Tuesday, August 28, 2007


It has begun

Over the weekend, I developed yet another one of those miserable skin infections which plagued me last winter. It's fungal, yech. (Normally I laugh at "there's a fungus among us", but this is a little too up close and personal.) I don't even like the sound of the word "fungal." So Monday morning, where was I but at the doctor's getting a month's worth of fluconazole, and a prescription for hydroxyzine, which turns me instantly into Dawn of the Dead. I was so seriously afraid to drive today that I stayed home. Without the usual guilts, which is nice, and also significant.

There have been several doctors treating me for this recurring problem, and one suspected diabetes, but the primary care doc assured me there was nothing in my annual labs over the past few years to indicate that. And okay, when I had the fungal (ech) thing last winter, it was right around the holidays when I was eating gobs of sugar. I've toned that down quite a bit--oh sure, I'll have the occasional goodie, not running for canonization or anything like that--but I'm nowhere near the sweets intake I was before. So why is this happening to me? Anyone?

If you said "stress," I'll give you a cigar. Ew, what would you want with one of those? They stink. But yeah, I guess I've been under more stress than I realize. A few of you thought I should be doing something that feeds the inner fiber goddess, and I couldn't agree with you more. Today, I not only housecleaned (not nearly as much as it needs, but I took care of what was bugging me the most) but got started on the Argosy Wrap. What a fun knit! I'm already on Row 56, heyyy! Should be able to bang that out in no time. I'm using Fisherman's Wool, which is way cheaper than the Kureyon the pattern uses, and it's from stash. Other than the yarn for the Tomten jacket, and the undyed yarn, I haven't been buying yarn, I promise. I'm saving my yarn money for Oregon Flock & Fiber, which comes up in less than a month.

Oh, I'm rambling. I hate it when I do that. I haven't resigned from my current job, but I'm at the visualization stage--where I walk into my supervisor's office and tell her I'm giving notice. So many emotions tied up in that! For the first time in my life, the issue is not people, or feeling like I'm doing work that's beneath me, or that I'm being paid peanuts or treated like crap, because none of that is true. It's just that what I'm doing now, is not my real calling. And it seems like even though J. wants me to be happy, I can tell he thinks I'm nuts. Well, here's the meter I use that tells me every time that I'm not nuts:

I think about knitting all day while I'm at work. I can barely put down my project and head out the door. I buzz through each day's tasks and chores, trying my damndest to just get everything done so I can sit down and knit. And when I finally do, more often than not, I'm exhausted and start falling asleep.

Knitting is the last thing I get to do, but the first thing I think about.

So...you know I should be knitting. I know I should be knitting. It's those closest to me--in this case, my husband, mom and brother (even though I'm not emotionally close with the last two) --who think my logic is severely flawed.

And I realize, that it's just more Muggle-think, in another nefarious form.

I will be strong, and soldier on. At the advice of a blog friend, I went to a LYS this afternoon to inquire if they needed shop samples knit. What did I see on the door but a "Help Wanted" sign!! Now I ask you, is that the universe saying to me "hey dummy" or what? I didn't get to meet the owner, but the store employee seemed glad I was interested in the part-time job, and encouraged me to email a resume. I did, and I also left them my completed Monkey sock as a knitting sample. Here's hoping I get a nibble!

Now it's time for cute pet pictures with funny captions.

You can probably tell that the hydroxyzine is kicking my ass. I keep pressing the wrong keys,.naf[pgh. (Dammit!) Let me share these with you, and then I will collapse in an overmedicated heap upon my bed.

I call this one "Clash of the Wieners." And that's all I have to say about that.

Podkitty is being summoned back to his home planet.

I should make him into a lolcat, but right now I'm on drugs...and can't figure out how it all works...

Saturday, August 25, 2007



At last and finally, here is the famous Monkey sock. Hey, it only took me the entire month of August to finish one sock! But it was worth the effort--for once, I stopped being so FO-oriented and allowed myself to enjoy the process, and I ended up with something I rather like. I'm not making them to fit me, though. I normally need to cast on 72 stitches on size 1.5's to get the right circumference, and since I couldn't figure out how to re-size the pattern, I followed it exactly and cast on 64 stitches. No big whoop. I'll either put them in the Christmas present bin or hang onto them until next summer, and enter them in the textiles show at the county fair.

Whether it’s knit in a solid color like Kay’s, or a handpaint like Stephanie’s or Kelly's, the Monkey is a great pattern. The yarn is Artyarns Ultramerino, which I got in the Summer Stash Swap from the wonderful Jan.

During the knitting, I started free-associating on expressions with the word "monkey" in them, and remembered "Everybody's Got Something To Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey)", which is a track on the BeatlesWhite Album. I owned the White Album (on vinyl, of course,) as a kid, loved it, and abused it. Abused it, how? the Beatles fans among you (if there are any, that is) may be wondering. If you'll indulge me, I've written the anecdote of my Beatle album abuse in the form of a script for a Southwest Airlines TV commercial.

Scene: A seminar for aging Baby Boomers. A roomful of fifty-somethings, myself included, and a facilitator, during the “icebreaker” session.

Facilitator: How many of you bought the Beatles’ White Album when you were in high school?

Most of the hands go up. People look around, nodding and smiling at each other, “right on!” a high-five, that sort of thing.

Facilitator: How many of you actually tried to steam off the cover, because your best friend told you there was an obscene photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono underneath, and you believed it?

I promptly raise my hand, smiling and chuckling—then looking around and seeing that no one else has their hand raised, but everyone is now staring at me with a “what an idiot!” expression, my hand comes slowly down and my smile fades to a look of pained embarrassment.

Announcer voice-over: Wanna get away?

*sigh* Photographic evidence of the incredibly gullible 14-year-old I once was. And Robin, if you're reading this, look what you made me do.

Not funny.

The Silver Lining, The Light At The End Of The Tunnel and so forth

I deeply appreciate your supportive words and suggestions regarding my plight. My husband came home last night, and we talked things over. He agreed that no, things as they are aren't working for me, and I got his buy-in to research decreasing my hours/days, or a possible job share. His travel schedule will be somewhat lighter now that school has started or is about to start, and that will also make things easier for me. I guess the most important thing is that I'm feeling about a thousand percent better about my life today than I was last time I posted.

I'm doing some mad dyeing this weekend, and casting on for the second Monkey. And tonight, Jason and I are celebrating our eighteenth wedding anniversary. It's actually tomorrow--but he goes back on the road again very early Monday. It's a family tradition. My mother married a traveling salesman, and so did I.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Just let me knit, world

Here are some more stitch markers which I managed to bang out tonight--it's my obligatory happy crafty pretty picture, which assuages my irrational fear that if I don't post at least one such photo each time I blog, you'll all leave and never come back. Ok, I'm only half kidding. But only half.

This is a bleary-eyed, late night rant, with no knitting content, so feel free to skip. But if you're still reading, the reason there's no knitting content is because (silent scream) I have no time to knit. Or dye yarn. Or do anything else which really matters to me. Or clean my house, because as much as I hate to clean, it does matter to me. It hasn't been really cleaned the way I would like since I went to work for my current employer. And it isn't so much a matter of cleaning, as it is dealing with the piles and piles of clutter, which takes time, planning, and mental and physical energy. To be honest, I'm not doing so good with any of that right now.

I work full time. I have a husband who travels two weeks out of every month, and when he's gone, I've got to do everything I normally do, plus everything he does, which is a lot, to keep this household running at a bare-bones minimum. We love our animals, but it is a lot of work to care for them, and they also need time and attention. When I try to tell Jason how much stress I feel about his road schedule, he doesn't really get it. He doesn't want me to quit my job. But here's the way I see it: he earns nearly four times as much as I do. Yet I invest a goodly chunk of time in working and commuting. (I'll blog about gender inequality in the workplace some other time.)

Now I know I sound like I'm on the pity pot, and yes I'll have some cheese with my whine, thank you very much. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the world's population doesn't have it as good as I do, and I'm well aware of that. But you know what? I still feel a deep sense of burnout, of having come to the end of something. And I can't seem to shake it.

I just got the biggest cash bonus of my life, and I don't care about my job anymore. Three years ago, I was dying to have this job. Yet this morning, I was so recalcitrant, all right, pissed off about having to go to work when all I wanted to do was stay home and craft, that I engaged in minor road rage. (driving too fast, impatient, that sort of thing. I was the type of person on the roads this morning that I normally think are the biggest a-holes... dear me.) I don't have enough patience with my teen. These are things I need to address, behaviors I need to change, and fast.

I have no answers. All I know is that I wake up each morning wanting to finish this sock, work on that sweater, start that shawl, dye up a storm, and write the book I know is in me somewhere... but I'm living a life of endless details which put me farther and farther away from what I can't stop thinking about. I'm aware that I've done more than my part to set up the necessity of working outside the home, and tending to all those details...but I can't muster the enthusiasm I once had for my work. And for the love of all that is holy, I must find an alternative to the daily, timesucking, soul-killing, resource-wasting freeway commute. I've been doing it nearly all my working life, and that's about 30 years. I'm... done.

Good thing, too, because it's really late, and I've got to turn in. Task force meeting tomorrow morning, dontcha know.

Sorry, everybody. I won't post again until I feel more like Sharon Chickenlips.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Another addiction? Say it ain't so. (caution: post contains dessert pr0n)

It's a proven fact: experimenting with yarn leads to stronger crafts. I've now got it bad for beads.

Incredibly bad picture, but this is like my sixth attempt to photograph the first stitch markers I created. No sooner had I started making them than I found myself craving more kinds of beads in more colors. Oh, no--it starts. While among the bead aisles at the local crafts mega-store, I was fortunate enough to encounter a jewelry designer/teacher who gave me a rudimentary idea of what I would need to buy to create these. She asked me twice, pointedly, if I planned to sell them--wary, no doubt, of aiding potential competition. I assured her I had no plans to sell them. I just want to make tons of them and then give 'em away! If I ever get around to dyeing all the sock yarn colorways I envision, I'll include stitch markers with every purchase. So there's a reason to watch my Etsy shop for new items.

With the adoption of Hannibal, I wasn't able to do any dyeing over the weekend. However, J. being the sweet man he is, he understands that for wedding anniversaries, given the choice between yarn and a weekend getaway, or yarn and jewelry, I'll choose the yarn every time. Our 18th wedding anniversary is next weekend, and since he'll be between extended business trips, he phoned up these good people and ordered enough undyed sock yarn to keep me happily busy for the next couple of months or so.

What a guy.

A husband like that, who willingly feeds my yarn addiction, who never criticizes or complains no matter how much yarn I buy, doesn't deserve to be labeled a "muggle." He may not knit, but in my book, he's one of us.

See what happens when you read blogs?

Just joshing. Last week, Uberstrickenfrau (whose blog I enjoy the heck out of) posted this link
and my chocolate cake craving kicked in big time. I didn't use that particular recipe, because I was too lazy to make coffee and buy buttermilk--so I used the cake recipe on the can of Ghirardelli cocoa (which happens to be Michelle's favorite). Oh so good. It had been a long time since I'd baked a cake--and I'm going to wait a good long while before baking another one!

I did manage to finish another knitting project Sunday night.

Not very exciting--imagine a 60 x 18 rectangle of double moss stitch. One big yawn, right? However, the result is rather nice. Soft and cuddly around the shoulders, lightweight yet warm. It's a comfort shawl for the shawl ministry at the UU church. I used 5 balls of TLC Cotton Plus, an inexpensive yarn. As I mentioned last post, I'm ready for more interesting knitting, so I was thinking about the Argosy Wrap for my next shawl ministry project.
"Blogging in," so to speak, this morning--I'm going in to work late, because Hannibal the kitten appears to have a cold. I've got to get him to the vet. On my regular blog-reading circuit, I've been noticing that "finishitis" seems to be a pandemic. I've certainly got it, considering I just finished the Tomten (sewed in the zipper, too! Yowza!) and now this. Going for the hat trick!

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Thoughts about the Tomten

I know I displayed a couple pics of this jacket in yesterday's post, but there were a couple more things I wanted to say about it, or related to it. First of all, D'OH! I bought the wrong kind of zipper. Here's me at JoAnn a few days ago: "Separating zipper? Well, don't they all separate?" No, I'm not a newbie, I'm a complete ijit! So I've gotta go back and get the right kind of zipper today. Live and learn.

The other thing is, I did quite a bit of work on the jacket while a friend of my daughter's was hanging out at our house last week. She has quite a few boys as friends--they share the same interests: Adult Swim cartoons, "hair metal" bands such as KISS, Dungeons & Dragons, and video games. They're well-behaved and well-mannered--these kids can hang out at our house when I'm not home and I don't have to worry, I know 50 kids aren't going to show up with a keg and burn the place down. One of these boys in particular is funny and good natured, if a little on the clueless side, and doesn't seem to mind being the butt of the occasional joke as long as he's part of the crowd. Part of the reason he's special to me is that his family was homeless for a time, and lived in their car. His parents now have jobs, and are able to keep him and his siblings together in an apartment. He belongs to a local Christian center, enjoys school and his friends, and is a "normal" kid in every sense. But that time in his life is naturally something he hates to talk about, and I only know about it because my daughter told me. I don't know if this will make sense, but that somehow made homelessness real to me. Another of these kids was sent to live with his grandma for a while, and his sister was sent to another relative, to avoid the same type of situation because of unemployment for both parents.

Which brings me to this: I can put that jacket in the homeless shelter collection bin at the local Unitarian church, in fact I could fill the bin with handknit jackets, hats and scarves, but to me it doesn't feel like enough. My friend Christine, aka Flutter, recently held an event on her blog for Foodiepalooza in which she had her readers vote for a recipe she would cook, and every dollar donated to America's Second Harvest or food bank of one's choice counted as one vote. Christine raised almost $400. I think this was truly inspired blogging, and I'm inspired to do something similar for the homeless. I see the effects of it in our community, in my child's social life and therefore in my own home, which I cherish and value more each day, and no longer take it for granted. If anyone reading is similarly inspired, your suggestions are most welcome. I hope that together we'll be able to brainstorm something. Thanks!

Hannibal the kitten discovers that cinnamon grahams freakin' ROCK.

nom nom nom

OK, enough of my Sunday morning musings and the Kitten Cam. Now let's get to what you've all been waiting for, the Yarn Giveaway drawing!

Hey, we need a drum roll. Cue Neil.

So that you know everything's on the up-and-up, I've kept the results in a secret vault at my accounting firm, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe. Kidding! I compiled this list from everyone's comments, and assigned each one a number corresponding to the order in which you all posted:

1. Rilana
2. sophanne
3. Kelly
4. flutter
5. Mrs. H
6. kay
7. uberstrickenfrau
8. Yarnhog
9. Quail Hill Knits
10. WilBlg4Yrn
11. HDW
12. Chrispy
13. Knitted.distraction
14. Michelle
15. Tammy
16. KnittyChicka
17. peggy
18. Patty
19. Rebecca
20. Megan
21. Kay
22. Steffaroni
23. Annette
24. Jean
25. Aimee
26. Vicki Jean
27. AfternoonMoon
28. Marlene McDonald
29. Fancy Pants
30. Bobbie
31. Michael
32. Elizabeth
33. Jessica M.
34. aimee noel
35. Femmy
36. Kabira
37. alittleweirdo
38. Tina

I then plugged in 1 as the lower limit, and 38 as the upper limit, into the Custom Random Number Generator.

And the number it picked: 2.

Which means the yarn goes to: "sophanne", aka Becky of becky knits too.

Congratulations, Becky! I'm not sure if I have your email, so let me give you mine: sharonfs AT comcast DOT net. Shoot me an email with your mailing addy, and I'll get that bag of Kona Bay Cotton, plus a little goodie (knitting related) of my choosing, out to you PDQ.

Thank you all for playing! Do check back, because this was so much fun that I'll be having another yarn drawing again in the fall, probably during the first half of October, so that there will be time to knit holiday gifts.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Hyperintelligent Kitten Invades Suburban Home! (caution: lotsa photos)

No, it’s not a Weekly World News headline, it’s really true.

For various reasons, the latest addition to our herd arrived sooner than I expected. Meet Hannibal.

No sooner had this little guy and Michelle encountered one another, than he began climbing the bars of his cage at the shelter, eager and desperate, stepping on the head of his roommate. “Uff! I am going with you and you are not leaving without me HEYWAITAMINUTE----!!!”

But alas, it was so late in the day that the shelter people told us to come back the next day, and he would be ours. Sadly, we had no choice but to leave little Hannibal (Michelle and Jason chose this name, for one of the greatest military commanders in history) to spend one more night at the shelter.

Oh, and he’s a genius! He knows the answer to every question I ask him. Check it out.

“Hannibal, what is the name for the part of a boat which is directly opposite the stern?”


“Hannibal, who founded the Chinese Communist Party in 1949?”


“Hannibal, when would you like to eat some tuna?”


See what I mean? I've been trying to book us for an appearance on Montel, but so far they haven't returned my calls.

I also have something that's been sorely lacking in my posts of late--something I knitted!

Elizabeth Zimmermann's modular Tomten jacket. I used Donegal Tweed in Oatmeal for the body and cuffs, and Lamb's Pride Worsted in Sable for the hood and sleeves. This is one of three large projects that were neck-and-neck in the race to become FO's. It took about eight days from start to finish, and even though it's a child's zip-front hoodie about size 4 or 6, it sure felt like miles of garter stitch! I know the chant: "I like knitting...I like knitting..." but I'm ready to pick up my lonely Print o'the Wave shawl or something else more challenging. If I didn't have more deadline knitting, that is, which I'll get into later.

The mistakes in this sucker are legion. The most obvious is on the left sleeve, which I guess would be the one on the right side of the photo. Late last night, I ran out of the Lamb's Pride. There was no way in hell I was going to try to squeeze in a trip to the LYS, what with going to the shelter to pick up little Hannibal, settling him in, doing a blog post, trying to have some quality time with the spousal unit AND getting some yarn dyeing done all in one day! So I fudged. I rummaged through my stash and came up with some leftover sock yarn, which was the closest color match I could find. I used a double strand to finish the sleeve. Probably should have used a triple strand, because the gauge is obviously off, but I was in my usual fugue state at that hour of the night. I figure, the sleeves are longish for a child, so they'll be rolled up anyway, and no one will be the wiser. Right? Right??

I haven't decided yet what I'll do with this item. I don't know anyone with small kids, and because of the sleeve mishap I'm embarrassed to gift someone with it. I joined the Knitting for Homeless team, which was founded by Vik in Buenos Aires, and I will probably donate it to the local shelter along with some hats and scarves.

I cheated on the photo, too. The zipper isn't sewn in yet, I just faked it.

It'll be my first time sewing in a zipper. I found decent instructions in the back of Interweave Knits magazine, so I don't expect it to be difficult. Hmm, that's what I said the first day of Japanese class.
Be sure to come back tomorrow--I'll announce the winner of the Yarn Giveaway!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


He's fine

This is my dad, Jack, with my brother's Chihuahua, Mambo. You are all so sweet to inquire about his health! Dad had lymphoma in 2003 but he made a full recovery and is doing very well.

The "how's-your-father" bit was a line from the first Austin Powers movie. I often let my favorite lines from movies and TV shows slip into my conversation and writing. Sorry if I misled anyone! It was completely unintentional.

Now I must knit.


YouTube Time

When you watch this, picture me waiting for my Ravelry invitation...

(couldn't get the frickin' thing to display in the blog post--that'll teach me to blog from work!)

Yarn Giveaway: Clarification

I think there's been some confusion about the random number thing. To enter the drawing, all you need do is leave a comment on the yarn giveaway post (scroll down). Each person who comments gets a number, for example, if you are the 19th person to comment, your number is "19". I will only count each person once no matter how many comments they leave. Then I will put the total number of commenters into the random number generator, and whose-ever number it picks, that person will win the yarn. Sorry for not making this clear at the beginning. Email me: sharonfs AT comcast DOT net if I can answer any questions.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Dye Another Day

Sorry, I couldn't help myself. James Bond movie titles are a motherlode for the knitblogging novice dyer!

Uploaded to my Etsy shop this morning:

I named this colorway "Arashiyama" for the area of Kyoto near the river and mountains at which fall maple viewing ("momiji") is most spectacular. Jason and I went there in November 2002, and it was gorgeous (but hella cold!) and when I get around to digging out the pictures, this being before we went digital, I'll scan and share with you.

I kind of got carried away with the yellow in this yarn. I've still got a long way to go in getting the hang of color mixing, but in the meantime I'm having fun with it.

Because I'm so taken with the dyeing thing, not much knitting has been going on the past couple of days! Hopefully next post I will have a FO.

No Lips In This Recipe

This being "Chickenlips," I've been wanting to post this yummy chicken recipe for some time and kept getting sidetracked. It's easy, too, which means more time to play with yarn. Here ya go--enjoy!

"Red-Cooked" Chicken

  • 1 whole chicken, about 3 1/2-4 lbs.
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine (or water)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 or 4 slices fresh ginger root
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut lengthwise in half
  • 2 green onions, cut in 1" pieces
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Heat oil in Dutch oven. Brown chicken on all sides. Pour off fat. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer 1 hour, turning chicken once during cooking. Strain sauce if desired. Serve with steamed rice. 4 to 6 servings. Oh yeah, and "red-cooked" just refers to the mahogany color the dish takes on because of the soy sauce. This bit of knowledge gleaned from the days in which Michelle was a baby, we never went out, so I taught myself Chinese cooking. This is about the only dish I still make!

Joke Time

Since at least one person liked my rock musician joke, here's another one:

Q: How do you get a drummer off your front porch?

A: Pay him for the pizza.

Friday, August 10, 2007


I feel like giving away some yarn


Last February at Stitches West, I bought this bag of Kona Bay Cotton from the nice, patient folks at WEBS and it remains untouched. At the time of purchase, I was having a pink panty meltdown because I thought I’d lost the just-purchased two skeins of Claudia Handpaint, the same stuff I made the Digital Socks out of five months later. Turns out I’d left it at the Commuknity vendor space where I bought it. What can I say--the Stitches Market is brutal, largely due to insane yarn shoppers like moi.

Anyhoo. The Kona Bay was originally intended for the Cherry Bomb tank. However, I don’t wear much red, and a couple of summers ago I knit Bonne Marie Burns’ Mondo Cable in that color. I still wear it on occasion, so I’m not in the mood to repeat the color, and am just not motivated to knit anything with this yarn. (Am I a spoiled booger or what?!)

Which brings me to the giving away yarn thing, which I know is the main attraction. If you would like me to send you this yarn, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post. That’s it! No haiku. (Unless you want to.) No pattern suggestions. (Ditto.) Just give me a how’s-your-father, and I’ll use a random number generator to draw the winner. So that everyone who’s interested has a chance, I’ll set the deadline for Saturday, August 18, at 12:00 midnight PST.

Oh yeah—just so you know, there are 10 balls, 100% pima cotton, 106 yards per ball. Recommended needle size is 7.

Good luck!

Not Quite Done Yet

Thank you everyone--the thoughts and condolences you expressed mean a great deal to me. I've passed them on to my family. We are grieving for Attila, and in so doing we gather our remaining pets close. Especially sad is watching the confusion of our other kitty, Elwood, who is wondering where his older brother went. In time, he may have a baby brother, but not right away.

Since I started dyeing yarn, I found that skeining it is a royal pain. So I ordered a niddy-noddy, and I'm hoping it will arrive tomorrow. I tried to "style" the Maiko colorway, let me know what you think:

Since you gave me such great feedback on it, I've decided to list it at my Etsy shop. It will be offered as the first in a series of handpainted yarns called "Kansai Colors." I even made up my own yarn labels--in Japanese and English. Stay tuned.

Gotta go, as Jason just got home and informed me that we are celebrating! This just in: No prostate cancer!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Attila, 1993-2007

Thank you all for your kind comments about our Attila. I'm very sad to tell you that he passed away during the night. I was away all evening, taking Michelle and her friend to a rock concert. Jason noticed that Attila's breathing was labored, but he didn't seem to be all that sick. J. is the first one up at our house, and when he went to let the animals out, he found Attila. I'm at work right now so I must keep this short, I'm just in shock because I didn't expect the kitty to leave us so quickly. Right after I introduced him on the blog. I guess he must have been ready to go. We're all going to miss him, and I especially feel for Jason, because they had a special bond. Of all of us, Jason was the only one whom Attila would climb on and bestow "kitty kisses".

Monday, August 06, 2007


What, again?!

Yup, a second post in as many days! Nothing like a 3-day weekend. Jason underwent a prostate biopsy this morning, so I drove him home, and had arranged to take the whole day off in case there were any complications. We're not too awfully worried that it might be prostate cancer. His PSA count is elevated, but not excessively so. The procedure was done to rule out cancer. So I'm blogging once again, mainly because I wanted to show youse the results of Part IV of my Yarn Dyeing Trilogy...wait for it.

A little better. There are still shade variations, because I did not write anything down when I mixed colors the first time--didn't want to ruin the fun by making it all precise. Of course, I should allow myself to master the color-mixing-by-intuition part before attempting to wing it. My only requirement for the second dyeing was to color all the white spots, and at least I managed to do that.

I did have a theme in mind for this colorway.

These are "maiko," apprentice geisha, and I was trying to capture their kimono colors in my handpainting. My study abroad experience, even though it's been nearly five years since I left for Japan, is still very much with me, and my goal is to create more colorways inspired by the colors of Kansai (the region encompassing Osaka and Kyoto). Although, I have to say, I'm curious about other dyeing methods besides handpainting. I might give immersion or dip-dyeing a try, next time I get both the time and the gumption to do more dyeing. I'm trying to let go of the skein I ruined. Really, the cost of that skein was only $11, and it's not like I've never wasted money before. I've thrown out a lot of leftovers, I bought Toto albums, and I won't tell you what else I did in the 1980's--but I could have coined the bumper sticker "My other car is up my nose." It's just that yarn is...well, sacred.

Enough of that business. There is one more member of our family I haven't introduced, and I'd like to do so now.

Say Hello To My Little Friend

Meet Attila. He was named for a cat in the Mother Goose & Grimm comic strip. Attila is 14 years old. When he was about nine or ten weeks old, Michelle (age 3) managed to catch his foreleg under a door. It didn't break his leg, but stressed the ligaments enough to where he needed a cast. So for a time, we had a tiny kitten hobbling around, who also had persistent diarrhea...oh yes, those were the days.

Last fall, Attila was diagnosed with tumors, and he's become somewhat frail although he is still eating, drinking and getting around ok. We're making sure he has good quality of life, and doesn't seem to be in any pain. The chair at the family computer has become his favorite perch, and when he looks all comfortabuhls like this, I don't have the heart to move him!

The Kool-Aid Scarf

10 rows garter, 10 rows stockinette. The more I worked with this yarn, the more it grew on me. So now I have 2 scarves and 2 hats to put in the collection bin at the church for the homeless shelter.

And One Last Thing

I've decided that August shall be "Rock Musician Joke Month" here at Chickenlips. (It's easier if you just go with it.)

Q: How many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Four. One to change the bulb, and three to watch and go, "I can do that."

Sunday, August 05, 2007



Mantra: "It's only my first try." Repeat until the anguish subsides.

Here is yesterday's dismal failure first attempt at dyeing sock yarn with jacquard dyes. Going back over my instructions from Hello Yarn, which by the way are good instructions, no accounting for operator error, I realized I could have done any of three or four things incorrectly. Today, I'm going to retrace my steps, doing the following things differently:

  • Plenty of water for the initial soak, using kitchen sink instead of plastic basin.

  • Way, way, WAY less vinegar in the dye solution! No kidding, the kitchen smelled like there was a major spill at the Summer's Eve factory. Yeah, I know, "eww", but I'm really struggling here.
Last post, Kathleen commented about my serendipitous Kool-Aid dyeing results. I can only ascribe it to plain old dumb-ass beginner's luck! I mixed the colors double strength, and unlike the yarn in the photo above, I used the right amount of vinegar. If there's too much vinegar in the solution, it will make it too acidic and the dye will "strike" (am I impressing the heck out of you with my technical knowledge? I can only thank the authors of the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook) too quickly, resulting in white spots all over your prettily colored yarn. Which is what happened to me.

The other skein I attempted to dye yesterday--I'm afraid I killed it. It moaned weakly for its mama, then flatlined. It looks so much like ass that I can't bear to even take a pic, much less post one. I really don't know if it's fixable.
Because I don't want your eyes to hurt from the first photo, here's a cute dog picture to look at.

A shout out to trek for bringing me into the 21st century by passing on instructions on how to do the crossing out words thingy. HTML--Hell Yeah!

Knitting: something I know how to do.

Yarn is from stash, honest! It's Lorna's Laces "Shepherd Worsted". The first person for whom I made lace-up fingerless mitts has a birthday coming up, and she has expressed a wish to have "garter" socks. And indeed, Knitty has a pattern for just such an item. Worsted on size 2 needles?! Yes. Not quite instant gratification, but almost.

And finally, here's some Monkey business just getting under way.

Only one pattern repeat into it, and I am already convinced that it is the coolest sock pattern ever.

Must go now--I think the poor tortured skein has soaked long enough. Let's see how else I can screw up exercise my creativity today!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


It was a Sunday evening, y'see...

...and I came across a ball of yarn in my stash that looked like this:
Sad, boring, drab, lonely, sad sad sad. For the longest time I'd been trying to figure out what to do with it, but kept coming up empty.

Then, shazam! Sudden inspiration struck.

Oh no, she di'int!

Oh yes, she did!

If only the colors you are probably viewing on your monitor were the actual ones in the yarn. The green is pretty awesome, but I made the mistake of mixing orange with lemonade, and ended up with something resembling the shade of mac'n'cheese. Probably should have kept it all orange. Nor is the pink (black cherry) all that pink, or the purple (grape) all that purple. Looks kinda like a kids meal! Well, duh, it's Kool-Aid.

I was somewhat tentative about the whole prospect at first, because the only thing I've ever dyed is my own hair. But since all I was risking was a five-dollar ball of yarn, I decided to go for it. And you know what? I loved the whole process! From winding the yarn around two dining room chairs to get a super-long hank, to soaking it in the sink and getting the fragrance of wet wool in the kitchen (somehow soothing,) to mixing up the colors and then--sploosh!--going to town on the damp wool with squeeze bottles of color. The "applying color" part came more naturally than I thought it would. I have to say, it brought out the little girl in me--I don't remember being able to do much painting as a child, because my mother couldn't stand it if I got my clothes dirty or made a mess (explains my rather grungy house, doesn't it? I'm 52, she's 73, but I'm still rebelling against her. Yeah!) Well anyway, not to digress, but the part of me that's still a little girl who needs the freedom of messy play had a good time.

No, this isn't my big surprise, but it's sort of a preliminary test run. To let the cat out of the bag, here's the official story: I'm making my first foray into handpainted yarns, to which I will add a unique twist. I received a starter kit of jacquard acid dyes in the mail today, and fortunately I have a kid who knows a lot more than I do about mixing colors, so I can't wait to begin. Work is slowing down, and prospects look good for an extended weekend. You'll be the first to see my results--good or bad.

Muggle Central

Is everybody done reading Harry Potter yet? Oh don't worry, I'm not going to spoil it, because I haven't read it. Haven't read any of the HP books, for that matter. Don't get me wrong, it's great that all over knit-blogland, so many are engrossed and excited. This isn't a snark blog--I think putting anyone down for what they enjoy is lame, and I would never do it. But I have to confess that I don't get it. When Michelle was in grade school, the first Potter book came out. I think I may have read part of it to her, or perhaps her teacher read it to the class, and she liked it, but when subsequent volumes came out, for some reason it just didn't take off in our household.

Lest anyone think I'm an unwashed heathen who doesn't read books about anything but fiber, (and I know you wouldn't think that, because I'm a Unitarian who bathes twice daily. Not very "green," but totally clean!) I am currently reading "The Language Of Threads" by Gail Tsukiyama. Yes, I know, the word "threads" is in the title. The novel is part of a continuing story of "silk sisters" in China, of girls who were sold or forced into the silk industry. The omniscient character in this book, Pei, earns a living by mending. Yet it isn't so much a book about fiber, as it is a story about life in Hong Kong during WWII. Perhaps I don't do much reading because it wasn't all that long ago that I was in college, and I had to read quite a few books I didn't enjoy. But I find stories about all aspects of Asian life fascinating. Indeed, I was an Asian Studies major and did study abroad in Osaka for Fall semester '02. One of my profs was convinced I was Chinese in a past life. And about nine years ago, I had a "psychic reading" in which I was told of having lived several lifetimes in Asia. For being a gaijin who stuck out like a sore thumb all over Japan, I felt surprisingly at home there. Who knows, maybe there's some truth to it.

If you're so inclined, do tell this non-Harry Potter-reading mook what the fuss is about! Or not. Just so long as you leave me comments.

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