Saturday, March 31, 2012

What's All This, Then???

The inch or so of heavy, wet snow that fell overnight brings back (not so fond) memories of the April 1, 1997 snowstorm, when several feet of snow were dumped on New England. Okay, there really is no comparison, but this frail forsythia coated with cold gives a pretty strong impression that winter is not done with us quite yet.

More fiber arrived this week, and  I love the colorway. Unfortunately, at the rate I'm going, I won't be spinning it until this summer. 
Spunky Eclectic Merino Top in "Little Fishes"


Snow in April

If you must slight me, let it be the touch
That snow in April, falling soft and white
Gives to the blossoms delicate and light,
So I don’t suffer, it won’t harm me much.
If you must spite me, let it be as quick
As snow in April falling, not to last.
Lies just one moment then, like mist is past,
So it won’t sting me; I won’t feel the prick.
If you must fight me, let the tender blows
Like snow in April, make no lasting mark
As soft, spring sunshine, on the grassy park,
Brings green renewal. But yet April snows
Can still surprise me, stir me from my rest
For snow is April’s chill, unwelcome guest.

C Richard Miles

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dooney & Bourke

Dooney & Bourke knitting bag from dear friend Pam

See? There's the proof!!! Who knew?

It's the end of the week and what a loooooonnnnngggg week it's been. Time turns elastic, I believe.

Snow is expected tonight. That's hilarious. Time rolls back on itself, too.

Two weeks to Paris! That's hard to believe. Zig has done a fantastic job of organizing, by arrondisement, daily trips out and about. There are a few limiting factors as to which day we'll do what, but not many, other than weather and museum closings. I can taste the banana/Nutella crepes already!

It just occurred to me that yesterday's poetic excerpt should have been held back until April. But March can be cruel, too - witness the weather forecast.

Why is it that work and stress almost always go hand-in-hand? Nothing more to say on that front...

Dinner  with Becky and George at the Old Riverton Inn, which reopens for the season tonight. It's always a delicious meal - we try to go there once a month. The Inn holds memories of quite a few wedding rehearsal dinners, retirement parties, wedding parties, Christmas parties, and the like, over the last quarter-century. We even stayed there on our wedding night, way back in June of 1982.

Here is a lovely, simple poem from Stanley Moss. I hope I remember it when I am 85.

Bright Day

By Stanley Moss
I sing this morning: Hello, hello.
I proclaim the bright day of the soul.
The sun is a good fellow,
the devil is a good guy, no deaths today I know.
I live because I live. I do not die because I cannot die.
In Tuscan sunlight Masaccio
painted his belief that St. Peter’s shadow
cured a cripple, gave him back his sight.
I’ve come through eighty-five summers. I walk in sunlight.
In my garden, death questions every root, flowers reply.
I know the dark night of the soul
does not need God’s eye,
as a beggar does not need a hand or a bowl.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

...and March fades away

(excerpted from The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot)
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain.         
Malthese Shawl - first half of the top border - the second half will fold backwards onto the first half, wrong sides together.
My lack of posts is criminal. My dear college friend Carol gave me a very gentle kick in the pants via Facebook yesterday. Thanks to her, I'm back. All I can say in my defense is that the Malthese Flowers shawl has taken over my non-professional life. I work on it and work on it and work on it and work on it ad nauseum yet never seem closer to the top of the piece. I was taken unawares by the fact that the border on all three sides has to be knit twice so that the second one is the facing of the first one. That added a solid week and more to the project. It's not looking good for Paris. But maybe it's just too BRIGHT for Paris - I would stand out like a double dahlia amongst all the sober, chic BLACK.

Speaking of black, I did purchase yarn and a new pattern booklet for a simple, shaped tank. That's the first yarn purchased this year, I do believe. Marji had a model on display in her shop, and my resolve vanished.
DeGraw tank pattern with black "Ripple" yarn - Tahki Stacy Charles

The only other yarn purchase was a carton full of Knit Picks Cotlin - 20 skeins in all. These will be used to knit up a new armada of string bags for Zig, as the ones he currently has are much the worse for wear, with runs and breaks and all kinds of knitterly havoc. It pains me to knit an entire new set in BEIGE, so I ran wild with color selection:
Knit Picks Cotlin for string bags
I justify this purchase by filing it under "Household Expenses".

No progress AT ALL on handspun - the photos here are probably the same as in the last post but it's Thursday night and I'm tired and too lazy to go check:
First half of Tartan

Wimpy start on second half of Tartan
As regards diet and weight loss, I'm stubbornly hanging in there with diet and exercise, but not seeing much reduction. I do, however, feel really good, and it seems as though my clothes fit me better, so I count that as progress toward the desired goal.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


75 degrees in the shade on West River Road this afternoon. All I can say is "Wow". Our windows are open, and we got sweaty on our brisk walk this morning. It's top down weather!!! Dare I call this "the winter that wasn't"?

Lots of exercise lately, in the form of weight lifting, aerobics video, walking, and dancing. Yes, we danced last night at 41 Bridge Street in Collinsville. We saw The Revelations featuring Tre Williams - a fantastic blues/soul band that rocked the house for 3 hours. We danced in the mosh pit (well, calling it a mosh pit is a BIT of an exaggeration) and were purely happy. My left knee is mad at me now, but it was worth it.

Lots of knitting, too - I've reached the top of flower section of Malthese Flowers and have begun the border, a fairly simply grid. I machine-stitched, using tiny stitches, two lines of stitches through the steek - will have to do a bit more later but the bulk of the shawl is protected from the dread scissors.  I hope to be able to cut the shawl open later this week.

Tour Eiffel is coming along, as well. I've decided to knit the small version, so it's going to be more of a scarf than a shawl, but I think that'll be easier to wear.

Socks are slowly creeping. I knitted on them during a teachers' happy hour celebration after work on Friday, and also at the concert venue last night before the music commenced.

In other news, our living room coat closet has been emptied, cleaned, weeded, and sorted through. All the hats, gloves, and mittens now actually fit INSIDE the basket they live in.

Last, but not least, and better late than never:

St. Patrick’s Day

By Jean Blewett
There’s an Isle, a green Isle, set in the sea,
     Here’s to the Saint that blessed it!
And here’s to the billows wild and free
     That for centuries have caressed it!

Here’s to the day when the men that roam
     Send longing eyes o’er the water!
Here’s to the land that still spells home
     To each loyal son and daughter!

Here’s to old Ireland—fair, I ween,
     With the blue skies stretched above her!
Here’s to her shamrock warm and green,
     And here’s to the hearts that love her!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

International Pi Day

You must have heard about 3.14
In many cir­cles she’s all the rage.
She’s the greek char­ac­ter that we all adore,
whose irra­tional nature takes cen­ter stage.

Defined by divi­sion, as opposed to sum,
(a fact that is known through­out the land).
But don’t count on her with your fin­gers and thumbs,
she flaunts more dig­its than you have on your hand.

Men fight to reveal her dec­i­mal places,
around 2.5 tril­lion is the cur­rent amount.
A com­plex atti­tude is not what she embraces,
but, she’s a real num­ber, and that’s what counts.

I hes­i­tate to sound slightly cliche,
but she’s a hero unhonored and unsung.
And after all, it’s true what they say:
two Pi is greater than one.
 2 \pi > 1

Our school abounds with Pi posters, streamers, banners, and, yes, actual Pi(e). Personally, I was never a fan of geometry - algebra was most to my taste. Maybe because my algebra teacher was not afraid to throw chalk at us if we ventured to answer incorrectly, as opposed to my geometry teacher, who was just plain boring.

Great strides in spinning, knitting, and exercise. It's been warm enough to lug the weights up and out onto the deck, which is a much more pleasant space than the basement, even if Zig and I did spend a few hours cleaning up the TV room. I MIGHT get my bike out today when I get home, and, if the tires are amply inflated, go out for the first street ride of 2012.

Tour Eiffel - not much to look at yet - just an expanse of gray
Knitting steadily on both the Malthese and the Tour Eiffel shawls. Will I finish both by the 13th of April? Too soon to tell. It might help to do the smaller size on the Eiffel.

Almost done spinning up the first 2 ounces of Spunky Eclectic's "Tartan" Corriedale. That's September 2011's shipment - I'm getting there! It's a better (easier, "funner") spin than I expected. 
Nancy's Knit Knacks magnetic chart keeper with Tour Eiffel chart

Spunky Eclectic "Change" Falkland 2-ply
Official S. E. label
Malthese as of 3/11/12
Green/Blue Ground for Malthese
Fuschia/Orange/Purple for Malthese Flowers

Saturday, March 10, 2012


March is vanishing
with the leafless winter trees
- each week is greener

Peter S. Quinn

Today's post is going to be all about the yarn and other goodies I received from Quince and Company this week. My most generous dad and stepmom gave me a gift certificate to Quince for my birthday - needless to say, I wasted no time in hopping on the ol' laptop and ordering what I so subtly hinted for a few weeks ago in this blog - 3 skeins of Chickadee in Nasturtium for the Piper's Journey shawlette!

I also ordered two skeins of Quince's newest yarn, Finch, which is a fingering weight yarn perfect for socks. I know. Socks. But the Lupine color is so luscious! Resistance was futile.

After adding these yarns to my basket, I had just enough left on the certificate to order a color card. So glad I did, because even though the yarn photography on the website is stunning, it's good to be able to look at the colors in natural light when deciding (drooling over) which to choose.

What fun it is to shop and not spend my own money! Thanks, D & J, for you oh-so-thoughtful gift!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Conference Week

It's the second of two crazy school weeks. The first was back in November, after the first trimester report cards were sent home. Now we're done with the second trimester, and parents are streaming in for evening and/or after-school conferences. Our school is always bustling during these weeks - the PTO holds a Scholastic Book Fair in the gym, sells Hartland clothing in the front hall, and a town resident who is a portrait photographer sets up her portable studio in the library to shoot photos of kids. Kids stream in and out of the library while their parents meet with teachers. We enjoy it, but we all breathe a sigh of relief when the week ends.

Zig's traveling this week - gone for two nights. As always, I'll toss and turn...

Knitting and spinning. The spinning (Falkland wool) has been spectacular. I'm now plying (2-ply) the singles, and the finished yarn should be lovely. Knitting-wise, the second vanilla sock is on hold. I'm working on Malthese in the morning before school, and on the Tour Eiffel shawl during lunch and in the evening.

It's March, but it's still pretty darn cold:

Winter Clothes
by Karla Kuskin

Under my hood I have a hat
And under that
My hair is flat.
Under my coat
My sweater's blue.
My sweater's red
I'm wearing two.
My muffler muffles to my chin
And round my neck
And then tucks in.
My gloves were knitted
By my aunts.
I've mittens too
And pants
And pants
And boots
And shoes
With socks inside.
The boots are rubber, red and wide.
And when I walk
I must not fall
Because I can't get up at all.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Early March

Driving less than 1 1/2 hours due south of Hartland is a mind-bending experience, climate-wise. Yesterday we met Pat and Jackie (Jess' parents)for lunch at Pepe's in New Haven. We have about 5 inches of snow here in the woods, but by the time we were south of Torrington, there was no sign of winter anywhere - no snow, no ice, no slush, just bare grass and tree limbs. The sun came out in the early afternoon - perfect weather for strolling around the Yale campus. It's spring break there, so students were few and far between. We stepped into the Sterling Library just 5 minutes before closing, then ambled over to the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. Cool stuff. It was good to get together with the Hennesseys - it's always easy to hang out with them. They thoroughly know New Haven, so it was fun to walk around the city and listen to anecdotes and trivia. 

The spring-like weather lulled us into thinking that northwestern Connecticut would be devoid of snow - surely the sun would shine there, too? - but alas, it was not to be.

It's been a week of gustatory delights - dinner out Monday, Tuesday, and Friday, lunch out Saturday and today (with Mom and Becky). Needless to say, there's no shrinking going on, but I've been judicious in my menu choices, so there's not much expansion, either. 

LOTS of photographic evidence of fiber crafting.

Spinning: well into the second bump of Falkland. It's a delight to work with. I hope to get more spun later today after my lunch with sis and mom.

Blurry Falkland fiber
Knitting: Malthese is growing. Yes, it looks like a giant tear-shape, but once steeked it'll be a large triangle. We had a moment of hilarity the other night - I almost had Zig convinced that this shawl is for him - after all, Parisian men wear all sorts of elegant scarves - wouldn't this look GREAT around his neck?

This will look MUCH better when steeked and blocked.
Working on the eighth (out of 12) rows of Malthese Flowers
The vanilla socks have taken a back seat this week; not only to the Malthese but to a NEW project I cast on yesterday - Natalie Servant's Eiffel Tower shawl. I'm working the large version, using String Theory Seri silk in a gorgeous graphite called "Carina". The plan is to have this finished and blocked before our trip. I have 6 weeks - that should be sufficient time. 

The finished object will have filigree-like arches seen in the Tour Eiffel

Just starting the leg of the second sock. Yawn.
Last, and yes, least - the vanilla socks did see some forward movement - not much, but a bit. This is my travel knitting, but I can't knit while I'm driving, and I was the driver to New Haven and back.

Excerpt from

Ordinary Time

By Tim Dlugos
Which are the magic
moments in ordinary
time? All of them,
for those who can see.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

53 Orbits Around The Sun

Maple Feast
Frances Frost

Into the bit-flaked sugar-snow
The crystal-gathering sledges go.

Stumbling through silver to my knees,
I shout among the maple trees, 

Tilt gleaming buckets icy cold
Till I am full as I can hold

Of clear bright sap, until I feel
Like a maple tree from head to heel!

Then to the sugarhouse I run
Where syrup, golden as the sun,

Is boiling in the crisp March air
And I, as daft as a baby bear,

Eat, till my buttons burst asunder
From maple sweetness, maple wonder!

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss, John Irving, and me! Having a snow day yesterday  was almost as good as having the day off today. My dear son Abe cooked breakfast for me, and gave me an absolutely hilarious card. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Snow Day

A snow day on March 1st? Unheard of in these parts this winter - we haven't had a snow day since November 4, 2011. It's been (indoors) a lovely, relaxing day with lots of knitting, spinning, and exercise. I started listening to 11/22/63 and am enjoying it immensely. It's been awhile since a audiobook has captivated me like this.

Great progress on spinning Falkland - I finished the first half (approx. 2 ounces) and started the second half. I hope to dedicate some time on Sunday to washing and flicking all the yarn I've spun recently - I have four or five different types of handspun awaiting this final process. Then I can figure out what the yarn weights are. I find that I spin mostly DK or sport weight with the occasional worsted weight thrown in. I would love to spin finely enough to produce a laceweight yarn. 

Cruising along on the Malthese Flowers shawl, as well. I almost let it go into hibernation earlier this winter, but I pulled it out last week and haven't put it down since. It's still far from being even 50% complete, but that's okay.

Tomorrow is my 53rd birthday. We're going to see "The Descendants" at the Gilson Cafe/Cinema. What with all the dining out this week (Monday, Tuesday, tomorrow, Saturday, and Sunday), I don't think tomorrow's weigh-in will be an occasion for celebratory fireworks, but I am feeling SO MUCH HEALTHIER and energetic than I was at Thanksgiving. And my clothes fit better. Numbers don't mean quite so much as those two intangibles.

No photos today - it would just be more of the same, albeit a bit more.

Dare I post this poem? Am I tempting the gods of frozen precipitation?

Last Snow

By Heid E. Erdrich
Dumped wet and momentary on a dull ground
that’s been clear but clearly sleeping, for days.
Last snow melts as it falls, piles up slush, runs in first light
making a music in the streets we wish we could keep.
Last snow. That’s what we’ll think for weeks to come.
Close sun sets up a glare that smarts like a good cry.
We could head north and north and never let this season go.
Stubborn beast, the body reads the past in the change of light,
knows the blow of grief in the time of trees’ tight-fisted leaves.
Stubborn calendar of bone. Last snow. Now it must always be so.