colorado when Rhys goes out to help her out during another treatment in 3 weeks. Given the uncertainty and complications of the handspun (not enough, plying nightmares, etc.), I think I will do the knitty cap. So, my question is this. Price is no object--what yarn should I use? I want the softest, most amazingly luxurious, completely un-scratchy stuff in the universe. I spent about 5 minutes thinking I would do it in the cashmere MIL brought back from Mongolia, but then I started working on dehairing it, and well, that's not going to happen anytime soon, lol. Any thoughts.

One more thing and I'll get back to work. I'm a total Webs officionado, and that's not going to change, but now that I'm on this Noro kick, I need to branch out, since Webs carries a very limited line of Noro (Kureyon and one other, I can't remember which). There's another LYS in town that couldn't be more different: where Webs is big, Northampton Wools is small. Where Webs focuses on weaving yarns, mill ends, and great-quality yarns that are reasonably priced, Northampton Wools is all about high-end and novelty yarns. Where Webs sells most everything on cones, I don't think there's a single cone in the shop at Northampton Wools. Even so, it's a nice store, and it's kind of a nice ying/yang yarn thing to have going on in your hometown. The point here, however, is that they have Noro Blossom, which Webs does not, and which I need to make Eloise, which I have decided to do, knowing that I need more sweaters I can wear to the office.

I know all about, but they have exactly zero skeins of blossom in stock right now. But I realized that Northampton Wools is on the Save 30 store. You can buy $10 gift certificates to the store for $7. That means that the $10.50 skein of Blossom is just over $7, no shipping charges, and no tax on yarn in Massachusetts. Done. I've ordered enough GCs to get the yarn and pattern book, plus maybe a ball or two of something for a chemo cap (repeat plea for suggestions).

Annoyingly, although I ordered the GCs on Friday, they won't be shipped until today, so while I'll stalk the mailbox tomorrow, I don't expect to see them until Thursday. That's okay, really, since I'll be watching a friend's DS all day tomorrow, so with three preschoolers in tow, I'm unlikely to be doing any good yarn shopping, LOL. And hey, you know, shops are open late on Thursday nights.