Saturday, August 29, 2009


I seem to have cast on a striped, two-color Baby Surprise Jacket. I have no idea which baby is getting it. Probably the one that fits it when I'm done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sugar Hill 2009

Home and unpacked from the big summer contra dance weekend we like to go to. It's all-volunteer - callers and bands are picked by lottery on Saturday night - and you're just as likely to get a band that's never played together before as you are a band that plays together all the time. The Fool and I played our first contra dance together at Sugar Hill 2002.
Callers might be new, or might be the kind of caller that everyone knows. It's always excellent music and excellent dancing and this year, because the weather was cool for summer, the dancing went until past 2 a.m. Friday night and dawn Sunday morning. The Fool and I, usually happy to hold down late-night time slots until the dancers quit, went to bed early this year, in deference to Jamie, who is not yet old enough to understand things like, "Why don't you read for an hour while I go lie down?"
The Fool was up until 3:30 a.m. playing tunes Saturday night, while I danced. Jamie slept in a nest of blankets on the porch, next to the Fool's chair, until I came and collected him, warm and limp, and we went off to the tent together.

A view from behind our friend Martha (red hair on right, playing fiddle, knitterly aura) of the dance floor. We dance at a Boy Scout camp in their dining hall; fantastic old worn wood floor, which gives everyone fast feet and smooth spins.
Edward's band was playing when we arrived around 9 on Friday. We sat in with them for a couple tunes, which was big fun - I played drums and the Fool added a third fiddle to the lineup. Last night, we borrowed Eric for piano and accordion and added him to the usual Cosmic Otters' two fiddles and guitar. I played drums when Eric played piano so we didn't have to work out chords beforehand. It was great, which is sort of like saying, of a tremendous dinner, "It was good." Or of Mt. Everest, "It was tall." We only got to play an hour on Saturday, but we got lots of cheering at the end, and we got dancers who danced long lines forward and back at the same time and stomped loudly on the balances and clogged at the ends of the lines, and the Fool and Edward and Eric played wonderful harmonies that got tense and discordant and resolved into big, bright sunlight-through-storm-clouds chords. The Fool sort of wants to adopt Eric now (even though his wife would probably object).
Jamie hung out with Rachel through the first two dances, but then rode on my back in his carrier for the third dance, because she was calling with us, and when he complained too loudly, sat on my lap for the fourth dance while I played snare drum.

The $8K String Band (friends of ours from Chicago), playing old-time music Saturday night.

The child development book I have says that babies around Jamie's age become fascinated with putting small objects in containers and taking them out again. The examples the book gives are nice and friendly - a box and blocks, I think.
So far, it's been cat kibble in the water dish, and rocks in the fiddle case. These rocks were a huge hit. I think it's because they were small enough for him to pick up easily, yet big enough that we weren't swooping down to take them away because he might try to eat them. He spent almost all of Saturday afternoon happily messing with rocks while the Fool and I sat around talking, playing tunes and (in my case) showing Rachel how to knit a short row sock heel. Every so often, he'd come over, hand us a rock, sit on a lap for a minute, and then toddle off again on his important explorations.

Jamming on the porch, the Fool on piano, Edward on fiddle, plus our friend Eric on accordion.

Jamie and the Fool enjoy breakfast at FARMbloomington, a restaurant I read about in one of my snooty food magazines. It was not a snooty restaurant at all. We had fresh biscuits with homemade apple butter, coffee and eggs. The Fool's were made into an omelet and wrapped around pulled pork and sliced peppers, with home fries on the side, and mine were over medium, with some kind of deliciously cured bacon, roasted tomatoes and ... French fries. French fries, seasoned with garlic and spices. I sort of wanted their oatmeal of the day, but breakfast is one of those meals that always tastes better when someone else makes it for you, so I picked the breakfast that would dirty me three pans if I cooked it. Also? I really wanted French fries.
Jamie ate eggs, biscuit and apple butter and as many of my fries as he could get his paws on.

The Bloomington, Ind. farmer's market (I want to make a quilt in these colors), where we went in search of heirloom tomatoes and peaches. Found both. Plan to slice the big, beautiful Brandywine I bought for a dollar, mix it with chunks of the tomatoes from our pathetic garden - mostly yellow ones and cherry tomatoes - and serve it for dinner tomorrow with breaded goat cheese, crusty garlic-rubbed bread and shrimp scampi.
And now to bed, because I have not been this tired in a long time, and that's saying a lot.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How You Know You are a Spinning Geek

So Meg is subscribed to the local Freecycle list. For those who aren't familiar with Freecycle, it's an e-mail list where people give stuff away for free to anyone willing to take it. It keeps stuff out of the landfill, and it's almost always the case that one person's junk is another person's treasure. Just this week someone was giving away zucchini. For anyone who has grown zucchini, you know very well why you might want to do this.

Today's Freecycle conversation went like this:

Meg: Wow, someone in Westmont is giving away "three spindles, all different types."
Me: Oh, there's that spinning guild out in Westmont! I bet they're giving away a top-whorl, a bottom-whirl, and a Turkish spindle! Write them back and ask for them!

(10 minutes later)

Meg: They wrote me back.
Me: Really? What did they say?
Meg: Um... they were a bit perplexed, because they are giving away staircase spindles.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oregon withdrawal

A lot of other knit bloggers were talking about post-Sock Summit malaise, and I completely identify. Even though the Fool and I came back to a pretty full week of mostly fun, it was hard getting back into the swing of things after vacation. It always is.
Jamie had his one-year checkup on Tuesday, and I was chatting with the doctor, who also knits (she saw a sock-in-progress sticking out of my purse once and asked if she could take it out to look at while I wrestled Jamie back into his clothes, and another time, she was wearing a Hanne Falkenberg jacket.) I asked if she had been at Midwest Fiber and Folk, and she asked if I was going to Stitches, and I said I probably would go, but only to keep my friends company and not shop because I had just gotten back from Sock Summit.
"You went to Sock Summit!?" she said, loudly enough that Jamie squeaked in startled protest. "I'm so jealous! What classes did you take?"
And my poor kid had to sit there in his diaper staring at the two crazy knitters yammering about socks and yarn over his head.
I'm nearly finished with my first toe-up sock, and it was so much fun, not only do I plan to knit another for my other foot, I plan to knit a couple more pairs after this. I'll put pictures up, because the digital camera decided to heal itself.
I'm trying not to cast on a lace shawl. It may be a lost cause. The only thing holding me back is that Bridgewater takes 1,600 yards and I have a 1,200-yard-skein. I haven't had time to go look and see what I have in the stash, or decide what to do.
I blocked the lace curtain today. It's drying on the guest bed, stretched on a towel covered with a layer of cloth diapers. Hey, you work with what you've got. Angus and Romeo spent today napping right next to it, with barely a toe apiece resting on the actual knitting. Perhaps linen is not as comfortable as wool.
On to the obligatory vacation snapshots.

The Fool and Jamie stand on my aunt's porch in southern Oregon and look at wild turkeys in the yard. Every morning, a flock of them came squawking (it took me eight tries to spell that; time to sleep) through, and every morning, Jamie was fascinated.

Jamie recoils in horror as his father offers him a piece of carrot cake for his birthday. He had a slice of peach instead.

Best stuff ever. Also notable? Pine State Biscuits in SE Portland. Equally good with egg and cheese or jam.
Also notable? The fruit. Dang. We could not eat enough strawberries, cherries or peaches. All three of us just kept hoovering the stuff down. So delicious.

Jamie rides through the Portland Farmer's Market.

Coffee and biscuit sandwiches for breakfast; meanwhile, Jamie goes for a walk to meet other babies.

This is my aunt's new kitten, Sasha. That is my ball of yarn (Bunkybobo's St. Crispin)

Here is Jamie taking the ball of yarn away from the kitten. Good, I said, that's what you do. You take knitting away from cats. You do not ....

... wave it around so they can play with it more.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What I did in Portland

So Portland was amazing. Not only did I get to spend lots of time hanging around a very cool city with my favorite little guy, but I also got to hang out with friends and family. (Sorry, no pictures because the camera was fully busted by this point.)

Thursday night, we met up with my first cousin once removed in Hillsboro for dinner at her place. She loves food, the outdoors, trips, and really knows how to live life to its fullest out on the west coast. Dinner consisted of locally-caught salmon, an amazing assortment of fresh fruit from local you-pick farms, and vegetables from her garden. We had a fabulous time. Jamie in particular loved Buster and Maggie, two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels 'n 'nat.

We spent Friday dinner with our friends Holly and Steve in Southeast Portland. Meg and Holly got to catch up on old times while Jamie and I played with their two boys. A year back, we had given them a copy of Sam Bartlett's Stuntology. It is out belief that every young boy needs a copy of this book. It was good to see that it was getting lots of use.

On Saturday, Five-Cats-Matt and his wife came down to check out the yarn market and knit on the Big Sock. Well, they didn't know about the Big Sock until they arrived at the Market. But they knit for quite a bit. I knit quite a bit on it as well, for Jamie had fallen asleep on my back at that point. I think we spent about two hours around the table knitting.

Saturday night we had dinner and tunes with Lisa Ornstein, Quebecois fiddler extraordinare. We had a great time discussing music over dinner and then playing some great tunes. I look forward to our meeting again. Also, I think that Five-Cats is now addicted to Quebecois tunes. I sent him a video of Louis Boudreault on YouTube and he is now enthralled.

Monday, August 10, 2009

For the non-knitters

who read this blog, particularly the Portland ones (Holly? Steve?), here is what the Oregonian had to say about Sock Summit.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Brain full; wallet empty

Time to come home from Sock Summit.
I spent today in a class on Bavarian twisted stitches, taught by Joan Schrouder, who was great. Those charts are hard to read. And tomorrow, I'm going to a lecture by Anna Zilboorg on Turkish stitches, and I am going to try not to get all fangirl over her, because, wow, do I love Anna Zilboorg. I bought "45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit" when I was a beginning knitter and way not prepared to knit any of it, just because I liked looking at the pictures.
Now to finish packing, and see where the yarn fits.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

a thousand words on Sock Summit....

... because our camera died on the first half of the trip, and so, even though Jamie's first birthday is adequately documented, Sock Summit is, sadly, unphotographed by me. No big deal. Lots of people are taking Sock Summit pictures, but only I took a picture of Jamie recoiling in horror as the Fool offered him a small bite of carrot cake.
When my old newspaper used to send reporters out to cover something big and sprawling, such as the county fair, we used to have to turn in a short feature story on something (rabbit competition, fancy chickens, flea circus, 4H livestock auction ....) and then a "reporter's notebook," which was a short, pithy roundup of other fun things we stumbled across (chat with Optimists' Club about secret cheese curd batter recipe, most popular ice cream flavor by sales volume, names of prizewinning housecats....)
I have a short attention span tonight. Too many short row heels or something.

The Fool has it out for Cat Bordhi
I took a class Thursday with Cat Bordhi, in which she talked about a lot of the ideas in "New Pathways for Sock Knitters," which was really kind of mind-blowing. She showed some other assorted knitterly tricks too, which were not so much mind-blowing but really useful. Then, after lunch, she talked about how she learned to knit while walking. The Fool knits and walks, and honestly, in the past, I've thought it was a little weird.
But having a baby changes one's perspective on things, and now that I have less free time than before, I find myself having arguments with myself about whether I should spend that precious free time going to the gym (nurturing the physical body), or knitting something (nurturing the artistic soul.) As my artistic soul doesn't wear pants, I often pick an entertaining - ha! - step class over knitting - and then I feel a little cheated that I didn't get to knit much that day.
So I listened to her talk about knitting and walking, and this little voice said, "Hey, if you put on your shoes and went for a half-hour walk each night when the Fool got home from work, you could knit and get a little exercise, especially if you got good at walking fast." She made it look pretty easy,* and I mentioned to the Fool that I was going to take this up when I got home.
He was affronted.
"That's not fair! You make fun of me for knitting and walking, but if Cat Bordhi does it ... wait, I get it. You're getting even for the CDs, aren't you?"
See, I often buy CDs by various artists, and listen to them, and the Fool says something noncommital, like, "oh, that's nice." Then, two months later, he stumbles across the CD, pops it into the player, and I come home to find him listening to his new favorite music, which he proceeds to play for two days straight, talking the entire time about how much he loves it.
So yes, maybe it is getting a little bit even.

Speaking the speak of the knit-geeks

Overheard while walking up the sidewalk to Burgerville for lunch (love the Walla Walla onion rings) on the first day.
"We did the French heel, and the German heel and the Dutch heel, and after lunch, we're going to talk about the Welsh heel!"

Setting a world record
I'm never going to be the fastest human being or the tallest, and I haven't the patience to grow the longest fingernails, so when I heard I had a chance to help break the world record for simultaneous knitting, (video here), I signed right up. Me and 934 other people. I think the 236 Australian knitters are toast.
I knit a dishcloth and just before we started, I took it off the 7s I had started it on, and put it on a pair of the Fool's late grandmother's 8s. I like to think she enjoyed being part of the world record with me.

Toes up!
I'm a top down sock knitter. A couple years ago, I started a toe up sock, but I frogged it, because I didn't like it and it was making me nutty. But I have two skeins of yarn with uncertain yardage, and so I signed up for "Toe Up Socks for the Stubborn," taught by Deb Barnhill (who has eaten the same delicious fish and chips in Truro as we did a couple years back; she probably has eaten much more than we have as she lives there, but anyway....)
Now I am knitting a pair of toe up socks, and they are providing the kind of what's-happening-next thrill that a good sock ought to. Too cool.
(Deb also provided a ruling on a question the Fool and I have been debating as we realize we will have to clean up our language right skippy: Is "arse" a "bad word?"
I said yes, because it's too close to "ass," and if some parents (my mother) think "butt" is crude, then "arse" most definitely is. The Fool was hoping he could use it to internationalize his cursing. Deb, who is a parent, said if one of her kids said "arse," she would have to tell them not to use that word. Now we just have to work on making sure Jamie doesn't learn to say "dammit!" from me. )

The Fool and Jamie go to the zoo
Summary of their day: River otters? Good.
Sea otters? Good.
Fruit bats? Beautiful.
Bears? Not dogs. (Jamie is learning sign language. He's not learning it fast enough, because the only two animal signs he knows are "bird" and "dog." I suppose a bear looks more like a dog than a bird, so that's something.)
Orangutans? Not monkeys. (Me: wasn't that a degree of subtlety lost on a 1-year-old? Fool: They're not monkeys. They would be offended if I called them a monkey. Me: I don't think they'd know. Fool: People get offended if you call them monkeys. Me: I'm going to go knit a sock now.)
Monkeys? Humping. (Fool: What is it, every time I see monkeys, they're humping? Me: Are you sure? Fool: This little kid said, 'hey, they're wrestling,' and every adult in there started giggling. They were humping.)

*so while Cat was talking about knitting and walking, the Yarn Harlot poked her head in the room to make sure everything was going OK, and Cat challenged her to a knitting and walking race, but Stephanie never showed up again.