Knitting with nettles

As a little girl, I had this record album--remember those, black with a hole in the middle?--that told the story of Snow White and Briar Rose. Though I listened to it incessantly, I'm not sure now whether a wolf caused all the mayhem or a billy goat. Had the wicked step mother with the personality disorder entered the picture, or was Snow White dating someone else's boy at the time? Did she prick her finger on a spindle? Was she involved in a homoerotic diad with Briar Rose? It's all a blur.

I have a dim memory of not taking to Briar Rose; I recall a simpering blonde, which as a girl wasn't nearly so fearsome as this “briar“ idea. Not being a gardener, I still think of a “briar“ as a thatch of tangled roses, a weedy thicket of thorns and scratchy spines. I imagined entrapment in such a place, dark and loamy and full of stinging nettles.

Which brings us to yarn. Aloo, which most of you probably know, is spun from Himalayan nettles and this scares me just a bit. Stinging nettles. Briar Rose. Gives you the willies, don't it?

But Interweave's One Skein has a darling pattern for a bath mitt and puffy, which is tempting me to put Freudian issues aside, grab some Knit Lite needles and get over my fear of the dark.

 

Wednesday Miscellany

While I like the idea of WTF Wednesdays--there are plenty of social and political happenings that warrant this particular phrase. In our own little corner of the world, the WTF Award would have to go to the Boulder DA, whose handling of the JonBenet case and John Karr's arrest has lit up one or two phone lines on the local talk shows. That they hadn't confirmed his whereabouts--Florida--on the night of the murder, I mean really, what were they thinking?

But since we occasionally get visitors from religious leaders--OK, one--I've been trying to keep the verbiage at a relatively tame PG-13. So to hell with WTF Wednesdays, we'll stick with Wednesday Miscellany.

1. A peak experience: The Estes Park Alpaca Market runs Sept. 2-3 at the Stanley Park Fairgrounds in Estes. There's Fleece, roving and yarn to be had.

2. 'Paca Palooza: In case you didn't get enough alpaca lovin' in Estes, you can attend Alpacas on the Rocks, Sept. 23-24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Sunday at the Jefferson County Fairgounds. Again, you'll find yummy alpaca products.

3. Crochet Today: There's a new crochet mag that's just hit the shelves. Crochet Today is full of hip-to-hook patterns--and an itsy-bitsy story by yours truly. I'm liking the log-cabin-quilt-inspired throw and Little Lady's Purse.

4. New “Project Runway” episode tonight.

5. Desperately seeking big plastic buttons: Here's a sign of the times--do you know what comes up when you google “big buttons”? You get ads for blog buttons and remotes with extra-large buttons for users of a certain age. Anyone know where I can score big-ass (whoops), four-hole, classic, plastic buttons? The kind you sew on by hand without benefit of electronics? Got some designs in mind...

Celebrating summer's end

In my mind, Sept. 1 marks the end of summer. Having never really left school—I’m forever bashing about college campuses—the year starts in the fall and ends in late spring. That’s when we had proper school years that started after Labor Day and continued into the first days of June.

 

I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait until summer ended and spent hours planning my outfit for the first day of school. Today, I find myself in a similar state of anticipation—delighted that this long, hot slog of a summer is coming to an end. There’s a bite of fall in the air, sweaters to be worn and summer’s tedious projects put to bed.

 

Anyone else glad that summer’s over?

Garden tour 2006

Depending on will, energy, time and funds, this may be our last garden post of the season. Our planting window is closing fast, but given the lateness of the date most of the new flora was 30 percent off.

For those of you tracking the progress, here’s an early morning shot, which shows, well, not much. Trust me, we stuck a bunch of plants in there. Those spindly things in front are Russian sage. There’s also rubbeckia, two butterfly bushes, some golden rod, some kind of red flower, the name of which eludes me but sounds something like “macarena,” and some snap dragons. We plan to still build a berm and there are bulbs to plant. We’re hoping all these wood chips and rocks don’t become a giant litter box for the neighborhood cats.

Southsideplanting

Butterfly

Our mini-third tier garden

Earn a really mediocre part-time income

Some of you know that for the last few months I've been trying to nudge my career in a different direction. More magazine work. More time for the novel. Mo better. You may also remember that earlier this spring I was embroiled in a project that was about as dynamic as writing a phone book, but involved thinking. During this time of temporary insanity, I joined a multi-level marketing skin care cult and have been happily alienating plying friends and family with product for weeks. That was a whim. Being a freelance writer, well, not such a whim.

I'm one of the fortunate ones. I make a decent living writing, especially if you think in 1985 dollars. I have regular work. I pay taxes. I buy yarn. And, I work from home with Mitch and the cats. Except for the work part, it's all quite lovely.

When people ask about freelancing, I'm never quite sure what to say, because I've been doing it since I was 22. Part of my success has to do with staying put. I have deep, deep connections, and happily, have only burned one or two bridges in my time. I have a couple of niches; among freelancers there is great debate on this one--do you specialize or generalize? In the perfect world, you do both; keep your options open, but have one or two areas where you can place fringey stories. Right now I'm trying to expand from higher education and knitting into a third--alternative health. Mix it up, otherwise you'll disembowel yourself with your fountain pen.

Oh, and make deadlines. I always tell people, a monkey can successfully freelance if he uses spell check and makes deadlines because he's competing against crazy freelance writers.

And now I'm going to hit post because I have to get back to my brilliant career.

Bolero

You can never have too many…

Earrings, handbags, balls of yarn, good friends and cardigans. So when three skeins of Fiesta’s La Boheme (at half price) slithered into my shopping bag, I was forced to consider a new project. (Kay, who urged me to pop for the third skein, observed, “With three, you can make a bolero.”)

The Crystal Palace web site provided this free pattern. And cross-country air travel resulted in the completion of two fronts, a sleeve and half a back. It’s looking quite promising, don’t you think?

Bohemebolero

Now, you fill in the blank. You can never have too many…?

Getting Nake-id on the radio

Hear my radio debut this week on http://westernskies.krcc.org/archives/index_081506.html scroll down to “commentary.”

Road trip

Yesterday, I went AWOL with Mom, Constance and Kay. Constance and Mom have fleeces and after feeding a few fibers into a drum carder, decided carding is best left to the professionals. A trip to the mill was definitely in order.

We set off for Loveland and DVA Fiber Processing in high spirits and had a grand time chatting with Deb and Cheri at the mill. The mill is located in a small warehouse just outside Loveland’s main drag and is filled with so much luscious alpaca fleece, one just wants to bed down.

After all this excitement, we needed refreshment—a theme that would repeat throughout the day. Constance said, “I know a place where there’s good German food!” Having spent a short amount of time in Germany and experienced the ruin Teutonic cooking made of my lower GI, I hesitated to mention that “good German food” was oxymoronic, so I said nothing. Good thing, too. Schmidt’s Bakery and Delicatessen is a find with brightly-lit cases of cookies, strudels, brownies and rolls greeting diners upon entry. We ate some protein—a brat for me—and other stuff.

After lunch there was nothing for it but to shop. Woolen Treasures is another reason to visit Loveland. What a fine little shop. Phenomenal collection of books and mags. Great yarns, including Alpaca with a Twist, Lorna’s Laces, and sale yarn—50 percent off. I helped Constance stick to her budget by snatching these out of her hands…

Fiesta

Fiesta, La Boheme in Madrid

We felt a bit peckish after yarn shopping and settled for iced teas and mochas at Anthology, the local book store. After coffee we still needed a “little something” and took the long way home via the Longmont Dairy—for homemade ice cream—and one final yarn stop—Posh, in my neighborhood, where I scored the new Rebecca.

Such a day we had. Now, ladies, what kind of wrap do I make with all that Fiesta?

Afghan again

The clamour to learn more about the afghan is positively deafening. You are clutching yourselves with anticipation. You can’t go another minute unless you see the progress.

Well, I guess we can give you a little peak.

Afghanbiggeryet

These 12 squares represent the work of eight women with four more are in the works, including yesterday’s sample. I have three more “letter” squares to chart (and probably knit unless any of you other afghan lovelies wants a quickie project). This means if I do a “four-across” rectangular afghan I’ll need to scare up one last piece. Mom? Hey, Mom? You there? Stop hiding!

We’re scheduling November for delivery.

 

True confessions

Bet you haven’t been able to sleep at night wondering about my afghan. It’s got you on pins and needles, hasn’t it?

I hesitate showing the latest square, because, well, because y’all might’ve done the proper thing. You wouldn’t have made a devil’s bargain like me. When you saw square was beginning to look like a map of Paris, you would've ripped it. I know you. That's exactly what you would've done. You would’ve started from scratch, carefully following the pattern until your square was complete and perfect. Right? You would never add a stitch—or three—here—decrease one or two there to make the pattern come out. To bend it to your will Would you?

Moreafghan

The evidence

Tell me I’m not going to hell.