Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Copycat Reese Witherspoon Wrap

I am finally, after five starts, making progress on the wrap I promised younger daughter in exchange for her putting all that mohair fringe on my wrap when she was here in July.

This is the first project I have ever made without a pattern, but with, instead, just an idea: the wrap worn by Reese Witherspoon in one scene in Sweet Home Alabama. I started out knitting it completely in garter stitch, but that was boring and kind of plain. Then I went through sizes 7, 8, 9, and now size 10 needles until I got a fabric I liked. On tens the fabric drapes nicely. I took the whole thing to last week's Knit-Night and asked for help. Thank goodness for kindred knitters!

Lucille (thanks Lucille!) showed me a project she had started using a stockinette border, seed stitch body, and increases to get the angled side. On my first attempt, I used a knit or purl into the front and back of the next-to-the last stitch on the front side for the increases and ended up with a wobbly edge. Lucille suggested a yarnover increase, and that has worked beautifully - giving the edge a tiny bit of the look of lace.

The yarn is Cascade Pastaza (50% Llama and 50% wool) in color 289, a really pretty sort of blue/gray. I started with three stitches and increased on the front side until I had forty-five stitches. The wrap will be about fourteen inches wide. I'm not sure how to do the decreases on the other end in order to have the same lace appearance, but I'm very sure that Lucille will know!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Leonard Cohen

Has anyone heard of this man? I hadn’t until I came across a concert that my local PBS station was playing during a pledge drive, or begavision, as it’s known to some (me). I had expected a different show to be on, but then when I heard this man sing, I stopped dead in my tracks.

It turns out that he is very famous – duh, where have I been - and is a poet, songwriter, singer, artist, and Buddhist monk. He has been all of these things for decades (he is 74) but apparently I’ve been clueless.

I’ve listened to a lot of his songs now, and I enjoy his gravely, deep voice. I feel as if I should be in a dimly lit, smoky bar, drinking a glass of wine, or, better yet, a really, really smooth scotch straight up, when his music is playing.

An odd thing about his music is that the words don’t always make any sense (to me) but they do generally rhyme. I don’t know if rhyming is his main goal in writing and I’m not sure that coherence and meaning should be sacrificed for rhyme, but then I’m no poet:

And just when I was sure
That his teachings were pure
he drowned himself in the pool
His body is gone,
but back here on the lawn
his spirit continues to drool
(from "One of Us Cannot Be Wrong"

Anyone? Anyone?

Yes, I know - it’s out of context - but believe me, context doesn’t help here.

What surprised me, in addition to Mr. Cohen’s existence, was that the local station was selling a membership for $1,000.00 and that the membership also included two tickets in the front rows of the Fox Theatre for a performance by Leonard Cohen. They sold quickly. Then the station offered the same deal, but with the seats farther back, for $800.00 and they sold. Then for $600.00 and they sold right away. I have never seen anything offered by our local station for these amounts of money, so I guess Mr. Cohen has a lot of fans.

I'm still not sure if he is:
a. talented or
b. a case of the emperor has no clothes.

I guess I will have to listen some more... Where's the scotch?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Whoever invented blocking wires, or saw wires lying around and thought “I can use these for blocking," should get some sort of prestigious and valuable award. They are simply genius!!!

I’ve just used them for blocking my second Peruvian Tweed Shawl and it was so much easier to block something so large than it was with just pins as I did with the first Peruvian Tweed Shawl. It was blocking that one with millions of pins that convinced me to order the wires from Knit Picks.

And here's the shawl!

Update: The saddleback caterpillars are dead, dead, dead. I'm sorry for the damage that this causes the whole cycle of nature and the ecosystem and whatever else they are a part of, but those suckers HURT! Dh squished them. Whew......

Monday, August 24, 2009!!!

(in real life - an inch or so long, but still scary and creepy ...and I did not take this picture)

Yesterday afternoon I was cutting back a nearly-dead-looking tree rose that sits on my front stoop. I was gently holding the tips of branches I wanted to cut back and as I moved my left hand around the branches, I kept feeling pricks and thought I had been touching the ends of thorns. But suddenly, I realized something else was going on. These CREATURES, hiding on the underside of the leaves, were biting or stinging or whatevering me, over and over and over. It HURT!

I called for backup and dh came and captured a couple of them to look for them on the internet. Turns out, they are saddleback caterpillars and they can s.t.i.n.g.

The website also said that there is no real control for them, and that we should just "stay away from them," since they turn into butterflies.

"Stay away from them" my Aunt Fannie - I want them to Die! But I'm afraid to get near enough to them to spray them with bug spray or smush them or something.

I took some expired Benadryl, and by last night the pain had subsided. But these $%^&* things had better be some drop-dead gorgeous butterflies or any of them that show up next year will be in big trouble (if I can figure out how to kill them....).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It's a Sock!

Yes, it's only one sock, but the second is already on the needles and ready to go. This took forever; I started it,, two, no three months ago, while I was in Texas. This is a record-breaking slow sock. But I was distracted by grandchildren, a sha...wrap, grandchildren, and a couple of bits of fluff.

It (they) is made from Pagewood Farm Hand-Dyed Sock Yarn, Yukon, and the color might be called Serendipity (the label is smudged). I love the yarn despite the fact that there was a knot in it.

Now on to the second!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well, I swan!!!

But I don't swear...

What my inquiring mind wants to know is: Do people really buy a washer and a dryer at the same time? The stores all sell sets of them, matching in style and color.

It turns out that my washer isn't leaking water; it is leaking transmission fluid (who knew a washer had transmission fluid?) and if I continued to use it, said the salesperson, the next place it would leak was up through the agitator and then the fluid would spray out over my laundry.

I researched and researched, compared and compared, and bought a new washer. A top-loading front-loader. Yep, such a thing exists; it works the way a front-loader does but loads from the top. It uses 16 gallons of water per load instead of the 40-50 gallons my dead washer used. We have been through a multi-year drought here, AND the courts say that in three years, the Atlanta area will no longer be able to take its water from Lake Lanier. Where we will get water from is anyone's guess right now. So the less water we use, the better.

But for each washing machine, there is a dryer. And I repeat, does anyone buy these things in sets? My dryer died a couple of years ago, and I bought..... a dryer. Now my washing machine is dead, and I've bought ..... a washer. Who says, "Oh, my washer is dead. I'll go buy a new washer and dryer - so they'll match."? (Not sure that punctuation is correct-hokgardner?)

My new washer arrives tomorrow - Yay! - and my at-least-twenty-five year-old one goes to a better place...recycling I think.

Monday, August 17, 2009

to swan

My cat has been swanning about the neighborhood since he returned from having a bath at the veterinarian's.

There is nothing true about that sentence. I have always wanted to use swanning about in a sentence but have never had any occasion to, so I decided to just make something up. It's Old English, and I'm older-ish, so maybe that's why I like it so much.

But, speaking of my cat, while I heart my cat, I don't want to wear my cat, if you get my drift. However, if I did want to, here is a business that could make it happen: Pet Yarn Chic.

You can send them your pet's hair/fur/whatever, and they will make it into yarn. Ick, I say, but whatever floats your boat. And if you don't knit, Pet Yarn Chic will supply someone to knit for you.

If my cat would like to swan about, he can; I won't be stopping him to collect his hair to turn into yarn.....

Friday, August 14, 2009

She sells spells?

Down by the seashore?

Nope, in LA.

When I visited younger daughter in LA last year, we came across this business as we drove around sightseeing. I wanted a photo of it, but traffic didn't allow us to stop. We planned on going back to get a picture, but weren't in this area again.

Two days ago my daughter was in a garage across the street getting work done on her car and took this picture for me. I asked her to go over and buy a spell and she said, No, that it would probably be expensive.

Expensive!!!!! For what? She would essentially be buying.....uh.....NOTHING!!!

Candles, incense, oils....those you can buy. But spells??? I don't believe so.

When I go back, I'm going to go here (apparently they will still be in business recession or no recession) and see what's up. What can I say - the idea of it fascinates me.

And on the topic of all things nutty: older daughter told me that she saw something about one of the Atlanta housewives going regularly to a palm-reader. Just how much can her palm change from one appointment to the next?

But maybe I'm wrong and Hamlet was right when he said,

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Sorry, Hamlet. Spells? Palm-reading? Nope. Nutty.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Would you like some wine with that whine?

Yes, please.

While I generally try to be, if not a positive voice in blogworld, at least a neutral voice, today has gotten on my last nerve. Dh is out of town. My two children live in different states. So fair warning: whining ahead.

For a little background, for a few years I have had a friend I'm not especially fond of. She's nice enough. There is really nothing I can put my finger on that would explain my feelings. But I just sort of don't like her much. So last year, I started refusing offers of activities - not all of them - that might seem rude or something. But I hadn't heard from her since the end of last year, and I felt quite satisfied with the painless end of our socializing.

Then on Monday, she called. Could I go see Julie and Julia "today, tomorrow or Wednesday"? Oh great. There really is no way to turn down three days in a row by saying that I am busy all three days; I'm not very good at lying, and actually, that really had been true once last year and her response then had been, "I'm going to think you don't like me." (Gosh, you'd be right.) How very middle school of her.

So I said I could go today. But this morning I was greeted by a puddle in the laundry room and it wasn't from the washing machine; it was from my cat. He has had his "on purposes" in the past, but they were always on throw rugs, never just on the floor. He drinks lots of water, and my first thought was that he might have diabetes since the same thing had happened last week. I made an appointment for 4:30 with our veterinarian, giving me time to get home from the 1:30 movie.
I went out, did errands, and came home to find my friend ringing my doorbell. She said she was bringing me tomatoes. OK. But when I went in the house, I had a phone message, from her, recorded eight minutes before. So she had called, I hadn't answered, and she had assumed...oh, I don't know...that I was screening calls??? (I will now.) And drove over???

She said she would pick me up at 1:00, and she did. But then, instead of putting the car in reverse, she put it in drive and drove. into. my. garage. door, breaking it. Please, just shoot me now.

And then the movie ran long and we had to leave so I could make the vet appointment, and as a result, I don't know how the movie ended. SISTER MERCY!!! (Thanks, Bossy)

My cat doesn't have diabetes, but he may have kidney disease. We will know when the $258 of test results come back.

I don't believe in karma. We live; good things happen, bad things happen. That's what I believe. But really, am I being punished for being happy that the friend I didn't much like and I had gone our separate ways??? Really?????

I'll stop now and won't tell you all about the hand-me-down i-phone that dumped all my contact information. I promise.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Back! By Popular Demand!!!

Well, not really. No one even asked, let alone demanded this re-run, but I'm too lazy to write today and since today was my first day at the pool all by myself - because school is back in session - this is the right time to re-visit this post. So here goes:

Can You Say "Paradise"?

That’s what our neighborhood pool felt like today. For some reason, once the end of summer vacation comes and the kids are all back in school, no one comes to the pool, and so I have it to myself. It was lovely this morning: the bluest, cloudless skies; no noise except for the birds and whatever the noisy insects in the trees are; perfect temperature and humidity; and the occasional, silvery corporate jet gliding noiselessly overhead, very high in the cloudless blue sky. I have said for decades that the only thing I would trade my soul for is my very own swimming pool. Natas, are you listening?

When I lived in Florida, I was a regular long-term substitute teacher in a school for the gifted. It was a separate facility, on its own campus, and the students had to meet IQ and other ability requirements to qualify for the school. The kids were amazingly bright, smarter than most of the teachers probably, and teaching there required that the teacher’s ego could stand knowing that if a student questioned something, it was OK to say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.” We couldn’t fool these kids. Since it was a separate school, the kids weren’t bullied by the types of people who would call them “geeks” or “nerds.” They may have called each other that at times, but all in teasing fun. They tended to spark off each other so classes were never dull and it was a blast to teach there.

One student has stayed in my memory. His name was Joe, but when I took over the class for the remainder of the year at the start of second semester, I couldn’t figure out who he was; he signed his papers “Natas.” I asked Natas to let me know what his real name was so that I could record his grades correctly in the grade book. Turns out, he was signing "Natas" because that is "Satan" spelled backwards. It was meant to shock, I’m sure, but I just said “OK.” Let’s just say that Joe was dancing to his own music. He was sort of Goth before Goth was even in existence and occasionally got in trouble for his behavior and his appearance, but all in all, he seemed like a nice kid.

His poor father was called in once for a conference after Joe had done something wrong, and he certainly was rattled by his son’s behavior. He said to me, “Do you know he signs ‘Natas’ on his papers?” Well, yes I did, and I told him it didn’t worry me, that it was just meant to shock and it wasn’t working. He finally bought his son a computer (before the days when every home had one, let alone multiple, computers), hoping that using it would inspire better work. Oddly enough, Joe started signing his papers “Joe *anonymous*, 3rd.” I guess he liked how his actual name looked in print.

We teachers wondered what would happen to Joe. Would he end up a bored office worker? An ultra-conservative, right-wing Republican? Very strict with his own children? I hope not. I hope he’s found a creative and fun way to make a living, and is able to use his sort of odd outlook on life in a way that he and those around him can appreciate. It’s just one of those things I will probably never know….


What? Who’s there?

It's me, Natas.

Huh? Wha…?

Quitcher bitchin.


Didn’t you just go on and on about how no one is at the pool and the weather is perfect and blah, blah, blah?

Well, yes.

So you already have your own pool. Stop bugging me. I don’t want your soul. Geeze, you’re practically circling the drain aren't you?

Uh, well, I hope not, but...

Well, you're old. So there's not much soul there for me to work with, right?

Well, Ohh...kay . I see your point.



Saturday, August 8, 2009


Friday has come and gone, and I've had my hair cut. I like it; it's short and it's very curly. My husband said he liked it. Here are before and after pictures.

But at dinner last night, I noticed my husband staring at me from the other end of the table.

This was the conversation:

me: What are you staring at?

dh: (although not so d right now) I just noticed that with your new hair cut, some of the hair curls down and covers your massive forehead.

me: Uh, I have a massive forehead?????

h: Well, yes, and this haircut covers part of it.

me: Glaring. Not speaking.

h: Don't you want me to be honest?

me: No, not really.

Did I know that I apparently have a massive forehead??? No, I didn't. But I do now.

Good times at Knittergran's, I'm tellin' ya.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Bit of Fluff

That's what I would have named this scarf had I been the designer. It's a more, I don't know, ethereal, poetic name than Airy Scarf, which is just too literal and utilitarian-sounding .

Anyway, it was fun to knit and certainly doesn't take long. There is a mistake in it; I mis-interpreted the incredibly easy instructions...leave it to me to overthink something so simple.

But it doesn't matter. I love the scarf, and since it has a flaw, it's mine rather than someone else's gift. (Once I get it away from Shaun, who loves it too.)

Blocking is, as Suna says, magic, but like any magic, it requires practice. This was my first time using blocking wires, and they sure make things easier; how can you not get a straight edge using straight, stiff wires. But I found that I kept pulling the wires out of the ends of the scarf when what I was attempting to do was tug the scarf to make it the 36" in length it was supposed to be.

I've already started a second scarf! I love knitting it and the soft, soft mohair is just a treat to work with.

I'm a Genius!!!

Older daughter, over at The Days are Just Packed, writes that she feels like a genius when she turns a heel, and now, when she has almost completed her first more complicated project, a very cute dress for a very cute Elizabeth.

It takes much less for me to proclaim my genius - I don't have to actually accomplish anything. I just have to recognize the talent of someone else. And that is why I feel like a genius for making this scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.

I am genius because I saw it, proclaimed that it is gorgeous, and am now making one. I love this project. It's quick; the book says it can be finished in two to four hours. I haven't timed myself, but I started it last night and will finish it today. Immediate gratification is me! I?

I also wanted to have my hair cut like this, but my whole family has vetoed it. I have LOTS, LOTS of what I call crazy Irish hair. It curls on its own. It does whatever it d**n well wants to do. It's longish, because I like long hair, and I hope that the weight of longer hair will calm down the curly/fuzziness of it. But I'm tired of dealing with it and want short hair. Unfortunately, shorter hair curls even more, and I look, as a former hairdresser told me, like a pencil with a large eraser on the end. So who knows what I will do. I may end up like Mrs. G., wearing a paper bag on my head. I'll let you know on Friday....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Friday Fragments: Monday Edition

Really, so far, just a couple of questions, one fact and one observation:


I really red-puffy-heart Mrs. G. over at The Women's Colony big time, and she uses Photo-Shop so I want photo-shop. But is it user friendly enough for this user to use ? Or would I need one of my daughters to talk me though every step because, believe me, neither of them wants to do this. And do I buy it at a store or download it? Is it expensive?

Are blogger and igoogle related? I changed something on my igoogle settings and the change showed up on my blogger dashboard. I'm confused.

Are subscribe and please, please join my followers redundant?

Is Magic Johnson so desperate for money that he really has to do radio ads for Rent-A-Center or does he just not mind helping rip off poor people?


I have an iphone, a hand-me-down iphone from my husband because he needed the newer model because it has a longer-lasting battery and since he travels on business and is not near a charger when he is in meetings and such all day and he keeps losing his charger anyway, leaving them in motel rooms, phew, he has the new one. I know everyone loves iphones; I know they are amazing. I know I did sort of want one when I read that I could download a Kindle reading application which would let me read a book completely on impulse if I were someplace where I didn’t have a book or knitting with me (it could happen), but I’m still not sure what to do with it. I love, love, love my ipod and want to take it and my knitting with me when I go to a better place, but, so far, I think that my iphone can stay behind. I kind of miss my little phone that made phone calls and received phone calls.

The iphone, however, does have a level in it, which I completely appreciate because I am pretty much OCD about everything in the world's being level, so I’ll give it (the phone) a chance.


I learned last night that pushing the enter key on the computer is not the same as pushing the up or down button on an elevator, which SOME people (not I) do to make the elevator get here faster. Doesn't work.

BUT, pushing the enter key a number of times when the internet won't open, and then giving up and going to Word to write a blog post, doesn't just get you the internet once. As I was typing, I noticed that the letters and words I was typing took a l.o.n.g. time to show up on the screen. Then I noticed that in the tray was: 12 internet. Oops. I had opened the internet twelve times, not one time more quickly.

Pushing the up or down button on the elevator twelve times gets you one elevator. Pushing the enter key twelve times on the keyboard gets you twelve internets and in the process, makes you think that your computer is dying. Going to a better place, as it were....

birthers, Elvis

I encountered a birther yesterday and before I started to say anything, I remembered the wisdom of an old friend: You can't argue with ignorance.

Especially intentional, proud ignorance.

So I didn't bother.

But in other news, Elvis is still living in the trailer park in Arizona. He works part time as the handyman and does odds and ends of jobs for the other residents there. They say he's a nice old guy, pretty spry and sharp in spite of his age and past drug use.

Nice to know, really.