Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My BFF - Knitting

Okay, I confess, I have just too much f*cking fun with Google books. I search out all the ancient public domain books for antique knitting patterns, folklore, weird fiction, and combinations thereof. So this little poem was found in the Friends Intelligencer. I don't know if these Friends were Quaker (I could look at the front of the, dear reader, seem to think I'm much more motivated than I am). So yes, this poem is a bit sappy - but I think there's an element of truth in it, at least for the more hardcore of us (you must be nuts if you think I'm going to be caught more than 10 minutes from a knitting project for any length of time). I don't think I'm as aged as the narrator of the poem seems to be; on the other hand, what was the the life expectancy for lower middle class women in the Victorian era? 60? Well, I'm closer to 60 than 20, that's for sure. Perhaps if I'm feeling inspired in the near future I'll update this to sound not quite so, er, cheesy. (Apologies for the tiny print; if you click, you'll end up in Google books and you can zoom the page from there...I'll try to figure out a way to do this better next time.)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another Crappy Swatch Photo

My swatch for Goddess Knits Anniversary Mandala Pi Shawl, using lace weight yarn from Sheep of Different Color, colorway is Altair:

This yarn is so wonderful, soft and incredible to touch, the color is absolutely gorgeous. I dreamt of this yarn the night that I knit with it. I look forward to knitting up the other 1700 yards of it. "Last night I dreamt I knitted with Altair again..."

Nut Hamburger Update

Apparently it was all the rage to do peanut butter things to hamburgers back in the day - I found a couple of links to recipes for nut burgers. Don't know if I'm going to try this myself at any point, but if you want to whip up the lovely special from The Barrel, you can try one of these recipes:

Last Night I Dreamt I Went to Manderley Again

I spent yesterday with my mother; we had our usual celebration of Mother's Day that doesn't take place Mother's Day weekend. I'm hermit enough to hate competing with 20 families worth of three or four generations (the youngest one of which is screaming infants) at local restaurants. I'd rather do it the weekend before or after, and have a relaxing time. So that's what we did; on the way there we stopped at a local bookstore, and I found some lovely things on their 25 cent cart, including an early printing of "Rebecca". Sure the jacket is beat up, but it still has the jacket. And the book itself has this lovely silver band around it. Here are some crappy photos of it:
The photo of the silver band doesn't show how nice and shiny it still is; I have a photo that does, but the image is pretty much obliterated by shine. 25 cents. I tells ya, I'd have paid ten times that for this copy of the book. I'm very pleased with it! (I also picked up a scary knitting book, but that will be another blog entry.)

"Rebecca" is one of my favorite gothic novels (sure, it's set in the 20th cent., but by its nature it is very gothic); and this is certainly not my first copy of it. I think the others are in storage. However, this is one of those books that is always a good, juicy read and as such, is worth having more than one copy of (especially at these prices). There are a few books in my library that are like that for me - "Jane Eyre" (I've at least two copies), "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (again, at least two copies), anything by Jane Austen (I've a few of her books in multiple copies).

Jane, of course, is the anti-gothic - read "Northanger Abbey" if you've any question on the specifics. A world that is nothing but gothic novels would be very boring, and I'm glad that Jane was an early poker-of-fun at the movement. The first wave of gothic novels certainly left something to be desired; if you've ever read "The Castle of Otranto" you'll know what I mean. And I've never been able to make it through an Mrs Radcliffe novel. There are a couple of that era that I haven't tried that I certainly will make an effort to complete, like "Vathek" and "The Monk".

The Brontes did gothic quite well, and each with their own spin. For example, Anne's reflected her more extensive existence in the real world, and her views of women and their abilities is not the least that of helplessness and frailty. Her women are intelligent, not afraid to act, and of strong morals in the face of a world that does not reward such morality very often.

Of her two novels I've read, "Agnes Grey" is less gothic in tone, but rather grim. Agnes is a governess and the book relates her experiences of serving in horrible families with offspring who are, at best, shallow, self-centered and cruel in their thoughtlessness and, at worst, monsters (no point in pussyfooting). I mean, I consider a lad who enjoys crushing baby birds with rocks to be a monster. "Agnes Grey" had critics' knickers all in a bunch; after all, upper class children would never behave in such a fashion, right? Right?

"The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" is much more what one expects of the Brontes. Still, the heroine, Helen Huntingdon, is bolder in her actions than even Jane Eyre; she exhibits a sense of self-worth wonderful to see in a 19th cent. novel. I think this novel also got some folks' knickers in a bunch; after all, once Helen realizes what scum her spouse is, she denies him, er, sexual congress by slamming her bedroom door in his face. Shocking, you are no doubt thinking. If you're not, then you are perhaps unaware that women were expected to submit to their husbands - in all ways.

Along these lines, there is an edition of "Jane Eyre" (yes, I know that's Charlotte and not Anne) illustrated by Dame Darcy; one of the nice things is that it contains the forward to the second edition. The second edition is dedicated to W.M. Thackeray, but is also a bit of a nice feminist rant. It's a nice trade paper edition and worth owning.

I look forward to reading "Rebecca" again; I think the book does a little better by the second Mrs de Winter than the film does. At least, in the first couple of pages she seems to have a little more going for her than Joan Fontaine did.

I've pretty much finished with my rambling about novels, but let me add my recommendation of just a couple other novels along these lines: "Behind A Mask" by Louisa May Alcott and "Lady Audley's Secret" by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (similar stories, but both rousing good fun if you rather like bad women), "A Long, Fatal Love Chase" by Louisa May Alcott (stalking old school style), and "Dragonwyck" by Anya Seton, another 20th cent. novel, but set in the 19th cent. and effectively demonstrating gothic sensibilities in upstate New York. There's a new edition of this one out with an introduction by Phillipa Gregory. Haven't gotten a copy yet, but since my only copy of this book is 60 years old, I'll be looking for one used somewhere.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

500, 10K, 10K

(I wrote this weeks ago, or so it seems, but never posted it. However, I dare not deprive my readers of cupcake cheesecake photos, if you will.}

Three events - of questionable world importance - on Ravelry in the last week. The Selfish Knitters Group got their 500th member - woo hoo! PSA - Don't waste time and good yarn money knitting for those who don't appreciate the time, labor, and quality resources that go into a nice handmade garment or toy. Pox on them, I say.

Also the MCY thread had both its 10,000th post and 10,000th reader. Do not speak ill of the MCY thread - these are my peeps, as they say out in the world. (In my cave they are those horrid little marshmallow easter candies.)

And so I said I would make cupcakes for the event, and I did - red velvet with butter cream frosting. I know that there are many who prefer cream cheese frosting of some sort, but give me butter anytime.

I shared my freshly made cupcakes with fellow Raveler Bella, but you'll have to look her up and ask her about it - I didn't get any pics of her eating them. I did, however, document my eating of the cupcakes:

Geeze, those things sure look like baked viscera in the photos. What was fun was that I took some to work the next day and the red bled just a wee bit into the frosting (probably in honor of MCY yarns, known for their hemophilia). They looked like little slasher film cupcakes - so cute!

Have You Seen Me?

This shawl was stolen at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last weekend. If you see this somewhere, if you see someone wearing it bold as can be, please contact Shelia (sheliaknits is her Ravelry ID). I think it's a serious understatement to say that it's bad form to steal someone else's FOs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Two Nut Hamburgers, Please!

I'm at home today, full of vicodan and advil due to some dental work I had yesterday. I didn't expect it to be quite as painful as it was once the Novocaine wore off. The dentist did warn me that it would be sensitive; I found out exactly how sensitive when I went to eat a bit of ripe cheese after I got back from dance class. It hurt (or as Ralph Wiggum would say, it tasted hurty). Cheese should not hurt. All my main chewing teeth went into protest mode - how dare I chew with them! So out came the big time meds - and again, 3.5 hours later, when the first dose hadn't done enough - and 5 hours later when protesting teeth woke me up. I guess I was clenching too hard in my sleep.

Anyway, I quit being high around 12:30 PM today (it's funny, the stuff keeps me buzzed and dizzy long after it has quit working on the pain), and so I got online. After eating room temperature yogurt for lunch.

I'll be blogging more this weekend, but I thought I'd post these photos of something I found in my father's stuff. The good ol' days!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Testing testing

This is just a test.
clipped from
Gene Frenkle (Will Ferrell) plays the cowbell in the
blog it

ETA: Even though this is a test, I'm not deleting it. I want Will Farrell to be playing the cow bell in perpetuity on my blog. Seasons don't fear the Reaper...nor do the wind, the sun and the rain...

Good Witch Glenda

This is the yarn I ordered from 100purewool. Compare this with the photos in the previous post. Admittedly my photo was taken in the sun, but I assure you, even in the dimness of my cave the colors simply are not this intense.

I'm not displeased enough to hassle with returning it (to Uruguay, no less), and the yarn is yummy to touch. But what I received was not what I expected, to be sure.

The yarn is not stinky, felted, knotted or broken, so they are not in the running for the MCY Quality Award I also got my yarn in a decent amount of time (two weeks, or just under), which isn't bad considering where they ship from (yep, Uruguay). I would suggest caution if you are counting on getting yarn colors that look like their photograph. I have found to have much more reliable representations of their colors than 100purewool, but their lace weight yarn isn't quite a yummy.

clipped from
Merino Wool - GLENDA
blog it

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Chock Full of Plucky Goodness!

I received my Wuthering Heights fingering weight merino/sea cell from Plucky Knitter today! This photo is very light - but the other ones are very dark:

It's really yummy, delightfully squishy, and not one of these photos comes close to capturing the lovely colors. I'll be casting on Sharon Miller's "Bronte" scarf from Rowan's Yorkshire Fable or Yorkshire Tales or whatever the name of that book is. (No, I'm not going to get up and dig out the book; I'm not even going to google for it. I'll leave it to you to do your own research.)

I also got some wool I ordered from I'll have to look at the photos of the yarn I ordered, but these colors don't look like what I thought I ordered. They're okay colors, and since I didn't have a specific project in mind, I've no reason for serious complaint. I'll post a wee update tomorrow, at which time we'll all find out exactly how reliable my memory is or isn't. Trust me, there's nothing wrong with knowing exactly how unreliable a source I am.

Here's their yarn:

Inspiration for the Month

Probably not the way you are thinking of inspiration, dear reader. I began writing a story last year (length TBD), a tale of personal growth and geographic quest (exile and returning home)*; I got my characters’ narrative to the point where they took the next step – but there was no next step there, nothing but darkness. I knew where they were going to be in the end, that was pretty much built into their personalities early on; however, they still need catalysts, drivers, to help the get from A to B in less than a million pages of aimless meandering. I’m no James Joyce, so trust me, you don’t want me to take on that particular literary experiment.

But this weekend I was pointlessly googling for images of whoever/whatever came to mind, and I found this photo. And some…thing, I guess, clicked in my mind, and suddenly I knew that face belonged in my tale – not the real person, by the way, but the character traits that photo conjured in my mind when I saw it. Within minutes I’d created an entire group of characters, storylines to go with them and to propel my original characters forward in their own tale. Eh, why am I bothering you with this? Well, my poor RL friends and coworkers get to hear way too much of this stuff, so I thought I’d share the wealth ;-)

If the story gets to a point where I’m willing to share some – or all – of it with any sort of reading public, I will do just that. Writing is like knitting, though. You see a yarn you like; you see a pattern you like; you think that, with a little work, you can get them to go together really well. Next you know, you hate the yarn, you hate the sweater, and the entire project spends years in a plastic bag until you give it away or unload it at a garage sale.

As a writer, you can have the same experience. Some characters don’t have nearly as much to say to you as you thought originally; story ideas that seemed to have real meat to them end up nothing but dried bones. However, with writing it’s not easy to give unfinished stories that aren’t working to the local goodwill; but you can recycle ideas, characters, or even words if it’s good dialog or a wonderfully wrought phrase. Still, it’s not uncommon to end up with several notebooks that have the literary equivalent of a half-knit sweater in them.

* If one views life as a journey then (almost) all narratives are ‘quests’ of a sort, character starting at A, going through B to get to the end, C, be it stories of personal evolution (Pride and Prejudice), personal devolution (Watt)…I was going to add novels that focus on quests, such as Patricia McKillip’s Riddle Master trilogy, but that includes personal evolution and devolution, as most fantasy quest novels do to a greater or lesser extent.