Some frivolous things about which to be thankful

1. A late-autumn pedicure. Got the best end of a trade yesterday when I fixed a friend's sweater (she's a manicurist). Purple, people. Purple. Toenails! (She's mobile. Ping me if you want her number.)

2. The Borgias. Sex, wine and Jeremy Irons. Stunning!

3. Crazy Sexy Kitchen. The Madeira Peppercorn Tempeh is insane!

4. Anna Karenina. Vibrating to see it.

5. Colorado makers like Denim & Pearl and Sleep Season Yarn.

6. Argo. It's everything a Hollywood movie should be: Thrilling, funny, nationalistic and well-told in broad, beautifully executed strokes.

7. Finally! The perfect project for sari silk ribbon.

8. An e-book version of the Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.You don't have to be gluten-free to love the little fat bombs that are the chocolate chip scones.

9. Tea. Have gone round-the-bend over Montana Tea (the website, however, leaves something to be desired). Try Night on Glaciar Bay or Evening in Missoula.

10. Looking forward to reading Flight Behavior.

Gobble, gobble?

A recent walk at the Plains Conservation Center brought the omnivore's dilemma into sharp relief. Located at the far edge of Aurora, the center represents 1,100 acres of preserved prairie (a second site near Strasburg protects nearly 8,000 acres). To the south and west countless putty-and-beige houses break the horizon but north and east--mostly clear, wan sky and mile-after-mile of tea-colored grass.

It's a delightful place to ramble; the center has replicated the Laura-Ingalls-Wilder experience by constructing a series of furnished sod buildings that include two homes, a school house, blacksmith shop and barn. There's also a working heirloom garden and chicken coop, where we met the flock pictured above.

We were completely charmed, especially when Tom, obviously a bird with strong preferences in textiles, began aggressively pecking the Garlic Queen's crocheted purse.

Which brings us to the dilemma and the impending holiday. When we approached the center's small clutch of chickens and turkeys, they ran to us like we were made of popped corn then followed us throughout the homestead certain our pockets were filled with good things to eat. We stooped down to talk a little turkey and they clucked and barked and showed us their beautiful feathers, which in the sunlight gleamed torquoise and bronze.

Because this is a working farm, occasionally a member of the flock is harvested and served to visitors in the large soddy--with dumplings.

Somehow I managed to gobble down turkey and chicken and beef for 50 years without question. Today, in spite of our omnivorous ancestery and need for protein, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to justify that these lives lived in the Colorado, California or Kansas sunshine are being ended for mine.

Not sure I'm there yet, but getting really close to saying, "Pass, the Field Roast, please..."

Photo by Susan Permut



The Petraeus Scandal: A good yarn

Why do we care? Apart from issues of national security and the possible breach thereof, why do we care that a highly regarded former general has some tarnished brass in the closet?

We care, because it's a good story and we're a story-telling species. Great man+hubris+cosmic smackdown=tragedy. Why, it's downright archetypal.

If we're honest with ourselves, however, isn't our fascination partly schedenfreude? Two extreme high achievers brought low by vanity, boredom and lust? All that striving and what end? Aren't we just a little delighted by all this?

But as the Pentagon turns and more players enter the drama, several families are in crisis. As savory as these bits are to chew, they represent the failings of real people with spouses and children and loved ones gobsmacked by the news--bystanders whose lives are unraveling in the media.

So we feel pity, another essential element of tragedy. And read some more.




Wear wool in Wovember!

Completely enraptured by the idea of Wovember.

Whether or not you're down with the climate-change thing, you must agree that energy conservation is a good thing. So as the temperature drops, do as Brenda Dayne does, put on a sweater. (Thank you to the Cast-On hostess for mentioning Wovember in her most recent podcast.)

The brainchild of Kate Davies and Felicity Ford, Wovember encourages wool fans to celebrate and promote the fiber by wearing as much of the lovely stuff as possible in November. Like we need another excuse to buy yarn. Or sweaters.

Today, I'm wearing a wool-blend skirt--made in Canada--I picked up on our honeymoon. Yes, it still fits. Just barely. (Think epic zipper battle.)

There are many wooly tempations in the retailverse. Anthropologie has gone completely sweater-happy with many wool and wool-blend beauties on offer.

Or drag out an old handknit you haven't displayed in a while. And turn down the temp.

10 Things to Do While Awaiting the Returns

1. Vote. If you haven't.

2. Finish that sweater moldering in the "done" pile. Then, win or lose, you'll have something fresh to wear or give.

3. Support the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort.

4. Reach out to someone who disagrees with you and listen respectfully to his or her point of view.

5. Open your mind to an unfamiliar idea. Or ideas.

6. Read something delightful. And beside the point.

7. Prepare something lovely to eat.

8. And for dessert...

9. To manage any post-election woes...

10. Or existential crises...

Blocking Wires: A Sonnet

Blocking Wires: A Sonnet

How do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways.
I loathe thee to the length and breadth and height
My shawl can reach, when feeling out of sorts
For the ends of weaving and ideal lace.

I loathe thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet knit, by sun and Ott light.

I loathe thee freely, as I insert Right;
I loathe thee purely, as I pin Crazed.

I loathe with a passion put to use
In my old steeks, and with my many mistakes.
I loathe thee with loathing I seemed to fuse
With my dropped stitches, I loathe thee rending
Sweaters, socks, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but loathe thee better after bending.


Book Giveaway: Super-Scary Mochimochi

Just in time for Halloween, the Super-Scary Mochimochi Nake-id giveaway!

In this clever freak fest, you'll find Ghost Toaster, Sarcophocat, a goblin with gastic issues, conjoined lab rats, bitty witches and much more. There is so much perverse adorableness contained herein, you're likely to knit up your own zombie apocalypse.

Though the campaign has been its own horror show, to enter: Simply leave a comment indicating you've voted, or are commited to, by midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 31. (This contest is strictly party preference will be granted.)

Good luck!

Bicycle-powered juice and other wonders in Salida

It's good to shake things up a bit, clear out the cobwebs and a quick trip to Salida, Colorado for ShedFest was the perfect tonic.

Was completely taken by the young lady above who was selling recycled bicycle-tube jewelry and juice produced exclusively by bike. Note the blender. When her concoction was at the proper consistency, she strained it through a cheese cloth, a process, she claimed that preserves more fruit-and-veg goodness than putting the mess through a juicer.

Also found this. Hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn from local sheep. Plus the artist was right there spinning with her Navajo spindle, how could I not?

We bought some lovely lovely beets and turnips (Nake-id IT has gone inexplicably mad for these bulbous taproots) and a fennel bulb for a dollar. 'Bout fainted dead away at that bit of good fortune.

In town I drug Mr. Nake-id into we stumbled on an herb-and-body shop called Vital Living Herbs and Nutrition, where the proprietress makes her own lines of skincare, cosmetics and teas. Natural lipsticks made in Colorado for $10? Well, let's just say, Spiced Chocolate, is riding along in my bag from now on.

We also popped in to Beeyond the Hive, a darling retail outlet for the 100-year-old Johnston Honey Farm, and came away with a small bottle of local Alfalfa Honey. Mr. Nake-id even offered up our place as a bee ranch. We're hoping it passes muster and that next spring, we'll have our own herd.

What all of these goodies have in common is good old American energy and entrepreneurship; these items were produced by the kind of small businesses most of us identify as such. These are people who have chosen to live in a place where the economy is small, but they are finding ways to make it work.

Inspiring, isn't it? Certainly turned some Nake-id wheels over here. And devilishly easy to support.



Yarn love

Over the years I've had the great good fortune to sample a lot of yarns. Everything from cashmere and yak to possum and beaver, recycled pop bottles, milk, corn, soy, pineapple, and even humble-but-illegal-to-cultivate-in-the-U-S-of-A hemp have slipped through my needles.

Most are perfectly fine. Some knit up splendidly but make you want to stab yourself in the eye they're so frustrating to work. Many split. Others arrive disheveled like they've just had a good roll in the hay, and why not? It's a good reminder of provenance. Still others are so soft, if you give them a good stare they'll pill.

Occasionally a yarn will find its way into my shopping bag, because they have a way of doing that. Like the skein pictured above. I had spied it at Wild Yarns and, you know, spent the evening rationalizing: Organic merino, hand-dyed by Cheryl herself, great yardage. Called Kelly the next day to hold.

And here it sat, until a happy convergence of twisted stitches, free time and knitted skirts inspired a new design. What's more, it knits like a dream with nary a split or hiccup. Let's hope it swaddles my backside just as well!

Oh, and the name of the yarn? OM by Cheryl Oberle.


The hand covering that dare not speak its name during election season

So I'm teaching an accessories project tonight. A particular kind of hand warmer--a cozy winter project the common name of which evokes a candidate for the highest office in the land. In these tense days before the election, let's eschew that four-letter term.

(Incidently that candidate also shares his surname with a popular heritage sheep. Perhaps that explains his predilection for following bellwether conservatives wherever they may lead. No doubt you see the resemblance.)

The project is very clever and can be adapted to fingerless gloves, fingerless non-gloves or completed with flip tops for added warmth.

I had been skeptical of their utility, but many of the cool young people at the local rally for the preferred candidate were sporting similar gear so as to click-and-share photos and maintain their comfort on that chill autumn morning.

However you lean, in coming days, do take your gloves off and vote.