Sunday, January 25, 2009

Third Time's The Charm

All hail the most merciful and beneficent Crochet Goddess, who granted me the impossible.

(And that's good, because the toxic smell of big, plastic knitting needles doing a slow melt takes awhile to get out of one's home.)

Meet Terry Derosier, the lady I blogged about last week. (Well, last week in the Land Of My Time. More like yesterday in terms of when the actual blog got posted.)

She was there. I had my camera. She didn't slam her window closed when the crazed, gerbil-chasing lady (yes, Virginia, they can fit between the bars) asked her for a photo for the blog. In fact, she let me take two.

One of her with the large size bag she makes

And one of her with the smaller size.

(She also had a smaller white with black accents bag, which I totally loved. And which, I just noticed, you can see a bit of in this picture.)

I think one of the things that charms me the most about Terry's bags, aside from the actual creations themselves, is that she takes all that is wrong with our throw-away culture and turns it into something wonderfully reusable and way more attractive than those bags were in their original states.

She's doing what everyone on the planet should have been doing all along, making something that will last, rather than pass.

I would have loved to talk to her about this aspect of it, and to discover what had prompted her to make these bags. This time, alas, there was another driver heading up behind us, so we didn't get to talk as long as the night of much snow just after Thanksgiving. And even then, we had talked about the technical aspects, the different bags she people gave her rather than throwing them out, and how she got the colored patterns. (The Thanksgiving bags were one color with subtle variegations of the accent color throughout.)

I know that she was ready to talk about these things again with us, until the other car appeared, and I doubt she remembered us from before, as 1) she sees so many people and 2) last time we were driving the paint-chipped, bravely struggling bread van and this time we were in the swank, made-in-this-millennium baby van I now drive.

But Terry? I remember our last conversation. It was great.

And you know what? Next time, I'm gonna ask where you sell those...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Goddess of Crochet Hates Me

Way back around Thanksgiving, Thing One had been up for a visit. We had a great time and reluctantly drove him back down to school when the break was up, holding our breath while we did, because it had started to snow heavily.

On our return trip, we discovered a toll booth attendant who crochets her own shopping bags out of recycled plastic bags. We stopped to pay and ended up ogling her work, as she had two bags in progress, one tan and red, and the other white with blue and red accents. The pattern she said, was one that she created, “from here.” (Insert tapping of head.)

People might think that bags made from grocery store bags would be ugly and frumpy, but they weren’t. The coiled bottoms recalled my Great-Aunt Mary’s rag rugs, and the sides resembled a woven straw summer beach bag. They were unique, original things and easily as pretty as beach bags for which you plonk down cash.

We couldn’t talk long, alas. There was no line at the toll booth, but the weather had definitely gotten worse (our 40 minute drive from that point took us two hours) so we rolled on. And immediately after I hit the interstate, I realized that I had my camera in my car and I hadn’t asked her if I could take a picture of her work.

Over the past month and a half or so, I have had countless occasions, both Thing and non-Thing related, to pass through that toll booth. No sign of the lady or her work.

Until last night. We rolled up and there she was again, this time with a creamy white concoction on her hook.

Finally! It had happened! She was there! She was imminently bloggable!

And I had just given up keeping a camera in the car the week before.

I wonder if the Crochet Goddess wants me to sacrifice some knitting needles to her for return of my catching crocheters in the wild on film luck? Hmmm, there are those huge plastic needles the ex got me….

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Why I Did Not Knit Today

1. Dishes

2. Sick Things

3. (Are you ready for this?)


There were six in the cage. When we returned home there were none in the cage and a rather suspicious plastic portal cover on its side, the victim of a chew out.

(Their mother was the ringleader--how Old World can you get? "The Family" is out and wreaking havoc.)

And Thing Two's bedroom door was OPEN.

We retrieved two in Thing Two's room, one in the living room, and one (of course) in the yarn-based bedroom. (What is it about gerbils and my room??? I'd already suffered one solo baby gerbil escape over Christmas break while the Things were gone to their dad's. Little Master Adventure Gerbil had headed straight for my room, where he curled up under a pillow and slept while I tore the rest of the house apart looking for him. Gah.)


Just returned from a bathroom capture. One gerbil under the washer, which steadfastly refused to move like the obliging dryer. I had to haul the not-feeling-well Thing One out of his burrow to lever the darn thing up for us. I've now got lint on the legs and bottom of my sweats. But we got the little twit.

Still Later...

The last escapee was definitely cagier than the rest. (Okay, so there is an inherent contradiction in word choice there, but at the mo I really don't give a flip.) It remained on the lam for a good hour and an half after everyone else had been delivered to their plastic prison.

It had not counted on Thing Two with her head cold/virus, though. Seriously, that girl could rival the heralding trumpets of the Second Coming in sheer volume. She perchanced to blow her nose whilst walking through the kitchen. There was a terrified squeak, and out ran the last juvenile delinquent from behind the refrigerator. It took one look up at her, the creator of the cacophony, and promptly turned tail and ran back behind the damn refrigerator.

Thank goodness my kids have enough plastic weaponry leftover from Halloween to arm a small mob of sugar-crazed four year olds. The sword fit under the frig and with judicious waving of it, convinced the miniature fugitive that ducking under the frig itself was not wise. The scythe's handle fit under the stove (the secondary point of evacuation). Thing Two waited at the exit behind the frig and I stationed myself at the space between the stove and the frig. Thing Four, with great enthusiasm, kept the weapons moving.

Stupid rodent figured out just how far in I could reach, though, and calmly sat right beyond that point. But he hadn't counted on human wits, you know? I chivvied a broom back behind him and swept his little butt out into the cold light of...well, light bulbs, okay? It was evening, after all.

Wits though I had, I may have neglected to think things quite through. There is a bit of difficulty, after all, in capturing a rodent on the run when you've two hands on a broom. And so the chase was on. We got him out from behind the baseboard heater in the kitchen and he promptly legged it to the safety of the Christmas tree. (No, I've not yet gotten it down. Thanks so much for pointing that out.)

Then it was a mad dash for the safety of under the sofa. By the time we had tossed the sleeping, sick Thing One off its cushions and upended it, the little criminal made its final dash. To MY room.

I repeat, what is it about my room???

So, back in we went. Baskets of yarn were lifted, and my rovings (nestled in a open box with my drop spindle) were carefully checked through, because if little dude were snacking on my rovings, then his butt would be out in the snow.

(I don't care how cute he looks with over-large, not-yet-grown-into ears.)

After I was VERY certain there was NO rodent in that corner, we turned our attention to the land of under the dresser.

And that's when the (insert word not appropriate for all audience members) jumped me from behind.

His trajectory suggests that he came, indeed, from the corner just checked, and that he came on with an, "It's either them or me, see?" mentality. Personally, I think he wanted the deep purple and royal blue rovings for a nest and would stop at nothing to gain them.

I, of course, was too busy battling for my life to actually capture him, and Thing Two was laughing so hard that I still don't see how she scooped him up. Traitorous girl. She's so on dishes-washing duty for the rest of her natural-born life.

But though she gave the miscreant gerbil a stern baby-talk talking to, I think I was right to be suspicious of him and his murderous tendencies.

Remember the victimized plastic portal cover? Well, Thing Two reinserted the cover and masking taped it in, secure in the knowledge that none of the grown-up gerbils had been able to foil that strategy. What she hadn't counted on was this same little deviant capitalizing on a rough edge to chew a hole THROUGH the portal, one just big enough to wriggle out of.

She's lucky not to have woken up with a pillow-wielding rodent on her chest, ready to smother Trumpet Girl in her sleep. Seriously.

Tomorrow we are going to try to find a pet store closer than an hour away and Girlie is spending some of her hard-earned Christmas money (hmm hmm) on a METAL cage.

Let's hope they can't squeeze out between the bars.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Once More Into The Breach

There’s really not much left to say about traveling across half the continental United States. I mean, this is the sixth trip in roughly 14 months (and four were over the exact same route—sigh).

I packed a bag with stuff that would need to go in the new car (snow scraper, winter boots, emergency travel kit made by Thing Three, sleeping bag in case I skidded off-road, as who wants to be too cold to craft while waiting for rescue; like that) and with "just in case I get to them" crochet and knit projects. (I didn't. I never do, but they're a weird sort of comfort. If the bus had been caught out on the road in a once-in-a-century blizzard, I definitely would have had plenty to do.)

I generally get in a car, but in this case, being car-less, I got on a bus, and until I got to Boston, I enjoyed lots of space, quiet, and good scenery.

From Boston to NYC to Cleveland to Chicago, I end up with lots of people and no space and the weird sort of bus-bonding that only happens with people who either got on at your stop or, at the most, one stop after you. It’s like your suddenly comrades in arms or something. (Comrades in bus just doesn’t sound right, sorry.) It’s the whole shared experience thing, and it’s probably helpful in keeping people from experiencing Post Traumatic Bus Overcrowding Syndrome. Seriously. I’m sure there’s literature on that syndrome somewhere…

My seatmate from Boston on was girl who’d gotten on at the same stop as me. She was worried about starting college and whether or not she could really do it.

She was also a kid who was known for reading every book in her school’s library in a single year. You read correctly. The. Entire. Library. (Yet she said she had not done well in high school.) We talked Shakespeare and Eliot and popular writers for more hours than our fellow travelers probably cared to hear.

Lea? You’re gonna do well, kid. Trust me. You’ve got what it takes.

Fun, fun conversations, but not much room for crocheting, let alone knitting articles of apparel in the round for snow zombies.

By the time I dumped off the bus at my more rural destination, I was pretty much dead on my feet. Sleeping on crowded buses is possible, but not productive in terms of actual rest. Friends picked me up and in-between rudely falling asleep off and on whilst they drove the last bit to my folks’ place, I did manage to knit the felted nest ornament by Marie Mayhew.

(Felting was done upon return home and now all I need to do is needle felt the eggs. I’m nervous about that, as I am not the most graceful of humans and have visions of puncturing my finger so many times with the VERY SHARP NEEDLE--the amount of cautionary notes with the needle felting kit is terrifying--that said finger just falls right off. I’ll give you update photos of the egg attempts from the emergency room, shall I?)

Then it was off to a return trip back to my place, solo, in my new baby.

I discovered several things on that trip. One, that driving a vehicle with headlights that actually illuminate the roadway makes for far less scary evening driving; two, that I now know the Iowa to Maine route so well that I barely glanced at the map; and three, that I will spend hours with the cell phone on speaker, boring various friends out of their wits while I am driving through Ohio, because for some reason Ohio always makes me want to take a nap. Ohio is a very lulling, soothing place. Maybe it's all the vowels?

I also discovered: the joy of a car that doesn’t lurch like its been hit by a train when going down the road, that those key fobs with automatic door lock/unlock thingies are very cool, that CD players that I don’t have to plug in don’t skip, and that it takes going through every toll booth but the very last one in Maine to train me to stop reaching for the handle to roll down the window when it comes time to pay. (We won’t discuss just how many toll booths that was, okay? Thanks much.) That whole push the button thing just threw me. Got me some odd looks from toll booth attendants too.

So, not much knitting accomplished and no crocheting at all :(, but I now have a car that was actually made in the early part of this decade, rather than in the last millennium. Oh, and get this. It has all its paint.

Life is good. Chaotic and convoluted and frequently edging beyond what even I find interesting, but good. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Meeting Franklin Habit

Or, The Uber Tardy Blogger Catches Up Again...

Clearly, I am using my kids with four different nights (weekdays)/days (weekends) of activities, getting ready to take a new craft class (basket weaving…shh, don’t tell my hooks and needles about the new packing tools I had to buy…), zipping back across half the the nation to get a new car and work (yes, I even do that occasionally) as an excuse for being behind on the blog.

I know. Me. Behind on the blog. Shocking.


Anyway, I seriously can’t believe I’m behind on this one, because I got to meet Franklin Habit and spend a delightful few hours immersed in photography when he hosted a class at The Purl Diva. I found out about the class totally by accident. I was in Yardgoods, buying…um, looking, I mean looking at…yarn and was peeking at Franklin’s book while by the counter. One of the ladies informed someone had been in to buy the book so Franklin could sign it when he did his class in Brunswick in two weeks.

Class? Brunswick?? I immediately went home and caught up on the Panopticon, then checked out Purl Diva’s site, telling myself that the class would probably be way too expensive so there was no harm in just looking at the course information, gasping and going about my regular business.

But it wasn’t. It was well within even the single-mom-on-a-budget budget. And I had belated birthday money that had just been sent to me, with instructions to splurge on myself. (Like the sender really had to twist my arm on that one.)

Great. Now that I knew I could afford the class, it was probably full. Still, I emailed Ellen, as I am stupidly optimistic like that (said trait explains how so many of my dead-end relationships kept going around the cul-de-sac, but that’s another story).

Ellen emailed back that it had been full, but since it was two days after Christmas, people had cancelled and if I wanted, there was a spot available.


I immediately signed up and smiled happily to myself. After all, I had done the preliminary car shopping and would certainly have a vehicle before the 27th of December.

Or not. My parents phoned. They had found a minivan in the same age range as what I had been shopping for, but for about 3,000-4,000 cheaper than the prices here, depending on how well one dickered (and my dad can dicker, believe me). So wouldn’t I reconsider the idea of purchasing one out there and saving myself some money?

Well, yeah. Stupidly optimistic I am, but I hope I’m not stupidly stupid (well, no more than average, anyway).

The problem arose when I realized that the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve was very critical to our retention team. I wouldn’t be able to get the car until after the 1st of January.

I was stumped. What should I do? Rent a car? Grab a bus and arrive 8 hours later at a destination that was less than an hour away, having paid well more than twice the amount of the class to get there? Set out heroically early and hike the back roads to Brunswick in the predicted snowstorm? Only the first sounded remotely palatable.

And then I remembered. Someone else in my general area was taking the class too…

I emailed Ellen, who emailed the person, who emailed me, and on the very snowy morning of the 27th I met

Gina (a nurse) and Cathie (a doctor) who graciously let a complete stranger carpool with them. Besides introducing me to gelato after the class,

it was heaven to be in a car with two people who did not find talk of which level of needle pointiness one preferred, master knitting classes, and books like Shear Spirit strange. I added a bit here and there, but mostly I just listened, enjoying the almost exclusively knitting talk and Gina’s steady-in-moderately-bad-snow-conditions driving until we arrived.

Ellen’s shop is just beautiful, laid out with a true artist’s eye. It pulls you and practically beguiles you into having one of those falling-down-and-swiping-your-credit-card-on-the-way-out accidents that the Yarn Harlot occasionally mentions. Which explains (along with the birthday money prodding me) how I happened to leave the store with this

(because I have been wanting to learn to spin and so can’t afford a wheel) and this

my very first ever purchase of yarn without a project in mind. I think that naturally colored alpaca in toffee, chocolate brown and warm cream a good choice. I’ve always loved the color brown. (Hey, I’m a Midwestern farmer’s daughter. ‘Nuff said.) I’m not sure I even want to knit it up just yet. It’s so soft and so beautiful and I don’t want to muck it up making it into something it is not supposed to be.

So, I and my debit card were pretty well history in the five minutes we had to wait for Franklin to set up, even though I managed (barely) to hold off purchasing until after the class.

Oh, yeah, the class. You were wondering when I was going to get to that, weren’t you? Me, too.

Firstly, I just want to say I can see how Dolores has managed to stay around so long, despite her clearly delinquent behavior. Franklin is one of the nicest, politest people I have ever met. And not stilted, my-mother-taught-me-I-must-be-this-way-so-I-will-be-even-if-it-kills-me polite, but genuinely warm and very conscientious about giving each student time, as a good teacher should be. A person that nice will be a Dolores victim every time. Watching him instruct when talk part of the class was over was almost as much fun as trying to accomplish anything myself. He’s the most subduedly animated person I have ever met, and his reaction to stunning knitting (and from lace to Gina’s amazing ski sweater, there was stunning in abundance) was a burst of contained excitement. Hard to describe, but very neat to see.

I spent part of my time on Ellen’s computer, reading the manual for the point and shoot the ex-boyfriend had given me when he upgraded and which a friend had discovered for me online. I discovered that there was no manual setting. This did not please Luddite me, who had and a totally manual, non-digital camera when taking a B & W class and adored it (even I have my control freak moments). This means I have a choice between a flash that doesn’t do a great job of compensating for funky house lighting, no flash and having to either be totally still or to create a cairn of books to prop the camera on to get the angle I want (seldom works) or taking all pictures outside (beginning to seem a real possibility). *

The rest of the time, I tried to take pictures, but the shy gene, coupled with that stupid automatic flash that I loathe and detest, pretty much took me over. I was more comfortable watching everyone else than actually taking pictures with people around watching me. Though come to think of it, probably no one was. Shy me didn’t think of that at the time, though. Ah well.

I snapped this quick shot of Ellen and Franklin and had the double indignity of the flash and the lighting not getting along AND the auto focus freaking on me. It turned out badly (though my erstwhile fix-the-blogger's-crappy-photos-for-her friend did his dead level best to make it look better, and it looks far better than it did, believe me) and I was too embarrassed to try for another.

I also one other of the Shetland Lace Sock, though the focus seemed to think I really wanted the crockery to be the focal point of the photo; clearly it and I need to have a heart-to-heart. (And if I had been thinking, I would have gotten a shot of it with Franklin, which would hopefully shut up its whining about missing the Harlot. I felt badly that I left a photo op like that slip by, but the SLS assured me that just having Franklin point at it and discuss it was a thrill, so it’s all good.)

After that, I had a quiet discussion with Paul, and then with Paul and Franklin, on a camera a single mom could afford. They came up with the Cannon GL series, assuring me that even the older cameras with lower resolution were still dependable. Good stuff to know.

And hey, I also discovered out to make my very own, CHEAP light box (I like cheap).

See? (Oh, okay, so I played with the spinning stuff a bit.) I’m going to have fun playing with the types of lighting as well , as I can’t help but wonder what sort of effect hurricane lamp light would have on it. And Thing Two just received a camera for her birthday a couple of months back. Maybe IT has a manual setting.


*Because of the above, you really shouldn't blame Franklin for the lack of decent picture taking. Until I screw up more, I'll never get any better. So, my dear photo guinea pigs, please bear with me. Thanks much.