Thorny Knits

I've got a husband, twin toddlers, a cat who I probably forgot to feed this morning, and never, ever enough time to knit.


Your Friendly Neighborhood Hermit

Hey. Hi. Yeah, I'm still around. Did you miss me? Did you maybe forget about me? It's okay. I think I kinda forgot about myself for a while there. Things at casa della Thorny have been strange. Well, not so much the casa as the cabeza. Nothing dire or anything, just... no more than one would expect of someone predisposed to depression who has spent three years at home with young children and who's recently suffered a major loss. I've got an appointment to see someone about that, so hopefully I will be more of my old self soon.

It's 5 a.m. and I just wrapped up some knitting and am going to post up about it briefly.

First of all - what am I doing up until 5 a.m. knitting? Well, y'see, it's September, which means it's Official Thorny Insomnia Month. The whole thing where the days get noticeably shorter? It jacks with my whole circadian rhythm business, and then it's just... bad. So I've been sleeping like a crazy person, at all kinds of weird hours.

The other part of it, though (and it's a shame my camera is acting up, because pictures really would help here) is that I did a preliminary dig through Active Stash - a clear plastic tote where my knitting resides, waiting for the children to decide to fuck with it. The objective, ultimately, is to reorganize the whole works. A few weeks ago (okay, almost a month ago now) I bought some storage goodniks from The Container Store, and it's high time I got them into use. Also, I was looking for something, though I'm not sure what that was at this point.

I've had a crazy-ass bout of Startitis the past month or so. Like... kee-ray-zee. I've been casting on at LEAST two new projects per week, and finishing squat. Things here are getting pretty gnarly, so I decided to do a bit of checking to see what was really going on.

Okay, I /had/ been finishing squat. Then tonight, as Caz got the kids to sleep, I finished the Argosy I started a few weeks ago (out of KnitPicks Swish Superwash in Fired Brick - lovely wonderful yarn, I can't wait to knit with it again). I'm not even entirely sure how that happened, to be honest. It was easily the fastest scarf I have ever, in my life, knit. Granted, I kept it slightly shorter than scarves I've done previously, but then it's not really a pattern that you want to make into a muffler, y'know? Plus I figure it'll stretch a bit with blocking. Even so - a really respectable, cool-ass looking scarf without really trying.

So, once I finished that, I kind of poked around going, "Huh. What should I cast on next? I don't want to drop down below 20 WIPs, after all...." (you think I'm kidding, but really? I'm probably not - it's been baaaaad.)

Surprisingly, I discovered a hat, plus four or five dish cloths in there which are all completed, save the weaving in of ends. I'll have to actually buckle down and do that one of these times. Especially now that I have to weave in the Argosy ends as well.

I also discovered five (5) (cinco) (cinq) (FIVE!) swatches in there, waiting to have their pre-washing measurements taken and recorded. So I did that.

I found the hat I'd started, partially frogged, and re-knit for a friend's birthday (the birthday was in August - I am a bad friend), then cast aside in disgust when I realized I was knitting him a giant cotton bucket. So I laid it out and actually measured it for a change, rather than just eyeballing it. I think the problem is not that it is too wide, but rather that it was getting too long. So, there will be re-frogging, but I've adjusted the pattern I'd brewed up for it, so hopefully the next attempt will be successful.

I found a Flower Basket Shawl I'd begun out of well-aged Malabrigo merino worsted which I'd intended to frog but never had. So I frogged it, then pondered for a few minutes and cracked open a book which is actually intended to be a gift for someone else eventually (just as soon as I can photocopy a few patterns out of it... you understand how that goes), and cast on a totally different shawl with the Malabrigo. I then knit about 35 rows of the shawl. So far it's looking nice. I think I'm going to like it. I just hope I can find the rest of the Malabrigo, wherever it may be hiding.

I looked through some patterns I'd collected here and there, including some culled from one of those "pattern a day" desk calendars. Some cute stuff there - I may have to cast one of those on soon. There's a hat that looks to go nicely with the Argosy, actually.

Finally, I started to put it all back away. And realized that really, I ought to at least finish the damn Hiuumaa Mismatched Mates I started back in May of 2006 (egads!). I'd reached the gusset on the second sock when some enterprising young hooligan(s) yanked the needles out and dropped some of the stitches. So I sat down and picked all the stitches back up, and then knit a few rounds, and then knit a few more rounds, and finally stopped before I hit a "downhill" section (you know, those sections in a pattern where you just /can't/ stop midway?). And then I carefully put it in my fancy new Sock Vault (courtesy of Meg for my birthday, also way back in August - coolest. present. evar!) along with the Kaffe Fassett-stripe sock I started last week and have been working on a lot lately (gorgeous colors!).

And then I looked around, and pondered if I could really justify staying up any later to knit, and well... I couldn't. I shouldn't even be blogging right now. Tomorrow (today to most of you) is soooo going to suck.

I was telling a friend, a few days ago, how really what I want is a nice long weekend someplace far away from everything. I want a nice cozy bed, a really comfy recliner, a DVD player with fresh batteries in the remote, a stack of DVDs to watch and all the knitting I can stand. A fireplace, regular doses of hot chocolate or hot cider (mmm!) would not go amiss either, but are not requirements.

The hard part is, while it would be lovely, I know it wouldn't truly help. Because I would still come back, and would still face the things I need to face - namely myself.

On a political-ish blog I frequent, someone made a comment last week that was, well, far too astute. You know, the kind of thing where the moment you hear the words all you want to do is go, "Shut uuuuuuuup!" and stick your fingers in your ears and sing at the top of your lungs so you can pretend you never heard it?

Yeah well, I heard it. I didn't want to, but I did. And try as I might to deny the truth of it, I won't be able to keep it up forever. Eventually I'll have to admit that, well... I'm more or less afraid to be me. Afraid to declare myself, afraid to step forward and actually /do/ the things I talk about doing, so afraid of failing or being called idiotic names or I-don't-know-what that I'm letting my dreams and goals and hopes escape me.

I don't know how to get past that fear, yet. I expect that's one of the many things I'll be bringing up at that appointment I mentioned above.

But until then... who knows. Maybe I'll see if I can't get another WIP finished.


Calling 1-800-GYPSIES; a story in pictures

At long last, here is what I believe was the source of my terrible nightmare from the other day:

This is my first-born child.

This is Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop yarn in the Hang On Sloopy colorway. I bought it for myself last August with a bit of birthday dosh. It is the most expensive yarn I own.

This is what my first-born child did to the most expensive yarn I own.

These are the DVDs which contain the five episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I watched while untangling the most expensive yarn I own.

Once I was finished, (Damn is orange yarn hard to photograph!)

I bathed my child, and combed his hair, and fluffed it back up so it was nice and curly again. I dressed him in a nice clean outfit.

And I called the gypsies.

This is how much the gypsies offered me for my clean, well-dressed, cute-to-the-casual-observer child.

This struck me as a bit low, considering that at 11 cents a year, that's an abysmally low return on investment.

I thanked them for their time but decided I would keep the child, though I was still mystified as to what would prompt them to make such a low offer.

After they left, I noticed my one and only skein of (accursed) Socks That Rock:

Mystery solved.

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Terrible Nightmare

I took a little nap earlier this afternoon, and despite being interrupted numerous times, I managed to have a really terrible, wretched dream.

I dreamed Caz and I had chanced upon this weird frozen custard shop in Milwaukee we've been to before, but have since been unable to locate (we haven't tried super-hard, mind you). The kids were with us, and so we took them in to buy some frozen custard.

Things were weird, blah blah, but the terrible part was just after I'd finished paying. I realized I'd left my purse sitting on the counter in front of the cashier. I had just stepped away, but the guy behind us had stepped forward anyway.

I said, "Excuse me," a couple times, and he didn't budge. I moved closer to realize that he was going through my purse!

So I shouted "Hey!" and "Get the hell out of there!" and all the usual things you shout when you catch some jerkwad rifling through your purse. He kind of shrugged and stepped away, and I went to check the contents of my purse were all still intact when I noticed he had a ball of purple yarn in his hand.

My wicked purple WICKED!! Somehow I'd stuffed all that knitting into a purse and this asshole was stealing it!

I shouted "Hey!" again and things on the order of "Give that back!" He smirked at me and held it out of my reach.

I took a US7 Denise Interchangeable tip and started jabbing at his chest and face with it. He laughed at me. I got even angrier and switched to a metal US1, again jabbing him in the chest and face, this time intending to do actual harm.

He continued to laugh at me, and started to threaten that if I really hurt him, he could have me arrested for assault. I shouted "Then give me my knitting back, dammit!" He just laughed at me some more and I struggled to figure out what to do next to get this jerk to give me my beautiful, wonderful (giant) sweater back.

And then, mercifully, I woke up.

I know at least some of what provoked the dream, though, which I'll report on later. Hope everyone has much better dreams than me tonight.


The difference between present and past tense

I was catching up on some blog reading this morning, and happened to read Juno's recent post about finding out a friend she had lost contact with had died recently. I read the comments, and began to post a comment of my own.

When I went to begin the third paragraph, I realized maybe I ought to just post to my OWN blog, if I've got this much to say on the subject.

Dealing with my mom's death has been difficult, of course. I can't imagine the death of a parent is ever easy, no matter how difficult the relationship may have been.

A friend of mine, who I'm not as close to as I once was, lost her father a few years ago. At the time, the only emotion I could imagine her feeling was relief, because her father was... well, he was at best a very crazy man, and at worst a very evil man. Either way, any time she had to engage with him at all, she wound up hurt by it.

I look back now, at how I behaved after her father died, and I pretty much feel like an asshole.

I mean, I wasn't cheering and doing endzone dances or anything, don't get me wrong. But I had a really hard time keeping my own relief - that this person who never did anything but hurt my dear friend was gone - under wraps. And I also tended to assume that she saw him the same way I saw him, forgetting that even a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day. And in an entire childhood, almost two decades of sharing a roof and a dinner table and a life, there had to be some good times, even amongst the very very bad times.

A little over a week after my mom died, I posted to my LiveJournal, talking about how I'd been in the car with Caz and the kids and a song had come on the radio that had just... it had completely smacked me with this memory I hadn't even realized I had, of driving around in our old Chevy Nova on a hot summer's day, me and my mom singing along with John Denver.

It would be so easy, so simple and cut-and-dried and comforting, in the way that the pretty lies always are, to decide that happy memory captured the essence of my mom. That all of the problems between us were my fault, my doing, and my mom was pure of heart and intention all the time, and all the slights and slings and arrows were figments of my juvenile emo imagination.

God, that would be nice. Simple. So easy to just say, "See, the problem, Thorny, was you were just bad. And if you had been less bad, maybe you would have seen how woooooonderful your mom was, and so you only have yourself to blame that you two weren't closer. That, in fact, when she died you two were technically not speaking to each other."

If one were to point out that it's kinda effed up that self-hatred seems like an easier route than wrestling with the big complicated truth, I wouldn't disagree, though I would point out that when self-hatred was a part of one's life for a very, very, very long time, it's relatively easy to go back to. Kind of like how getting dropped in some byzantine foreign country would be terribly frightening for most, but if you grew up there and already knew the language and the customs, well then it's not so bad, even though you're still talking about pre-Glasnost Russia or whatever.

But regardless. I got out of the self-hatred game and learned a lot and spent a lot of time on therapists' couches to learn how to wrestle the big complicated truth, so I guess that's what I'll have to do.

It's not easy to face. It's harder, in fact, to face it now than I think it ever was. Because at least before, when I sat on some therapist's couch talking about how my mom hurt me in this way or that way, I still could cling to this John Hughes-ish fantasy that maybe someday, in some '80s-soundtracked future, my mom and I could sit across from each other and talk, and I could say, "You know, that really hurt me and I was pretty effed up for a long time because of that," and she would say, "I'm so sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I've always just loved you so much." and I would reply, "I know. And it's okay. I know you were doing the best you could. I know things weren't easy for you back then either." And she would give the brave half-smile of the walking wounded, and she would say, "No, things weren't easy for me back then. But I still wish I'd known then what I know now, so I could have just done things better from the start." And I would say, "It's okay. At least we have now." And then we would hug or clink glasses or continue walking down the beach or bake some more cookies, whichever advertising-inspired soft-focus backdrop I'd assembled for my fantasy that time.

And so now, what hurts is not just the loss of my mom, but the loss of that chance. The knowledge that there will be no weepy reconciliation to soaring violins and plinky piano.

There's this whole body of literature out there about star-crossed lovers. What about star-crossed mothers and daughters? There doesn't seem to be a lot of literature about that. No guidebooks on how I'm supposed to deal with all this.

It would be so easy to pretend that it was all my fault. That if I'd only been more forgiving, less proud, blah blah blah, then everything would have been fine.

Except the whole thing about that being a lie gets in the way.

The things I had trouble forgiving really were bad. Were things anyone would have trouble forgiving. It wasn't that I was too proud. It was that after being hurt so many times, I had to put up barriers to protect myself and my family. I didn't make those decisions lightly, either. I agonized over them, and reversed myself many times. Really, for good or ill, I did the best I could.

But it still sucks. It sucks that that was the reality of the situation. And it sucks that she's gone. It sucks that the situation can have no other reality.

I'm finding, thus far, that life after Mom's death is in one way very similar to life when Mom was alive. Some days I think of her fondly and can only remember the good times, and I find myself thinking, "What the hell was wrong with you, that you couldn't make things work?" And other days I remember the bad times, I look at myself and see the scars I've carried for so long, and I think, "Why did it have to be that way? Why couldn't it have been different? What was going on for her, that she felt she had no other choice but to treat me the way she did?"

On the surface, it seems like the big difference is a matter of verb tense. And it is. But there's a reason Mrs. Griffith made such a huge deal about verb tenses and grammar in eighth grade. Because they aren't just words. It's the difference between present and past. The difference between something which is currently true, but may change at any moment, and something which is over and done, and can never be changed.

It used to be that what we had was simply what we had right then, which was transitory. With some work and the right set of circumstances, it could all change.

Now though, what we had is all we had. There will never be anything more, nothing new or different. The ledger on our relationship is closed.

My sister made the comment, in the days after my mom's death, when we were talking about it a lot while planning the funeral and making the arrangements, that while she feels bad that like me, she was "on the outs" with Mom when she died, at least they weren't fighting. Her last interaction with Mom was terse, but at least it was civil, just like mine was.

In a relationship defined by shouting and door-slamming and arm-waving, I suppose it's a blessing that my last words to Mom were, "Hope you have a happy birthday," and her last words to me were, "Thank you."

It isn't much. But considering the ways so many of our conversations ended, it's not bad.


I might still be am!

Before I begin, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who sent kind words and compassion my way this past month or so. It's been rough, and I've been pretty thoroughly effed up for much of it, but I'm recovering, at least as much as I ever will. I'm sorry for not thanking everyone individually, but I hope you'll all understand. It helped, during a very difficult time, to know there were so many people out there, thinking good thoughts for me and mine. Thank you all very much.

And now, on to the knitting, and a little reminder that life does, indeed, go on.

Second note: So for several days now I've been going, "Dangit, I can't believe no one has commented on my high-larious post!" And then I got a lovely message from Crazy Lanea this morning mentioning that she hopes I can get back to posting soon, as she misses my posts. (Admit it, Lanea - what you really miss are the stories that make you look at your pets' shenanigans with a new, grateful-they-don't-have-thumbs perspective! Am I right? Thought so. grin) And that's when I thought, "Wait, what? But I just posted a few days ago! ....didn't I?"

Yeah, apparently not. As Homer says, "I am so smart! S-M-R-T!"

Written on June 14, 2007:

Lesson learned: Never buy yarn named after an accursed gem.

I've been having trouble with my STR Jewel of the Nile yarn since just about the beginning. I started it as a Jaywalker, was doing well, and then I realized, while working a seriously endless gusset, that I had made the hugest heel flap in the history of creation. The leg was a little loose, but I wasn't too worried about it. The heel flap, however, was right out.

So I frogged back to just before the heel flap early one morning, and Ben woke up to find me frogging directly into the ballwinder.

I guess it looked like fun, because a few hours later he Houdini'd his way into my Active Stash, got out the yarn and the partial sock, and frogged all but the first inch and a half of it all over the living room, including tangling some of it into the workings of my Precious, the recliner, getting freakin' chair grease on my beautiful beautiful yarn.

I set it aside for a while, until I could deal with it without either crying or calling the gypsies (that's 1-800-GYPSIES, for all your child-unloading needs!). Then Mom died, then a bunch of other stuff happened, and finally a little over a week ago I hauled it out, untangled it, trimmed out the greased up section, frogged the remainder of the sock, and wound it all back up. A day later, the little anklebiter got at it again and undid half the ball.

That night I untangled and rewound it, and pondered pattern choices. Jaywalker felt tainted. I wanted something interesting but not too complicated. Alison has been working on Embossed Leaves, and I thought perhaps the predominance of the greeny blue in Jewel of the Nile would work well with Embossed Leaves.

I cast on and worked the ribbing, only to discover it pooling freakily. No way was it going to work for Embossed Leaves. So I decided to change it up, leave the ribbing as it was and do Monkey instead. So I printed out the pattern and got to work. An enjoyable knit, even though I'm still uncertain as to how I like the actual final product. But nice and easy - had it memorized by the end of the first repeat.

I got about midway through the third repeat before I took a long hard look at it and realized that it just wasn't going to work. It was huge. Hugely huge. I was going to have to go down a needle size.

I frogged back to the ribbing, figuring the ribbing would be fine, and started again on US1s. Fine.

Yesterday, the little fiber bandit got at the damned sock AGAIN and yanked out the dpns, but I busted him before he could cause any further damage (though one dpn is still AWOL, dammit). I worked the needles back in without incident, pilfered a US1 from a different sock, and carried on my merry way.

Then this afternoon, the kids were in the bath and I was sitting at the doorway to the bathroom knitting on the sock when I realized that where I should have had 16 sts, I had 17. I counted and recounted and counted again, and there were still 17 gorram stitches on that needle. I then looked and looked and looked, and could not for the life of me figure out where the extra stitch had come from. I counted across the stockinette rows of the repeat previous and it had 16. WHERE was this extra stitch coming from?!

Finally, I decided it was just easier to frog back to the end of the previous repeat and try again. Which I did.

Then tonight, I was on the phone with my sister for a long time, and I was knitting away. All was fine. It was a little awkward, because my nifty super-cool hands-free rig for the cordless phone lost a fight with a nose-miner about a week ago, and so I was back to having to cradle the phone between my shoulder and my ear while I knitted. But I was managing just fine, and had even managed to reach the heel flap. Yay!

So I tried the sock on once I'd done about half the heel flap, and interrupted my sister's charming little anecdote about going to a baseball game with some coworkers with an incendiary stream of cussing. Then I had to explain that my sock, that I'd been working on for almost a week, was too damned small. My sister, who tries hard to understand the Knitting Thing, was as supportive and compassionate as she could be, considering how little she comprehended of the issue. But still, full points for trying.

I chucked the whole kit-n-kaboodle aside, knowing that if I tried to frog it right then I would use Lanea's butane-and-lighter fluid frogging method, and that would definitely kill any last remaining wisp of a chance of us getting our security deposit back some day.

I went and chatted with Caz a bit, and he kindly made me a late-night snack (PMS gives me insane food cravings, it's seriously unfair). I told him about the sock and how mad I was and how I was more than a little convinced the yarn is cursed. I shared with him my plan to give this cussed yarn one more try, and if that blew up in my face, then I was going to throw in the towel and pass it on to some other sucker more capable knitter.

We got up from the table (where I'd spilled a huge mug of water all over the place, and bobbled my scrambled egg sandwich a total of FIVE times - thanks PMS, the clumsy-beyond-all-reason thing is a HOOT!) and I said,

"Oh hey, come here and see this damned sock. I still can't believe it's too fraxing small!"

I got it out, sat down and pulled it onto my foot, expecting it to stop dead over my heel as it had before, only this time? It inched over my heel. It was snug, no mistake, but it worked.

I thought about cussing some more. A LOT more. But instead opted for sitting in near-catatonic shock.

Caz, trying to be supportive said, "Maybe it's just because I'm here. You've always said I've got 'Luck' written down on my character sheet." (I apologize if some of you don't get the joke, but please do not ask, because it is seriously the nerdiest thing since Revenge of the Nerds VIII: Nerds in Spamadise.)

I spoke in a monotone: "No. I think I'm just dumb somehow. I don't even get it. I'm telling you, it did not fit this foot 45 minutes ago."

Caz said, quietly, "I believe you... You can still be mad about it, you know."

To which I replied, "I know. Heck, I might still be am!"

(Yeah. "I might. Still. Be. Am." Those are the actual words that came out of my mouth.)

This prompted him to scramble off the couch and down the hall, cackling and hooting like a loon, leaving me helplessly cussing and trapped by the now-sorta-kinda-fitting half-sock, while he sent out emails to everyone I know calling me The Great Conjugator and laughing himself ill.

One of these days, he's going to wake up with a dpn shoved where the sun don't shine. I'm just sayin'.

Epilogue: I have tried the damned sock on again since, and it still just barely, BARELY fits over my heel. And so I think it's just not salvageable still. So it's definitely going in the time-out corner for a while, and then we'll see what happens.

Besides, I don't want to say too much about it yet, but um... I cast on something new.

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The Never Finished Object

Thursday afternoon last week I got a call from my sister. Our mom had a heart attack Tuesday night in her home and had died. When she didn't go in to work Wednesday or Thursday, and didn't call in, her coworkers got worried and called the police. They went and found her.

The last several days have been very surreal. My mom was only 53 years old, and we fully expected to have plenty more years of driving each other crazy. Her mom - my grandmother - died just over two years ago, so we figured we had plenty more time to mend fences, bury axes, build bridges, that whole business.

In the past few years I've been knitting, I had never found quite the right project to knit for her. I'd come close a few times, but never could quite find something that seemed truly appropriate. So I waited until I did.

Now I never will.

I thought about knitting something small to put in with her, and even got as far as casting on and knitting a couple inches worth. But it just didn't seem quite right. And then I ran out of time to work on it any further, so I wound up just letting it go.

I've cried about a lot of things over the past few days, but I think that was one of the first realizations that came out of no where and really socked me in the gut. I've had many more since then, and probably have many many more to go.


Fiber Trek: The Search for a Flock

As I mentioned in my earlier post, despite my idiotically sprained sternum, I was still all set to drive down to Chicagoville to see the ever-lovely Yarn Harlot do her book-signing, speaking, whirlwind gig. Her earlier tours I wasn't able to make it for various reasons (both small and blonde and generally cute-yet-exasperating - ahem), but this time, finally, we were able to arrange it so that I could go. Meg and Jonathan graciously offered me a place to land overnight while I was there, and so I was set. I was quite happy about this, as you might imagine.

You may recall that I also mentioned that I had decided that I would make my first pilgrimage to The Fold on my way down as well.

Well! Pilgrimate I did and, despite the flattering faith in my moral fortitude exhibited by kimd, I did not actually manage to abstain from purchasing any of the many, many, many pretties I met there. Not by a long shot.

Seriously, does anyone else think Toni could run an organlegging operation out of the back in no time flat? I mean, I've got two kidneys, after all. I'm sure I could spare one, really....

So what did I get, you ask? Well, obviously I was a woman with a mission. I simply had to get my first taste of the almighty Socks That Rock. And so I did.

This is STR mediumweight, colorway Jewel of the Nile. I've been ogling it on Toni's site for ages, and so when I stood there going, "Oh god, oh god, ohgodohgodohgod, what do I pick?" I decided to go with the one I'd been longing for the longest. (Note: Cast on a pair of Jaywalkers with it last Monday, turned the heel and started working the gusset of the first sock last weekend. Am in love. Pictures soon.)

The colors in this picture did not turn out as nicely, but I hope you get the idea. It's the best shot I could get.

In all that talk about STR, nobody mentioned to me that The Fold is apparently THE place to go for Mountain Colors yarns, short of, y'know, the Mountain Colors folks themselves, obviously. How did that escape mention all this time?! Not that I'm looking to assign the blame. All's well that ends well, I say, and the fact that they had the exact colorway in the exact yarn I've been looking for for months now certainly counts as "ending well" as far as I'm concerned. That would be Weavers Wool Quarters in Ruby River, for the record.

I can't wait to make luscious thick boot socks out of it!

Of course I picked up some fiber - this is some Colonial roving in a "Red Multi" colorway. I haven't gotten a chance to play with it yet, but I take it out every so often and pet it like it's my new pet kitten or something. (Not as far-fetched as you might think - I swear I heard it start to purr the other day. Though Caz insists that was just me.)

Of course, to go with that lovely fiber, well... I had to... you know.

My new drop spindle.
I hemmed and hawed and pondered and looked at all the many lovely spindles, all vying for my attention. And then I saw this beauty, sort of tucked behind a few other spindles, patiently waiting on a lower rack, and went, "Oh. Well. Hello then." And I pretended to consider a few other spindles, just to keep them all from feeling too badly about themselves, and then me and this sweetie wandered off to a quiet corner to get a little better acquainted.

Get your minds out of the gutter! I've been behaving the perfect gentlewoman, here. Well, mostly. There was that one night while we were watching TV late at night, but I was properly chastised for my impudence and we're going to take things slow from now on.

I'm trying to finish up the blue on the other spindle and re-read Spin It* and look at some other sources if possible (anybody got any suggestions?), so I have more of an idea of what I'm doing with regards to a drop spindle which I actually intend to, y'know, drop.

So, having met my original purchasing goals (STR, fiber, spindle), and spent all that I could afford, it was time to get back on the road.

* Ha! I originally typed "Spit It!" which I think would be a different book entirely. Entirely.

To Be Continued.....


Heart Healing

Like everyone in the U.S., and probably the world, I have been stunned by the events at Virginia Tech two days ago.

I look at my children and I see the terrible news, and I just want to hide them away somewhere, forever safe from hate or harm.

But I can't. The darkness can be anywhere and everywhere, and there's nothing I can do to change that.

Today, within about a ten minute span, I read two items - a blog entry and a news article - which brought the tragedy home to me in a way which it had not been before. The first was realizing that I have a friend who once called Blacksburg her home. The second was discovering that one of the students killed was a twin, just like my boys are. The thought of one of them losing the other fills me with agony.

After seeing the terrible news on Monday, there had been a need in me, a drive, a desire to do something good, to fight that darkness, which can be anywhere and everywhere. I had seen Kay's post about Mother's Day Knitting, and had thought to myself, "That's what I'll do. I'll knit a blanket." But soon harsh reality intruded, and I knew that I just didn't have the ability to knit a blanket in that short period of time. After rifling through my stash, realizing I didn't even have sufficient yarn bits for a respectable blanket, I felt defeated. Like this time, the darkness might win.

And then I read Suze's blog, and at first I thought, "My God! Another one! This tragedy keeps getting closer and closer all the time!" All I wanted was to keep this tragedy far, far away from those I adore.

But then I read on, and I felt... hope. I can do something. I can make a difference. And Suze is making it possible. She's asking for 8x8" squares to be sent to her by May 5, and she will sew them together into a blanket(s?) to get them sent out for the Afghans for Afghans Mother's Day deadline.

So, I'm going to get out those yarn bits and start making some squares.

My heart needs healing, and there is darkness to be fought. I'm doing battle the best way I know how - with my heart, my needles and my wool. I will fight darkness with light, cold with warmth, and hate with love. I cannot undo what has been done, I cannot bring back those souls who were lost. But I can and will help keep a new baby, in a land far away, safe against the cold.

Suze needs 25 squares for one blanket. If you all join me in fighting the terrible darkness, how many blankets do you suppose we could make?


Sprains, Spinning and Suze Susses Me Out

(So I'm a sucker for a little sweet alliteration. Sue me.)

(This post is the first of a series of "retrospective" entries intended to bring y'all up to speed as to what I've been doing with my time the past month or two - which mostly can be summed up thusly: Knitting, not blogging. I'm going to continue to try to catch up here, so expect a few more posts that may be a little more retrospective than usual.)


So, about a three weeks ago now, I was trying to bust the kids getting into some kind of mischief, which had included them knocking over the baby gate in the hallway. I didn't want to take the time to pick it up, so I decided to just step over it so I could get to the kid-bustin'.

Well, that turned out to be a bad idea.

I slipped, slid, and tried to catch myself on a handy door frame, only to fall anyway, wrenching my shoulder in the process. I took a little bit to regain my composure (i.e. remember that I know some words which are not, in fact, banned by the FCC), and tried to get up. Ouch. I'd also apparently pulled a muscle in my chest, a seriously undignified muscle to pull.

I spent a couple days feeling ouchy, especially my chest, but figured it was just a pulled muscle and tension and if I could just get it to relax, I'd feel better.

Well, by the time the weekend arrived, I wasn't really any better. In fact, the day Caz decided to reverse the ceiling fan direction and spray dust all over the place, I discovered that sneezing made me want to pass out, it hurt so bad. So when Monday arrived, I called the doctor's office and made an appt. to go to Urgent Care. Went in, saw a doctor, and was pronounced with what I think is the absolute silliest injury I have ever incurred, and I've incurred some pretty ridiculous injuries over the years.

According to the doc, I sprained my sternum.

Yeah, you heard me. I never knew that was possible either. In fact, a friend of mine who is a nurse said, upon hearing that, "Wow. That's one I've never heard of before!"

But apparently that's what I did. So they gave me lovely Vicodin to help me sleep, and advised plenty of ibuprofen for during the day, and at last this point now I seem to be almost back to 100% recovered. Which is good, because keeping up with rampaging twin toddlers when it hurts to take a deep breath is not my idea of a good time. Just in case anyone was wondering.

Also about three weeks ago, perhaps even the same day I sprained my stupid sternum, I was suddenly possessed of an urge to dig the spindle I'd bought at Rhinebeck out of hibernation. It turned out I did have some vague recollection of how to spin, so I finished spinning the "practice fiber" I'd picked up at Rhinebeck and wound it off into a ball. (I need to find a good book or tutorial or something on plying, because it needs plying but I have no idea what I'm doing there, so it's set aside for now.) Then I dug through my wee little fiber stash to see what I wanted to play with next.

I chose this lovely blue roving,

which was part of the wonderful array of fiber Jonathan had given to me from his stash after Rhinebeck. I'm not sure what it is, but it's got a much longer staple length than the first batch of fiber I'd been playing with (which I think was Corriedale or Romney, I can't recall now), and I'm loving it to bits. Just... love love loving it.

See how pretty?

I've just about spun up all of it I have, and now I'm wondering what on earth to do with it. I've put enough twist in there that it'll need plying, but... will there be enough yardage then to actually knit anything up out of it? I have no clue how to gauge how much is on there as yet, so I guess we'll see. But I do know I'm way too eager to try knitting it up to consider hanging onto it for any length of time.

I also decided that, as I was plotting a drive down to Chicagoland to see The Yarn Harlot, I would include a stop by The Fold to finally buy myself some Socks That Rock and look into a new spindle. This one has been nice, but it doesn't maintain its spin for very long, which is making it hard to figure out how to actually spin beyond using the park-and-draft method.

And when I'm not spinning, I just want to look at pictures of handspun yarns - most recently I've been working my way through the Twisted Knitters group blog, to see what kinds of cool things people have been doing. Some seriously gorgeous stuff there.

Suze Susses Me Out

So thinking that I had nothing to blog about (yes, I'm a dope, leave me be), when I saw Suze doing up a nifty interview meme on her blog, I decided to throw my hat in and ask to be interviewed. And here are her questions:

1. What aspect of your personality surprises people the most?
It's either the sudden, massive bouts of shyness that afflict me more often than I'd like, or it's the bizarro mix of precision and slobbery which is me. My house is a pit, but I know where absolutely everything is. I'm a total nitpicker about grammar, spelling, usage, but my bookcase is a jumbled mess. I cannot sleep if my bed covers are not carefully aligned, but I never make my bed in the morning, and I can never seem to keep up with my laundry, no matter what I do (and the dirty clothes constantly escape the hamper). I think it confuses a lot of people, but mostly it comes down to this - I am not a half-assed kind of person. I do things either whole-assed, or not at all.

2. Do you play any musical instruments? If so, what? If not, what would you like to learn?
I don't, though I did play clarinet and saxophone in junior high. I liked saxophone a lot, but had been discouraged from playing it because I was told my hands were too small, so I'd taken on clarinet as a compromise, except I hated it. I never practiced, spent most of my time in the school band in the last chair (or, for a while, in the second-to-last chair, because there was actually someone in band who was even more unwilling to practice than I was), and never even managed to memorize how to play the school song. My parents let me start taking lessons on the sax a year or two later, but I really didn't like my teacher, and again took to never practicing, and so eventually gave up on both. I did get really good at playing the theme from M*A*S*H on the sax, though.

I've thought, over the years, if I'd ever like to learn a musical instrument again, but so far nothing has really caught my fancy. If I ever get back into music as more than just singing along with the radio, I'll probably stick with voice - I was in choir for years and loved every minute of it, and would love to see if I can walk the first-soprano talk. Or some other mangled metaphor. grin.

3. What's the worst hairstyle you've ever had?
Easy - the Annie-ish perm my mom convinced me to get in 6th grade. Simply dreadful. I've got a really round face, and the perm made me look like Annie getting the Violet Beauregard treatment. (Well, except for the blue, which probably would have made it a little more palatable, really.)

4. What's the most annoying piece of parenting advice you've ever been given?
Any variation on, "You know, they're going to have to learn _______ eventually." It's become less in the past year or so, but for a while there, I felt like I was hearing it all the time, and usually about things that were, at best, only slightly age-appropriate. Most of the time it was stuff that was well advanced of where my kids were, and so all I wanted to do was reply, "Yes, and they're going to have to learn how to drive eventually too. I'd best get moving on that as well, I suppose?" It wasn't so much the people who maybe didn't know that much about what's appropriate for what age of baby that bugged me, but more the people who used that phrasing as code for, "You know, you're going to have to stop coddling them eventually." They really got my dander up, I tell you whut.

5. Name 3 things that make you smile.
I could cheat and name each of my menfolk, but I will combine them into one thing - my family, and say that bodies of water for watching, swimming in or boating upon are always wonderful, and of course fibery goodness makes me happy.

Thanks for the questions, Suze!


It's Hard to Be Hoppy When You're A Toddler

Man. Easter is such a rough holiday, it seems. It doesn't help that once again the weather has thumbed its nose at us, and prevented us from doing something lovely and spring-like (and free! and open 365 days a year!) like going out for a nice walk or playing at a park or flying kites or something.

Still though, something about the combination of toddlers and a day that kicks off with a sugar bonanza
just spells disaster, even if there are no heartbreaks or other traumas in the course of the day.

But when Grammy and Grampy are here for a visit, and the boys are just smitten-in-love with Grampy,

and then Grampy has to go away again, and we won't see him for probably another month at least... well, suffice to say the three-and-a-half hours between his departure and the time we got the kids to bed were almost full-time crying. I've never seen these kids this messed up before, seriously.

At least there's good news on the yarn front.

These eggs that I dyed last night (I'm a terrible mother, and will spend eternity in Mommy Hell - instead of dyeing eggs with the kiddos, Caz and I took shameless advantage of the free grandparental babysitting and went to see The Host yesterday afternoon, but then I dyed eggs anyway, because I'm kind of a nutbar like that),

turned out to be such great colors, that I knew what I had to do. I grabbed up a half-pound hank of Henry's Attic Kona Superwash, soaked it in a 3:1 water/vinegar bath for... gosh, probably an hour - we were busy getting stuff ready for today, too. Then I laid it out on a bunch of plastic wrap and Caz and I sat across from each other at the kitchen table and flicked Easter egg dye on it with forks. I should have taken a picture of it in process, because it was cool, but it was like 1 a.m. I totally was not on my blogging game at that point.

Anyway, nuked on high 2 minutes, let rest for 2 minutes, nuked on high another 2 minutes, then rinsed in warm water, squeezed a bunch of the water out (so nice working with superwash yarn for a change! I took a ridiculous amount of flauting the rules and wringing to my heart's content) and hung it in the bathroom to dry. See?

The pink didn't turn out as nicely on the yarn as it did on the eggs. The egg dye kit I used (a Sesame Street version, of all things) instructed not to put vinegar in the pink dye, but to put vinegar in the other four colors. Well, when it came time to dye the yarn, I hemmed and hawed and ultimately decided to add about the same amount of vinegar to the pink that had been added to the other colors. I'd figured the instruction not to add vinegar was because the pink was so fierce to begin with, adding vinegar would just make it too insta-stick for the average home user, but I think I was wrong. I think the vinegar washed out the color somehow - broke it down or something. I'll know better for next time.

I think I might drag the kids to Target tomorrow to see if there's any more of these kits on sale, because these colors really do kick hoop. I'm thinking maybe something in a self-striping for whenever I do this next.

In the meantime, I'm waiting for the Easter egg yarn to dry the rest of the way, and then I'll wind it and see what sounds good to do with it. Part of me is thinking knee socks, the other part of me is thinking that since it's like 250 grams of yarn, I could easily make socks for me, plus have enough left to sell/gift to someone else. We shall see.

Anyway. I've got like three or four entries backlogged here, that have been just awaiting pictures. I finally got a bunch uploaded and will go through and get the posts sorted soon - I'm hoping to get caught up by the end of this week. Though I will be busy - I'll be going to Madison Knitters' Guild tomorrow evening, and out to dinner with a friend on Wednesday evening, and I'm considering going to see Anne Lamott at a local bookstore on Thursday, but we'll see if the week really supports that kind of thing.

"Gosh, Thorny, you're going out a lot for a mother of toddlers married to a man who works second shift. What gives?" Ah ha ha ha, gentle reader - as of Friday my husband no longer works second shift! New job, new possibilities for, y'know, a life and shit! I'm pretty excited about it.

Hope everyone had a Happy Easter!!


One for all those people who say, "Oh, I've always wanted twins!"

Originally written on Valentine's Day, 2007. Which is a wee little bit sad, come to that.

Man. I just was washing my hands and happened to glance into the bathroom mirror, and I realized that somehow I had failed to change my shirt once I got the kids safely to bed tonight.

I look like an extra from Resident Evil or something.

Dude, I wish I was kidding. But no, my shirt, which in a quirky little twist of fate I had decided would be getting thrown away after this wearing, is like something out of CSI. You know, that piece of evidence they discover at the 35-minute mark, that turns out to be nothing, but looks really incriminating?

That's my shirt.

There is chocolate. And snot. And blood. And something purple I can neither recall nor identify.

This is what happens when your toddler learns both where the candy is stored and how to climb up on the kitchen counter. And then falls.

Here's the situation:

I was trying to do something laundry-like today when I hear that most-hated sound of mothers everywhere, the ominous thud, followed immediately by screaming. Hoo boy.

So I dash out of the laundry room and discover Henry pulling himself up off the kitchen floor, his hands and face covered in chocolate, and a big uglier-than-it-really-is scrape on his face, bleeding away. Egads.

So of course I comfort him and hold him and try to get a look at the scrape on his face. He keeps turning away and smearing his face, along with his now-snotty nose, all over my shirt. I finally get a look at his face, and then realize he's holding his mouth funny, and all I can think is, "Oh god, he's knocked out a tooth." So, I scissor-lock him with my legs and then manage to get hold of both of his hands with one of mine and then try to force the crying child's mouth open, only to discover that no, his teeth are fine.

He's still chewing on a Hershey's kiss.

Gotta admire the boy's priorities, I guess.

Caz got home tonight, helped me smear some Neosporin on Henry's face while he slept (because heaven knows he'd never let me put that horrible stuff on him while he was awake - the child has standards, and though they may include eating Cheerios he finds under the couch cushions (ew!) they do not include letting his mother smear some nasty ol' antiseptic ointment on him), and then went to ask me how my day was. He stopped when he caught sight of the shirt. I think his comment was on the order of "That shirt looks like it's been through the apocalypse."

Yes, dear. But only the shirt. My day, by contrast, was stellar!!


So last week Friday, I'd really just reached the end of my tether. Just, you know, one thing after another. Nobody had slept well so we were all on short fuses, the whole thing. The kids were doing this faaaaaaaabulous thing they do, where they sit quietly in the living room looking at books and playing (that's not the "fabulous" part). They do this until I start to go, "Oh, well, okay then." And I get down a bit of knitting, settle down in my nice recliner, and decide to see if I can't knit a row or two. They continue this... this... behavior... until I am about halfway through a row, generally in the middle of something like, a cable crossing, or counting a series of yarnovers, or something like that.

At which point, they spring up and race in different directions, leaving little Tex Avery thought-ballons of mayhem and murder and who-knows-what-else in their wake.

Leaving me to try to gather up my knitting and put it up someplace safe (yeah, I've learned that lesson already, thankyouverymuch) and go fetch them from whatever mischief they've discovered in those 34 seconds, spitting and cursing and generally ready to lose my ever-lovin' mind.

Once they kinda "break the seal" on that, they stop waiting for me to start knitting, and instead just wait for me to turn my back for a second or six. So, you know, I'm fetching some milk for one who's screaming his guts out, and the other one decides now's the time to climb up on Mommy and Daddy's desk and knock over the shelf above it! Or one decides to open the dishwasher, while it's running, and use that as a platform to climb up to the cabinet where the crayons are used to be kept, and then start coloring on every non-paper surface they can find, while the other tries to sit on the cat.

You get the idea. The point is, we'd had a whole day of that, along with the screaming and kicking and throwing themselves to the floor when their little toddler designs were thwarted.

Earlier in the day, one of them had managed (again) to climb up on the counter and get down a box of Corn Chex.

And dump it all over the living room floor.

At first I was angry and tried to pick it all up, but eventually? I was just too tired. The living room floor had been vacuumed the day before, so it wasn't like it was atrocious or anything. And besides - Corn Chex are fortified.

But after a little bit, when their interest in eating Corn Chex off the living room floor had waned and I had gotten tired of stepping on crunchy corn shrapnel, I decided it was time to deal with the debris. So I got out the vacuum and started vacuuming.

And I noticed an amazing thing.

The kids are a bit wary of the vacuum cleaner. The kids had both been on the couch when I started vacuuming. After a few minutes of vacuuming, the kids were still there. No crying or all that afraid, just... wary. They don't know the way of the vacuum, and so don't trust it yet.

And I realized how to use that to my advantage.

I swear to you, I vacuumed that 30-square-foot area for. Ten. Minutes.

During that time, I admit, I got a little caught up in the joy I was experiencing. I started to think, "Okay then! I'll just start vacuuming as soon as Caz leaves for work, and I'll stop when he gets home! I'll even get a little bit of a workout out of it! It'll be perfect."

Except a few little problems started to crop up, even in my happy little vacuum daze.

Hmm. I suppose having the vacuum running for nine hours straight is probably not good for any of our hearing.

And eventually, the carpet is going to wear thin.

And Caz will almost certainly catch on - what, I'm going to go from always leaving the vacuuming to him to vacuuming every day? Hmm.

And then, there was the kicker.

Oh man. What'll I say when next month's power bill shows up and I have to explain why it's $400?

So, eventually, I discarded the plan.

However, I'm still keeping the vacuum and its mysterious power to keep the kids rooted to the couch in reserve. I'll just make sure to use it sparingly. Wouldn't want to abuse it and anger the Vacuum Cleaner Gods*, after all.

*Because the last time I angered the Vacuum Cleaner Gods? They made their ire known about ten minutes before my in-laws were due to arrive, which was also several weeks since the previous vacuuming. There's no way I'm setting myself up to endure that again.

Still kicking, honest!

Hey y'all. Sorry it's been so long since my last post. I actually discovered one "locked and loaded" as it were from Feb 14th, which I apparently wrote in its entirety and then decided to hang onto for a day to make sure it was all cool, and well... didn't look at it again until, well, five minutes ago.

I'll get it up here in a second.

Mostly things have been kinda rough, I'm sorry to say. There's a big elephant in my living room right now, and so long as there's a chance it will leave of its own accord, I'm loathe to give it incentive to stick around by talking about it overmuch.

But, y'know. Elephant. In the living room. Kinda makes it hard to really wrap my head around anything else I might decide to blog about. Hence the no-blogging for so long.

I'm afraid I don't have photos as yet - I've got a couple of FOs hanging around, but I'm wanting to get them washed and blocked and extra-purty before I blog 'em up, y'know? But there has been knitting going on around here - some socks, a scarf, lots of swatching, and a hat which caused me a surprising amount of difficulty.

See, I was knitting up a nice hat for my dad's birthday, and didn't want to bother with a swatch (feh! it's a hat! who needs swatches for a hat? yeah, that'd be me. anyway). So I made a nice deep ribbed brim, and then decided to switch to stockinette for the crown of the hat. Which is when I discovered I had cast on way too many stitches and the switch to stockinette was resulting in a great woollen bucket.

So I frogged back to the ribbing and decided, "That's okay! It'll just be a ribbed hat. That'll be fine!" I was a little consternated about how to manage the decreases, but recalled a nice ribbed hat pattern in Hip to Knit which I would consult to see how they managed the decreases on that - it seemed nice in the photo, after all. Unfortunately, when I did manage to consult HtK, I discovered that the directions for working the decreases went roughly like this, "Work decreases using either k2tog or p2tog as necessary to maintain stitch pattern."

As you might imagine, this wasn't so helpful.

So I soldiered on and did the best I could, and managed to create, by the time I finished, a great gray nipple hat. Which I let sit on a shelf for a week or so until I could snag a bit of time to blog and fix it, which occurred two nights ago. Except that I completely forgot to take a picture of the great gray nipple until I was sitting in my knittin' chair with a wodge of yarn in my lap, getting ready to put it back on the needles. sigh! Clearly, my Blogging Instincts are not yet fully honed.

Having been failed by HtK, I decided instead to consult Ann Budd, and her lovely Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns. After a bit of poking around, I decided on a concentric circles decrease pattern, and established a couple of "rules" for myself regarding "maintaining the pattern" (which, of course, I promptly broke six rows later). Anyway, it turned out mostly all right, though a bit strange in the Maintaining The Stitch Pattern department. At least it's no longer nipular, which I'm glad of.

I'll take pictures and get them up soon, because the crown of this hat... it really must be shared. It doesn't look bad, per se, but it's just so odd. Not at all what I was expecting. Not at all.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - emphasis on the Whiskey


Wow. What an interesting picture. Pretty and yet, inexplicably festive. Why whatever could it be?

I'll tell you. It's a sink full of sprinkles.


Why yes. In fact, sprinkles that used to live in this tub by the squizzillion. They were the unfortunate victims of a mass eviction, as perpetrated by one of my children.

See? There they are, all the sad little sprinkle refugees. Tossed from their homes into an unfeeling world full of cold counters and...

...the very real chance that an embattled mother will throw up her hands, decide "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," and allow the poor homeless sprinkles to be...


Dear gods, the humanity!! The cold-blooded creature has no feeling, no care for the hapless sprinkles clinging to the rim of his ravening maw!


Alas! Good-bye cruel world! They shall sprinkle... no more.....

(Note: The child pictured above is not the perpetrator. The Evicter lost interest shortly after he finished the fun fun part of pouring the sprinkles out and watching them bounce and roll all over my kitchen.)

Brain Dump

Ramble-icious Update

Sorry no posts lately, y'all.

I forget that January/February just wreaks havoc with my headspace. The days and nights blur into each other, Caz working second shift doesn't help matters whatsoever, the kids and I have massive cabin fever thanks to dangerously cold temps and lots of snow and our continued inability to find boots that will fit Ben's flipper-like feet.

I've been knitting, albeit in odd fits and starts, as my cabin fever restlessness permits.

There are socks going on, and some other socks, and a fourth pair of Jaywalkers on the needles. But mostly, lately, I've been working on a lovely feather-and-fan scarf in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, ostensibly for my mother-in-law, but we'll see who the final recipient turns out to be.

I do find myself astonished that I've been knitting for close to three years and I never worked in feather-and-fan until now. I love how it's just stupid flippin' easy, and yet looks unbelievably gorgeous and complex. I love that about knitting - that increasing and decreasing in certain orders can give you a gorgeous effect, that knitting your stitches out of order can give you another, equally gorgeous effect. The mechanics of it are simple, but the results are fantabulous. I love it. I'll post some pics soon, though I suspect I will not do well in capturing the true awesomeness of this scarf.

In other knitting news, I'm thinking once again on sweaters for myself. I swatched for Arwen, but never got around to actually measuring my swatch post-washing (yes, yes, you can point and laugh, I won't mind). And I hauled out Brambleberry again, frogged the inch and a half of sleeve I had knitted. Why did I frog it? Couldn't tell you. Think it was Winter Headspace Weirdness or something, because there wasn't a darn thing wrong with it. At least not that I could tell - it's not like I'd even done enough to tell if I was getting gauge or not.

Anyway. So I'm torn between Brambleberry and Arwen (or Samus, or Eris, or FLAK, or a host of other cabled cardigans out there). Brambleberry might win out simply because I don't have to make any big decisions beyond "start Brambleberry." And really, decision-making is pretty hard for me right now.

In Other News

Speaking of decision-making, I'm still reeling from the bad case of sticker shock I got this weekend, when I finally started researching preschool options for the daring duo. Holy crap on a stick. As Caz pointed out - for the cost of one year of preschool for the kids, we could buy a car. A whole car. Maybe not a big car or a fancy car, but a car. A CAR! I knew it would be bad, but man... I seriously about crapped myself when I saw the actual numbers all laid out there.

Oh, and here's that Crazy Twin Story I promised a few weeks ago:

So, back in mid-January, Meg and Jonathan visited us as they were passing through, as rock stars are wont to do. We hung out, they brought really cute knitted bears for the kids (seriously, check 'em out), and we went to a local Indian buffet for lunch (mmm mmm good). In preparation for their visit, Caz and I (by which I mean, Caz) prepared a yummilicious dessert - Sarafina's Almond Cake. We made it a day ahead, and then Meg and Jonathan had to postpone their visit by a day (rock stars, what can you do?), but that was all fine. The cake was carefully wrapped and kept safe, so no big deal. Besides, I could swear Lanea had said that letting it "age" for a couple days did nothing but good for the almond cake.

Well... yeah. You know what's coming, right? Sure enough, Sunday morning the kids got rolling before we did, and instead of coming into our room right away, they struck out on their own to see what they could get into. And so, of course, Henry got into the cake. Caz walked out of our room a while later to discover Henry sitting on the kitchen table, gouging handfuls of goodness out of the almond cake and stuffing his face with them.

So much for fancy dessert for our friends. sigh! At least the kid's got good taste, right? Right? Right? (Humor me here, just a little, would you?)

I tried to get pictures for the blogging, but the camera was not immediately accessible, and Caz, having spent two days on his very best Resisting Temptation behavior, decided, "Dammit, then I'm having some almond cake too!" and started cutting slices from the poor disfigured cake for himself. And well, I sure wasn't going to let him eat the whole rest of the cake himself, so uh... I helped. As it turns out, the goodness of almond cake completely trumps any Grubby Toddler Hands factor. Who'd have guessed it?

HA! Joke's on me! (Or: Update)
So, I wrote up this post this afternoon, but then got sidetracked before I could put in all the links. While I was out in the other room, I finally decided to check that gauge swatch I did for Arwen a while back. My gauge was. Spot. On. Absolutely perfect. The cable was also precisely as it should have been. So... I took a plunge and cast on for the back. And then, of course, got sidetracked some more, so I haven't done anything but cast on. But I did cast on. Looks like Arwen it is. Sorry, Brambleberry.

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Blogger (Silent) Poetry Reading

(with thanks to Cara for tipping me off about this)

Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why)
by Nikki Giovanni

I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat's meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can't catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother's day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended except by my permission

I mean...I...can fly
like a bird in the sky...



Blog for Choice

Sorry for the hiatus, y'all, and sorry that there's no knitting content forthwith. Those who aren't down are free to skip today's post and come back next time - I promise knitting content and maybe even a Crazy Twin Story to boot. For now, though, some politically inspired navel-gazing.

Blog for Choice

In November of 1972, I was conceived. My parents were young - 18 and 19 years old - unmarried (but some reports say they were engaged), and scared to death.

They put on a brave face, announced a January wedding date, and ploughed ahead.

My parents got married on January 13, 1973. Nine days later the Roe v. Wade judgment was handed down, legalizing abortion.

Even though I wasn't born for another seven months after that, I still feel as if my parents' wedding date, in relation to when Roe v. Wade was decided, is somehow significant. Though not how you might think.

I don't feel relief, as if I somehow scraped through a tight spot. The truth is, even if abortion had been legal, I can't imagine my mother getting an abortion. She was a good Catholic girl (fooling around with her maybe-fiance notwithstanding), who came from a large Italian family whose judgment intimidated her more than their love comforted her.

The sad fact of the matter is, my parents' wedding was a grim affair. I've seen the pictures. Everyone looks dazed, in a state of shock, except for the best man, who is quite obviously drunk off his ass. My parents' smiles are brave, but not particularly convincing.

My maternal grandfather looks like he's at a funeral. My maternal grandmother refuses to look at the camera. My paternal grandparents don't look much happier. My mother's siblings look extremely confused. As well they should - my grandparents didn't tell them about my mother's wedding until that morning. My grandparents didn't want them to be distracted for finals week at school.

Everyone appears stunned, at a loss for what to do or how to behave.

No one looks happy.

That day set the tone.

My parents' marriage, which lasted a grueling 22 years, was also grim. We never quite made it all the way into After-School Special territory, but we got close more often than a family should.

I was five years old when I first learned how long it takes a baby to grow in its mama's belly. Being a precocious kinda kid, I then immediately did the math to find out when I'd been "planted" in my mama's belly, only to realize that the math didn't work out. I'd been hoping to find out I'd been a Honeymoon Baby. But something was wrong, because babies take longer than seven months to be born. My mom tried to tell me that I was early, that I came before I was supposed to.

Mom's "brave face" has never been her specialty.

For the ensuing 17 years of pain, misery, resentment and depression, on all our parts, I would think to myself that if I hadn't come along, my parents never would have married. They would have eventually broken up, married other people, and maybe then everyone would be happy. It was a child's view of the world, of course, wherein everything that happened was all to do with me. But how else does a child see the world?

What's this got to do with Choice?

It's true. Even if abortion had been legal before January 13, 1973, I still would have been born. Chances are my parents still would have married, still would have been a bad match, still would have created a difficult situation for themselves, each other and for my sister and me.

But maybe, just maybe, being free to really choose to keep me would have changed things. Would have made my parents feel a little less trapped. Maybe then their wedding album would seem less like every member of my family is doing their best "deer in the headlights" impression.

I don't think for a moment that my mother would have made any different decisions, when she discovered she was pregnant all those years ago. But I do think it would have helped her to have options available to her. To be given the chance to choose to keep the baby she discovered she was carrying, rather than backed into a corner and given no other alternatives.

Because abortion was illegal, my mother was denied the chance to chart her own course, to choose her own destiny.

Maybe, given a choice, my mother would have approached motherhood with less bitterness and anger in her heart.

Some folks say depression is anger turned inward. I believe that's quite often the case.

My mother is the angriest person I've ever met, and she's been angry for 34 years now. She can't voice her anger, of course. She can't actually speak the words in her heart, that she was forced to have me, that she was forced to give up her life in favor of mine. She can't speak of how hurt she must have been by how her parents treated her then. She certainly can't give voice to how betrayed she must have felt, when she found out a few years ago that her parents, who judged her so harshly for becoming pregnant before she was married, had been lying about how long they'd been married, to hide that when they married, Grandma was two months pregnant with my mom.

She can't give voice to her anger, but it always finds its way out. Anger always does. That's its nature, after all.

My mother is the angriest person I've ever met, because 34 years ago she was denied the chance to want to have her baby.

Every baby deserves to be wanted, be it at conception or at some later date, after the surprise has worn off a little.

I'm not grateful my parents got married before Roe v. Wade came down. Abortion being illegal didn't save me, because in all reality, my life was never in danger.

But there's more to life than breathing.

I am the baby no one got to want. A fact which colored how my family, immediate and extended, treated me from the moment they learned of my impending arrival. A fact which colored how I behaved with my family from the moment I learned of it until this very day. A fact which no amount of therapy or medication or positive self-talk can change. A fact which is unchanged by all the protestations of "But we're so happy you're here now!"

Don't get me wrong. I'm a big girl. I've done the shrinkage and the happy pills and the "I'm okay, you're okay!" crap for a long time. I gave up feeling like I never should have been born long ago. Overall I'm pretty happy with how things have turned out. I'm happy with my life, I'm happy to have my life. It's all good.

Well, except that my mother has spent 34 years feeling trapped by my very existence, by a life she was never free to choose for herself, and now lives in such a quagmire of vicious, angry self-loathing that I just don't know if she'll ever be happy about herself or her life (and thus my life) again. We pretty much never speak. She forgets my birthday routinely, and has never made any real attempt to remember my husband's birthday (after 13 years), and has even begun forgetting my children's birthday. When we do speak, civility flees the room almost immediately, and bitterness, anger and resentment come roaring in.

I'm beginning to fear that things will be like this between us until the day she dies, no matter how many times and ways I try to reach out to her.

Illegal abortion didn't save my life, but it still managed to cost me my mother.

No baby should be forced upon its mother. Motherhood should be a choice, freely made, for all women.

I was a baby no one had a chance to choose. I believe all babies deserve to be wanted. Thus I am pro-choice.

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