Thursday, September 30, 2004

Willard and Ben and Algernon*

Prepping for a big event Saturday night at work. I took it upon myself to clean the room where the meal will be prepped and staged for the buffet (because I want to be sure it's clean dammit!).

There's been a sort of funky smell in that area pretty much forever which I chalked up to the proximity to the (non-public) bathroom that is supposed to be cleaned twice a week (by a paid contractor, not staff!).

I had my doubts when I asked said contractor to clean it "good" last week because of the smell. After he was finished, he told me (proudly) about all the cobwebs and dirt he had routed! Say what? That bathroom is supposed to be part of the general cleaning every Tuesday and Friday! Hmmm. Guess it bears closer checking more often!

Anyway, last week's cleaning didn't get rid of the smell (okay, stench!) so today, I attacked the whole space with a bucket of Lysol water and a trusty comrade (one of our regular volunteers). The 'fridge' needed defrosting, so I pulled the plug and waited for that to happen. When the 3" thick ice had all been pried loose, I proceeded to clean out the bottom part (I want you to know that I don't do this at home!).

You know that little plastic tray underneath that catches drips? And that drain thing that's supposed to let the drips down? Well, the drain was plugged up (still is) so there was a puddle of truly nasty looking moldy water collected. (Did I mention that I discarded the rag after I was done? Not putting that in my washer!) I pulled out the pan which was full of some hard brown goop and asked another volunteer to hose it out.

A few minutes later, I revised that hose request to "fill it and let it sit a while to soften." That was when we discovered Ben and Willard. Yep, the probable cause of the funky smell. Stuck fast and buried in brown gunk.

When I pulled the refrigerator away from the wall to mop underneath, I discovered Algernon. Flat and dead.

I am assuming that these three are the last remnants of a major infestation that had our pest control people stopping by daily to empty traps over a year ago. We can only hope!

And you get a gold star if you recognized all three references. Ben and Willard are pretty obvious. Algernon was in the movie Charly (1968 Cliff Robertson) based on the book Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

Knit content: I wound the first skeins of yarn for the second lopi sweater and started the first sleeve. #14 was the winner.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ready, Willing, and Able

After spending a couple of days on cat beds, felted, (I have the third one on the needles--obsessive? Moi?) I decided to drag out the Naturgarn and get started on Lopi # 2, the gray one. I have enough yarn for several of the designs in the booklet that my son and his SO brought back from Iceland (did I raise him right, or what?), so it's just a matter of deciding which one.

The design on the left uses 4 colors. The one on the right, three. I have 3 lovely shades of gray, from charcoal to light, and a cream. But I don't have to use all of them. The mid-gray (right above the sweater photo) will be the main color.

Decisions, decisions.

Party planning at work continues. Why do we do this to ourselves??

Monday, September 27, 2004

Hats Off

Working under a deadline (a need to get packages mailed while I have a 3-day weekend), I managed to finish 3 hats to go with the 3 sweaters I madetwo weekends ago.

I had a bunch of stuff I wanted to mail. The penguin that I made for the fair is on its way to its intended recipient. A big box of stuff is on the way to the Youth Center at Cheyenne River Reservation. The afghan I made (also for the fair) is winging its way to the 'burbs of Pittsburgh to its intended recipient. And a box of baby things is also in the pipeline, this one for the WIC center at Cheyenne River.

The hats are simple little things.

The "recipe": Cast on 60-80 stitches (even number is best) in worsted weight yarn on size 6,7, or 8 needles (I used 8's on the tan and 7's on the other 2). Do an inch or 2 of edge (ribbing, garter, seed stitch), then switch to stockinette (or in the case of the tan one, the sweater pattern stitch) for 4-6". Then decrease 10 stitches every other round until 6-8 stitches remain. Draw up and fasten off. WEave in any ends.


They'll fit a full-term baby up to about 18 months or so. Very stretchy, very warm.

These were made with 70 stitches. 80 stitches, with a deep ribbed cuff will work too and will stretch most of the way through pre-school.

And then, there is the kitty bed. It's finished! And felted, blocked, and dry. And here's how it looks.


during (that's my big honkin' stockpot under there!)

and after

I used something that a weaver friend gave me that she indicated was "weaving wool." I had a rose pink, a light mauve, and brown to work with.

It was in short (1-2 yard) pieces that I overlapped and knitted several (3-5) stitches with the old and new strands held together at the breaks. Since it's approximately worsted weight, I double stranded and got a nice tweed look. I used a single strand of Valeria di Roma Cisne, a fluffy nylon "eyelash-y" stuff in the last 5 rows. I wish I had doubled it, but I'm not sure it would have made much difference.

These look like they'll make good prezzies for cat-friends like Finnegan, and grandcats, too. I would make them for the resident felines, but Sparky likes to identify her things. I just wish she'd learn to use a magic marker!


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Cat From Outer Space

We've often suspected that Penny, our sweet tortie rescue is alien. When we got her, the folks at St. Francis said that she was 1 1/2 and had had a litter. Her babies were, in fact, born at St. Francis, and had all been adopted.

She was in a big cage near the reception desk, and it was her resemblance to Brownie, the cat we were "replacing" (as if anyone could replace a cat they had been owned by for 12 years!) that caught our eye and our collective heart.

Sparky, the bob-tailed wonder kitten, was already being processed when we decided that no home is complete without at least three cats, so Penny was destined to accompany us home as well.

We probably should have asked more questions, but we were in love! It seems that Penny was not one-and-a-half, but had spent the last one-and-a-half years in that cage! (Our vet confirmed her age as at least 3 when she was spayed.)

She was a mess! Honestly, it was months (perhaps 12 or more) before she would come out from under the furniture for anything but meals, and even more months (as in nearly 36 of them) before we could pick her up. She's still, 8 years later, a skittish little thing. But we love her to pieces.


So, as a firm believer in rescuing animals (as opposed to purchasing them from a breeder or a pet store, I was a sucker for

Wendy's latest charity-a-long. That's Wendy's very special Lucy in the picture, which is not the hyper-link, by the way.

Sparky has severe Lucy-tail envy!

And so, since I couldn't wait for the stuff I ordered from Elann, (shut up!) I started my kitty bed

using some wool that I got in a swap a couple of years ago from a weaver-fiber-friend. It's in 1-2 yard pieces, but felting will take care of that issue! I actually swatched to make sure it would felt and the ends fuzz up nicely!

Then, the mailman came and brought this:

. The stuff on the left (Tahki Dazzle) will be cat bed #2. The stuff on the right will be a felted bag, a prezzie for I'm-not-telling-who.

Yarn diet be damned!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

The Bank Dick

Yep, we're being audited (part of SOP this time of year).

Yesterday, I spent the day trying to explain serveral government funding sources for our program, how they work together, what the intake procedures are and how we govern our agencies to the Agency's external auditor.

Today, one other specific program (the senior boxes) gets gone over with a fine-toothed comb.

After the advisory board meeting.

I finished the lopi (except for weaving in ends). Photo and update later today.

It's later, and my friend Mickey Finn has not been in. (You have to know the movie.)

The second audit this week is over. Thank gawd! We passed that one with no problems as well. Someone came to look at our flooded van. He pronounced it a total loss. I'm not sure this is good news or bad. It had <600miles>in the dark at 6 in the morning.

As promised, here are pictures of the completed lopi sweater. Okay, the ends aren't woven in. And the pits remain ungrafted as well. Shut up! It will be finished tonight! It's a lot prettier in real life!

I think the inside looks real purty too!

Neat and even and no puckers! It will be drop-dead gorgeous once it's blocked!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Made in America

With yarn from Norway (Gjestal Naturgarn No. 1, a Lopi look-alike in 2 shades of blue, goldenrod, and cranberry) and a pattern from Iceland (#19 from Alafoss Lopi #12), the first (of 3) Lopi sweater is progressing nicely. During 2 hours of Tivo time (closer to 90 minutes after the commercials are extracted/zoomed through), I've completed 2 decreases and have about 10 shorter rounds to complete before the neck ribbing.

The photo (below) shows my "yolk" (yuck, yuck) at the beginning of last night.

I'm also rushing to complete 2 baby caps to tuck into a box of sweaters and blankets for the WIC program at Cheyenne River.

And speaking of Cheyenne River, a group of us pool resources every month and order disposable diapers to send there. I am the keeper-of-the-pool, so I place the order, depending on who on-line is offering free shipping and has the best prices.

Most months, it's Walgreen's on-line and this month was no exception. Yesterday, I got a call from them, wanting to verify that the order I placed and paid for with my AmEx was, indeed, placed by me. It wasn't a huge order, but I do appreciate that a big on-line retailer wants to be sure that this woman from Pennsylvania really meant to order and ship Huggies and Luvs to South Dakota.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Oh, so much worse than it seemed at dusk, but so much better than it could have been.

Our one dumpster is across the road. Its partner is MIA.

The door (locked, with no key in sight anywhere for years) to the crawl space was blown off its hinges by rushing water.

The garden shed at the back of the lot was wedged firmly against one of the "big trucks." It appears that only the rear view mirrors (now badly damaged) kept the shed from joining dumpster # 1 or even # 2!

Our gas meter was under water at some point, so it had to be replaced before we could fire up the heat. Since it was 46 degrees at 6:30 this morning, that was a bit of a hardship, but we've endured worse. Like when we were without heat for several days one recent January because of a leak. We don't mess with gas leaks!

Miraculously, only a bit of water (blown in under the bay door) penetrated the warehouse.

The rain gutters and downspouts did their job. The roof repairs held. The newly paved lot survived 3' of rushing water.

Floods are amazing forces of nature! A dock plate that we abandoned a couple of years ago in favor of an installed dock leveler was carried at least 50 feet by the water. It takes 3 people to list the damned thing! And an old a/c unit (about 500 pounds of it) that we no longer use was lifted and twisted on its side.

The insurance folks are expected soon. The Health Bureau has already certified that we are "good to go."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Flood Tide

No pictures today.

Last night,we drove down to where I work to see if/how badly the flooding in Allentown had affected the food bank.

Pretty badly, though not the building.

Once the flood mud is off the parking lot, we'll be able to assess the damage there. But the new van (yep, the one we just got in August) was in at least 3' of water.

Floods are scary.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

The Egg and I

Sorry, bad pun. Merely a comment on the "misspelling" or mis-use of words that I see daily on the various lists.

Isle (not as in "fair") used to mean aisle (as in "the yarn aisle at Wal-Mart")

The ever-popular mis-use of their/they're/there (repeatedly, and often in the same post! )

The equally popular mis-use of its/it's.

And let's not forget your/you're.

Feel free to add as many as bother you to the comments section.

And now, for the reason for the pun:

I'm ready to start the "yolk" of my 1st (of 3) lopi sweaters! This bulky yarn on big needles stuff goes fast.

Oh, and lookie what came in today's mail:

My winnings!! $20.50 all together. I've already deposited it!

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

One Way Ticket to Hell

I was looking through the Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide for a suitable title for today's blog.

I think that says it all!

Or maybe not.

Picture a woman who drove 3 hours, worked 4 straight mostly 12 hour days, then drove 3 hours home. Except some of that the drive home was past a fatality on the Turnpike. A 10-mile bumper to bumper traffic jam that did indeed make the local paper. Seatbelts were not involved, because the victim was a towtruck driver, aiding a stranded motorist. Picture me very glad I did not leave 30 minutes earlier! Man!

Okay. I'm gone for 4 days (2 of them weekend). Come back to 160 drug/mortgage/software spams in my in box! And FIVE (count 'em) actual e-mails! That was at work. I didn't bother to count the ones at home. Too many!

And there was lots to do at work. And I got most of it done.

Here's what I did while I was away:

They don't call them 5-hour baby sweaters for nothing! Of course, this is my polo-pullover version. After the buttonholes are completed (Row 19?), I joined the stitches and knit the rest in the round to keep little tummies warm. That makes the neck nice and big so it's easy to pull on and off.

I used these buttons from my stash:

Yes, that really is a 32 cent price tag on the red ones. And yes, they came from K-Mart. When's the last time you could buy a button at K-Mart?? Some of my stashed stuff is older than dirt!

I think I'm ready to move on to a new pattern, though. I can almost do this one in my sleep!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Home Before Dark

It was a long drive home, despite my leaving as early as I could (to avoid traffic near the cities). Of course, I encountered an accident on the Turnpike. But I made reasonably decent time, and I'm anxious to get back to work tomorrow.

Short entry today. Little knit content.

I managed to finish 2 baby sweaters and make a nice dent in the purple scarf that's to be a gift. The socks were a bust. Even though the 2 balls were the same dye lot, one sock was great, wide, diagonal stripes. The other was just blotches. I chalked it up to switching needle sizes (not on purpose) so I tried another size needle. It was a little better, but not the same. I don't mind fraternal socks, but these were more like not even the same milkman, if you get my drift! I'll try one more thing (starting at the other end of the ball) before I break out ball #3. If it stripes, great! If it doesn't, I'll finish sock #2 and sock #3 and frog #1.

I'll post pictures of the sweaters after the ends are woven in (forgot to pack a darning needle) and the buttons (strictly from stash) sewn on. Tomorrow. Maybe.

In the meantime, here's a dyeing experiment from earlier in the summer:

It's some vanilla Wildefoote (Brown Sheep Yarn Company) dyed with Raspberry lemonade (blue) and fruit punch (red) Kool-Aid. Smells yummy! I made two, so it should make a cool pair of socks.

And a picture of Sparky:

See that stubby little tail? See that "M" on the side? She has an "S" on her back. Monogrammed cat!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Week-End at the Waldorf

Actually, it's the Wyndham. In Baltimore.

4-day conference. Work-related. Second Harvest stuff. Good speakers, good workshops. Lots of networking.

Here's what's going with me, left to right: second sock, Sock It To Me! Colori, Fiber Trends scarf, 5-hour baby sweater (unstarted), 5 hour baby sweater(unstarted).

I think I have enough for 4 days of meetings. If not, there's bound to be a yarn shop/big box/crafts store.

I'll have the car.

The Kerry rally was really great!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The Year of Living Dangerously

No, not really, but lookie what I got:

It's a calendar! And patterns. Woo hoo!

Some twit on one of the lists called it a "waste" (actually, I believe she said she wouldn't have wasted the money had she seen the inside) because there was very little she wanted to make. Hey, twit! Open your mind a bit. Over 200 patterns for a mere $13.99 US or $19.99 Canadian?

Patterns from the first two weeks in January:

A sock, a tiny hoodie, a shawl that uses the Helen's Lace that I have stowed away so I won't think about how much it cost. . .that might soon become a shawl!? For my money, this is much better way to spend 14 bucks than the current issues of Vogue Knitting and Knit 'n' Style--and lots more patterns!

It's a nifty little box with a built-in stand and a magnet to hold it closed. The patterns are on individual pieces (not bound), so it's very portable!

And lest you think that all I'm working on is buying stuff (I'm not), here's a current WIP:

Body of the first Lopi (of three I plan to finish for Christmas--this Christmas!) and one sleeve. I should be ready to start the yoke this weekend.

And speaking of the weekend, I will be traveling to Baltimore on Saturday for a conference (back Tuesday night).

Tomorrow, however, I have a "mid-level VIP ticket" to hear John Kerry speak! I am so looking forward to it!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Hide In Plain Sight

I don't hide my stash. I do (sometimes) time my mail ordering so that package arrive when I am home alone. Elann and Smiley's make that possible. Stowing stash, on the other hand, is sometimes an issue. Or it was for me, until I discovered a tidy solution:

And if you are inclined to stockpile cat litter, no one needs to be the wiser.

Hint: bottom right!

Monday, September 06, 2004

State Fair*

Got my fair results.

Disappointing, but entirely appropriate considering the quality of some of the items I entered.

Christmas stocking and lace socks both got blue (first place). Penguin, cap, shawl and mittens got red (2nd). Snow people got a white (3rd). The Clauses, booties, and Bob got yellow (4th). Baby sweater got pink (5th). Dishcloth got green (6th). Crib cover and afghan didn't place.

So ends another year.

The fudge guy had gone to Los Angeles to another fair, so all that there was was fudge, no entertainment. We got a pound of peanut butter and a pound of chocolate nut. This stuff is just about the best commercially made fudge around!

There was a balloon blowing goat. I kid you not! There were cows. There were sheepies and competing goats and a bunch of very smelly pigs.

The rally in Washington was pretty poorly attended and did not make the national news. I fear for this country. We cannot take four more years. I'm not sure I can take 4 more months!

Knit content: I started a scarf from Fibertrends AC-32

and another 5-hour baby sweater

on the bus to and from the rally.

* 1933 , 1945, and 1962 movie versions of a Phil Strong novel about the Iowa State Fair. The 1945 version gave birth to "It's a Grand Night For Singing," and "It Might As Well Be Spring." The 1962 version starred Pat Boone, Ann-Margaret, and Bobby darrin and is listed as "pretty bad."

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Three Faces of Eve

I love that movie! It's about a serious nutcase (woman with three separate personalities) and stars Joanne Woodward. It was one of the first "adult" movies I ever saw (at the tender age of about 10) in the days before the current rating systems when only the Catholic Church cared about such things. It was probably rated "C" (for condemed), but I saw it. So shoot me. And the babysitter!

Three Faces of Eve was one of the movies that Woodward made before retiring to follow a career path I (and many other women my age) aspired to: Paul Newman's wife.

I admit to Joanne, that Paul and I have been carrying on a steamy correspondence for years! Paul sends me money (okay, the checks are payable to Second Harvest Food Bank, but my name is on the envelope), and I send letters ("Dear Mr. Newman, thank you so much for your recent donation to our work.") in return. He knows I'm alive!

(insert sound of throat clearing)

Anyway. . . my friend Rabbitch implied in her blog that I might be a nutcase (OCD, dontcha know) just because I have my stash cataloged in Excel, and I know exactly how many miles of stash (53.12511364 miles) and pounds of stash (87.2171875 pounds) I have at any given time. Now, maybe I've exaggerate (moi??) how compulsive I am. Those figures are as of August 30. I have not (yet--make a note to self) deducted the stuff I knit up last week.

And some stuff doesn't ever quite make it to the stash, because, well, it's sort of "collectable" like this stuff that I bought at the local thrift shoppe for 10 cents a skein.

The Baby Pompadour is mostly (hand washable) wool and comes from the Wissahickon Yarn Company. Wissahickon's right down the road a piece, down near Philly, and I'm pretty sure that the mill has long since moved south, merged, or folded. But this stuff is pretty, though impractical and will probably remain quietly in my stash forever. There's enough to make a highly shrinkable pair of booties (fit only for Barbie after a trip through the washer). The color is all wrong for a Christmas ornament , so it remains "collectible."

And speaking of stash, mine is organized physically loosely based on Sally Melville's Styles style, by color. Here's a sample of the neutral stuff:

I have a lot more neutral stuff that was "absent on picture day," so to speak.

The "work in process" charity yarn that looks more like:

Yesterday, we went to Washington. Today, we will finally go to the fair to see how I did with my entries. I may post a second time today with the results.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Postman Always Rings Twice

or so I've heard. I'm almost never home when the lettercarrier (pc term for 2004) cometh (or the iceman either, for that matter).

But that's okay, because we have a big mailbox and sometimes he leaves good stuff in it. Like today. My friend, dee, sent me a shoebox of her acrylic oddballs.


They're just perfect for knitting the little sweaters and such that I enjoy making for the reservation. One for a girl, one for a boy, and one to grow on, I think! Nice stuff! Thanks so much, dee!

And speaking of stuff that grows on ya, the 5-hour sweater is done, done, done. In about 5 hours and 10 minutes of solid knitting. I wasn't trying to break any records, just get a real feel for how long it takes me. Though it still needs buttons (white, I think), here it is:

Isn't it a cutie?

I think it needs a cap and booties to match!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The 'burbs*

I thought I would lose my mind this evening. From the time I got home until dark, no, from the looks of it, well before I got home, the people across the street were doing what, in some circles, might pass for "yard work." Not in my circle, but perhaps in some circles.

It seems that the male kid was attempting to cut the entire lawn with a weed whacker! The noise as the whacker hit cement step after cement walk after brick border, for well over an hour. Oh, my! I hope it's still dark when I leave for work tomorrow morning!

They are moving! The house has been on the market at an extrordinary price since early summer. The piles of crap that they've removed from the inside of the house (presumably, or else they are raiding a nearby landfill for lawn ornaments) to the side yard have made the 'hood take on the aura of Tobacco Road. I'll bet the folks next door to them (the ones with the new professional landscaping) are charmed. The piles sure do add to the street appeal!

I should be used to noise in this neighborhood. Most of the teenagers drive through with their radios blasting (thumpa, thumpa, thumpa) so loud it shakes houses. I have another neighbor that races (cars) as a hobby. But that's not all! He's a clean freak. He washes off his mower each time he uses it. I shit you not! And come fall, he will get out that blower thing and blow every damned leaf that lands in his yard out into the street--where it will relocate to my yard! I should know! Before he washes the mower, he used the blower to get rid of the grass on his driveway and in the street!Wack-o neighbors? Welcome to my world!

I made about 1 and 3/4 hours' progress on the 5-hour tonight (4 hours total so far) and I'm closing in on both the end of the skein (4 oz.) and the end of the sweater.

I'll probably break into the second skein to make this a little longer and I'm giving serious thought to a pair of matching bottoms, maybe with feet. Or maybe just booties. We'll see.

I'd like to point out that the freehand "crop" feature allows me to take pictures without actually clearing off a spce on the desk first!

* "Comically warped" 1989 Tom Hanks/Carrie Fisher view of suburban life.

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