At least it's finally raining!
Monday, August 29, 2005
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Have I mentioned how completely and utterly sick I am of knitting shawls? Have I? Because believe me, I am so ready to move on. I am ready to use a needle larger than a size 3. I am ready to knit with yarn that feels like rope, even though it's only worsted. I am ready to just knit. Not "knit 2 tog, tie your needle into a pretzel, yo, stand on your head, ssk, spit in the wind, s 1, knit 2 tog, psso, whistle Dixie with your mouth full." And spin. I am looking forward to spinning.
Speaking of which, I had such a lovely day yesterday (forgot to take pics, though). Went to the Marshfield Fair, saw the cows, sheep, goats, bunnies and chickens. The chickens were the best--there are so many different kinds! And some of them look so goofy, and even look embarrassed, like they know how ridiculous they look. Poor birds. Then I heard an awesome band and took part in the Spinning Bee. Maggie and Michelle were supposed to join us, but unfortunately didn't make it. Hope they're both okay... They missed a good time. There was quite a crowd and we were lucky enough to have a fiddler/mandolin player serenanding us. I did some spinning and knitting (and ripping) on my shawl and looked forward to dinner with the sister-in-law-to-be.
Which pretty much ended the glory of the day. Apparently our wedding plans aren't up to her standards. We need professional flowers, we need very expensive chair covers for our chairs, we need a different JP, DJ, and photographer. The ones we have are simply not up to snuff (because she was not involved in their selection). Somewhere around dessert I snapped and told her we needed to move on and discuss something else, because I was done. I never do that. I am the soul of patience. And, to be fair, it took me 3 hours to snap. But still. I think I was mostly angry that she had taken my lovely, lovely day and crushed it with her negativity.
Not to mention taking over the freakin' wedding so she can model it into something resembling her dream wedding. I know she just wants to help. I know she means well. I also know that brides have to deal with this sort of thing all the time--how? Just say "back the $%^^& off"? 'Cause I have to tell you, her taste is not my taste and I do not want that wedding. I had everything planned and organized and going smoothly (except the bridesmaids have STILL not agreed on a dress!! Must knock their heads together) and now she wants to throw wrenches in the works. I do not deal well with wrenches. I am a planner, not a "one month before the wedding, let's change it all up!" kind of person.
I think I am done ranting now. I'll return you to your usual programming.
P.S. Oh, and I just discovered that an interview I wrote three years ago has been reprinted on the web with neither permission nor compensation in a webzine of frightening political affinity (because of my interview subject, not me). Google your name periodically, people! You never know what will pop up. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking... (for all you Airplane! fans out there.)
Posted by Martita at 9:28 PM
--Don't toss Listerine back like a tequila shot.
--Automatic cars keep rolling after you get out if you forget to put them into park.
--Always keep poison ivy gel (not creme) in the medicine cabinet.
--If you have spent more than a half hour trying to untangle a knot, you should probably just cut the %*&^% thing out. Even if it's in your hair. 'Cause that's what's ultimately going to happen anyway.
--Satellite TV goes out every time a cloud passes over the sky, or the wind blows. It pains me to tell you this because I am no fan of cable, believe me.
--Unbutton a few blouse buttons when you go to meet with Town officials.
--Knitting is easier to hide in your desk trash can at work than spindle spinning.
--If it makes the emaciated model look like a normal-sized person, it will probably make you look fat.
wait for it...
--You can't read and knit lace at the same time.
I know, I know. But the pattern is so easy! (Notice how the patterns get easier with every shawl?) Every time I pick it up I think to myself, well, surely I could read while I do this. It's just knitting, with a few yarnovers. And then the next evening I discover the hideous errors, and instead of spending two hours knitting, I spend two hours ripping. See the two holes near the center? I sure do. Hope I can block them out.
It's official, I am a dumbass.
In case "Automatic cars keep rolling after you get out if you forget to put them into park" left any doubt in your mind.
(I actually had to put a sticky note on the steering wheel of my last car that said "PARK" on it in big red letters, after my car rolled out of my driveway and into the street without me. Luckily the door was open and I could hop in and hit the brake before any damage was done. This is why I drive a standard.)
Posted by Martita at 1:47 PM
Saturday, August 20, 2005
I just finished Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. It is a beautiful book, a meditation about the differences in human lives. It got me thinking about that very subject, and I started to think that one of the key differences, "how the other half lives," as it were, tends to be violence, almost more than poverty. Poverty and violence tend to go hand in hand, but there's plenty of peaceful poverty, just as there is plenty of wealthy violence. And when you live and work in the same small town, you realize that money doesn't prevent battered wives, abused children, drug use or guns. Sometimes arguments over money trigger the battering. As my fiance said of one of our former clients, "You could just tell she was terrified of her husband." And I thought to myself, how different from my life, and yet, we live only a few miles apart, and demographically we are probably closer than that.
But enough downer talk! It's not really a sad book, I swear. Although it is also about growing old and approaching and accepting death, which is actually a worry that keeps me awake at night. It might have helped on that count.
On a happier note, here's my first skein of homespun, washed and drying on the patio. It's just over 100 yards, somewhere in the DK weight range. As the CD spindle filled, I stored the singles on toilet paper rolls. One of the rolls had more yarn than the other, so I spun a little more and twisted it together with the end of the lesser roll, and incredibly enough, it stuck. I do realize that probably wouldn't work with a smoother fiber. Then, when the rolls were about even, I plied them together on the CD spindle. Pleased as punch, I am. And I still have more to spin!
Posted by Martita at 10:50 AM
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Maybe you guys aren't all familiar with that excellent Stephen King story. There's a big storm in this little remote lakeside town in Maine. Post-storm, a heavy blinding mist settles in. That's the mist that's settled in my head over the past week.
Okay, maybe not exactly the same mist, because that one had many-tentacled, strong-jawed creatures in it that ate people and destroyed civilization as we know it. But I do feel like this mist has made off with my brain.
Plus, it's been extremely slow at work, and I can't tell if that's good or bad (for my mist, that is). On the one hand, the lack of activity makes it hard for me to keep my eyes open; on the other, at least my few remaining brain cells aren't being too taxed.
So I apologize for not being very entertaining or having much to say this week. I'll write more when I wake up. And by then I'll have Domovoi pictures...
Posted by Martita at 2:45 PM
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
This guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, "Doc, uh, my brother's crazy; he thinks he's a chicken." And, uh, the doctor says, "Well, why don't you turn him in?" The guy says, "I would, but I need the eggs." Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships; y'know, they're totally irrational, and crazy, and absurd, and... but, uh, I guess we keep goin' through it because, uh, most of us... need the eggs. Woody Allen, "Annie Hall"
Sorry, just sitting here bored at work, reminiscing about an old Woody Allen-loving boyfriend. I used to cry at the end of "Annie Hall," because it is sad. Even now, that quote makes me a little teary-eyed. Don't take this reminiscing as cold feet about marriage; far from it--in fact, I pretty much announced my impending wedding to the entire town Monday night. I had to go before the Board of Selectmen to request a liquor license for the reception, and the room was packed (popular item on the agenda following me). Plus the meetings are televised on local cable, for those who can't make it to Town Hall. There's no backing out after you've told the whole town (not that I would want to back out anyway). I can't for the life of me imagine why I was thinking of "Annie Hall," but I was, and wanted to share that quote. It's okay, you can laugh at me for crying at a funny movie. I understand. I would laugh too, if I were you.
Posted by Martita at 3:54 PM
Monday, August 15, 2005
Thankfully, we didn't get the destructive storms that hit so much of the state last night--even towns just a few miles away. But we did get a lovely rainstorm that lasted for a good long while (about 45 minutes), filled up the rain barrels and saturated the ground, and even better, today is a grey, cool, drizzly day. Hallelujah!
In the meantime, I have happy pictures of vegetables (the one thing I have been watering):
We have green beans, too. It's like a farmstand here. My first successful veggie garden ever!
In knitting news, I spent the weekend figuring out what to do with the third shawl. I stopped Snowdrop before the lace edging, because time is running short and I can always add the lace edging after the wedding if necessary.
In the meantime, I started Domovoi, but quickly realized that at the size I had cast on I would have to knit for a minimum of three hours every single day to get it done in time. The white edge you see is the invisible cast on. I was loathe to rip it all out and start again with fewer stitches, because that invisible cast on took forever.
I played with a different shawl pattern from the Folk Shawls book (can't remember the name now, maybe North Sea Shawl?), but that shawl required more yarn-overs and ssks, which is too hard on my hands, and only saved a half-hour, time-wise.
So I decided to rip Domovoi up, start over smaller, and do away with the invisible cast on. I strongly suspect that its ultimate effect will not be worth one iota of the bother, especially since you pick up stitches along two other sides of the shawl when you do the edging. Now I'll just be picking up along three sides.
(sorry for the quality, first picture I've taken with my phone)
It is always hard for me to believe that that small cluster of stitches could become a shawl. But it will become one, one that I can knit two inches of in two hours and have a prayer of finishing by September 24.
Posted by Martita at 11:01 AM
Friday, August 12, 2005
I have really been enjoying Etherknitter's garden pictures. She is an accomplished garden photographer (which, keep in mind as you keep reading, I am not) and her garden is beautiful. But I find I am also living a bit vicariously through her, because this is what I have to look at when I get home:
No rain. No rain since July 9th. Both of the rain barrels are dry and the town has enacted a watering ban. Even our roadside weeds are dying. I have had to make choices.
Choices are rarely easy, but let me give you a little historical background: when I bought the house 8 years ago, it came with a brand-new, state-of-the-art septic system that necessitated the removal of 50+ trees. City girl that I was, it did not occur to me that tree removal meant barren loam, which is what greeted me on moving day. So I roughed out a garden area, spread grass seed on the rest and stood there with a hose, twice a day, willing the grass seed to take. Eventually it did (along with the weeds), and over the next seven years I planted 3 flower beds, 3 raised vegetable beds, and a hedge.
It's never been much of a hedge. It was always a poor man's hedge, 25 privet twigs from Burpee for $25, which I planted and the now-fiance promptly mowed over. So I planted 25 more privet sticks and roped them off with caution tape (the neighbors love us, can you tell?). In the ensuing years, several of those privets have failed to thrive, and have been replaced with discarded shrubs (I work for a landscaper) and some store-bought shrubs.
But now, no rain. The privets are dropping their leaves and turning brown. I'm relatively certain they'll come back next year, I hope. And luckily for me, about a week ago I decided to completely overhaul the flower beds next summer, so much of what is there may be yanked out next year anyway.
I have chosen to water the vegetable beds--which are growing at a truly frightening rate (we have 16 tomato plants. No one needs 16 tomato plants!), any shrubs newly planted this spring, and the delphinium, hollyhock, lupine and pumpkin seedlings in the front garden. Occasionally, I water the privets. The rest of is turning brown, except the yucca, which is thriving:
Look at that new growth! Desert plant.
And why no rain? It seems some meteorologist is sticking pins in a voodoo map of my little town. The communities to the north and south of us have had rain. One day I was driving down Route 3 in a downpour, but the minute I crossed the town line the rain stopped. A friend of mine was watching the radar StormTrack on the TV and watched the clouds approach our town, and then split to the north and south. It is clear that someone has put a curse on us.
So please send happy rain thoughts our way, and keep those garden pictures coming!
Posted by Martita at 7:16 PM
Sunday, August 07, 2005
I spent this afternoon out on a lazy ramble on my bike, enjoying the scent of summersweet in the air (honestly, it smelled like a lady with honeysuckle perfume was riding in front of me, the summersweet was so strong), when I got lost looking for my next turn onto Winter Street. And then I started to wonder.
Our Olde New Englande street names are ridiculously utilitarian: East, West, North, South, Main, Church, School, Market, Boston Post Road, the Lynnway, Winter, Spring, Summer... eh? what's missing?
Fall. There is never a Fall Street. Pretty much every town has a Winter, Spring and Summer, but in all my days I have not come across a Fall Street, and, I mean, I read maps for fun. I know pretty much every single street in my tiny little podunk town (I was a realtor for years; you learn your streets quickly).
So why no Fall Street? The only reason I can think of is that it sounds too dangerous, like "Precipice Avenue" (there's a street you want to drive your horse and buggy down). Like people would read it as a warning, rather than a way. They were a pretty superstitious bunch--too unlucky?
Have any of you seen a Fall Street? Or do you have any ideas why every town doesn't have one? Just curious. Maybe out there in the blogosphere someone knows the answer to this riddle!
Later note: the fiance just pointed out that some towns have an Autumn. Although it is not as common (by far) a street name as the other three seasons (at least according to my random, statistically-insignificant survey of the Arrow Street Atlas for Metro Boston and Eastern Massachusetts).
Posted by Martita at 6:35 PM
Here is the Endicott merino, spun, plied, washed and swatched. I am amazed how forgiving knitting is with lumpy wool yarn.
I am now thinking of maybe using this, with a little Amethyst merino spun in for shading purposes, for a cardiganized Butterfly. Guess what I'll be spinning on my honeymoon? I've already decided there will be no knitting-my hands are fried and need a rest.
Lest Claudia and Scullery Maid think their generous gifts are going unsung, rest assured they are not, it's just taking some time to spin up all that wool. That was a hefty chunk Ms. Scullery Maid gave me, and I'm hoping to make something good with it:
In the meantime, I have developed a theory about spinning. Could be half-assed and cockamamie, but that's what learning is all about. It seems to me that the rougher wools don't need as much twist when you spin; they stick to themselves already because they're kinkier (keep it clean, people, keep it clean, there are no three-ways in my tiny little wool stash!). One of the reasons people refer to merino as "slippery" is because it's so smooth and straight it doesn't stick to itself when you draft it. As a result, it doesn't stick to itself when you spin it, either. When you are spinning, it seems to me the only thing holding merino together as yarn is the twist--especially using a drop spindle, where you are asking it to have a little tensile strength, too.
Can you tell I have spent way too much time alone with my needles/spindle this weekend? I wanted to make a big push on Snowdrop to get it done by next weekend so that I could start the next (last!) shawl: the Domovoi shawl from Folk Shawls (a great book, by the way). Initially I wanted to make the Fiber Trends' Baltic Sea Stole, but my LYS didn't have the pattern. The Domovoi works better though, as it is a Russian pattern and the bridemaid in question was a Russian major in college. So, appropriate and gorgeous (and easy!), all at the same time. At least, I hope gorgeous...
Posted by Martita at 11:44 AM
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Look what the postman brought me yesterday, courtesy of Mielke's Fiber Arts:
And it brought a friend, so much red merino that it will take me a lifetime to spin it (I ordered a half-pound, mostly just to see how much that actually was. Now I know! Yikes.)
And Mielke's must have figured me for a sucker for those variegated wools because they included a hank of the so-lovely Endicott merino:
It's even prettier in real life than it is on their web site! And, as Spindlerose predicted, it seems to spin up pretty subtly (at least as far as I can tell... wait for it...)
The spindle and I took to each other immediately. It weighs one ounce, but compared to Claudia's CD spindle it feels like 5 pounds.
The merino and I have had a more difficult adjustment period. Within a half-hour of opening the box, the sides of my fab new spindle were dinged because I just had to play with the new merino, and the new merino just had to keep shredding while I spun, whether I spun thick or thin. After repeated shreds and drops and dings (I mean, like every ten seconds), I finally decided that the merino needed an unholy amount of twist in its fibers to keep it from shredding.
Oh, why the dings, you ask? Surely I had the good sense to play over carpet. Nonononono. I like to sit and spin on my bluestone patio. If I can't have sheep grazing in my yard, I might as well have wool. Word to the wise: do not play with new spindles and fibers while sitting on a surface, well, hard as rock. Bad things happen.
Here's my best, most recent attempt at plying the merino. The shading does seem very subtle and the color is gorgeous. I'm actually really sorry I ordered that red merino instead of this:
(I'm sorry, that is the crappiest picture! I just realized. Many apologies. I'll post another one that shows the color better later.)
Those folks at Mielke's have sucked me in!
And in nature news, this morning we had a flock of turkeys-- three big ones (mamas? hens?) and about 15 chicks of varying sizes in the yard. I tried to get a picture without scaring them but this was the best I could do. They were very alert, protective mamas and I didn't dare use the flash. Apparently, turkeys have exceptional hearing. Too bad for them they can't hear the turkey fryer bubbling in November...
There are still no sheep grazing in my yard.
Posted by Martita at 11:15 AM