Monday, July 31, 2006

Consumed with curiosity, I knit up a swatch of the icky orange-y Palette so that I could subject it to my tea-dyeing experiment. Here it is, pre-tea:

I gave it a luxurious Lipton bath:

Let it sunbathe for a few hours to dry:

And here it is, post-tea. Doesn't it look so much more brown and rich in color?

No, you say? It looks exactly the same, you say? That's because it is!! It's actually lighter in real life.

What magical property have I stumbled on to here? Why is it if you spill water diluted with the shmeensiest bit of apple juice on something it is irrevocably and irretrievably ruined forever and ever, but I dunk this ding-dang swatch in industrial strength tea for 20 minutes and nothing happens??!!!

Well, I'm continuing with the shawl and will mull over what to do in the meantime. I finished the required 14 repeats of the main body pattern and am still on the first ball of yarn, so I'm definitely going to do some more repeats. I'm pretty sure that will be okay. Her other shawls (other than the Landscape Shawl), like the Flower Basket and Shetland Triangle, come out small as written - more like little neck-shawls, and I've added repeats of the main pattern without incident to make them bigger. I like a big drapey thing to fling about my person in a good artsy-fartsy way. So I'm going to do 3 or 4 more repeats. And I'm sure nothing bad will happen, like the edging won't fit or something.....

In other, sad, news:
Bye Bobby,

Bye Cory,

Ummm, you may be HOT, but why are you still here?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Okay, first some book stuff. As I mentioned yesterday, I finished "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. This book won the Pulitzer Prize, and it surely gets my vote too. Goodwin is a great writer (and a diehard Red Sox fan, yo); she really drives home how Abraham Lincoln always always saw the big picture and never let petty personal things get in the way of big decisions. The Team of Rivals were the members of his cabinet, who were all political rivals of his before his election. They came to love him and even when some turned on him, he never took offense. Man, if our current political figures could show even a smidgeon of his non-vindictiveness, what a world it could be.

Hrmph. Anyway, now I have two choices for my next book: Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code" (yes, Diana-the-Late-Bandwagon-Jumper, that's me) or "Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen. I like to alternate heavy book/light book and bought both of these to read on vacation in August, but the truth is I never have time to read on vacation anyway, so I thought I'd start one of them now. I want to find out what all the kerfluffle is about TDVC, and I was so moved by OOA the movie recently that I wanted to read the book. Which should I read first??

Here's a progress shot of the Swallowtail:

I've finished 9 repeats of 14 for the main pattern. I'm thinking that this is where I could make it a little bigger, but the pattern doesn't say so, and it usually does. I'm going to try it anyway because if the edging fits 14 repeats why wouldn't it fit 15 or 16? I definitely do not like the color of this yarn; it's way too orange-y and not beautifully brown enough. Could I dye the shawl with tea when I'm done? I wonder if it would be enough to offset the offensive orangeyness. I'm fascinated by the idea of dyeing with tea, but have never tried it. Hey, guess what? I have like 10 balls of the stuff - I could knit a test swatch and try it first!! Okay, genius!! DUH.

Gus and I went to pick up dinner at our local fried-food emporium last night. The girls behind the counter recognized Gus, asked him who his favorite player on the Phillies was (he said, "Chase Utley") and then one girl said, "My favorite is Pat Burrell." The other girl said, "Oh, yeah, me too." And then, without prompting, they both chimed, "HE'S HOT!!" Wa ha! So while we were watching the game, every time Burrell came up, I'd say, "HE'S HOT!" until Matthew asked me to stop. Oh, Burrell - trading deadline is tomorrow - how I hope you are happily ensconced in the American League by then.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hey, Diana, enough with the Thoughts for Buffets, you may be saying at this point. What about knitting, perhaps? Well, I've been on a sock-finishing kick, as it were, recently. More specifically, a second-sock finishing kick, which as you sock knitters out there know, is even more important. I finished up a pair in Mountain Colors Bearfoot for my friend Carole. They were really really beautiful (really!), but of course I forgot to take a picture of them before I gave them to her yesterday.

Then there are Gus's tiger socks, finished last night and donned this morning:

I found this beauty last week, languishing in a Ziploc bag. It's a second sock in an extremely rocking colorway of Koigu, with Lana Grossa toes and heels. I turned the heel this afternoon and am up on the leg now:

Close-up of flaming splendor:

I finished "Team of Rivals" last night. Great great book - I highly recommend. Of course, even though I knew that Lincoln would be shot, I cried anyway when it happened.

And, of course since I finished two socks in the last two days and am coming down the final leg (WA HA HA) of a third one, I decided it was okay to start a new project. Here it is, from the Fall Interweave Knits, which arrived yesterday:

It's another great Evelyn Clark design - The Swallowtail Shawl, in Knitpicks Palette. I love how her shawls are constructed so I thought I'd give it a whirl and wanted to use up the yarn. I'm on a brown kick these days, but I don't know if I love this color very much.

Trade Watch: The Phillies traded nice David Bell to the Brewers for a single-A relief pitcher. Huh. I liked David Bell and am sorry to see him go. Two more days to make deals....

Friday, July 28, 2006

Thoughts for Buffets

Wa ha! Just reading that title makes me laugh out loud. Anyway, may I just say that I LOVE this little book?! It's an incredible treasure trove. Cookbook publishers of today should be ashamed - with their one recipe every other page - this book has at least 4 to 6 recipes on every page. And it's 400 pages long! There are enough recipes here to last you a lifetime.

Some evoke bygone and better days:

Chicken Hash Pump Room
Sportsman's Appetizer
Frogs' Legs Financier
Braised Celery George Rector [I don't actually know who George Rector is or was, but c'mon, he had a whole recipe named after him. I like to think he was a dashing riverboat gambler with a daring taste for cooked vegetables]

Some are scary or make me really uneasy:

Gambler's Eggs
Woodchuck and Chinese Noodles
Senate Salad [insert political joke of choice here]
Gourmet Prunes
Ham Upside Down Cake
Harvey Roast
Minced Tongue Finger Sandwich
Boiled Fresh Tongue
Boiled Pickled Tongue
Boiled Smoked Tongue
Fresh Tongue in Wine Sauce
Blackberry Tongue
I don't know what the fascination was with Tongue. Brace yourself for the opening instructions.....: "Remove root end and skin of tongue" AAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHH!!!!

Then there are those that I totally approve of:
Bacon Crackers
Eggnog Pretzel Pie
Puffy French Toast
Chocolate Marshmallow Souffle

And for the busy hostess, who didn't have time to make dessert:
Apple Pie Mirage

Here's my favorite instruction, for "Fruit Aflame (garnish for turkey)": "Place turkey on a bed of crisp parsley. Drain fruit thoroughly. Place pineapple slices around the turkey, and on each slice place a half peach, hollow side up. Just before serving, dip sugar cubes in lemon extract and place in hollow of each peach. Ignite and bring the turkey to the table in flaming splendor."

Flaming splendor, indeed. Okay, so I'm gently mocking this good little book. What I didn't mention were the dozens and dozens of not-so-glamourous recipes for more prosaic dishes. It must have been a lifesaver for the 50's Hostess with the Mostest. This book did the job!!

Tomorrow, back to knitting content.

Major League Baseball Trading Deadline is 3 days away and counting. I'm just saying......

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Trifecta of Doom

I believe there is some unwritten rule of blogdom that there are several things that will doom your blog to the land of bloggy badness.

1) Unbearably cute (to the blogger) pictures of cats doing adorable things:

Check! (Silly in a library book bag)

3) Unbearably boring "progress" shots of work that's not really progressing:

Check! (grey adult pullover in all stockinette...)

3) Unbearably cute pictures of offspring: (I originally had inserted "to the blogger" after pictures, but c'mon! That kid is just empirically adorable.)

I can't find the perfect unbearably cute picture of Gus right now, so I'll spare you that. The grey blobby thing is a sample adult pullover for here. It's not exactly exciting, but it's a good comforting knit. I leave it all over the house and can pick it up and knit a row or two at any time. I don't have to do any thinking for another 7".

Here's what I did last night:

I sat here, equipped you will see with appropriate beverage, industrial-size citronella candle to keep away the huge drunken mosquitoes that inhabit our backyard, bug spray and sock-in-progress:

I watched this fellow pitch:

Here's a close-up of some of my new favorite things:

The socks are for Gus, who's wild about big cats right now. They're the new iteration of Opal Tiger. Please note that, even though I am the least obsessive person about making self-patterning socks match, they are weirdly and eerily perfectly matched. Spoooky!

The two books are "Joy of Spinning" and "Thoughts for Buffets". JOS is a library book, beautifully written and extremely interesting. The nice thing about spinning books is that, unless they were written in the 13th century, they are never dated. TFB I bought at the library book cellar. I could not resist its siren call for $1. Perhaps I will dip [wa ha - buffet joke!!] into it more tomorrow. It is chock-full of great stuff.

End Note: Sister Laura has informed me that, in her opinion, "Saved By The Bell" is not so bad that it will burn out your retinas.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stop the Madness!

Just when the felted items in my house thought it was safe to go out again... I found something else in the house to needle-felt!!

Lucy Bag in Cascade 220 - another Two Old Bags pattern. Woo hoo!


I'm not sure, but I think there's nothing else in the house to needle-felt.... for now!

And now, for something completely different:

Tis a finished Clapotis. Yes, I jumped on that bandwagon, but two years after it left the....ah....barn?.....podium? What exactly is a bandwagon? Anyway, here is mine, done in Southwest Trading Company Soy Silk, 100% soy silk.

What a dreamy yarn, I must say. Didn't adore the colorways it came in, but it was lovely to knit. Here's a close-up:

The Clapotis pattern is fun; I can see why it was so popular. My mileage varied, as to the yards required in the pattern. I bought 40 yards more than I needed and ran out halfway through the final decrease section. I just bound off and dropped the appropriate stitches as I bound off. So mine is not a perfect rectangle. But I care not, since you can't tell and I wasn't buying another $14 ball of yarn to finish it off. I finished it a month ago, but hadn't woven in the ends. Did that last night. I'd definitely do another one in a wintery yarn. I think we're getting Lorna's Laces gorgeous new yarn in the shop in the fall, which would be perfect.....hmmm.....


I had the tv on TBS this morning because of course "Dawson's Creek" was on. Yes, "Dawson's Creek" is one of my favorite shows - I am not ashamed to admit it. (And this morning was an episode I've never seen before, which is a near impossibility!) But when DC was over, and the next show came on, I idly looked up at the screen and was caught up in, yes, the drama of Kelli and Zak breaking up on "Saved By The Bell". I had to watch the whole thing - I could not avert my eyes! I watched it, mouth agape, until a commercial saved me and broke the dubious spell. Thank God there was no Screech - but now I think my retinas have been burnt out.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Single Life

Back to knitting. After deciding that I wanted to try to only spin singles from the Gratfton Fibers zinnia roving (but not quite knowing how), I posed a question to the knowledgeable folks at Knitter's Review about how to make a single usable for knitting.

I received many great suggestions, including this, the most detailed and helpful and clearly-explained (from "Momma72839"): "In finishing singles that you don't plan to ply, there are a few things you can do that will help with the balance issue. Shock the yarn when you set the twist by alternating it between hot and cold water rinses. Whapping the yarn (literally whapping the hank against a wall or table, then turning it and whapping it again) also helps. Both of these techniques "full" the yarn, making it bloom and fill out, as well as making them hold together better. They also reduce the biasing, because they make the fibers cling to themselves in their new twisted formation and reduce fibers' desire to untwist."

Gratuitous cat picture inserted here to break up text. This is Funny looking at something out the window:

I decided to go ahead and try a little sample. I had some unplied single yarn left over from the Zoo Fleece, so I wound it into a skein, subjected it to alternating hot and cold baths, and then "whapped" it repeatedly against the back porch railing. I must say that "whapping" is a very satisfying process, though my neighbors would think I had lost my mind if they had happened to look out their windows at that moment. There I was, gleefully slapping a skein of wet yarn against the back porch railing, then holding it up and peering at it critically, whapping it some more and then tenderly hanging it up on the pitchback to dry in the sun. Ooooookayyyyy......

So anyway, the yarn was indeed balanced when it dried. For you non-spinners, a single yarn unplied is WILDLY kinky (like me!! wa ha ha ha ha....not); you ply the yarn in the opposite direction it was spun and that kind of cancels out the energy of the spin. Or something science-y like that. It makes the yarn calm and not kinky. That was why I had all the questions about using a single to knit with.

Are you still with me? I knit up a little swatch in Feather and Fan and blocked it. Here it is:

It may be a mother's tender and ignoring-of-flaws love, but I very much like this little swatch's rustic quality. This was one of my first attempts at spinning after I kind of got the hang of it, so it still has a lot of thick and thin going on.

What I decided was that as long as the yarn wasn't kinking up and biasing on itself, I'm committed to my single path.

Now I must get up the nerve to start actually spinning that gorgeous stuff.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Photo Day!

No, that's not me and Matthew! It's the Phanatic and his mom, Phoebe. The idea of the Phanatic's mom cracks me up. I like her nice Chanel suit, though...

Yesterday was Photo Day at the Phillies. I won't bore you with a million pictures, just a couple!! Here's who were the nicest guys this year: Rick White, Cory Lidle, Ryan Madson (2nd year!), Aaron Rowand, Chris Coste, and Jimmy Rollins.

Gus wanted to take pictures of Rick White and Cory Lidle and they each obliged by stopping and smiling and talking to him and making little jokes with him. Who got all weepy? Yes, I did!! They were awesome. Ryan Madson was gentle and friendly with everyone, including Gus. I lurve him.

And now to Aaron Rowand. All you Phillies fans reading this will know that the Phillies traded my absolute all-time favorite player, Gentleman Jim Thome, to the White Sox last winter in exchange for Aaron Rowand. In the midst of my sorrow, my dear friend Lisa, who lives in Chicago, told me that we would love Rowand. She was so right. Here's a picture of Gus re-enacting Rowand's famous run-into-the-wall-and-break-his-nose catch earlier this season:

We never asked any player if we could have a picture taken with him last year or this; I feel like it's a little bit creepy, like asking for an autograph, which I'm highly resistant to, but at one point yesterday Gus turned to me and said, "Will you ask Aaron Rowand if we could take his picture with me?"

So when Rowand came around we asked him if we could take his picture with Gus. He said, "Sure!" and he crouched down to Gus-level and wrapped his arms around him, Stooges-style, then kind of tousled his head and gave him a professional-level noogie after the picture. Needless to say, I super-love Aaron Rowand. (His alarmingly intense expression is hilarious; believe me, he was smiling every other moment except the one I caught)

This is for you, Lisa:

The other player that Gus wanted his picture taken with was catcher Chris Coste [pronounced "coast"]. Coste is a 33-year-old rookie who's been kicking around the minor leagues for 10 years. He ended up with the Phillies this year and hit .427 in spring training. There was a chance that he would make the Phillies up to the last day of spring training, when, heartbreakingly, he was sent down to Scranton. Oh, how we all ached for him!! Oh, how we all rooted for him to make the team someday!! He told his wife he wanted to quit. But then, through a great confluence of disabled-list-happenings, he was called up! He finally made it to the big leagues! He hit well! He threw baserunners out from his knees! They played "Love Rollercoaster" (get it?) when he came up to bat! Yesterday, the Phillies cut their other back-up catcher so that they could keep Coste. How perfect a story is that?? Now look at this picture! Look at those two great faces! Good stuff.

So the Photo part of Photo Day went off beautifully. This was the sky 5 minutes before the game was supposed to start; note the thoughtfully and ominously pre-unfurled tarp:


Yes, 15 seconds after the longest and slowest rendition of the National Anthem in history (I think it took the woman approximately 35 minutes to complete it), during which every single person in the stadium, including the groundskeepers, was thinking, "HURRY UP LADY!!!", the skies opened up, and it poured. After 15 minutes of dodging the rain under the stands, we decided to bail. We donned our slickers and ran through the rain to the car. By the time we were halfway there of course we were soaked. So we stomped through all the puddles and jumped in the really big ones. The game was eventually postponed two hours later, by which time we were safe and dry and cozy at home.

When I put Gus to bed last night, I said, "Hey, what was your favorite thing about Photo Day today?" And after some thought, he said, "Running through the rain!"

Yeah, some things never get old.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Well, I'm nothing if not persistent about some things. Even though the Lamb's Pride Worsted gingko leaves did not turn out so well, I was still consumed by the idea of using a single-ply yarn (or "single", as I've been admonished to call it by the spinners) for needle-felting. I knew it had to work somehow. Thinking about it, I had a feeling that maybe the gingko leaves design I was attempting was too small-scale and fussy. So last night I picked up the Brown Blob or Brown Bag, as it shalt be known now, and some LPW and took another stab (WA HA) at needle-felting. And I lurve how it turned out:

Guess what? It's a zinnia! For this type of simple, large design, the single yarn worked like a dream. It was so easy to tack down and then poke away, instead of trying to get so much roving lined up. I highly recommend it! Here's a close-up of the flower. I think I like the look of it even better than when done with roving:

Tomorrow is Photo Day at the Phillies game. We went last year for the first time and had a blast. I thought the players would be all jaded and bored, but they were charming and patient with the fans. And having an (excruciatingly adorable) 5-yr-old in a Phillies cap and "Phillies Rookie of the Year" t-shirt with us meant the players were especially friendly. Here is a goofy shot from a goofy mom of Ramon Martinez smiling down at her kid.

A shout out to Ryan Madson, Brett Myers [who knew?], Vicente Padilla, Kenny Lofton, Endy Chavez, Jim Thome, Bobby Abreu and Ramon Martinez, who were all especially friendly and kind to Gus. I was close to tears the whole time, because they were so nice and Gus was soooooo over-the-moon with happiness. Hope it's good again this year.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm Cuckoo for Zinnias!! (Or am I just cuckoo?)

Since all the crazy weather we've had in these parts lately seems to have calmed down, I decided it was time to go back outside and take a stroll in the backyard this morning. I was drawn to the zinnia bed and once again my mind was blown. Look at the color on this little gem...Magenta? Raspberry? Mere words do not do it justice:

Okay, look at this one!

Look at these three - a little more muted than their comrades, but still gorgeous:

And now, my absolute favorite. Is this not the trippiest most coolo mcgoolo little flower you've ever seen? It's like a cartoon flower, it's so perfect!! (Please ignore my foot):

Okay, no more zinnias after this for a while, I promise. I was just overcome at how pretty they were this morning. I finished a sleeve on the little sweater, here:

That's all from chez Momogus for now. Gus came through his dental "ordeal" with flying colors and four fewer teeth. Apparently it was quick and nearly painless. He came home and had two giant chocolate milkshakes and watched cartoons for two hours straight. Life is good.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Brown Blob Becomes A Bag

Well, I finished the endless-seeming handles and threw the Blob in the washer. Here it is pre-felt (yawn):

The only problem with these bags is that, because the handles are so long, they get all twisted around themselves in the wash in a bad gnarly way, and you have to keep pulling the (steaming hot) laundry bag out, squeezing out the (steaming hot) water, untwisting the handles and then throwing it back in the wash. Believe you me, this is a pleasant pasttime when it's 97 degrees out. I passed the time while the bag was felting by ironing some shirts of Matthew's, because I felt that I was not doing enough really hot activities at once.

Anyway, the bag turned out fine. Here it is, post-felt:

(I promise more exciting pictures in the future...)
Because this one was knit with Cascade 220, which generally does not turn out as big as Lamb's Pride Worsted, I added an extra 20 rows in the circumference. It still came out smaller than the LPW one, and the handles (even with the extra 500 rows) came out shorter. I also let it go through the spin cycle (which is considered a felting no-no); you risk creases, but it cuts the drying time by hours. Because I like to live on the edge, I always let it spin, and I've never had a crease. Until this time! Oh well, that'll be the back.

Here's what else I learned: needle-felting is reversible! I tried out a gingko leaf on the bottom of a felted basket I had lying around [yes, I have felted baskets lying around, don't you?], and it came out, shall we say, ah, not so good. So I yanked the whole ding-dang thing out. It may be that I'm having some second thoughts about the gingko leaves. The other problem is that I didn't have roving the right color, so I tried needle-felting with a strand of LPW. It worked, shall we say, ah, not so good. I may shelve the gingko leaves until such time as I have appropriately gingko-leaf-colored roving. I have something else in mind for this bag right now, which I will try this evening.

On two non-knitting notes, first, this morning Gus (who got a "Name The Presidents" placemat at Valley Forge) was trying to figure out who was president when he was born. He asked me if it was George Bush or Bill Clinton. After pondering it for a moment [I had not had coffee yet], I said, "You were born when George Clinton was still president." Now that's wishful thinking - One Nation Under a Groove, indeed!!

Second, Gus has to have FOUR baby teeth pulled this morning, so send him some good loving toothy karma thoughts today around 10:15!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What I learned today...

[Can I just say, could it possibly be any hotter out? EW.]

The straps of the Body-Hugging Flat Purse are 168 rows long. On the last one I knit I made the straps 20 rows longer so that I could wear the bag across my body. Here's what I learned on that project: 188 rows is a lot of rows. Also, because you are only working on 10 stitches, it is tedious and time-consuming to turn your knitting so frequently.

So when I started the straps on this version, I decided I would try to teach myself how to knit backwards. (I always hear all the cool knitters talking about it, and you know I want to be cool like the other kids.) It's awkward at first, but it's not quite as unwieldy as you would think. I figured it out by seeing where the needle goes into the stitch from the other side, and which way the yarn needs to be wrapped. You can still carry your yarn in your right hand (if that's how you usually do it); it's just that the stitches travel from the right needle to the left instead of left to right.

I'm not sure if it saved that much more time and effort, but I have to say it was entertaining, and I do love to learn a new trick. It's also good that the strap will be felted so it didn't matter if my tension was that loose. I don't think I'd try it on something that wasn't being felted.

[I'm inserting a gratuitous cat picture here, since this entry is so wordy. This is Funny, trying (not very hard) to get a moth stuck on the outside of a window.]

I was very excited about my new trick and told Matthew (who was sitting next to me watching the Phillies game) about it and, at his blank look, said I'd explain it between innings. When the inning ended, he turned to me with his patient, tolerant, go-ahead-Diana-and-explain-something-inscrutable-to-me look, so I started to explain it to him. He's generally very receptive to this sort of information. I guess, however, unlike other knitting stuff I've laid on him, this technique was so byzantine and pointless that he actually pretended that he was crying so I would stop explaining it to him. Wa ha.

The Phillies won (stinkin' Burrell went 4-for-4 yesterday!!!) so of course they're going to go on a mini-tear and make it impossible for the GM to unload and rebuild. Sigh. Now I'm actually rooting for them to stink so Burrell and Lieberthal will GO. Trading deadline is in two weeks.

Tomorrow: The Brown Blob Becomes a Bag! (Or Does It???)

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm on the straps of the Brown Blob Bag, but I will not subject you to a silly progress picture.

Instead I will give a little report of the Knitting Guild of America Show at the Valley Forge Convention Center, which I attended on Sunday. I believe that this is where Stitches used to be held before it moved to Atlantic City. The "show" (well, really it's just the Market) was considerably smaller than at Stitches, which made it more manageable, but made me feel a little begrudging about spending $7 just to browse (I think Stitches charges $5.)

Because I work in a yarn store, I have pretty stringent requirements about what I will allow myself to buy at these things. Obviously, it has to be something I can't get at the store - I like things from small farms, handspun, hand-dyed or unique in some way. I also have to have a project in mind when I buy. There were many independent farms and spinneries represented at the show which was very cool. Handpainted yarns, which will be big here in the fall, were everywhere. The yarns, though beautiful, were not so interesting to me. I've already got my beady little eyes on some stuff that's coming into the store this fall.

What I was most interested in was some fiber to spin - I was sorely tempted by some hand-dyed silk and also by a merino/hemp blend that was surprisingly soft (isn't hemp rope fiber??), but passed. I'm not sure my spinning skills are up to the challenge yet. Instead I bought this roving from Grafton Fibers:

Kinda gorgeous colors, eh? Almost zinnia-like!! It's Corriedale, which my orange and brown roving is also - long staple, very easy to spin. Plus Grafton is in Vermont, one of my very favorite states in the whole country. Okay, so I don't know what I'll do with it, but I'm toying with the idea of only spinning a single-ply to knit with, instead of plying it with itself or with another yarn. Do you know how to do this, Diana, you may ask? No, I don't actually know how to do this exactly, but hey, that never stopped me before!!

The other yarn in the picture is 100% organic cotton laceweight yarn from Skaska Designs. I love the brown color!! There was also an ecru that reminded me of antique lace that had yellowed a little. It was a devastating color - I stood with both skeins in my hand for a lonnnggg time debating. I finally decided on the brown; brown is my 2nd favorite color (next to olive green - were you asking?), and I thought it would look cool in a not-too-lacey shawl to throw over a jean jacket or something like that. I haven't knit with laceweight cotton - perhaps I am fooling myself that I will like knitting with it, unlike how I feel about working with all other weights of cotton. Selective Yarn Memory is a powerful thing.

The little pin in the picture is this:

Aren't their little faces funny? They cracked me up! This will go on the aforesaid jean jacket.

While I was pondering the earth-shattering decisions outlined above, my husband and son went here to soak up history. Then they picked me up, we bought lunch from Taco Bell and ate it at Port Kennedy so we could see a freight train go by, which it did! Now that's a great day!!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

In my never-ending quest to bring you fabulous progress photos of my not-so-exciting-looking-at-this-moment projects, I bring you....
Blob With Bird!

Yes, I have finished about 20 more rows of the Brown Blob, which is progress, but does not make for very exciting blog material. So I took a picture of it hanging on my back door, with a cardinal at the feeder. I have helpfully provided a guidance tool (or "arrow") to show you the cardinal, in case you couldn't quite see it.

The Knitting Guild of America has their annual show in King of Prussia today, which is a veritable stone's throw (if you're Hercules) from here. I asked my husband in a wheedling tone if he might like to drop me off there for a while and he said okay. He's good people. I'll give a review when I get back. No classes for me, just the shopping area. Hey, I'm allowed to look at yarn! It's not like I work in a yarn shop! [oh wait, I do...] It's just for informational purposes only!!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

If you were wondering, no, I still have not started the sleeves on the little cardigan (I have serious SAI - Sleeve Avoidancy Issues), and yes, I started a new project. Here it is:

Isn't it beautiful? You say, no, Diana, it looks like a brown blob? Well, you are correct - it is indeed a brown blob, but soon it will be another Body-Hugging Flat Purse. I loved that last one so much I want to do another one.

I want to needle-felt an embellishment on it too, and have spent much time speculating on what it would be. I didn't want to do another abstract design, but am a little artistically-challenged and had to think of something not too difficult. I wanted to do something from nature, like a robin (no - too hard) or a tree (no - too time-consuming) or leaves (yes! but what kind would be pretty enough?) Here is what I decided: Ginkgo leaves.

Are those not dementedly gorgeous? Yep. I love a ginkgo leaf. Very William Morris-y. Of course, choosing to do a ginkgo leaf and successfully executing said leaf are two different matters. I don't know how reversible needle-felting is [I have a feeling it is rather un-reversible], so I'm kind of taking a risk here, but we'll see.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

This delightful little bloom [it is a zinnia, Matthew just told me] is in our backyard right now. This is why nature is all good and stuff. What a pretty name! If I had a daughter, I'd name her Zinnia. Look at the wicked cool little yellow stars!! Look at that color!! If you had a sweater that color, it would make you happy every time you wore it.

Now, perhaps you were thinking that for someone who is very bitter about baseball, there were a lot of Phillies-related posts recently and hardly anything knitter-y or spinner-y. Well, here, in an attempt to wean myself off of all-baseball posts, is a picture of my latest spinning/plying effort - on top of my scorecard from the game! Could I have squeezed any more yarn on that poor spindle? It's about 75 yards, which means I am increasing my pioneer-woman patience and also that I'm getting close to a hat/mitten set, I think, which will be trippy to knit up!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Who Does Diana Love?

This guy!

A balm for the weary Phillies fan's soul. I love you, Ryan Howard.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Celebration of Laura

On Friday my sister Laura turned 40. The weekend got away from me and the laudatory post planned for her birthday did too. So like a typical sister, I'm posting this, contritely but lovingly, three days late!

I was 4 and a half when Laura was born. Then my sister Sarah came along 2 years later. Because I was relatively distant in age and they were close in age, they hung out together and I kept to myself. We had periodic and inevitable interactions over the years, but didn't really become bestest friends until we were all out of college and living in the same city.

In 1995, Laura called me at work and said she had gotten a job in California and needed someone to go with her driving her car cross country and would I want to go with her? After one second of thought, I said yes and off we went. Our cross-country trip was amazing, hilarious, awe-inspiring, life-altering. We had a blast and were left with enough catch-phrases to make us laugh out loud for the next 10 years (and counting).

Here's a representative sampling (bear with me while I laugh uncontrollably and you fidget uncomfortably):

1. "I just got married and I'm really thirsty!" (the famous "Thirsty Bridegroom" at a hotel in Oklahoma)

2. The Chunky River and the Chunky River Penny

3. Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek's "Lt Uhura") autobiography on tape, particularly the chapter about how shocked Hollywood was that she had had no work done on her magnificent teeth. The hilarity that ensued from listening to this lasted us for miles.

4. Me driving (or more accurately, me careening) into Butner, South Carolina off the interstate so that I could re-adjust the seat, because I was realllllyclose to the steering wheel, deciding that the group of men we saw by the side of the road was a dangerous chain gang of hardened criminals and without stopping, careening back onto the highway. After this experience (on our first day out), Laura drove the remaining 2700 miles to California and the 3,000 miles back on our return trip.

5. Laura maniacally yelling, "GIMME SOME SPRAY!" to truck drivers driving through puddles near us on the highway, after our car ran out of windshield wiper fluid and our windshield was covered with grime, causing us to drive 70 mph with a tiny 2" square clear space to see through.

When we got to Los Angeles, we had a few days to spend together, so we drove around all day. When she put me on a train to return to Philadelphia, I burst into tears because I knew I'd miss her so much.

But everything worked out okay. She decided to return east at the end of the year, and then I got to see her all the time!

Here are some things that I love about Laura:

1. She is one of the kindest, most generous-spirited people I know
2. She has a bizarre, absurdist sense of humor
3. She is an integral part of my son's life and he adores her
4. She likes to be the driver when we go on trips
5. Because she's honorable and morally upright (in the best, non-dogmatic sense of the word), she's my sounding board on everything from toenail polish to child-rearing issues
6. We can watch tv together on the phone. We used to do this when she lived in New Orleans or California and I lived here, but sometimes we still do it, even though we live 5 minutes away from each other.
7. She can bake this:

and this:

8.- 10,000. Too many things to list here. Because of her and Sarah, I think I'm the luckiest sister ever.

Sisters, circa 1967