Thursday, January 26, 2006

thanks for looking out for me!

Everyone, especially Sally, is very glad to be home. Our trip to Dallas was super fun but tiring, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing our friends. I even got to see a very posh yarn shop called Passionknits in Dallas. I bought some yummy
Classic Elite Star on sale. It is being made into baby socks for the Dallas friends' baby, Molly, and my new nephew. Now, I've heard a lot of talk about socks recently, and Caroline over on Pink Tea told me about this sale at Simply Socks Yarn Company. I'm sorely tempted but I might as well pass the temptation onwards. If you're interested, they've got some great deals! I'm trying to distract myself by looking away out the window...I have too many socks left to finish! Our great girl Sally, the black one, here on the right, looking at the window, was apparently not happy while being kenneled at the vet. I ask you, who would be? However, Sally did not play well with others, barking agressively at other dogs as she was escorted outside. She did not consistently 'do her business' in the out of doors during one of the three times a day she was let outside. She even ate her poop. (GROSS! said the vet tech.) Apparently they let Harry and Sally into a small space together and...they fought. Someone got a scratched ear. I'm not sure who, as I've found small scabs on both dogs. It looks like a fair fight to me. Anyhow, the vet tech sounded it oddly peevish, like those things you hear about, you know, about children. "Your child won't be welcome at this daycare center again if..." I tried to block it out, but all I kept thinking was--this is a year old dog. Until three months ago, she was a stray. You're saying you've never seen two young dogs fight in a small space? Especially two dogs who usually get loads of outdoor exercise and who are food aggressive? Or have a young dog eat something gross? I didn't tell her about how Harry ate a bird and puked it up on the husband's side of the duvet last week. Poor Harry, he looked green. It was embarrassing enough as it was...

Since coming home, everyone has been rough-housing, eating well, sleeping well, and generally being good. No accidents, either. There seemed to be a huge sigh of relief, too. Sally, as shown in the above picture, is fantastic as a watch dog. She watches squirrels, people on the street, and Harry. She has a superb alarm bark but is still learning when to use it. When my friend Erika visited to drop off some fleece for me to finish the Romney wool peacoat (long story, I gave away the fleece. Now I need it back..I gave her another fleece instead) anyhow, Sally barked a little before she came in. Then, once Erika and I were talking, Sally suddenly started barking. "Oh Yeah!" she's saying, "Mom says this is my job!" Harry of course was humping Erika's leg and being shaken off without a single bark. Poor Harry, he's often laying down on the job. (see above photo)

I did spin up some of that fleece and someday soon you'll see a photo of the finished coat. Before spring, I hope. I got a lovely note from a yarn company that might be interested in using one of my designs, maybe. And, for those of you who've been looking out for me health-wise, after two days of the newest prescription, I felt all woozy, lightheaded and dizzy. Made it hard to do anything much, I felt stupid. Nice triage nurse at the doctor's office said, "Hmmm. It's not supposed to make you feel that way. Hypoglycemic reactions are very rare!" She suggested I take a couple days off the meds and let the doctor know how I am doing on Friday. It's Thursday, I feel much better, both dogs are sleeping peacefully in the office, and I'm hoping to get back to being productive soon. Do you think I could knit a sock a day until my stash is under control? (not.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


A very nice person just posted a comment and asked me to answer a bunch of questions--I guess it's called a meme? Is that as in, Me! Me! (all about me?) Here are my answers:
4 jobs you have had:
high school teacher
community college instructor
editorial assistant/program assistant for an adult education program at Duke U.
living history interpreter (complete with costume, hearth cooking, and livestock)

4 movies you could watch over and over:
When Harry Met Sally
The Princess Bride
Green Fingers

4 TV shows you love to watch:
As Time Goes By
Gilmore Girls
West Wing

4 places you have been on vacation:
Canada(Ontario, B.C., Quebec)
Britain (Cambridge, Oxford, London, Cornwall, Devon, Isle of Wight)
most recently: Ireland
I'm just about to go on vacation to Dallas to visit friends. I've never been to Dallas before. Does it count as a separate country?

4 websites you visit daily
Yahoo groups
my yahoo page with the comics on it
Freelancing job boards (boring, I know, but it's work, I do it alot)

4 of your favorite foods:
crusty artisan bread and good cheese
most anything Middle Eastern, but specifically Shwarma, labneh, fattoush, tabbouli, stuffed grapeleaves, and freshly baked lavash and pita

4 places you would rather be right now:
in a house with a big bathtub
in a place that had lots of snow in the winter time--Ithaca, NY for instance
in a more comfortable office chair
eating out in a really good restaurant with good company

4 bloggers you are tagging:
Do I know 4 bloggers? Oh, yes, I do:
Please please forgive me if you read my blog and I left you out. I'm leaving for Dallas tomorrow, I'm hungry for dinner, and uhh, there's only bread and cheese. Good thing I like bread and cheese. Luckily, it is good bread and cheese from Zingermans. Now, Chrissy , which of my Knit Picks designs did you like? Are you making it? Can you show a picture? (ok, the novelty of having my designs published has not worn off, can you tell?!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

seeing things differently

Last week I went to Florida to visit my father-in-law, and we met this huge bird, who hangs out by the hotel, Beau Lido, waiting for snacks. We didn't feed him any, of course, (it's bad to feed wildlife!) but sometimes a different perspective, a bird's view of things, helps you see the same old things in a new way. Since this blog's title does imply I'll talk about knitting and spinning once in a while, here's something I recently saw differently. About nine years ago, I made this sweater. It is all handspun, and the design was something my mother helped me come up with.
As you can see, it is short and goes perfectly over the empire waist dresses I used to wear when I taught high school every day in Virginia. (this seems like eons ago, but I just got an email from a former student today, so yes, I did do this.) I never wear the sweater anymore, it's too short. I tried putting on a different colored addition on the bottom, that looked very bad. I have no more of this color fleece--I've moved three times since then and I'm sure I spun it long ago. So, with a new vision, my husband and I messed around with the sweater until we came up with this: It's not perfect, but it's more fitted and sort of funky a la Teva Durham, if you know what I mean. How does it work? Turn a garter stitch sweater inside out. This is where my family's "make the inside look like the outside" finishing obsession comes out helpful... Stitch together the button bands, tack down the edges into lapels. It fits better and is slightly more fashionable. I still don't know if it is an everyday kind of sweater, but it does make an old sweater new again.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sally (the milk cow, of course)

On Saturday, we drove to visit our friends at Sylvanus Farm for my special birthday lunch. I had a super birthday, with many highlights that started on Thursday and continued through Saturday. There were lots of sweet and kind good wishes from my cyberbuddies (hi Fibertradition folk!) and many phone calls from friends and family. My mom sent me a fantastic messenger's bag that she knit and felted for me and hubby gave me an Ipod so I can listen to books and music while I knit and spin. Best buddy Anne sent fancy bakery stuff like wholegrain bread and cake from where she lives in Vermont and textiles from Burma and Vietnam, where she recently went on a trip. (does she know me or what?) Meanwhile, in my work life, my Fuzzy Reception Cardigan and Cuddle Coat went live at Knit Picks. Whew! There was a lot going on Thursday and Friday. I barely toddled down the street to a neighborhood restaurant on Thursday night for the birthday dinner with husband, I was so tired.

So, on Saturday, we took a drive into the country, away from the computer and phone, to visit Sarah and Todd's farm and meet the other Sally. Sally the milk cow, eight months old, is a relatively new addition to Sylvanus Farm. She is very loving and has a very soft winter coat. She likes to lick you--your coat, jeans, everything. Cow drool everywhere. Sally has a little shed with hay in the bottom where she sleeps at night; she is "crate trained" just like our dogs and gets a treat when she beds down for the night. This is all in preparation for when she will have a baby calf and get milked one day. Sally hangs out with the beef cattle during the day so she isn't lonely. One of the farm cats likes Sally's shed a lot, and I've heard that Sally also has made friends with a pet rabbit who lives near the chickens.

Sarah made me a fantastic birthday lunch--spanakopita and salad, and of course the eggs and all the greens grew on the farm. Then we took a walk with Otto the farm dog to see some local history-- an old cemetery complete with Civil War soldiers and segregation, even in death. That was sobering to see in person. (This area on the Cumberland River seems pretty isolated now, but was heavily populated during the 1800's and saw its share of conflict.) We saw stands of native prarie grasses and a big Cottonwood tree. The walk helped us digest our lunch so we could have a very sophisticated gooey chocolate birthday cake, with creamy fudge and cherry brandy topping and nuts on top. I even got some to take home. Last night, I got to eat extra cake and watch a Judi Dench DVD while knitting. All in all, it was a pretty great, several day birthday!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

one year ago...

This is a view from Dover Castle in Dover, England.
A year ago in this time, my husband was teaching a study abroad class in England for a few weeks. Both of us got bronchitis from the college students, and we learned a lot. Neither of us recognized how hard the transition was for the students, natives of Kentucky and Tennessee, to cope with a big city of 10 million, that is, London. I went along mainly to visit with some friends of ours in the UK, to enjoy the January sales, to have some good meals in restaurants and have some fun. I did all that, but I also served as impromptu housemother. "No, you should not go to the public loo in the underground here, let's go back to the hotel, yes I know you have to go, but this isn't safe. Yes, I already know it isn't safe, let's go..." or "MOVE OVER! You can't block an escalator during rush hour!" Aggrieved Britons queued behind this poor 22 year old guy who straddled both the left and right of the escalator. He'd only ridden an escalator before at a mall--and in Kentucky, we don't have public transportation, to speak of. It was, well, an adventure. It made me realize how great the divisions can be-between big city Americans and rural Americans, and between rural Americans and urban Britons.

However, we many good meals in the evenings. Even though we invited students, they were not risktakers in terms of cuisine, so we had slightly exhausted but romantic meals on our own, including several incredibly good Turkish and Lebanese dinners in Mayfair restaurants. It's 70 miles one way to our nearest Turkish restaurant, and if you want other, certain kinds of Middle Eastern cooking, uhh, you come to my house. I've been wishing we were in London this week! Yesterday I bought some 10 year old balsamic vinegar, a couple of nice olive oils, and some dark chocolate. I'll pretend and eat well at home.

Monday, January 02, 2006


I've recently corresponded with a couple of brand new knitwear designers who were wondering about the process of submitting designs to magazines. It's complicated to learn how any new field works, and I like emailing and trying to help them along. I'm no expert, but I figure any information helps. Essentially, most magazines like their submissions to include a sketch, a swatch, a written description of the item, and sometimes other information. For the print magazines, you aren't usually expected to provide a completed design until they offer you a contract.

A knitting acquaintance of mine asked whether I could just sew together all my swatches and make something out of them, but many of my swatches are 3-D minatures. I have no idea if other knitwear designers do this. As a result, I have a box of 'swatches' waiting for new places to submit. Here are a couple of 'swatches' floating around my office. One is an envelope throw pillow--very easy knitting and no big design challenge there. The other? A babushka doll, dressed to look like many of our Eastern European Grandmothers. I have a chador doll too, complete with black chador, to look like our observant Muslim sisters. So, no, my swatches don't easily convert to afghan squares, but I have lots of little odds and ends to play with, if a little one comes to visit. Do you find this interesting? Want to see more? Let me know.