Friday, September 30, 2005

My Dad is here on a two-week (or so) visit. I have been dreading this for months. Not because I don't like my dad, but because this is the first time I've seen any of my family since Mom passed away, and I knew it was going to be stressful. It's very strange not having Mom here as well; there's a piece missing. Mom was sort of the "leavening" for our family visits. I'm much more like my dad, very quiet. When Mom was there, there was conversation. With just my dad and me, it's all very quiet. I could talk to Mom about knitting or scrapbooking or other crafty things, but Dad really couldn't care less about all that.

Dad and Shaun can talk much more easily than Dad and I can. Heck, Dad and strangers can talk more easily than Dad and I. I try not to let this bother me, but it does, even though I know it's at least partly my fault too.

So what specifically is stressing me out?
  • He's very excited to help us expand the deck off the back of our house, and we really can't afford it because we are so strapped right now, but he's so gung-ho about it that I feel like it's something we have to do.
  • An unforeseen stress that's small but very wearing is the fact that Emma doesn't say the "p" sound very well, so every time she says "Grandpa," it comes out "Gramma." I don't know if it bothers Dad, but it bothers me. She's getting better at saying it, but still...
  • I resent the interruption in my routine. This is stupid, but I really do. I like to be able to knit and watch whichever TiVoed shows I want in the afternoons while Emma naps. I like to have quiet evenings just knitting or whatever. I'm really very boring, but I don't want Dad to be bored.
  • I'm doing WAY more cooking than if it's just me and Shaun and Emma. Somehow, I feel like dinner has to be planned more than 10 minutes in advance when Dad's here. And it's me doing the planning and cooking, not me and Shaun alternating.
  • There's also more cleaning of bathrooms, vacuuming, and litterbox scooping. I let the litterbox go three days once last week, and Dad scooped it himself. This, of course, made me feel even more miserable and slovenly-housekeeperish.
  • Shaun and I still have to work, even though Dad's here. Luckily, our workdays aren't 8-5, but we do have to go in to the Lab at least a couple hours a day. This wasn't such a big deal when Mom was here, because she and Dad would go off around the island on their own, sightseeing or whatever. Now, it's just Dad. He spent almost the whole day at home alone yesterday because I had to work and babysit for 6 hours, and Shaun was writing on a paper he has to get done. I feel like I'm required to entertain him, but I have to work too.
In summary, I feel selfish and whiny. I mean, what I regret most about Mom's passing away is that I (and Emma) didn't have more time with her. And Dad's here now, so I should be enjoying this time with him. But the truth is that I never had the easy relationship with my dad that I did with my mom, and the past week has been uncomfortable and strained. Which mades me feel guilty, which makes me more stressed, which makes me feel uncomfortable, which makes me feel guilty, which makes me feel stressed......

I debated posting this at all, but when all's said and done, this is MY space to express MY feelings (however contorted and whiny and selfish they might be) and to blow off steam. So there you go: a look into the trackless, marshy morass that is the Mind Of Sue.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Just a quick post this time, because my Dad is here visiting. More on this at a later date...

Anyway, I wanted to show off my finished "Children of Lir" scarf. Here it is before blocking, measuring in at a rumply 11" x 31".

And here it is post-blocking, after blossoming to 16" x 50".

I'm quite pleased with the way this came out. The yarn softened a bit after washing, and the finished hand is soft, drapey, and airy. This is the nicest project I've ever made with my own handspun.

To refresh your memory (and mine down the road), this is from 50% Merino / 50% tussah silk commercial roving, spun worsted as a 110 wpi singles, plied to a 57 wpi two-ply, and knitted on #2 (3.0mm) Addi Turbos. Total weight= 1.3 oz (40 g). Total length of yarn used= 416 yds (380 m)

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I took part in a bake sale at our local Farmer's Market over the weekend, to raise money for Hurricane Katrina relief. I was amazed when I found out yesterday that we raised almost $1700 in three hours! We didn't set prices for anything, it was all by donation, and people were really generous. My apple pie alone went for $20. One little girl came over with her entire allowance of $1 to buy a single cookie.

It's heartwarming to know that people still have some good in them. All proceeds went straight to the Red Cross.

Monday, September 19, 2005

This morning as I was getting ready to head out the door, Emma was playing in the living room. She was nominally watching Dora the Explorer, but mostly bopping around dancing with her stuffed animals. I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth when I realized that it had gotten very quiet. This can never mean anything good when there's a non-asleep toddler in the house. I peeked around the corner into the living room and saw Emma, sitting in the middle of the floor.

She had drawn all over the fronts and backs of her arms and legs. While it was Crayola marker, washable and non-toxic, we were literally minutes from having to leave. I ran to get a washcloth, stupidly not taking the marker with me. When I got back, she had continued her creative endeavors.

She was now in full face paint, as well. Thank goodness these markers wash off easily!


Edited to add:
Well, Risa totally upstaged me! Go check out what her kids did!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Happy blogiversary to me! I can't believe I've been doing this for a whole year already!

Friday, September 16, 2005

When Emma and I went to Puyallup last week, I brought along a sock to work on during the ferry ride. I cast on and was merrily knitting away, making great progress, while following Emma as she did laps and played with all the other kids. Between the ride over in the morning and the ride back in the afternoon, I knit the whole leg and half the short-rowed heel. Fun yarn, quick plain circular stockinette knitting, what could be better?

However. Ahem. Apparently I cast on 75 stitches instead of 65. Oof. Elephant socks. Lesson learned. Do not cast on and try to count stitches while following a toddler. In the future, I will arrive for the ferry with a sock-in-progress, not a ball of yarn and some needles.

There was a silver lining, though. First, I created some business for my local yarn shop when a woman was so enchanted with the socks and with watching me knitting that she said she was going straight to get some needles and some of the same yarn for herself in the morning, and learn to knit socks.

Secondly, I created this

when I frogged the sock in preparation for starting over.

Rainbow Ramen! I was just pulling the stitches out while watching TV, and when I was done and looked down, there was this squiggly pile of happy fun-ness.

I love this yarn. It’s called Online, 75% superwash wool and 25% polyamide, and it has a lovely feel. The last pair of self-striping sock I made were a different brand (Fortissima Colori/Socka Color , I think) and that yarn had a totally different feel to it, though it was still 75%wool/25%polyamide. Not only was the yarn thinner and firmer, the wool had almost-scratchy feel, and there were lots of coarser fibers in the yarn. This yarn, though, is thick and cushy (though it's still sock weight- I’m knitting these on #1 needles) and is quite soft. Obviously made from a different breed of wool. The difference is like comparing Wensleydale and Corriedale.

The colors in this are beautiful, too. Very clear and bright, and each stripe is only about two rounds long so it’s fun to anticipate the next progression.

I knit the turned ribbing/picot hem, the leg, and started the heel flap last night before bed. Socks go so fast!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It's hard to believe that in just two years time, a person can go from this:

to this:

Happy Birthday Emma! We had a nice surprise party at the babysitter's house, and Emma was very excited to get to have cake. The presents were fun, too, but mostly there was CAKE!!

I've finished the first half of the Children of Lir scarf, and I really like the way it's working up. Last night I did the last repeat, the seed stitch edging, and bound it off. Now onto the second half!

I'm doing 15 repeats of the pattern on each half. The pattern is written for sport-weight yarn, and only calls for 9 repeats, but that was way too short when done in my much finer handspun. I did a test-stretch after binding off last night, and this half went to approximately 16" x 26", giving a total finished length of around 50" or so. I can't wait to see this done and blocked.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Dear Comment Spammers,

While I appreciate your concern that I may have physically insignificant body parts or a lack of n.u.d.e h.o.t.t.i.e.s in my life, will you please LEAVE ME ALONE!!! I do not want to visit your music site, or add my name to your list of singles. I don't need a loan. I don't care what great and life changing website you want me to see. Go away.



I realize that this letter, written in great frustration and tenseness, will never reach those to whom it is addressed. At least I feel better. And it did take them almost a year to find me!

Alas it is you, dear readers, who must pay the price. You may have noticed that I have been forced to turn on that annoying word-verification option in the Comments.


(Please don't stop commenting!)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Emma and I trekked down to Puyallup on Friday, to go to opening day of the Fair. To see the fair, since I’ve never been in the four years we’ve been here, but more importantly, to see how my entries did! And guess what?!

I won!!! Again!! Wahoo! (…insert a mental picture of me dancing around in glee…)

The sewing thread doily won Grand Champion for Lace and Openwork!

And both that doily and the hardanger doily won Best of Category!


The fair was soooo crowded, though. We drove around town for 45 minutes before we found a parking lot that wasn’t full, and I got the very last spot in that one. All the on-street parking was taken, the lots were full, even the churches that were offering parking were full. It was an absolute zoo. I think the entire state of Washington was there. The western half, anyway.

Emma and I battled our way around to see all the exhibits in the Home Arts Building and Hobby Hall, and saw some of the livestock (“Sheep, Mama! Sheep!”) before Emma had had enough and was on the verge of a meltdown. To tell the truth, I was on the verge myself. The giant crowd was a bit much for this country mouse. So we did one last trip to the Home Arts displays so I could look at my ribbons again, then headed back north to catch the ferry.

Emma napped the whole drive to the ferry (2+ hours), we stopped for a quick sandwich before putting the car in line, then we spent a lovely half hour on the beach at the ferry terminal, throwing pebbles into the water and practicing getting both feet off the ground while jumping.

It was a very fun day. On reflection, though, I realize that the San Juan County Fair has a much friendlier, more fun atmosphere. It’s an order of magnitude smaller, for one thing, without the hordes of people. It has more of a “country fair” feeling. The fair in Puyallup seemed to be more rides/food/commercial vendor oriented. They had booths selling mattresses, for goodness sake! There were lots of gorgeous handcrafted items on display, but the quality and variety (if not the quantity) was just as good at our fair. In short, I’m glad I went and it was fun, but I don’t think I’ll make that 5-hour round trip every year.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

I've been trying for over a week to write an insightful, articulate, well thought out post to express how I've felt over the past week, and I just can't do it. The scope of what happened on the Gulf Coast is unimaginable.

I lived through several hurricanes while I was in North Carolina, the two worst being Fran ('96) and Floyd ('99). Thankfully, I was well inland for these, and even escaped the disastrous flooding from Floyd that put literally half the state underwater. The worst effects on me personally were lots and lots of trees down (but none of them even hit our house or cars) and power outages for almost a week. To me, it was just an inconvenience, sort of an adventure. I was working for the NC Department of Transportation during Floyd, and for a week after the storm I spent 10-hour days helping with the DOT emergency phone bank, answering calls about road closures and how people could get back to their homes. In most cases, especially in the early days, I could give no answer except "You can't get there. All roads are under water." Then, after the flood receded and we (the biologists on the Natural Systems staff at DOT) started up with our normal fieldwork schedule, there were reminders everywhere. Waterlines on houses that had been flooded. Livestock carcasses in roadside ditches. Mud everywhere. Bridges and roads washed out. Trees, fences, house parts, cotton bales, and cars piled up hundreds of feet from the riverbanks. It was a mess. The aftermath of Floyd was one of those major life experiences that stays with you forever.

From what I've seen on TV, this does not even compare to what's happening on the Gulf Coast right now. At no point during these hurricane experiences was I truly afraid for my life. During Fran, I did lie awake and listen to the trees falling, but most of the trees near the house were relatively small, and I think that even if they had fallen on the house we would have been OK. Yes, there was tremendous flooding from Floyd, but once the storm was over the waters began to recede fairly quickly.

New Orleans sits in a bowl below sea level, and with the levees breached and the pumps off, there was simply no way for the water to drain. The stagnant water is a disease breeding ground, and is a soup of toxic chemicals. Think about what's under your kitchen sink and in your garage and multiply that by a city's worth. Then add in all the industrial chemicals that were washed out, gas and oil from broken cars and gas stations, and raw sewage. Not something I'd want to wade waist-deep through. The pumps are back on now, and the city's starting to drain, but think about where that toxic soup is going. Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico. It's not gone, just relocated. This is not only a human and financial disaster, it’s an environmental one.

I’ve watched a bit of the coverage on TV, but I can’t watch too much. It just tears me up. I see people who’ve lost loved ones or still don’t know where they are, families made homeless, children separated from their parents, family pets roaming the streets or balancing on rooftops because their owners weren’t allowed to take them to the shelters or on the bus when they were evacuated. Entire towns just gone. Hundreds of thousands (millions?) of lives completely disrupted or cut short.

I know that it will be possible for the survivors to put their lives back together, in some form or another, but it breaks my heart to think that they are in this situation at all. Many of them have lost everything- family heirlooms, photos, documents… EVERYTHING.

Even those whose families are still together will be a very long time recovering from this.

Then I think about my life. I have a husband who loves me. I have a beautiful nearly-two-year-old daughter. I have a cuddly cat and dog. I know where all these members of my family are this very second. I have health insurance. I have a house. I have food anytime I am hungry and clean water any time I’m thirsty. I have a job. I have a car. I have books to read and the materials for the hobbies that provide enjoyment.

Then there’s the larger scale. I can walk outside without fear of being shot or raped. I do not live in a war zone, a poverty stricken village, or under a repressive government. I feel safe. That is a precious gift, one I too often take for granted. I have so much, we all have so much, and it behooves us to remember that.

So I think about these things, while I crochet my doily, knit my lace scarf, spin some yarn. I continue to do these things not because I don't care or don't appreciate the tragedy, but to keep my fingers busy and my mind occupied.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Another productive fibery weekend! But first, I'd like to thank everyone for their nice comments on the quilt from the last entry. I'd reply to you personally, but when Blogger emails me the comments, I mostly get "" as the sending email address. So, unless you link to your blog, I can't reply. Just know that I really appreciate the comments. Shaun just says "Very nice" every time I show him a finished project. I don't think he really understands my obsessions. :-)

Anyway, here's what I did this weekend. First of all I did a few more rounds on the current doily.

This is one of the most confusing doily patterns I've done. I'm keeping notes as I go along, in case I ever want to make it again, and I'll probably email Christine with my clarifications in case she wants to put them up on her site. It's not so much that the directions are wrong, it's that they aren't clear. You have to be able to fill in the gaps yourself. Definitely not for a beginning crocheter.

I also had an attack of start-itis last night, and began a knitted lace stole/scarf. It's the "Children of Lir Rectangular Stole" from Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman. Not much to look at here:

But when you stretch it out a bit:

Lovely! This is knitted out of my own handspun, the 50% Merino/50% tussah silk laceweight that I was spinning last fall. This particular ball is 1.2 oz and 383 yards. It knits up lovely, and is incredibly stretchy. This is knitted on #2 (3.0 mm) Addi Turbo needles.

The pattern calls for sport-weight yarn, and says the stole blocks to 24" x 60". I'm using laceweight, so I think it will end up being closer to 16" than 24", but that's a good width for a filmy scarf.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

It’s done!!

But I feel like an idiot. Remember when I said a couple days ago that my sewing machine was so bare-bones that I couldn’t do free motion quilting or even lower the feed dogs? Well, I was rummaging through the accessory box that came with the machine, looking for a different presser foot that wouldn’t grab the fabric so much, and I found this:

This is a darning foot. I registered this fact, then had to do a double take. Why would the manufacturer have included this foot with my machine, when you have to be able to lower the feed dogs in order to use it? I pulled out the manual, and sure enough, there on page 19, it shows how to lower the feed dogs.

I looked in the manual years ago, to see how to lower the feed dogs. I just KNOW I did. I’m POSITIVE. But obviously I’m wrong. Either I read these directions and forgot them, or missed that page of the manual, or something. I’ve had this machine for ten years, used it quite a bit, and I didn’t even know I could lower the feed dogs. Pitiful.

So anyway, I put the darning foot on and played with free motion quilting a bit. It’s hard! I drew a simple rope-type border on the quilt, and just went for it. It OK, though it would have been easier if the machine was flush with the table top, since there wasn’t much room for my hands to hold the fabric.

I probably could have quilted these lines using a regular foot and the feed dogs, but it was good practice to do it without. Wiggly lines and all, I like the way it came out. And I like the way the quilt as a whole came out.

Emma likes it too. I had just barely finished taking pictures of the spread-out quilt, when she grabbed it and started hugging it. She held onto it all through Sesame Street,

and dragged it behind her down the hall when she went for her nap, insisting on having it in the crib with her even though it’s a pretty warm day.