Thursday, September 07, 2006

Dr. Phil's Test -- Paula's Version

This one keeps cropping up in my inbox. For some of the questions, there is simply no answer that really fits me, so I thought I’d have some fun with it here in blogland. Let’s go…!

1. When do you feel your best?

a) in the morning
b) during the afternoon and early evening
c) late at night

Gee, that all depends on the day and what I have to do. If I wake up a couple of hours before everyone else in the house and can spend time with some knitting/spinning project, a dog or two curled up near me, and a good audio book, then morning is the best time. EARLY morning! Everything starts to go downhill once I have to stop knitting and wake people up so they won’t be late for school/job/choir. Crikey, it’s like herding cats. Most ungratifying…

2. You usually walk…

a) fairly fast, with long steps
b) fairly fast, with little steps
c) less fast head up, looking the world in the face
d) less fast, head down
e) very slowly

Hmm…in an ideal world, I guess I would walk quickly, with a fairly long stride. However, at age 44, with pronated ankles, flat feet, and a couple of spectacular ankle-injuring falls in my recent past, I tend to go more slowly and watch the ground for possible hazards. But I WANT to go faster, with a long stride. Do I get any points for intent? Probably not. Drat these flippy-floppy ankles!

3. When talking to people you…

a) stand with your arms folded
b) have your hands clasped
c) have one or both your hands on your hips
d) touch or push the person to whom you are talking
e) play with your ear, touch your chin, or smooth your hair

WHERE, pray tell, is “stand with your hands in your pockets?” Folding one’s arms looks aggressive. Clasping one’s hands looks too prayerful in ordinary circumstances. Hands on hips looks like a challenge. And who pushes another person, unless trying to provoke a fight? OK, so sometimes I run my hand through my hair, but…mostly it’s hands in pockets if I’m standing. Hands occupied with knitting or spindlling if seated.

4.When relaxing, you sit with…

a) your knees bent with your legs neatly side by side
b) your legs crossed
c) your legs stretched out or straight
d) one leg curled under you

A good knitting project, thank you very much! Legs tend to be restless. Hard to find a confortable position for them, so position varies every few minutes.

5. When something really amuses you, you react with...

a) big appreciated laugh
b) a laugh, but not a loud one
c) a quiet chuckle
d) a sheepish smile

Well, I don’t always respond the same way. Depends on the situation. If we are discussing “merkins” versus “firkins” or “gesso” versus “jism,” then guffaws turn into soundless wheezing with tears. Sometimes a joke is only worth a small chuckle, or in cases of utterly poor taste where one doesn’t wish to be as rude as the person telling the joke, the sheepish smile will do. No simple answers, really, are there?

6. When you go to a party or social gathering you…

a) make a loud entrance so everyone notices you
b) make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know
c) make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed

Depends on the nature of the party, doesn’t it? If it’s a gang of hubby’s co-workers, then I tag along with him, get introduced to myriad people, and sit in a corner with my “security knitting” at the earliest possible opportunity. This often ends up being a crowd draw, although it wasn’t intended to be. People talk about some dear departed relative who “used to do that” and the time passes nicely while people enjoy telling their stories and I continue to knit. In a group of textile friends, why be quiet? We all know each other, we aren’t shy. In a situation like that, I can be pretty extroverted. But in most situations, I try to make a quiet entrance and stay unnoticed until I have determined how comfortable I am being there in the first place.

7. You're working very hard, concentrating hard, and you're interrupted. You...

a) welcome the break
b) feel extremely irritated
c) vary between these two extremes

This one I can honestly say that I vary between the two extremes,leaning more towards irritation. When I die, my epitaph will read: “What do you want NOW????”

8. Which of the following colors do you like most?

a) Red or orange
b) black
c) yellow or light blue
d) green
e) dark blue or purple
f) white
g) brown or gray

Ooh, this is just NOT FAIR! How about ranking in order of preference instead? 1) Black 2) Purple/Dark blue 3) Green 4) Gray/Brown 5) Red (and it had better be a bluish red, NOT an orangey red!) 6) Orange (Must be its own separate entity, not part of Red!) 7) Yellow

I do not care for White or Light blue much at all.

9. When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before
going to sleep you are…

a) stretched out on your back
b) stretched out face down on your stomach
c) on your side, slightly curled
d) with your head on one arm
e) with your head under the covers

Oy veh, here’s one of those “in an ideal world” questions again! I LOVE to fall asleep on my back. Trouble is, within five minutes hubby is elbowing me to turn over because I’m snoring. Loudly. And he can no longer hear his television program. So I must sleep on my side. The left side. Still snoring, but pointed away from hubby, and the snoring isn’t quite as bad when I’m lying on my side. But for an afternoon nap when no one is around to hear but the dogs…I lie on my back. And I snore. So do they. All three of ’em.

10. You often dream that you are...

a) falling
b) fighting or struggling
c) searching for something or somebody
d) flying or floating
e) you usually have dreamless sleep
f) your dreams are always pleasant

In highly improbable situations. Sometimes this is funny and I wake up laughing. Sometimes it’s scary and I just wake up, take a good swig of water, and try to go back to sleep again. I often don’t remember what I dreamed by morning.

Now…how do I e-mail this to Dr. Phil? And more importantly, how would he score me if he read this?

Happy day, y’all!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Photo Quota Exceeded???

I don't know what's up with blogspot. Maybe it's me, but for the last two days I have not been able to upload any pictures. Could it be that I have exceeded my storage quota here? Perhaps. And that's a problem when I have finally begun to document my trip to Scotland. What point would there be without pictures? So, I am hosting the Scotland Journal on my own webpage. You'll find all the necessary info at I'll keep updating as time permits, and hopefully give you some idea what the experience was like for me. Please bookmark the site and enjoy! First entry is up now.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Before I Forget...

I think I had better document a couple of recipes I just invented! I have a tendency to forget what I put in when I make something divine, so every time I try to recreate it, it comes out differently. Not always better, though!

Hubby says I make the best tuna salad in the Universe, and tonight's is especially good, since the tuna base is leftover cold grilled tuna steak from a couple of nights ago. (But I did add a can of albacore as well, and you could easily get away with using four cans of that if you don't have the fresh stuff on hand.)

So, roughly 24 ounces of tuna, dried dill, dried tarragon, a generous dash of celery salt, a small onion, a few stalk of celery, a big handful of walnut meats, and enough mayo to hold it all together. Toss all the ingredients in the food processor and pulse until all is chopped fine and throughly blended. It will have more of a pate consistency than the tuna salad one gets in sandwich shops, and is fabulous on a nice crusty artisan bread with a little romaine lettuce.

I also made some stuffed eggs to go with the tuna sandwiches, and the filling is absolutely to die for, even if I do say so myself! Hard boil as many eggs as you think you'll eat in a sitting. Cool, peel, cut in half, and put yolks in the food processor bowl. Now add as many olives as you feel like pitting. (I used Nicoise olives, so I think maybe about a dozen of these got done before I was sick of pitting them.) Add a healthy splash of some nice vinegar (I used cider, but any will do) and a small handful of fresh garden herbs. (The ones I used today were Basil and Nasturtium leaves -- yum!) Throw in enough mayo to hold all together and blend thoroughly. Stuff eggs and refrigerate for an hour or so. Man, o man! I sampled the filling and it was purely out of this world. Can't wait to see what it tastes like when it has had time to chill.

I know I still owe folks a Scotland update or two or three. I am still sorting all my pics and also waiting for a disc of photos our wonderful organizer is sending. (Looking forward to it, Liz!)

I will be starting a separate Scotland blog, since it seems I have run out of picture space in this locale. Weird! Will post a link shortly and see if it works.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Finished Stuff!

At long last, my Opal Flamingo Socks! I finished them on Saturday morning in my hotel room in Washington, D.C. It was too hot to wear these to my cousin's wedding later in the day, plus they would have looked a bit odd with my dress. But I did wear them home yesterday, and a good thing that was, as the airline lost our luggage. (HOW does an airline manage to screw up putting a bag on a direct flight, especialy when said direct flight is not full?) Luckily, it took a mere couple of minutes to determine that our bag was still in D.C. and would be arriving on a later flight. It was delivered to my door first thing this morning, none the worst for wear, and I once again had access to my oh-so-lethal knitting tools. (That would be a pair of scissors, some stitch markers, some larger sized circs, and my chibi needles.) Without those tools, I could not have completed...

...this. You've seen it in progress, and now here it is, drying on my bed. Can you believe, the pattern ends with 4 rows of garter stitch and a bind-off row, and that I only had enough yarn to make it about a third of the way through the third row???? I had hoped to wear this to the wedding, but with more yarn needing to be spun at the last minute, I kind of missed the deadline. I dashed off enough yardage to finish this morning, wove in my ends, and gave it a wash. I was too eager to see the thing made up to bother washing a tiny skein and waiting for it to dry, so the last two rows and bind-off were worked "in the grease." It washed up very nicely, though, and I am thrilled with the shawl. And what a spinning geek I am! Am I waiting for the shawl to dry comepletely so I can WEAR it? Heavens, no. I am waiting for it to dry completely so I can see how much extra weight the edging added to the central triangle. If it's 5 ounces or under, I think my triumphal shouts may well be heard as far away as Kalamazoo. This is the most consistent, finest gauge yarn I have spun yet. A definite entry for the Big E this year!

Monday, May 22, 2006

New Project Picture Journal

Coopworth Fleece purchased at NH Sheep & Wool on Saturday, 13 May 2006. 3-1/2 lbs shorn from an 11 month onld ewe named Maggie. So clean I am working with it "in the grease" and loving it!

These are freshly hackled locks, still in the grease, and ready to spin. I still can't believe how easily this stuff goes through the hackle, and how little waste there is!

This is the center section of my razor shell/feather and fan shawl. I decided to see how it would block out before starting the feather and fan edging, plus I need to spin some more of the yarn so I can finish. This is one of Liz Lovick's patterns, and I really love its simple elegance.

Here's a little close-up shot. Dig the variations in color! Can anyone say "Big E?"

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The Flu

The Ringwood Henley Sweater

I finished the latest commission, finally. Well, sort of. I let my friend try it on and it is too short for him, and the neckline could use a little expansion. So, back to the drawing board for a bit. I ran two "lifelines" in contrast yarn down near the bottom ribbing, then snipped between the two lines of stitches. I got the live stitches from both parts of the body on to circulars and commenced knitting up from the bottom. When the segment is 7-1/2" long, I will use Kitchener stitch to join the two body pieces. Then, after having woven in the ends, I'll deal with partial disassembly of the neckline, just so I can add a few more inches to accommodate the dress shirt and tie my friend will usually be wearing with this sweater. Lastly, it will get another wash. The good news is, the sleeves were exactly the right length. Not too bad for my first stumble through a Raglan style garment! And many thanks yet again to Jackie Fee for her incomparable "Sweater Workshop." I don't always construct my sweaters in the round, as this book tecahes, but the no-nonsense directions for collecting measurements and other pertninent information are the most helpful I have found to date.

This is the next commission, a new Aran for my friend in Stonington. Christina chose the stitch patterns herself, based on sweaters she has seen me wear over the years that I have vacationed at her wonderful Inn on the Harbor. The yarn is some commercially spun singles that I made into a sturdy, though fine-gauge 3-ply yarn. It's a really pretty heathered lavender, and I love the way it's coming out so far. The clarity of the stitch definintion makes up for the fact that I am yet again destined to use size 3 needles for an Aran sweater.

Alas, I have fallen a bit behind on the above two projects, through no fault of my own.

I was having a pretty good winter. Really, I was. Then a whole bunch of stuff started hitting the fan. The good news is, my ankle is just about back to normal. The bad news? Despite having gotten a shot to prevent it, I came down with the Flu last Thursday night. I have no idea where I picked it up, or how, but it moved in for the kill very, very fast. Respiratory and intestinal symptoms were really minimal, but the body aches and headaches were among the worst I have ever endured. Now thank goodness, most of that has passed, and I am sleeping a lot and working at trying to have an appetite again. (Yup, that's right, Mad Angel completely lost interest in food for 4 whole days, unbelievable as that may seem.)

During my few pain-free waking hours since Saturday, I did manage to play with my new Weavette. (I bought the 6" model, and backordered the 4" one.)

Cranberry Wool of the Andes

Handspun Hand-dyed Wool (I only spun and plied it.)

Superwash Wool, Variegated

Noro Silk Garden

(Reminds me of vintage '70's Herculon sofa fabric! Sheesh...)

What will I do with these? Well, I suspect I'll just keep making them for fun, and one day I will have enough to stitch together for a warm, if somewhat eye-popping, afghan. I have so many oddments of yarn around from all sorts of projects, and these squares only take 16 yards. Plus they are a lot of fun to do, and finished pretty quickly with the accompaniment of a good audio book.

Speaking of which...I'm done with Great Expectations now. That leaves Moby Dick and The Secret Supper. Hmmm.... I think I'm going for the Conspiracy Theories first, and Moby Dick will have to wait a bit yet.

Happy knitting to all, and keep clear of the flu if you can!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


So, we went to Maine again this past weekend. Guess it's really spring now, though it didn't feel like it. These sheep were in a field somewhere on the way to Deer Isle, right on Route 15, and I would have gotten closer to them if not for the dratted sprained ankle and a steep ditch I did not want to risk with the afore-mentioned ankle. I could hear the little lambies baa-ing in their funny little voices, and caught a few glimpses of the "mama give me some tittie" head butting. Too cute!

Sadly, the closer I got with my camera, the faster the sheep dispersed, in a neat little line, all of them heading back to the barn and away from the strange creature that kept insisting on talking to them. [sigh] I suspect that if I ever do find my dream hovel, hopefully with a nice parcel of land attached, I might just have to have a couple of sheep...

This is a night view of Stonington Harbor, which my husband must have taken from the deck of our room at the Inn on the Harbor while I was asleep. I don't know exactly what it is about this place, but I keep returning to it time and time again, and when we try to go someplace else for rest and relaxation, we just feel homesick for Stonington the whole time. We have been going up for stolen weekends for about 3 years now, and each time the ride up seems shorter, the place feels more like home, and it gets harder and harder to leave when our time is up. The ocean is right outside our window when the tide is in, and the mudflats and seaweed are there to study, too, when the tide is out. In either case, it's beautiful. This weekend, there was one loon floating around in the water among the seagulls, and I heard it giggling as if hearing the greatest joke ever written. What an unearthly sound! I was lucky to hear it a few times.

Of course, I knitted. The cranberry Ringwood sweater is almost done. It just needs a few more rows on the collar, the buttons sewed on, and a washing. I expect it will go to its recipient no later than Sunday. Then I get to start the next project, which is one of the reasons for my visit to Stonington.

Over the years of staying at the Inn on the Harbor, we have gotten to know the innkeeper, Christina, quite well. She wants a sweater, so one part of my stay included a consultation about designs and yarns. This one will be another Aran in a hand-plied lavender heather, and will feature some favorite motifs and my signature medieval neck treatment. I will be doing the math for this project in the next few days and starting sometime over the weekend, I hope. In the interim I might knock off a pair of wristers in some Noro yarn I couldn't resist while out shopping today.

In addition to the Aran for Christina, I have a basic plan going for a Stonington Gansey. That one, I think, will be for me. But I must finish my commissions first!

An amusing and to me, flattering note. I showed Christina many patterns from "she who must not be named," and she said she preferred something of my own design! The textured sweaters "she who must not be named" has designed over the years have been a great source of inspiration to me, so hats off to her! I wouldn't be where I am now without her. And someday, I just know that more of her patterns are in my knitting future, for my own personal wardrobe.

Off to finish Ringwood!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

What I Did Instead of Knitting Last Night

Amazing, isn't it, how well my spiffy new Air Cast shows off my handknit socks?

Och, Jaysus, this has been quite the week, my friends. It all began on Monday morning with...

Chest pains that wouldn't go away, so I went to the hospital for tests. It turned out to be a big fat nothing, but could have been any number of things. The heart was the main concern, of course, so there was an EKG and blood work. One of those blood tests turned up some kind of clotting factor they didn't like, so they sent me off for a CT scan of my lungs. Apparently they suspected a pulmonary embolism, which information pretty well freaked me out. (That's what finished my Dad off so many years ago when he had cancer -- probably one of those blessings in disguise for him, come to think of it with hindsight.) Lucky for me the lungs were clear, but I was so anxious I never heard the nurse say a splitting headache is one of the commonest side effects from contrast dye, and it doesn't happen right away.

So yesterday, accompanied by the afore-mentioned splitting headache, I went off to work as usual. My supervisor has trouble with kidney stones and has had the CT scan/contrast dye thing so many times she was able to reassure me that I was just having a reaction, NOT a stroke from some random blood clot the CT scan had not tracked down. OK, great, fine, started to go about my work, was walking briskly across the loading dock to deliver some labels, and ended up doing an impromptu gymnastic maneuver instead. Nothing fractured but my dignity, and I let myself lie there for a few minutes cussing and staring at the ceiling, waiting for the pain in my bad knee to go away. (Still can't quite believe how much it hurts to land on a joint that has hardly any cartilege left in it...) Managed to get up, bruised and battered, delivered the labels and got some sympathy from the guys who needed them. Except for the headache, which dwindled as the day wore on, everything was OK. I punched out as usual at 2:30 and started walking up the hill to my car SLOWLY, fully remembering what happened on the loading dock earlier in the day and not wanting a repeat performance...

Well, so much for the best laid plans of mice, men, and cable builders. My left ankle decided to gang a-gley, and I flew through the air with an increasing sense of disbelief, and landed really hard on the sidewalk. This time I really had a lot of trouble getting up again, and my left foot did not settle into anything resembling normal behavior. So, off I went to the ER again, just 24 hours after I was released from Monday's visit. It seems I have a nasty foot/ankle sprain/strain. I have to use crutches for 2 weeks and wear an Air Cast for at least that length of time.

I would much rather have been at the Tuesday Night Knit-In. However, Air Casts are truly extraordinary devices. Yesterday at this time I could not bear weight on the foot and was miserably dragging myself around on crutches. Today, having reapplied the Air Cast after seeing my doctor, I got the thing just right and am now managing to walk around quite painlessly with a single forearm crutch. (I have a pair 'cause they "came with the house.") Ever so much less obtrusive than the clunky old standard aluminum crutches, and I don't look nearly so klutzy and lopsided. I'm just a little slower than normal, and will be for awhile yet.

I don't even want to think about what this is all going to do to my participation in Evensong this weekend. The doctor has said "no prolonged standing." Oops. And I think that means no processions up and down flights of marble stairs, either. Shucks. I might just have to sit in the second pew and avoid moving. We'll see what happens when push comes to shove.

Black 47's new CD compilation, Bittersweet Sixteen, just arrived in my mailbox today. It's nice to hear some old favorite songs revisited. Larry's terrific version of Danny Boy just came up. I think the last time I heard it live, he played it in memory of my dear cousin Brent, who had recently died of AIDS. Larry's Danny Boy character is a gay construction worker who died of AIDS. Not quite Brent's story, but I think Brent heard and understood, wherever he was in the cosmos that night. This new version of the song is even more heart-rending than the original on Home of the Brave. Bravo, Larry, yet again. Love you so, my dear friend. Thanks again, too, from me and from Brent. (The picture below is actually me with Larry, not Brent. Sadly, I have no pictures of me and Brent together, and now more than ever, do I wish I did!)

I think it's now high time I rested my footie and took up some knitting. Ahhh, yesssss.....

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Temporarily Out of the Loop, but Still Knitting

Had to miss knitting at Sue's last night, as Phoebe has bronchitis/pneumonia, and I needed to stay home and play nurse. Just as well, I suppose, though I always miss my friends when I can't attend. Pheebz is on all the right drugs, but is still very weak. I've missed two days of work in addition to my usual recreational pursuits, but I'm not too sorry. I caught up on a lot of housework and cooking, listened to some audiobooks, and played with yarn and fiber. (Of course!)

Recent projects include the socks-in-progress pictured above. These are from Nancy Bush's fab new book, Vintage Socks. I finally decided on "Ringwood" as a good way to evaluate my hand-plied, hand-dyed wool/camel hair yarn. Even if I do say so myself, WOW! This stuff is even better than I anticipated. In a three-ply, it's nice and springy, and I'm delighted with the heathery way the dye soaked in. I'm calling it "Olive Green." Interested in buying some? You'll find it here.

The latest comission is coming along nicely. This will be a simple, drop-shoulder, Henley-style garment. The fella I'm making it for is tall and thin, and I don't think a heavy-duty Aran style garment would suit him at all, hence the simpler stitch. "Ringwood" is a great pattern for socks and fine-gauge yarn, but it also works well in a sweater, with a heavier yarn. This is my first experience with Knitpicks Wool of the Andes, and I must say, I really like the stuff so far. I also love what this company is doing, offering such nice yarns at such good prices. Looks like this company is a winner. I wish I could work for them, but alas, it isn't geographically possible, even if they did think me a suitable candidate for employment.

Here is something else I've been picking at in the last couple of weeks. The same friend who comissioned the Ringwood sweater happened to pick up about 15 to 20 lbs of free wool for me. The stuff on the right is the raw fleece after washing. I hackled individual locks, pre-drafted, and spun directly from these locks, then plied the singles together, wound up the skein, and washed it all again. I'm rather amazed at how well it came out, considering all the vegetable matter and sheepy poo present in the fiber before processing. So far I have close to 300 yards spun up, and that is a mere dent in the mountain of fiber still left to be washed. Don't know what I'll make of it yet, but Keith is dropping lots of hints about what a treat a handspun white Aran sweater would be. I suppose it's worth considering, and it certainly would make a fab entry for the Big E at some point.

Oh, well, back to my spinning and "Great Expectations." I must say, I really enjoy being read to while I work!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Birthday Blahs

It's that time again. The Birthday. I swear, the only time it doesn't wig me out is when I can keep myself thoroughly and totally distracted. I'm fine the day before and the day after, but on the day itself? Blecchh. I am playing hooky from choir tonight because I simply do not feel fit for human consumption. Will probably spin for a bit, then retire to bed with the latest John Irving novel, Until I Find You. It arrived in my mailbox yesterday -- excellent timing!

I'm really looking forward to spinning at Sue's on Saturday, just having a hard time deciding what to bring. I got some luscious new fiber from her shop on Tuesday night, and think I'd like to give one of those a whirl. However, I suppose it all depends on which wheel I bring. I'm thinking it's high time I really made friends with the little Lithuanian wheel I bought last winter. Merino roving perhaps isn't the best thing to attempt on this feisty little double drive wheel. Maybe I'll mess with it a bit tonight and see.

However, for sheer portability and production speed, I really can't beat the Roberta. Maybe I'll just bring that and Be Good, i.e. -- ply some more singles for dyeing and resale.

See the latest completed project
here. This is the fabled Aran creation I've been babbling about off and on since June. I'm happy with it, and so is my friend Ann, the recipient. What a journey this project was, but well worth it.

I need to go spin and then cuddle with the Wookies. I know I should be happy and grateful for every age milestone I pass, but right now I just want it to pass so I can get over these blues and blahs already.

44. Sheesh!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Baaaaaad Blogger...

I'm such a bad blogger, I never even wished anybody a Merry Christmas on this page! So, here is Roisin Dubh in her Christmas outfit, looking very much like one of George Booth's cartoon dogs. (He still does GREAT dog cartoons for The New Yorker magazine.) The antlers and jingle bell collar and cuffs came from Christmas Tree Shops, while the lovely bandana was made by our friend Kat, who is also a Corgi owner and was my pups' Secret Santa this past year.

A knitting highlight from this past Fall, which I've been meaning to post for an age, is my Wool Peddler's Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's lovely book, Folk Shawls. I dyed the yarn myself, and was surprised and delighted when it turned out it would match the pretty orange rayon dress I treated myself to in Maine. The yarn, believe it or not, was originally a very vivid, eye-popping yellow. I crammed a bunch of skeins into a kettle with a color called "Mahogany," and out came this fabulous variegated stuff with nary a hint of its former color. There's more of the yellow yarn waiting for the kettle than I want to admit, and I haven't been able to do so much dyeing since winter hit. I'm eagerly awaiting Spring, so I can turn on the outdoor spigots and crank up the heat on the propane stove again.

Below is a close-up. A little dark, but at least some of the stitch detail is visible. And to the right...well, that's me and Mr. Finnegan. He's such a cuddly boy, and come to think of it...yeah, it's past my bedtime!