Hello Spring

Just a little more than a week after moving in to our new-to-us home, we took a break.

We left behind the still weird smells, patched spots, the very beginnings of changes, and a basement loaded with things we miss on a daily basis.

We headed off in the car and stayed at one of my favorite hotels.

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Met up with my family who recently came across new old pictures that posed even more questions that no one can answer.

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Celebrated a birthday outdoors – the first alfresco meal of the year.

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The day was warm enough to stay out into the night.

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Broke up the drive on the way home with a stay at another well-liked hotel.

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And arrived home to find that the tree that we suspected to be a Magnolia, was one.

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I was a little sad I missed the unfurling, but new surprises are coming up in the yard daily.

I took some travel knitting along, but didn’t pick it up.

Instead, I mulled over colors for our walls.

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Sticky situation…

So the move was hell - torrential rains, flash flooding, heavy book collections, sewing machine collections, general collections of sh*t.

house-move

(sadly, this is only about half of my stash.)

A hell that also spread to others who were thankfully helping us.  Others will find it a source of amusement if you have tubs labeled “houndstooths” and “herringbones” and “unravelers.”  They will accuse you of having chintz, but you will be glad you know people who know what chintz is and are willing to help you haul the aforementioned heavy, excessive collections in the rain.

The “new” house isn’t very old – a baby boomer in person years, and  isn’t very attractive (yes, the vinyl siding followed us and we can’t afford to replace it) but it is modest and cozy and all ours (along with its problems – we woke to a dead boiler this morning).

It is also filthy.

This is what happens when you don’t have an exhaust hood over your stove:

house-dirtyceiling

I have to go in for a second or third scrub before I can even think of painting.

The house also had kids in it, and every room has evidence of them – stickers stuck to walls ceilings floors, glitter everywhere, scribbles on walls ceilings floors, little toy parts in cracks and crevices, and dubious and disgusting sticky places.

Speaking of stick, many people like this decorative crap for a child’s room:

house-stickers

But each little cheery leaf and branch and bird leaves sticky goo.

And your kid is no artistic genius,

house-scribbles

so why didn’t you clean that sh*t off when you wanted to sell your house?

N triumphantly killed the rotting jungle gym in the yard:

house-junglegym

and I’m totally thrilled we’re surrounded by hills again and that we have a window over the kitchen sink once more, not to mention plenty of gardening space.

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I also love the little bits of residential archaeology that come with sprucing up a new place – the kitchen was at least two shades of green in the past – maybe it needs to be again…

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Second things sometime need a little attention too…

…a sequel to In praise of first things.

Years and years ago, after I made a few more garter stitch scarves for friends and family, and falling just as hard for knitting with wool as I did for alpaca, not to mention all of the other fibrous beasts, came what seemed at the time, a very massive project.

firsthingsshawlfront

Yet I did not stray from my comfortable garter stitch.  I may have started this as a poncho, or at least a shawl, but I don’t remember now, except that I didn’t have a pattern and I was afraid of them then.  But ponchos were popular then, and then weren’t, and maybe they came back, I don’t know?  Originally it was just going to be solid charcoal, though I ran out of yarn before it was a good length to wrap.  Then something happened at the Brown Sheep/Lamb’s Pride mill?  A fire?  I can’t remember that either, but for a year, or years, worsted weight yarn in deep charcoal wasn’t available.  When a new LYS opened in my old neighborhood, I bought four skeins (including a deep charcoal) in bulky weight.  I got the only four colors available that weren’t some ghastly shade of pink or pastel blue (but I kind of liked the pastel sage).  I didn’t really think about (or know?) the difference in yarn weights either, but ploughed through to the end, or enough of an end when I ran out of yarn again.

firstthingsshawlbackIt too has a beautiful drape.

The bulky striped end is thick and especially warm.  We use this most as a throw blanket lengthwise, with the bulky end wrapping shroud-like whichever is the colder end of the body.

I’m tempted to frog this once in awhile to get to the sweater’s worth of yarn, but it is the best way to stay warm when supine and corpse-like in the dead of winter.

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Bye bye continued…

So the Blackbird isn’t the only one going away these days…

We finally, successfully bought a house.

secondo-nook

This little hallway sold it for me – I love a good hall and nook.

However, much of the place is not so good, so I’ll be spending the next few months patching and painting and sanding and staining and sealing and tiling and ripping out [not stitches] and installing and digging and hauling and biting at the heels of one or two hired professionals.

I won’t go in to the rehab to tiresome lengths (or maybe I will someplace else, because I regret not better documenting our last home transformation) but the place needs some serious color and character and will take the place of most of my fiber work in the near future – but then again, we also need curtains and re-upholstery and rugs and something to disguise a nasty basement drop-ceiling…

[packing my sh*t and moving it takes up several circles of hell]

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Bye bye blackbird…

The other morning I awoke to too much silence from a slight stealth snowfall and then suddenly a mad chorus of swallowed trills and flapping from a cloud of Red-Winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles honing in on the neighbor’s freshly topped-off birdseed.

I wouldn’t call myself a passionate birder – if given the choice, I’d rather hold a chicken than spy on some tiny flitty thing through distorted glass after hiking ten miles – which would put me in the bird-in-the-hand camp. Though I do make exceptions to trek to experience Tundra Swans, and I used to cater my commute to the streets where turkeys roamed in my old city.  But I keep an old pair of binoculars (a gift for my ninth birthday, I think) at my desk to check out the birds outside my window (and spy on delinquent teenagers doing illegal things in the parking lot).

birdinthewild

(a real birder would have a decent zoom lens too…)

On this particular chilly morning, I was thrilled at the Blackbird takeover and glad to see that the resident Morning Doves, Crows, and Bluejays, not to mention a healthy family of squirrels, were sharing alike and everyone was getting their full.  Until one of the other resident beasts, a tuxedo cat, picked out a weak or unsuspecting feathery friend and drug it off and under a car for slaughter.  Then it came back for more.

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Rear Window redux with feline crime.

Nature is nature, and I’m cool with that.  A lion should absolutely kill a little gazelle, a bear should whack a fish from the stream, and seagulls eating the bird of peace are normal.  But I do not tolerate cat owners (or caretakers, or whatever they prefer) who let their well-fed animals out unsupervised and unconstrained.  The same goes for dogs left to freely roam in the country and kill the neighbor’s furry 4-H projects.  I don’t want a beast in my garden giving me Toxoplasmosis, fighting with my own beasts and potentially spreading disease, or unnecessarily killing off the wildlife.  That’s what cat toys are for.

So this has nothing to do with fiber, and yet a partially true stereotype exists of knitters being “cat people.”  And cat people are often “bird people,” but some cat people don’t realize or don’t care that their slinky four-legged friends are up to no good outdoors and unfenced.

Blackbirds of course, always remind me of this song:

And I know it’s about a prostitute returning home with her tail between her legs, but oddly our elementary school music class would have to sing it over and over again, and even performed it in a school pageant.  Our music teacher was also a stereotype – rail thin with a severely dyed-black bob, and penciled-in arched eyebrows – from a different era, out of place in a redneck backassward town, and certainly playing out her sorrows and remembering all of her leavings every night with a tall glass of gin and a fat cat on her lap.  It was the first song that filled me full of immense woe and I hated it at the time – I hated the thought of ever leaving anything, and the Blackbird was always the Red-Winged variety that lived in the pond behind our house.  Singing it brought tears to my eyes then, so I just mouthed the words, but I usually faked singing most everything then (and now)…

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Picture-perfect knits

I’ve been seeing photographs of knitting printed on things lately.  Maybe it’s a trend, maybe it’s already passed – I don’t follow such things or care about them, but they’re catching my eye and I’m not quite sure how I feel about them – I like the use of photography on textiles, and I think there is some humor and novelty in these pieces, but maybe I just like real things more?

(I don’t endorse any of these items or their brands).

Abruzzo October 2013-faux knits

I saw these comforters in a shop window in Italy last autumn – I don’t know who makes them.  I like the “big cable-knit” one, but I’d rather have it in a duvet cover – I’d buy something like that (on sale) (on a big sale) since I’d probably get sick of it after awhile.  The colorful piece is a fake granny square afghan – I think it’s a bit cute – and would be nicer to touch than the real thing in acrylic.

dansko professional funky knit

These Dansko clogs were lusted after by many on ravelry over the last year or two.  I hate Dansko since they broke with Sanita and I won’t buy their no-longer-European-made crap any longer, though I love clogs.  These are just too novelty for me – I’d probably wear them if I worked in a yarn store, but then I’d probably get sick of people asking me where I got them.

uniqlo vest

And I have to admit I got suckered in to looking at the Uniqlo website after seeing their giant signs and advertisements for stuff-able down jackets in awesome colors for a good price.  And saw this vest there too (although it’s gone now).  I’m guessing that this stuff isn’t the best quality and is of dubious manufacturing, so I’ll keep my money for now.

One of these days I’d like to start playing with textiles printed with photographs, but not like this.

These things actually make me want to make the real thing – a giant cabled bedspread, clogs covered with knitting, and a wool down vest…

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[Im]patiently waiting…

We’re in a stressful period again, one that involves waiting and hoping and superstition and maybe a little internet stalking on my part…  It might feel similar to expecting a baby, or rather perhaps adopting a child, since a great deal of bureaucracy is also involved – or perhaps adopting a juvenile delinquent child since there is also an element of possible destruction.

But it is definitely not about babies.  At least human ones.

Or non-human animal ones… yet.

So I haven’t been doing much with my hands lately apart from gnawing on my knuckles and dialing and typing.

I guess most people don’t dial anymore, but I still love my land line and old phones with a good heft, fine audio clarity, and a solid ring.

Although people have been texting me on them, and that doesn’t work out so well…

So in the interest of self-prescribed mind-clearing meditative knitting, I started another Honey Cowl.

honeycowl-wine

(the colors aren’t right – it’s more of a wine shade.)

Yes, it’s the yarn I just bought along with some deeply stashed Lamb’s Pride.

I don’t love the color combo, or maybe the colors in general yet, but it’s giving me enough of a twitch that I can re-direct some of my annoyed and nervous energy to it.

I may come around to like it in the end?

And I also might be able to wear it with that shockingly pink vintage coat that I’ve lacked the balls or tolerance of something so bright so close to my eyes to wear yet…

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