Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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I had a shocking realization last week.

Scott and I have been talking about, you know, when we have kids. Someday.

You all know that Scott is allergic to wool. He's very patient, understanding and supportive of my fiber habit, but it's always a concern:

  • I make copious use of two lint brushes for post-spinning, post-fiber handling, post-mohair-knitting, etc. I brush off my clothes, my chair, the sofa. After combing fleece or spinning for a while, I grab the Dustbuster and give the area a once over.
  • I rarely knit with mohair. It's too stressful. For both of us. At the sight of mohair or angora, Scott gets the heebie jeebies. At the sight of floating mohair fibers -- yeah, let's not go there.
  • In the fall and winter, as soon as I get home, I change out of my handknit sweaters and wool tops into fleece or cotton. So he can come near me.

Right. So I've known about the possibility of our kids being allergic to wool. Which would be very sad. Because I really don't like to knit with cotton. Because I love working with wool. I've known this, but figured I could always knit a few cotton and cotton/acrylic baby things. I could deal.

And then I realized: When Scott and I have kids, if the baby is not allergic to wool, I will still be knitting cotton and cotton/acrylic baby things. Otherwise, Scott won't be able to hold the baby! I know! No wool clothes! No wool booties! No wool baby blankets! As the Harlot would say, I need a lie down...

It gets worse. I was talking to my sister, who realized that if the baby is allergic to wool, I won't be able to wear wool clothing!

I feel weak.

Let's not talk about what happens to my spinning habit or my stash...

And if you come up with another realization along the same lines, by all means, keep them to yourself! I don't wanna hear it...

On the topic of baby clothes, here are some of the cute patterns in the 2 magazines I bought at Mouliné:

I love all of these:

from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2006
from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2006

And no. 8 and 11:

from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2006
from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2006

Scott likes no. 4, especially the flower:

from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2005
from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2005

I love no. 26 and 25:

from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2005
from Phildar Layette, Spring-Fall 2005

Can you stand it? Hey, I can still knit for other people, y'know.

And here's the interior of Mouliné as shown on their bag:

Mouliné in Montreal

It looks different; they've added more bookshelves or a wall that separates the back area into a real pattern area. But even in the drawing you can tell the mannequins have attitude.

I've been going a bit wild on yarn purchases lately... I don't know when I think I'll have the time. What can I say, I have trouble resisting a bahgain.

A few things from Wild String's closing sale (sad to see her go), all Cherry Tree Hill:

A few skeins of yarn...

Some Melange:

CTH Melange

Some North Cotton:

CTH North Cotton

And a shitload of Cotton Boucle:

CTH Cotton Boucle

The good news, no wool. The better news, $5 a skein (Melange retails for $24). The bad news, what the hell was I thinking buying so many single skeins??? Still, I see possibilities in combining the boucle yarns. And there were patterns for socks using North Cotton on the Cherry Tree Hill website. Anyone ever used it before?

Oh, and the bag they were in:

MDSW bag

My free MDSW bag that I got for volunteering. Forget to show it before. :)


Gram started wandering and made it out of her building. Without shoes. The police picked her up, yada yada yada, she is now in a nursing home and unhappy to be there. It's been a tough week, and while our actual street was quiet last weekend, life was not.

Did you ever play T-ball as a kid? With the hollow pole holding the softball so kids like me had a chance in hell of hitting the ball? This week my head felt like the softball, whacked hard with a bat. It's still attached, but I've felt like my head is leagues away.

I visited Gram in the hospital and sat with her for a few hours. Low key. Just spending time together. I think she was comforted to have someone there. I was okay while I was there, but on the way home, not so much. I decided to try a little retail therapy, stop by a couple of places I've been wanting to check out for months. I stopped at a yarn store, the one we've driven by every week on our way to Gram's. Closed. For the summer. I headed to the alpaca farm not too far from where I live, which is open during business hours while I work. Closed. For vacation. Oh, cruel fates, forcing me to face my sadness without a fiber fix! Perhaps the fates know the state of my yarn room. Or about the CVM fleece that arrived this week...

We visited Gram in the nursing home. Sat on her bed, held her hand, chatted. She was asleep when we arrived and promptly fell back to sleep after our visit, so I'm not sure she'll remember we were there. She was happy to see us, though, wondered how we knew she was there. "A little birdy told me." We've continued printing out photos and bringing them with us, and I think she's enjoying them. We've got plans to get frames, especially those composite ones, and lightweight photo albums.

Blogging might resume next week, might be sketchy, might be all about the fiber or (it would be shocking) maybe a little knitting thrown in for good measure. It's too hot to do much, anyway. I've been combing the corriedale I washed some moons past. Sweat drips down my body, but there's minimal contact with the fibers, so I don't mind. I've grown a nice pile of cloudy fluff.

Thanks for your kind comments about the accident. I read them before we went to Gram's, and as we drove, I felt kinda guilty. Hey, I'm okay, I thought. Talking and writing it out musta helped. Guess I'm over it.

Gram wasn't doing so hot. Neither were we. We bought a photo printer last week and printed out some photos to bring with us. Of our wedding. Of our honeymoon. Of the last couple of visits (though the photos we take when we're there all look the same: posed, on the sofa). I had hoped having the photos there would remind her of our visits. I had hoped they'd make her smile. They weren't the 'hit' I hoped they'd be. I don't know what I expected, they're just photos. And when we're there, why would she look at those?

We took a couple more again, same pose, same location. I'll print them out and bring them next week. Meanwhile, I'm thinking up ideas for different photos. Something a little more interesting. Wouldn't it be fun to get a photo of Gram sticking her tongue out? Or maybe just one of her laughing. I don't know, she's old school; she comes from the generation when you kept a serious face for photos.

She didn't want us to leave. I left feeling that it wasn't enough. Our visit wasn't enough. What we could do was not enough. It compounded with the helpless and useless feelings from witnessing the death. Yeah, guess I'm not quite over it.

It's gonna be a rough week.

I hoped to show you FBS, but man, not on such a down note. Instead, here's the scarf I finished FBS to begin:

Sand River - started

It's for my sister. I hope she likes it. (Hey Sis, do you like it? If you don't, let me know. Sooner than later. :)

Yarn is Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb. Yum. Silk merino, my favorite.

Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb

I love the 3-dimensionality of the stitch pattern. Reminds me of sand dunes in the Sahara. Or, in another colorway, a river. So I think I'll call this project "sand river".

Sand River - rich texture detail

Thanks for the nice comments on the NC spun yarn! The magical transformation that is spinning, gotta love it.

Two things I did differently with these yarns:

I (mostly) didn't draft the fibers or split them. I used to separate combed top into narrow strips that were closer to the finished single, and then pre-draft the whole thing. For thin yarn, that took a looooong time. After reading Spinnerella's notes from her spinning lesson with Judith MacKenzie McCuin (paraphrased from memory: it's only a true worsted if you don't split the top and if you work from the whole width, moving side to side), after my spinning lesson with Barbara Clorite-Ventura, and after reading somewhere that there were 2 "camps", those that pre-drafted and those that didn't (before I read that, I didn't realize people didn't pre-draft!), I decided to try this not-pre-drafting thing out.

I split Calico Cat into 2 strips so it wasn't so unwieldy. But I didn't pre-draft. And I did a little pre-drafting on the primaries dyepot, but only because it was felted.

I kinda like it. It's less prep time, and esp in the case of dyed top which will stick together more than undyed top, I feel like I have to pull the fibers out, which, while more work for my fingers, also means that the fibers aren't slipping out of my fingers, either. More control. If it's very sticky, though, I would probably do some light attenuating (I'm not even sure if I'm using that word right). Eg, last night, while trying out some silk, I didn't split the top but I did do some gentle pre-drafting to open up the top a bit, allowing the fibers to move past each other better.

The second thing I did differently: whack that yarn! I read on the Knitter's Review Forums (sorry, can't find the link now...) that you should abuse your yarn to finish it, even out the twist, etc. I gave it a try. It made the merino fuzzier, not sure I want that. But it didn't affect the BFL the same way. I don't have a before and after, but I think it made a positive difference. I'll be (selectively) abusing my yarns from now on.

It's steam sauna hot today. Even at 11:17 pm, the heat has not let up much. We have 2 window A/C units in our basement from our previous apartment dwelling life. Back when windows went up and down and A/C units fit logically. Our 30+ year old house has casement windows, the kind that go side to side. We haven't found our solution yet. Meanwhile, life without A/C, not so fun.

On the plus side, the Mosquito Magnet we bought for a terrific price at season's end 2004, which we finally got up and running a few weeks ago, magnificent. We used to get eaten alive. No hyperbole. Eaten. Alive. We used to run from car to house, house to car. They waited for us, swarmed and attacked us. No more. Hardly any mosquitos in our yard now. It's wonderful. We might get some yard work done now. If the incessant rain and raising heat let up. Or, more accurately, if I can tear myself away from the wheel.

We also bought a humidifier for our basement, it's much too damp down there (the unit tells us it's ~65% humidity, at what % does it start raining indoors?). We have a full unfinished basement that serves as storage and that icky place where the washer and dryer live. Well, sort of storage. No books or yarn, of course. We're hoping to one day finish it and make it liveable. It's at least 15 degrees cooler down there now -- if only it weren't so buggy (spiders) and damp and ill-lit, we could beat the heat down there. One day.

Meanwhile, we picked up a new shower head (with 8 fancy settings) and a new hallway light (which Scott already installed). Before: 20 year old showerhead and bare bulb (okay, I exaggerate on the showerhead). After a few dual paychecks, we're starting to edge away from tight-belted frugality and starting to look at improvements around the house. We even picked out paint colors for the bedroom! 2 1/2 years and we've only painted the bathroom. This is a huge step! I may even shock you with a new living room set one day. But don't hold your breath.

I went to Knit Club at Fabric Place in Framingham last Friday and made this startling revelation: a lot of knitting can be accomplished if you sit down and knit! Shocking, isn't it? Because I sure wasn't getting much done while spinning this:

A Touch of Twist rambouillet/silk

9.6 oz of rambouillet/silk from A Touch of Twist (MDSW). 3 oz were spun way back when, the rest finished since returning from NC. It'll be a little slubby and textured when plied. It's soft, has a nice sheen, and was pretty nice to spin. Don't be surprised if I bring back more from Rhinebeck. Just sayin'.

Knit Club knitting helped get me to a finished Trellis back:

Trellis - back finished!

The shaping looks a little wonky (wide below 'pits, narrow after), but I know it's just the way it's designed, so I'm trusting.

I also combed the rest of the cormo with the pet comb, but I think I'll leave that for tomorrow. Time to peel myself from the desk and chair and melt somewhere else. Preferably in front of a fan.

Thanks for your nice comments about the spinning demonstration! I felt a little guilty as I was leaving my now-spinning niece, wondering when she's gonna want a wheel... sorry, sis!

I was driving home from work a couple of days ago, it was sunny and nice. The closer I got to home, the darker it got. Why? Trees, lotsa trees. I realized we need to cut down our neighbors trees so we can get more sunlight. (Not just for blog photos. Really.) Do you think they'd mind?

I threatened before to start taking fibery projects to work to photograph if I couldn't find any good sunlight at home. I finally did. Yesterday. When I left home it was sunny. Wouldn't you know: when I took my lunch break it was overcast; and when I went outside to take photos, it started to rain. Barely. Spitting. Taunting. As if the skies were laughing at me, mocking my futile attempts. Shortly after, it really rained.

Lucky for me Scott has a good view from where he works so he let me know when the sun came a-peeking. I ran outside and got a few photos (below).

If I were a glass-half-full kinda gal, maybe I would see the spitting as a gentle, nay, kind, warning of impending rain. If the skies had wanted to be spiteful, wouldn't they have opened a deluge on me, suddenly and without notice?

This weekend as I was leaving the house, I knocked over a glass-totally-full of orange juice. All over my spinning area. Luckily, only a few drops got on my wheel and most of my fiber was in bags. Still, plenty of fiber got sprayed, including a generous slosh on my newly washed cormo. It took an hour to clean the mess. When I was in high school I went through a period when, just as I was leaving home I'd guzzle down some orange juice and somehow spill it on my shirt. Off I'd go to change. The next day, the same. And the next. What is it with me and orange juice??

Hard won photos

Winterhaven Farm cormo

That's dyed cormo roving from Winterhaven Fiber Farm bought at MDSW. I had spun a sample of it back in May, but was not so happy with it. It was tough to draft evenly and had bits of veggie matter in there. I decided to be okay with irregular spinning, and the portions of roving that are on the inside of the ball are a little easier to spin, but the VM is still annoying. I pull out bits every foot or so of spinning and usually have to stop spinning to get them out. Not so fun.

Below is shetland from a fiber sampler I got in a swap, spun on the Joy. I'm keeping it low twist to keep the softness. When I'm home the Joy doesn't call to me so this bobbin may sit mateless for a while.


I'm also working on some more rambouillet/silk from A Touch of Twist, also purchased at MDSW. Photo soon. I spun up a bobbin back in May (last photo). The prep is not conducive to regular smooth singles, so again I'm being okay with irregular spinning. Still loving this fiber, though.

I managed to get a little knitting done in NC. Almost at the armpits on Trellis:

Trellis - in progress

I wrote a draft of this at work, and, surprise, surprise, I lost the post. It's the skies. I know it's the skies. They're being spiteful! When I left work, it was raining. They knew I didn't bring an umbrella. As I drove home, it got progressively heavier until it was pouring when I got home. Scott came out with an umbrella for me (awwww), foiling their attempts to drown me. Now that I'm safe inside, no rain. Coincidence? Unlikely! In fact, I begin to suspect that the skies have something to do with the fact that my drum carder is not yet here! It's related, I tell you. I know it is, I just don't know how yet.

Tomorrow I'll show you the yarn I spun in NC. If the skies allow.

A few hours after landing in NC, I went to my niece's school to do a spinning demonstration.

I've never done a spinning demonstration. I've never been in front of a bunch of kids as an adult. When I was about my niece's age, I did a short "play" that was videotaped for class. I think I was supposed to be a farmer's wife. When I watched the video, I noticed I had my hands clasped over my head for most of my scene. I still do that sometimes, it's comforting. (Thankfully, I grew out of the habit while a theatre major.)

I might have wanted to clasp my hands. I was nervous. I had butterflies!

My niece's teacher gathers up the kids right up close to me. I ask, "how long do I have?" She tells me 20-30 minutes, but don't worry if I don't need it all. I'm thinking, don't need it all? I could use more!

I begin, "My name is Monica and I'm here to demonstrate spinning." A hand shoots up.

Me: "Yes?"

He: "Um, well, um, my, um, my question, um, is, um. I have a cousin whose name is Monica." He smiles.

Me (smiling, and thinking, heh, he got you, noob): "Really? Well, I think it's a great name. I like it."

I start handing out 8" of roving to each kid, and ask if anyone knows where wool comes from (sheep!), mention there are a lot of different kinds of sheep, list a few:

handing out wool

It's taking too long, so I give a pile to one kid and say, "take one and pass it along."

Ha! Instant chaos: "I didn't get one!" "Give me one!" "Wait!" "Do we get to keep this?!" "I didn't get one!" I am in awe.

The teacher settles everyone down and I'm chuckling inside.

I tell them to hold the ends of the roving and gently pull. See how easily it comes apart? Then we twist the roving a few times and pull. Aha! The twist is what makes yarn!

learning about twist

I show them how to gently draft the roving to get yarns of different thicknesses, just by pulling and adding twist. They begin to do the same on their own roving.

I move to the spindle, and show them how the spindle does the twisting work, but everything else is just the same.

I move to the wheel, and show them how the wheel does the twisting work, and everything else is just the same. The kids not in the first row are craning to get a good look.

demo-ing the wheel
the chairs, so small

I draft thin, I draft thick. I answer a couple of questions. And then, I realize, I'm done. Demonstrating. It's been 10 minutes. Maybe 12. I'm sheepish. So much for needing all that time! Then I think, what fun is a demonstration without getting to try it?

"Who would like to try spinning on the spindle?"

Hands shoot up! I think the teacher's heart rate picks up. I pick the first person to raise their hand.

spinning the spindle

She spins the spindle while I hold the fiber, then we switch and she drafts.

Me: You've just made yarn!

She smiles.

We switch a couple of times, and then I ask for another volunteer.

Hands shoot up! It's a little overwhelming. How do you choose? 

My niece stands next to me, working on her roving. She's quietly making yarn, fairly even, too. I tell her it looks really good!

she's making yarn

She: Is this a 2 ply?

Me: No, that's a one ply. A single. (I know, I know, it's not called one ply.)

She: Is it now?

By jove, if she hasn't just folded it and let it twist on itself.

Me: Yup, that's a 2 ply.

Kid after my own heart.

I let 4 kids try out the spindle, 2 girls, 2 boys (they were just as enthusiastic to try, thankyouverymuch). I've hit my time limit and pack up to go. I'm jazzed up, excited to share, thrilled that they were so enthusiastic to learn and try something new. Who knows, maybe there's a spinner-to-be in the bunch?

*     *     *

Besides my niece, that is. When she came home from school, she was excited to try the spindle again. Her first time was in January on my last visit, but she mostly enjoyed spinning the spindle and left me to do all the drafting. We started out with the 2 person spindling as in the demo, but then I moved to twisting the spindle and letting her draft. She was so fast I couldn't keep up. Out came the wheel.

(No photos, not with a 13 month old trying to touch the moving parts.)

Over a couple of sittings, she spun up the rest of the practice fiber I had brought. The night before I left, I plied it with what was on the spindle, and then gave it a quick bath:

Bahia's 2 ply

My niece's first yarn. Yup.

Yep yep, a drum carder. Hee.

That's it for fiber content. Heh.

Splashing around

My nephew (13 months) went in the wading pool protected by his flotation lined suit. The boy cracks me up. He splashed and splashed and splashed, and made faces of displeasure when the water got in his face, but was thrilled to be splashing. Two conflicting emotions he happily combined. Of course, when I splashed him (drops, I swear), his smile vanished instantly. Not so funny. 

Playing with Auntie

He wanted to step straight into the pool. The deep end. He's so different from my niece, who was more or less terrified of the water. They're different in so many ways. Yeah, yeah, I know, I had a brother and sister and neither of them knit or spin, man, how different can we be??? It's, like, knit and day, totally.

Bahia teaching me skating moves

My niece (7 1/2) passed her next skate level while I was there and showed me a few moves. She and her friend taught me to skate backwards, something I never could swing on my own. "Just wiggle your butt." Hey, I can do that! I learned to skate when I was a kid in Toronto. In the winter, we'd take regular class trips to Park Lawn to use their rink. Part of P.E. (that's Phys Ed to some of you). I didn't skate well and was generally afraid of falling and hurting myself, having my fingers run over, that sort of thing. In fact, that's how I felt when I got on the ice last week. It's been at least a year and a half since the last time I skated, and at least as long before that. After having my niece show me the skills she's been learning and trying to copy her, I gradually relaxed and felt adventurous. Hey, if she can do it, I can at least try, right? So I figured out how to wiggle my butt and skate backwards. And not be terrified at the same time. Not bad.

Hey Gram,

me n gram

I may be getting old, but I can still learn a few tricks. :)

My sister, on the other hand, can still keep up with my niece. For now. ;)

Lisa and Bahia

(by the way, i look and act younger than my age, so Gram probably thinks i'm young. so when she said, "You're getting old!" on my birthday it was probably an expression of surprise. it's all in good fun.)

Thanks so much for your comments on the cormo. Some times I feel like I go on a bit and I'm not sure if anyone's interested, but I figure I'll throw it out there and see. It's nice to see the spaghetti stick to the wall every now and again.

Dye-O-Rama pal

My Dye-O-Rama pal got her yarn and liked it! My pal is Pippikneesocks, and you can imagine that when I drew her name I was a bit intimidated, thinking, crap, what am I doing in the experienced group, mebbe I should be in the WTF group! Have you seen all the yummy things she makes?

I wanted to come up with something different for her, and I knew I wanted to use pink and black, her signature colors. My first idea was to spin a 3 ply yarn with one ply variegated pinks, one ply variegated blacks and one ply either white or white with hints of pink and black. Dyeing the pinks went fine but somehow I had brown in my head instead of black and variegated browns just weren't happening. Ug-ly. I'll tell ya all about it another time. 

All's well that ends well, though. I'm happy with how things turned out.

I won!

Hey, I won something! I never win anything! I won something! I donated to Claudia's good cause by way of Anne and won some alpaca yarn from Deb of Sunrise Ranch Alpacas in the Prize Patrol! Heh. I won. Mebbe the rain will stop. If it does, maybe I'll see pigs. Flying. :)

Now that I've won something, does that mean I can no longer say I never win anything? I'll have to change to: I almost never win anything! I hardly ever win! If winning things were like batting averages, I'd be batting a .001!

Just doesn't have the same ring.

Family time

I'm heading to NC Thursday to visit my sister, niece, nephew, and brother. I so need a vacation and to hang out with family and be super auntie. My nephew turned 1 this month and I feel like I'm missing all his moments. You can bet I'll be soaking up the moments this trip. I probably won't be able to blog while I'm there, but I've been such a slacker lately I'm sure you're used to it by now.


I wanted to really thank y'all for being so supportive about Gram. I didn't say much after the last post a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn't return emails to your wonderful comments. All I could do was take it in and appreciate your words of support and the ideas you brought.

Last week I finally pulled myself together enough to look up Alzheimer's caregivers support groups and located a couple in the area that I might go to. I also did some research on and picked out a few books on Alzheimer's. It's strange. These are the types of things that, in other parts of my life, come naturally to me. Finding resources and information to help me understand something I don't understand. Somehow, I blanked. I had thought of support groups before, but it seemed distant and unattainable. Until a couple of you suggested it, and a week had passed, and I stopped to think, I felt like I had no idea how to find a support group or what to do. It's like my brain short circuited, was a skipped record stuck on a track, a program stuck in a loop, unable to compute.

When the books arrived, I couldn't bear to look at them. They sat. Until today. I started reading at lunch. I think they'll be helpful in finding ways to cope, finding ideas for how to respond to Gram when she says things that make no sense to us, when she tells us she's seeing things we can't see. For figuring out how to see the good things, the happy, the light, and not just the sad and heartbreaking. Or amidst the sad and heartbreaking.

We had a good visit with her yesterday. She seemed to be in good spirits, and she's moving around fairly well. She was talking about her family, and pulled out an old family photo, in black and white, with 11 "kids" ranging from teenager to 30's. I asked about each and she told stories. I loved that.

When the aide came to take her to dinner, Gram introduced us (again) to the aide, but couldn't remember my name, or Scott's. Lately she can't remember "grandson"; she knows who we are but can't remember the labels, the names.

Anyway, thank you. Your words touched me and helped carry me through the last 2 weeks.

Podcast help?

I often read my posts to Scott and have a lot of fun doing it. When he reads them on his own, they don't sound the same to him. So I thought mebbe I could record some of them. So you can hear them how they sound in my head! (yes, I admit, scary thought) Or listen while knitting. ('cuz I'm all about multitasking.)

'Cept, I know nothing about how to make that happen. And yes, I could find a book on it, or a website, but, um, I gots a lot on my plate right now. And I know there are some of ya out there with some experience? That would be happy to hook me up? :)

Last weekend we took a break and didn't go to see Gram. Scott called her to let her know and Gram said noone comes to visit anymore. She was including us.

She forgot about the previous week's visit, when we were laughing hysterically when Gram kept cutting off Scott's head in every photo, laughing about her telling me I'm getting old. Scott tried to remind her, how we were all dressed up getting ready to go to a wedding, how we had a good time.


I'm at that point where I feel like I can't take any more. She seemed to be doing so well! For a few weeks, she seemed to be closer to her old self, walking better, able to carry a conversation, remembering things, not falling asleep mid-visit. I knew it was temporary, but I had no idea it would be so quick.

I'm pissed! Of all the sweet people this could happen to... Gram always took care of everybody. Always. She took me in from day one, welcomed me without hesitation. She bought groceries for us, cooked dinner, tried to shoo me away when I tried to help clean up. Yeah, that didn't last. Like I'd let her do the dishes after cooking for us. As if. We'd take home leftovers and groceries, milk, bread, cookies, Cheezits that she kept buying for Scott (which he didn't have the heart to tell her he didn't like). And give us some gas money, a little spending money. Every week. Until the Alzheimers.

Now we take care of her, as we can. Groceries, bringing dinner, and until recently, bills and mail... It's not enough. We can't do enough. And there isn't anyone else. After a lifetime helping others, she's on her own with just us and our (almost) weekly visits. A couple of kids.

I feel like a kid. I feel like I'm too young to be going through this, taking care of someone. Well, as much "taking care of someone" as you can call it. Because, and excuse me while I'm being hard on myself, it's just not fucking enough.

Where are relatives that she helped raise? Where did everyone go, I wonder. But then, I know that when the symptoms first appeared, Gram tried to keep us from visiting. Told us we didn't have to come by anymore. That we shouldn't come by anymore. That she preferred us to not come by anymore. Yeah. As if. She gave us pause, but she couldn't stop us. We came back anyway, hesitant about whether we'd get shooed back out or find anger or coldness. It was awkward. But we got past it.

I thought we had been through enough hard parts that we'd, I don't know, get "used to it"? We knew it would be hard. I knew that one day, we'd go and she wouldn't know who we were. But knowing in the head, and having it happen: very different things. And every week, seeing her a little bit (or a lot) worse, has been pounding away at us, sledgehammer-like but in a dull roar kind of way. You know it's there but you don't realize how little your defenses have become until suddenly you have none. Squashed, wondering, what more?

Beaten down until the fight is knocked out of me.

And excuse me again while I beat on myself: Maybe I'm weak? Maybe someone else could handle this better?

I can't take any more of this. And yet I will. Go. On Sunday. And next Sunday. And maybe take the next one off. Because someone who has given to everyone else all the rest of their life deserves to have someone there for the last of it.

And PS, you don't need to respond or anything, just needed to word this out. It's what's going on. And, heh, it's what's keeping the knitting and spinning from going on.

I confess to feeling no guilt to those I made sushi-hungry. Sushi gooood.

Here's a good birthday thing I failed to mention. My sister recently returned from a month long trip to Japan (boy did I miss her) (and boy was I jealous). I asked her to bring me back some Japanese binders for my knitting projects. This is how I've been keeping track of my projects for as long as I can remember:

Knitting notebooks

Why? I can't say. It just fits. I keep all my projects listed at the very front with start and end dates, kinda like a table of contents, and create new project pages for each new project:

Knitting notebooks
Well, I haven't been as good about it since the blog...

As projects are completed, they get archived into separate binders by start date. That way I can find them again if I need to. It's come in handy.

With all the knitting I've been doing recently (ie, before learning to spin), I ran out of binder space and have had loose papers lying around in disarray. In fact, I just found another batch lying on my desk.

Enter the birthday care package:

New Knitting notebooks!

and they're already (all!) in action! Thanks, sis!

Also in the package was an awesome drawing from my niece, which will go to work with me:

Awesome birthday drawing

a handmade card, the best kind:

Awesome birthday card

some yummy snacks, and some birthday money, destined to help make yarn. That's a lot of love.

Speaking of birthday money, my parents always send some, so I chose this as part of their gift:

Noro Silk Garden Lite

Noro Silk Garden Lite. The plan: Clapotis, for me. (Isn't it odd that all the skeins have different colors on the outside? I just hope I don't have as many knots as Anne did...)

Speaking of Noro, did you know that Kureyon is the Japanese way of pronouncing Crayon? Interesting, hunh? And last time I visited Japan (or the time before?) there was a cartoon called Kureyon Shinchan, about a little kindergarten (?) kid that had a strangely deep voice and whose antics cracked people up. I could never figure out what was funny. Was it his voice? Was it a series of inside jokes? According to the link above:

Much of the humor in the series stems from Shin-chan's occasionally weird, unnatural and inappropriate use of language, as well as from his inappropriate behavior. Much of this humor is untranslatable for non-Japanese speaking readers and viewers.

Ahhh. I see.

This seems like a good time to show a picture of Obaachan (my grandmother) from my sister's visit to Japan, she's as Japanese as they come:

My parents, sister and her kids visiting my grandmother in her "group home"

Obaachan was having a really good day, recognized my mom, smiled, laughed:

Obaachan with my sister

Isn't she cute? (My mom tried to teach us to laugh that way, covered mouth, lady-like. Never worked.) Obaachan's been eating well and her spirits have really lifted since she moved into the group home. I'm so glad they had such a wonderful visit.

I been sick. Slept most of Sunday. Sat zombie-like in front of the TV Monday watching The 4400 reruns in preparation for season 3. TiVo, baby. Managed to finish the handspun socks! That brings me down to 23 projects, in case you're counting. In progress pic:

handspun socks - in progress

This shows the colors better:

handspun socks - in progress

This was the second yarn I spun on the wheel, and man is it inconsistent. Thicker and thinner spinning, tighter and looser plying. It's a mess. And it's mine.

It was cool to knit up, even with all its flaws. The whole "I made this" thing again. Plus, much better to use it now and chuckle at my mess, than to look at it 6 months from now and not want to knit with it. 'Cuz now they're socks!

We have a winner!

I was entertained by your guesses on the contest. My two favorite guesses were:

i've been oberving your shopping habits carefully, and i know you never buy just one of anything. i'm going to randomly go with the original number of WIPs—67.

So true, can't eat just one. But what a scary guess! So high!

Kimberly N:
I guess 24 - it's a good, solid number, divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, and 12.

Girl after my own heart.

Most guesses were in the 10-40 range. Since you liked my geeky WIP Management chart so much, here's another:

Contest Guesses

I don't know much about statistics, but I hear tell there's something called a bell curve, shaped, wouldn't you know it, like a bell. The chart does have a nice bell shape to it, doesn't it?

Guess where in the curve I am. Here's a hint:

Kimberly, a better guess would have been a nice solid number divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 15, 20 and 30. Or better yet, a prime number less than 65.

The answer: I'm an outlier (surprise!). There were 61 needles in my circular solution:

circular solution

About half again (or twice for some of you) what we expected.

[Pause to let that sink in.]

(Scary stuff.)

Anne, your guess of 67 was closest. Email me your address and I'll send you some fun stuff!

FBS update

FBS suffered a setback:

FBS - in progress

I thought I could perform knitting surgery. I was wrong. I frogged 10 rows.

All you can eat

Thanks for the Birthday wishes! The actual birthday was not great. It was my first one "alone", and Scott bore the burden of celebrating with me. The highlight was all you can eat sushi at Minado's.

Preparing for battle:

birthday sushi

Round 1: Sushi, mostly eaten sashimi style (sans rice)

birthday sushi

Round 2: Non-Sushi, mostly eaten

birthday sushi

Round 3 (not pictured): A smaller version of Round 1, eaten sashimi style

Round 4: Banana strawberry crepe and green tea ice cream

birthday sushi

Round 5 (not pictured): more crepe to finish off the ice cream

The key was leaving most of the rice. Can't fill up on rice.

We rolled out and headed to the movie theater to see X-Men. Great movie. Loved it.

On the way, I insisted on stopping by Macy's to photograph this:

would be comforter set

We saw it while hunting for a comforter,

would be comforter set

and wondered why we couldn't find a bed set that looked like it

would be comforter set

for under $300.

would be comforter set

I went up and down the escalators twice trying to get a good photo. Scott thought I was mad.

I'm dissatisfied with all my current projects and fiber options. I don't want to spin, I don't want to knit, I'm feeling definite fiber blahs. I couldn't tell you why. I haven't been motivated to work on FBS, despite the delightful yarn, despite its perfect appropriateness to the pattern. It bores me. Only 4 repeats into the main pattern, 6 more to go, and those ever increasing rows to look forward to. I remember with the last lace shawl, also knit top down, the first 1/6 raced by, the next 1/2 was torture, and the last 1/3 was sure and steady, in the groove. Have I reached the torture point? Or is the weather getting to me?

There's no A/C in this house. We need it. We will melt without it. We've got a couple of window A/C units but the windows are the old casement variety, opening side to side. Not a good fit. After 2 drippy, sweaty summers, will this one push us to desperate measures?

Speaking of desperate measures, Monday night Scott declared this ultimatum:

We have to buy a comforter/sheet set by Friday!

Woah. For Scott to make shopping ultimatums, the situation must be dire! And it is. Oh boy, it is.

For the last 3 winters, we've been sleeping beneath piles of blankets. Piles. His and Hers piles, with one or 2 shared layers. Old comforters. Fleece blankets not long enough to cover a body, paired and overlapped with a second fleece or cotton blanket. Afghans crocheted by Gram. Blankets upon fleeces upon afghans upon... us. This past winter was especially brutal; with the rise in oil prices and simultaneous loss of jobs, we turned the thermostat way down. The blankets were piled so high we could hardly move beneath them. Fixing blankets before sleeping was a time consuming ritual. Then we'd jump into bed, shiver, and wait for our body heat to warm us up. It took ingenuity and perseverance to place them just so, to prevent blanket avalanche in the night. We talked about buying a comforter, one comforter to replace the piles. A sheet set to match! We dreamed. And waited.

We made it through the winter, found jobs, removed piles of blankets when the cold abruptly turned to warm. We no longer need a heavy comforter, yet push has come to shove. While making the bed with mismatching sheets that barely fit our extra deep mattress, Scott's last straw snapped. Hence, Ultimatum!

We've been shopping the last 2 nights: Kohls, Linens 'n Things, and Macy's, where we found a possible set, but at $300 for a duvet cover, we balked. We did, however, buy The Magic Bullet, which was on sale and further discounted by a $25 off coupon. Impulse shopping at it's best.

We finally found something at Bed Bath and Beyond, a simple quilt-style coverlet, not at all what we were searching for. Not a comforter, not reds or earthy, rich colors. Instead, faded bright colors reminiscent of a summer home on the lake. Perfect for summer. We'll pick sheets to coordinate. They'll seem to (gasp) match. For the summer, our bed will look grown up. And light. And come fall...? Will we remember our long suffering immobile nights and preemptively BUY A COMFORTER??? Only time will tell.

Birthday contest

If you've made it this far, I salute you! For my birthday contest, I'll keep it simple. Super simple. Simply leave me a comment guessing the number of circular needles currently in my circular needle solution. It's that easy! And random! Winner will receive some yummy hank of something or other yarn.


It's the first weekend in a long time that we've had the luxury of really lounging and enjoying a full day. We tried out a new breakfast place, wandered the mall, saw our first full price movie in years (The DaVinci Code, courtesy of a wedding gift certificate), and then went out for dinner. Sea bass. Yum. It's been a while since we've had a day like that. I was thinking it's been since finding out we were gonna be laid off about a year ago, but more likely it's been since we bought the house (2.5 years). Mortgages change lifestyles, eh?

At the mall, they had posterboards announcing new residences/condos they were building next to the mall and the new Neiman Marcus. Residences. Practically in the mall. Who would want to live next to the mall??? It boggles my mind.


We visited Gram before the wedding. I mentioned that my birthday was coming up and she asked how old I was gonna be.

Me: I'm gonna be 34.

Gram: Oh, you're getting old!

Hahaha, thanks, Gram.

It's been a while since we took photos with Gram:

us n gram

One with her almost smiling (with a hint of mischief):

scott and gram

Gram's been doing a lot better recently which has been great. We asked Gram to take our photo, and this was the best one:

ready to party

We cracked up. She kept cutting Scott's head off. She'd start out okay but then her arms would slowly lower while she was taking the photo, or they'd angle down when she clicked. Scott said she was always cutting something out of photos ever since he's known her. Hehe.

Scott was happy to sneak in these with his suit:


He hates "shoes" (dress shoes) and has been trying to wear sneakers with his suit for as long as I've known him. He wore shoes for our wedding but then changed to black sneaks for the reception. You pick your battles, right?

The wedding was for a family friend that I haven't seen since high school. His family surprised us by driving 2 hours to come to my high school graduation! The next day we moved and I then went off to college and between one thing then another, I haven't seen them since. Fast forward 16 years. What a trip! The youngest was 4 when I last saw him; it took a while to get over the fact that he and his next older brother were adults, all grown up! Time warp, my brain had trouble catching up. Surreal. In the midst of all the change, some things haven't changed. They're still a great group of people, good hearts.

They told me I haven't changed at all. Dude, I so don't get carded (all the time) now! :P

Just one photo from the wedding:

chocolate fountain

Chocolate fountain. 'Nuff said.


I spent more time frogging than knitting this weekend, turning the White and Black Merino Sweater into this:

recycled yarn

The yarn is a very soft and cushy merino that was a shame to waste. Because of the stripes, though, many of these bundles are pretty small, and I had to toss at least a full ball's worth of yarn. Still, I have hopes of giving this yarn purpose.


I had my first spinning lesson Monday morning. It's one of the few things for which I would sacrifice getting to sleep in. (If you don't know me, that's saying a lot.) Barbara Clorite-Ventura from BASD spent a couple of hours with me. We covered a lot of ground, which is probably best left for another post. Almost as helpful as all the tips and new things I learned  was hearing that I'm doing pretty well.

Spinning is an inherently tactile endeavor. I think it's harder to communicate qualities of fiber and spun yarn through photos than it is knitted items. Maybe it's because we have a broader base of comparison for knitted items and commercial yarns. Not only can we compare fit and style to other garments, but we have a fairly common vocabulary in many commercial yarns. We've touched that Debbie Bliss or Noro or Brown Sheep yarn, we know how it feels, we've probably seen sample swatches, knitted garments, or even used these yarns ourselves. We can take photos of someone's knitted project and imagine it three-dimensionally, and possibly even tactilely.

On the other hand, we have less experience with spun yarn. How does it feel? How does it behave? Or even, what is good spun yarn? What is better spun yarn? What makes it good yarn? Without a basis for comparison, a common vocabulary, or perhaps, years of experience, it's harder to gauge through a photo. Ergo, harder for me to know how I'm doing. Maybe it's just me, though. What's your experience?

Lotta asked, "Could you please add a feature to your blog that would enable us to touch all the yarn in the pictures? :)"

Man, wouldn't that be awesome?!? Except, imagine all the drool that would be on everyone's knitted projects... Eeeeewwwwwww...

early birthday gift

I don't know why, but I'm really excited about my birthday this year. In the past I've always wanted to do something, have a party, get together with friends. "I'm turning 3 to the 3rd!" "Big 3-Oh!" "2 to the 5th!" "33 - palindrome!" The parties never materialized. One by one my closest friends have been moving out of town, and it's been a long while since I've felt up to organizing a gathering.

Last year was the first birthday I spent with my family since leaving for college. It was really great. My sister baked my favorite chocolate log roll cake and managed to surprise me with it! My niece and I tried to convince each other on the best way to cut the cake. This is the size piece she wanted:

Birthday Cake 2005

This is closer to the size I wanted (and got; she was not happy):

Negotiating slice size

I taught her to knit:

My first knit!

And we all waited (more or less) patiently for my nephew to arrive. He didn't. Until after I left. Phooey.


This year? No party plans. I think we'll go out to eat, maybe all-you-can-eat sushi. Maybe elsewhere, too! I'll play with my early birthday present. (Here's another hint:)

Ye olde faithful

And I'll chuckle every time Scott says, "Happy early Birthday!"

My early birthday present from Scott arrived today! I'm thrilled and can't wait to try it out tomorrow.

Here's a(n obscure) hint:

beaded stitch marker

Any guesses??

The Grafton Fibers batt is spun up; there will be plying this weekend, oh yes. And another wedding to go to. Thank goodness for long weekends!

Speaking of which, Wednesday morning I convinced myself that it was Friday. Bad sign, right? And throughout the day, I found myself lapsing into delusion. "Oh, I can put that in the trash, they'll pick it up tonight." Nope, they do that on Friday. "Oo, I can stay up late tonight!" Nope, it's a work night. "Ahh, the end of the week." Not. Don't you hate when that happens?