Wednesday, January 29, 2003

OK, I've had my 24 hours of unproductive self-pity, now let's get back to the nicer reasons to get up in the morning.

First, the beautiful knitting basket I received from a KR retreatee and friend. Isn't it just beautiful? Who could possibly wallow in self-pity with this by her side. Thank you Jen!

Jen's bag

Why is it that we tend to covet things most when we suddenly can't have them? Or is this just a Clara phenomenon?

The dust hasn't even settled on the axe strike and I already have a glimmer of desire in my materialistic eye: A Kromski Mazurka wheel. Mind you I already have a Schacht, which I oh-so-intelligently acquired prior to layoff numero uno. Please, someone, tell me you only need one wheel. Someone else, chime in and tell me just how horrible the Mazurka is. I beg you!

Casey on his perchBut finally, here's one big fuzzy four-legged reason to get up in the morning: Casey. I call this his circus lion pose.

You see, I underestimated his girth a tad when purchasing this little nook for him. He's supposed to curl up inside but instead he proudly sits on top of it.

Our game is simple: I put his toys inside, and he knocks them out. I put them back in, and he knocks them back out. Believe it or not, this is endlessly entertaining for us both.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

"Don't quit your day job." Great phrase, but it assumes one actually has a choice in the matter.

For the third time since I launched Knitter's Review, my so-called day job has suddenly come to an end. The story is always the same. "This economy is just terrible," they begin, as if I didn't know. "Your work has been fantastic, but we need to cut costs or we're not going to make it." (Perhaps they hope my altruism will kick in? "Oh no! That's terrible! By all means let me go - how could I bear to see you fail instead?") They conclude, "We're going to try and bring this work in-house," which means they've decided that one person could easily do the work you've been doing, on top of the three other jobs s/he has been forced to do.

The news came at the end of what was otherwise a red-letter day. I'd mailed fresh new Knitter's Review Boutique wholesale catalogs to 435 shops across the country. And I'd received a huge box of test skeins from Berroco, a gorgeous knitting basket gift from a KR friend, and a galley copy of a new book in which I'm actually mentioned. If the universe wanted to speak, it was doing a great job.

And such is the view from Clara's window on this fine winter Tuesday.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Allow me to present...

finally, a finished project

Chamonix! Now that you see it, you'll agree that there's absolutely no reason this should've taken 14 months. No cables, no lace, no colorwork, just plain old knit and purl 'til the cows come home. The pattern came from an ancient Vogue Knitting magazine (from back when Trisha Malcolm was editor and the patterns were actually attractive).

In other news, it looks as if our Siberian cold front is finally moving out to sea, or wherever it is cold fronts go to enjoy their twilight years. Although we're only in the high 20s now, I can see occasional tufts of high grass emerge from the snow in our field. It's far too early to stop taking massive doses of Vitamin D, mind you. But each day Mother Nature throws out a little something to remind me that this is all part of a bigger cycle.

Any gardener will tell you what these kinds of hints mean: Time to get out the catalogs! I have five different catalogs for perennials, annuals, fruits, vegetables, herbs, you name it. One by one, I'm carefully selecting just the right strain of raspberry, tomato, carrot, lettuce, radish, basil, chive, bean, dill, asparagus, and strawberry plant to get. And then there's the issue of flowers, which I'll save for another time.

Let's just say this is a wonderful time of year for gardeners. You get to plan enormous, elaborate gardens that are far greater than what you'll actually end up doing when the time comes. Aaaaaah, I can almost feel the sun on my face, the warm sweet earth in my hands, and the sting of mosquito and black fly bites all over my body.

Monday, January 20, 2003

Houston, we have a landing! Just this morning I stitched the final seams on Chamonix. She's now being blocked in the laundry room and will make an appearance here once dry and properly set. (For those of you who are new to my window, I began this sweater a year ago. There's no reason it should've taken this long, but it did.)

What euphoria to finally finish a project after such a long dry spell. I feel proud and capable and invincible. My seams are the smoothest, most invisible seams I have yet to do. The unblocked sweater was perhaps a tad too cropped for my sensibilities (so sue me, I'd rather keep my belly covered), but I suspect blocking will help smooth things out.

With Chamonix on the drying rack, this can only mean one thing: time for Studio! I jumped the gun and began swatching last night. On 3mm needles, you're supposed to knit 25 stitches per 4 inch square. Well I ended up with 30 stitches instead, even after washing and blocking the swatch (hey, I'm an optimist, ok?). On 5mm needles, I knit 20 stitches per 4 inch square. Methinks 4mm will do the trick but, of course, that's the one size I can't find in my needle stash. Oh how I wish the Blue Hill Yarn Shop delivered.

In other exciting news, it's almost official: With Julie as my fearless booth babe, I'll be showing my wares at the Spa Knit & Spin taking place in Portland, Maine February 21st through the 23rd. Come one, come all!

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

At times like these, I can easily live with this outside...winter over the field
...when I can grow these inside!amaryllis in bloom
(A little extra vitamin D doesn't hurt either...)

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Welcome to January in Maine, where the temperature rose to a balmy 16 degrees today. The sky was a perfect deep blue with an occasional white puffy cloud that made shadows on the hills as it drifted by. The wind howled most of the day, whipping up any loose snow into a sparkly whirlwind that either ended in the woods or against the house.

I finally began to spin an enormous braid of hand-dyed merino that I bought from Barbara Gentry (of Stony Mountain Fibers) during the Knitter's Review retreat back in November. Only I forgot that it was merino, a fiber I still avoid on the assumption that I'll make a big lumpy mess out of it.

So I spun and spun and spun the most beautiful strands of color, and I didn't even let the yarn set before plying it all together. Barbara Gentry's merino (The results were the cover picture for this week's newsletter.)

Lo and behold, today I brought out the braid and pulled off another yard-long bundle to spin. A tag fluttered to the ground, I picked it up, and saw the words "100% merino" in big glorious letters.

Could it be that - without even realizing it - I've finally become worthy of merino? Or did Barbara do something special to this fiber that made it more manageable than the merinos of yesteryear? Who knows.

But for the moment, I feel like something in my internal odometer went "click" and I advanced to a new level of spinnerly practice.

And speaking of spinning, I owe a profound thanks to Linda Diak of Grafton Fibers. She sent me what is undoubtedly the coolest fiberly gift I have yet to receive: A Knitter's Review drop spindle! a spindle from Grafton FibersIt's the same form as her Mouton du Mois spindles, only instead of a sheep, goat, or rabbit on the top, she painted a lovely ball of yarn and wrote the words "Knitter's Review" around the bottom.

Her package also included a ball of glorious, purple-hued fiber, which I immediately pulled out and sniffed with delight. (Yes, that's my embarrassing fiber-admiring habit - I sniff it with abandon.) Twas a speechless moment that reminded me there are still good people in this world.

Friday, January 3, 2003

And a happy New Year to you all!

It's been a wonderful few weeks up here in the wilds of Maine. On Christmas day we spent the morning skating on the pond, which was frozen in perfect smoothness. Then the snow came, and kept coming. The wind howled, the house shook, the cat slept, oblivious as usual.

Oblivious, that is, until I opened the porch door and he made his grand venture into the snowy winderness, which looked a little something like this:

Casey's grand day out

So much for that theory about Norwegian forest cats actually enjoying the outdoors.