It's not proceeding at rocket pace, but I'm just loving my secret project.
I was able to work on it a bit this weekend. I know it looks suspiciously like a red scarf, but it's not.
I was his Better Pal, but he spoiled me rotten, too. Made by his own hands, I present to you The Bag Fit For A Queen (ok, he's a queen, but I don't mean that kind of a queen), 100% silk. Drop-dead gorgeous.
But, yeah, remember what I said about the car? I need to lose 10 15 pounds, get a new face, a new wardrobe, be at least five inches taller, and have a manicure so I can be on the same stage as the bag. You da man, Dave. Thank you, Guy!
Turns out my new socks are Magic Socks, apparently. For several months now, I have had to wear wool socks to bed. It must be that some hormonal change (ugh, let's not discuss this further) is making my feet so cold at night that I can't fall asleep without wool socks on. This is a 180-degree change from the old me. Anyway, the first night (Friday) that I wore the new socks to bed, I slept a very deep, nightmare-filled, almost feverish sleep, and I slept LONG. I woke up feeling like I'd worked something out and also that I had maybe beat an illness or something. And I felt really refreshed, for the first time in weeks. Then I wore them again Saturday night and had a similar experience, although not as intense. So my husband and I are calling them the Magic Socks. I may not be able to go to bed without wearing them ever again, such is the supersitition that has already been built up around them.
NEWS FLASH! NEWS FLASH!
OH MY FREAKIN'FRACKIN GAWD, I FINALLY, just minutes ago, at 12:05 a.m., finished that FREAKIN' MONKEY-ON-MY-BACK GINORMOUS job that's been eating me alive. I printed it (which seemed to take for-frickin-EVER), bound it, packed it tightly in two super-heavy boxes, ready for mailing to Boston tomorrow. The relief I feel is....well, I can't feel it yet. Hopefully soon. However, I have to get up in less than seven hours and head out for another big job. Argh, and the work is not FULLY cleaned up from before yet, either. Makin' sure to wear my magic socks to bed now. Goodnight! (or good morning, by the time you read this, probably......)
Why is the tune to "workin' on the chain gang" running through my head right now????????? Is this normal?
The Winter '05 session of Better The Pal You Know has come to a close, and my Better Pal has been revealed -- it's Crafty Brainwave Lori. Her identity was a complete secret to me. She wasn't even on my radar screen. I love that. I'm not easily surprised or fooled, and this was a pleasant surprise.
Lori's package arrived yesterday from a nervous postal lady: "Something is rattling in there, Norma!" She doesn't like it when things rattle. "But she didn't insure it!" she said. She knows that I sometimes buy pottery, and a rattle is not a good sign with pottery. When I saw the now-familiar return address of my Better Pal, and because I was expecting her package, I assured Ms. Postal Lady it was probably something like candy, not to worry. Just to make her relax, I opened it in front of her. The rattling thing was not candy. It was these: Aren't they sweet? I told the postal lady they were "beads." "Stitch markers" would have made no sense whatsoever to her. (ETA: Lori is too modest. She did not tell me she made the glass beads in the stitch markers. She did not even tell me she made the stitch markers, let alone handmade the glass beads. Thanks for the heads up on that, Lauren. Absolutely spectacular! Does it get any BETTER than that?!)
There was some candy in the box, also, though. Looks like somebody has been in HAWAII!! That lucky duck! Lori had written me to say the package was on the way and that parts of it had traveled about 7,500 miles. I was intrigued and couldn't wait for it to get here -- but I was thinking 7,500 miles in the OTHER direction -- I thought Europe -- but nope, Hawaii. It didn't take me long to rip into the package of chocolates and have a cup of (pineapple! it was luscious!) tea. I just couldn't resist taking a picture of the Hawaiian stuff in the snowdrift, and it was frigid out there even though I did not have a grass skirt on, so I snapped it really quickly and ran back inside. It's a pretty bad photo. It's very hard to see it, but there is another skein of dye-your-own Knit Picks sock yarn in there, and two skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas sportweight in the most luscious pumpkin color. I'm very excited and know exactly the pattern I'm going to use it for -- Anne's mini-cabled neck gaiter.
Aloha and thank you, Lori! I love it all.
Last night I finally finished the socks from the yarn Lori put in the first package, way back at the end of December. I love the colors, and Fleece Artist sock yarn is so soft and nice to work with. Feels so niiiiice on my feet. I wanted plain socks from this yarn, modeled after the lovelies that Cari made me, and I got 'em. See? Here are the ones she sent me: I wear them all.the.time, so I wanted a pair similar to them.
I used The Bible According to Ann Budd for the pattern. Size 2.25mm DPN's, which is that hard-to-find size that some manufacturers call US1. But on the second one I switched the needles because I needed them for the orange Koigu Feather & Fan sock I'm working on. I put the plain stockinette sock on two circs in the same size, and guess what? I picked it up and knitted the WHOLE SOCK on them. Except I chickened out at the heel flap and gusset, bought new sets of DPNs in that size, put the sock back on DPNs for that part, then back on the circs, then back on the DPNs for the toe part. Kind of complicated, no? I loved knitting the sock on two circs, but I didn't feel confident enough to do the heels and toes that way. I even bought the Cat Bordhi book on the subject, but I have been too stressed out to take the time to read and follow the directions. Yes, Claudia, I was....ahem....just doing seat-of-the-pants knitting - my favorite!
-----------SO, ABOUT THE CONTEST:
We had a nice number of votes for Martin's book!!! Last night I closed the contest (but please still keep on voting!) and I used this random number generator to pick three winners. (Thank you to Cassie for showing the number generator to me.)
The winners are: Jennifer, Kate of Fiber Fever, and Tonia. (I've emailed them, and their little prezzies will be on their way to them when I hear back. Kate's is already out the door.)
Yee HAW!! That felt awfully good. I love seeing all those new names, along with the old favorites, who came out to say they voted -- and even better -- ordered the book, which, by the way, IS available in the U.S. now. Mine is set to arrive today from Amazon. It's also available -- I checked -- from Barnes & Noble, and therefore must be available, or will be soon, at your independent booksellers. And soon, at Carole's library, and others, as well, according to the comments. And you know, for those who had qualms about voting for a book you haven't read yet....well, as one commenter pointed out, it's not the Presidential election for one thing, and for another, the rules of the page say, and I quote, Vote for the book or author you would like to see win in each category." We're not voting for the Pulitzer. So, like, chill out, dudes. ;-)
I promise, this will not become Norma's Advertising Space. However, commenter Samantha said:
Is she right, or WHAT? Here's a story to illustrate what kind of guy Martin is. I may have already told this story - it seems as if I have - but I'll tell it again anyway.
When I worked for the BBC, I was on a one-year contract. I possessed a skill that was rare-to-nonexistent in the then-UK workforce, and that's why I had the wonderful opportunity in the first place. The BBC was a wonderful employer, and the British vacation policy is....uh....GENEROUS. Or at least it was at the time. Although the Europeans will go, "What's the big frickin' deal," Americans, you might want to avert your eyes, because you probably won't want to read this. I had a one-year contract with seven weeks of paid vacation. Jealous? Don't hate me because I was Cinderella for a year. Really. Because although I stayed a bit longer than that because it was so hard to leave and I was truly needed, when the clock figuratively struck midnight, I had to come home. I did it (came home, that is) because I wanted to. My lovely husband and lovely daughter were waiting patiently for me back in the states.
But in the meantime, I used up all my holiday time, coming back across the pond to be with my family, or traveling in the UK. I started my year-plus in May of one year, and in April of the next year, when it was time for my daughter's April school vacation, husband and daughter were going to come spend the week with me. I planned on just doing stuff with them in London when I could, whilst still working my regular shift. So one afternoon I was in the studio practicing my steno, brushing up on the current events of the day, and preparing for the next newscast. We prepared like this before every newscast. At newstime, we went on the air to write our steno, which then produced captions (or subtitles) for the hearing-impaired community to read on the bottom of the television screen.
While I was doing my prep work, Martin walked into the studio and sat next to me, holding a clipboard. I took off my headphones.
"I'm working on the schedule for next week."
"Your family is coming next week."
"Then why are you on the schedule?"
"Because I've used up all my holiday time."
He looked at me, incredulous. (silly American)
"I'm suuure we could come up with some compassionate leave time."
I know I promised a dark and dirty revelation about Norma The Sexist, and I promise I will reveal all -- because it sickens me, it really does -- but I canNOT break out of this Work Black Hole at the moment, and plus I have to pack up the final package for my Better Pal. Wouldn't want to be considered the Worst Better Pal.
However, I NEED YOUR HELP!
I got an email from Martin yesterday. You remember Martin, my former boss at the BBC? I've talked about him before, and I know some of you will remember. Anj even emailed me just last week saying she'd just finished his second book and to thank me for bringing his writing to her attention.
Well, anyway. In my last two letters from Martin's mom, she told me that he has a "real" novel out in England now (they don't consider those "silly little Holmsian thingies" to be "real," I guess, hee.) and it's out to great reviews. Turns out she was not just being Proud Mum.
Martin informs me that his first "serious" novel, "The Conjurer's Bird," is now out in the States.
from his email:
Over here (UK) it has been nominated for a prize as "Richard and Judy's Best Read of the Year" (R&J are the UK equivalent of Oprah.) Voting is online. A big vote from the US will definitely help!
The voting form is here. A couple of clicks will do it!
And Dear Readers, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in it for me.
Nothing. Not a thing.
Well, wait just a minute. There is one more little line in his email:
..... I am creating a suitably gorgeous American character for my next Mrs Hudson book.
He says she'll be sexy (literary license never hurt) and keep a diary (blogs didn't exist in Victorian times) !!!!!! Get it? She'll be modeled after me!
So PLEASE, for ME, go to that link and click on The Conjurer's Bird by Martin Davies; Please, please, please!!! And please go tell all your friends to do so, as well. Pass it around the office, and to all your relatives and friends and to fellow students on campus if that's where you are. Let's help out the best damn boss (and a great friend as well) a person ever had!
We've shown what we knitbloggers can do before -- let's do it again. And plus it's FUN! -- just a click is all it takes. Thank you, thank you!!!
Aww, what the hell, we might as well make this into a contest in ye olde Norma's blogge. Leave a comment saying you have voted, and I'll put the names in a random number generator and award three yarny prizes next week. By that time I hope to be sufficiently out of the Work Black Hole to a) choose prizes and b) award them.
I'll keep this mercifully short for the skimmers. You know who you are. And this pot is not calling any kettles black. Hee.
Yesterday I took the car for a little drivey-poo. I had a doctor's appointment in Burlington, about 30 miles from here. When I was headed home, I almost didn't take the exit off the interstate, almost kept on going to Canada....hell, to the North Pole. I just didn't want to get out of the car.
And then I was so inspired and in love and intoxicated on that new-car smell, I made carrot-parsnip-ginger soup for dinner. It was scrumptious. I invited a few guests, but none of them were willing to take their private jets and fly on up here. Too bad -- you would have really liked it, guys.
So that was pretty much my day. Except I did about three rows in my sock while waiting for the nurse-practitioner to come in and talk to me, and I did ....blah blah blahhhhhhhhhh...more transcripts. I wonder, will I ever finish this one that I've been working on for-frickin-EVER?!
Tomorrow I will talk about Norma The Sexist. I did not know this about myself, but I learned something yesterday while at my doctor's appointment. The ugly truth will come out.
Bye-bye, Old Girl. You've been a faithful old broad.
Well, hellooooo, you sexy young thang.
Today I so totally can relate to men's mid-life crises. Not gonna deny it. Makes me want to go work out at the gym, go on a diet, and get some spiffy new clothes -- and maybe a facelift -- to match the car.
The Old Girl served me well -- bore my children, took me many a mile. But she's worn out, old, dull-looking, pitted, and she's got some plumbing problems that make her a real drag. Time for a new model!!!
Yes, Ms. Silver is a Camry, and decidedly more luxurious than any vehicle I've previously owned. The one thing I really, really wanted to have was side airbags for safety, and this was the only one on the lot that had 'em. Good thing I don't care about things such as color and whatnot. All the other bells and whistles pretty much come standard on a Camry now, so I'm moving into the 21st Century with such amenities as a CD player, electric windows and locks, electric seat adjustments, map lights, outdoor thermometer so I can tell if it is that critical temperature at which the very treacherous black ice is about to form on the Vermont roads (that feature I LOVE, more than anything else), and cup holders......wait for it.....even in the BACK SEAT! And this one came with a frill I never would have chosen, but I will admit that I kinda like it -- a moonroof.
Go figure: It's rated for even better mileage than my older 5-speed (yes, this one is automatic. I gave in.). 24 mpg city/34 highway. I bet I get even better than that. I normally go better than the sticker rating, except in the very recent past with my old car, the mileage has really suffered, another symptom of things going wrong.
Silver -- let me call her "Silver," will you? -- is longer than my other car. I absolutely did not believe the salesman when he told me that. It looked shorter (and smaller overall) to me, and I wanted it shorter, for ease of parking. But I got it home and it just barely fits in the garage space. I've only come to realize recently that our garage is really quite small. Badly designed. So I have to literally touch the annoying piece of curb at the front of our garage with my front bumper in order to be able to close the garage door. The weird curb thingy is only on "my" side of the garage -- and we need the much longer section, without the weird curb, for the truck, and I need the truck for my gardening, so I have no choice but to suck it up. This makes me very nervous. I betcha either the front is going to get banged up pretty quickly, or we're going to have a garage-door-smashing-into-the-back-bumper accident. This is precisely the kind of stupid thing my husband does on a regular basis, anyway - even with the old car that fit in there with room to spare. So I'm not going to let him drive this car. It's OFF LIMITS. Riiiiiiiiiight. That's going to work.
All of a sudden, in the last few days, Old Faithful Red Car took a turn for the worse, acting like she had pneumonia. So we couldn't put this purchase off any longer and still feel safe. Plus, President's Day Weekend is a good weekend to buy cars for its promotional deals. So it's back to the salt mines for me. Have I mentioned I hate having a car payment?
After reading about my "interesting" week last week, Margot and her husband Rob decided I could use a little R&R amongst some friendly knitters and invited me to a knit/stash swap party they were having yesterday. Nice gesture, hm? How about when I add that Margot and I have only met each other once, for a very brief time, during Stephanie's book-signing here in Vermont? Now what do you think? Even nicer, eh? That's what you call nice neighbors. And it's all because of this thing we call blogging. You just can't beat it.
A lovely time was had by all. Got to meet some local bloggers and nonbloggers, do a little knitting, a little noshing, and a little stash-swapping. Looking at the pictures Margot sent me, I can see that I need to do a little LESS noshing as a general rule, and more exercising. And I must admit, I really didn't want to post any of them, but I was going to anyway, just to share with you. But I can't get them to load up, damnit.
But I took a couple with my camera. Here's one that shows part of the stash for trade and Margot's Grumpecue-in-progress.
There were no more than 12 people in attendance, and there were at least two Clapotises (one in progress). Neat, huh?
At one point when the stash didn't seem to be moving too fast, I allowed that if there was any bulky wool that nobody wanted, I would take it for my charity knitting. In the end, I took home this: That's four skeins and some oddballs of Lamb's Pride Bulky, some partial balls of unnamed multi-color wool blends, and three balls of Mission Falls cotton. I released from my own stash: six or eight balls (bags, really, as that's how it's packaged) of Bebe Lang baby wool, three balls of cotton yarn, five balls of novelty yarn, two skeins of Patons Classic, and a few books. I think I definitely netted some stash loss, which was my goal.
And I immediately came home and cast on for a neckwarmer using one of the multi-color balls I obtained in the swap, and then a small hat from another (the hat will fit a baby, 6-9 months, I think). Two more Dulaan FO's.
Thank you, Margot and Rob, for being so kind and neighborly, and for a lovely afternoon.
Hey Mom -- I haven't read through this yet, but I plan to print it out and start working on it this weekend. Don't worry about reading it if you're busy, but feel free to print it out and put it on the kitchen table for you and Dad to reference. LOVE, A.
The kitchen table in our house: where papers go to DIE!!!!!
Other than that, I got nothing. This whole working-for-a-living thing is really overrated. Am I glad I did not sign up for the Knitting Olympics. or WHAT?! Absolutely NO knitting time around here. NONE. Just work, work, work. The biggest blip of excitement here was when I cut my fingernails yesterday (who says I don't do any personal grooming?) and then got a papercut on my tongue licking an envelope. That's how pathetic it is.
Someone told me I've inadvertently fallen behind on the ABC-Along. I've been kidding her and saying her math is off, but then again, I know I've lost entire weeks with all the work and the other drama lately. So, I should be catching up on my work, but instead I'm catching up on the blogging. You know: priorities. (don't worry: I really am catching up on the work, too.)
Now, my wonderful spouse of 22 years's name begins with D, and he would be my first choice for an entry standing for D. But he's shy (ha!) and retiring, and doesn't wish me to go all out on the public display of affection thing. So I had to choose something else.
Anyway, you all know how much I like the charity knitting. This is as much a surprise to me as it is to anyone. I've not done much charity work of any kind in my life. But the charity knitting kind of speaks to me. The items I do are simple and easy, which is what I have found I often want from my knitting. The work I'm paid to do is demanding on several levels, and many times I do not have enough brain power, eye power, or energy to sit down and study charts or learn something new and technical at the end of the day, or to have to worry about doing exceptionally good work. The more challenging projects do come in fits and starts, but in the meantime, when I want to knit -- and I often do -- something very simple but useful, I turn to the charity knitting. One of my favorite causes is The Dulaan Project.
I've said it all before. You can read all about the program, if you don't know about it yet, here and in Ryan's blog. Melt-your-heart pictures of kids receiving the items are here. I have been a long-time reader of Ryan, and at first I did the Dulaan knitting "for her." I have continued for myself, for the above-stated reasons. Friday is often my Dulaan night, a fact that has not gone unnoticed by some. One time I was speaking with Lauren on a Friday afternoon and said, "I don't know what to knit tonight." She replied, "It's Friday. It's your Dulaan night." Sure 'nuff.
My Dulaan basket runneth over.
A charming side story: Someone once made the statement that the whole thing was a scam. We love that. It's a wonderful inside joke, and we often tell Ryan, "Great work on your scam, Ryan!" So if you have the opportunity, please go tell her great work on her scam.
And a (warning: highly political) last-minute addition: