Saturday, March 26, 2005


The better part of today was spent getting my "fiber arts studio" organized. I haven't had any good place to store my meager stash and it was getting difficult to find patterns, knitting needles, notions... It's much better now. I bought the Stick Stacks from Ashland Sky and now all of my needles are in their own place, and taking up less room than they were when they were in their original packaging. The best part is that if I go to a knitting workshop or retreat, I can grab all of my needles and will be prepared for anything!

Less room taken up by needles means I could consolidate the stash into a single storage container. Ziplock bags further enhance the organization. I found some UFOs that I decided I'll never finish, so I ripped those out. But a puzzle is what happened to the front of a sweater I started knitting years ago? I cannot find it. I think I've got enough yarn from an unfinished crochet project to make a shawl or a little capelet.

But in amongst all the organizing and cleaning was some sadness. I pulled out my handspun from about 20 years ago looked a little webby and mothy. I don't know what to do with it. Wash it to get the mothy stuff out? Put in the freezer to kill the mothy stuff? It's in a bag, waiting to be thrown out, which is a shame, now that I know how to knit. Some of the yarn is quite nice looking. I must have about 5 pounds of handspun.

I made a commitment to myself to start practicing yoga at home. I did about an hour or so this morning and it definitely changed how I faced the day. I seemed to be more calm and, more importantly, more focused. I think that was one of the reasons I'm not too terribly heartbroken about the possibility of pitching my handspun. Or maybe some of the non-attachment stuff is finally beginning to sink in.

This evening, while my husband is watching Mystic River, I plan to finish my sock and perhaps start another pair. Somehow that seems easier than trying to figure where I left off on the two sweaters I've started. And no, I'm not going to watch the movie while I knit. I'm a movie wimp. I don't like feeling tense and anxious, which is how most movies make me feel. I cry when animals get hurt. Heck, I even cried while watching Winged Migration, which is a documentary about migrating birds. Some birds died. I love birds.

Now, if Tom was going to watch Shrek 2, I'd be there!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Do Overs

The other night I had a nice blog entry written up, describing the cassoulet adventure (lots of pork fat), my second sock, an upcoming wine dinner, and ramblings on a radio interview of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. So I preview it, notice some misspelled words, hit the Back button, and get some message about the changes haven't been saved and do I want to continue. Of course, I'm only going back to the Compose page. was all gone, returned to the ether from which it came.

I'm a computer professional, with 20+ years experience. I should know better. Sigh.

Anyway, the cassoulet was a success. I cooked more meat in one day than I've cooked in the past year. Roasted pork loin, homemade sausage, braised lamb. And salt pork and country pork rind (ick). The best part? By the time the dinner guests arrived Sunday evening, all that was left to do was pop the cassoulet in the oven for the final baking. Well, heave is more like it. An 8-quart Le Creuset dutch oven filled with about 5 pounds of meat, 2 pounds of beans, and several quarts of liquid is not light!

Daniel (the nephew) finally got his scarf and said I knitted better than a friend's grandmother (Just for the record? I'm not old enough to be a grandmother). He liked the banana nut muffins, even though they were a He looked at this blog and loved the socks ("they're awesome!") so there's a sock project in the wings.

And speaking of socks, sock #2 is almost finished. All that's left to do is graft the toe. The two socks don't quite match. I've been reading the travails of other knitters trying to get matching socks out of self-patterning yarn. My reaction to that was "They're supposed to match? Huh. Didn't think about that." Oh, well. They are close enough and I suspect the casual observer of the socks I wear probably won't notice.

A friend and I were discussing the despair, anger, hopelessness, or whatever you'd like to call it, that we're feeling with the actions of the Bush administration. Leigh is looking for a coping mechanism besides not paying attention. I listened to Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett on Sunday morning and think I found the coping mechanism. She interviewed Thich Nhat Hanh and spoke to him at length about engaged Buddhism. It was very interesting and gave me a new perspective on why people act the way they do. If you'd like to listen and learn more, you can listen here.

That's it for now. It was a rough day at work and I'm emotionally drained. I really needed that yoga class tonight!

Thursday, March 17, 2005


I haven't had a lot of energy after work this week. Or rather, I should say, I haven't had a lot of focus after work. I did manage to knit a few rows on my sock and have about 5 more pattern repeats, the ribbing, and the toe grafting to finish. I might be able to finish it this weekend, in between cooking tasks for the cassoulet. And I'll still have set a PR.

That's all for today.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Sock It To Me!

At long last...I have a finished sock! And it fits, more or less. The top ribbing didn't come out quite like I expected. I think the weight of the sock was stretching out the yarn a little bit, so the tension is looser than on the sock body, even though I was knitting on smaller needles. I have started working on its mate and hope to finish it this weekend. If I do, that will be a PR (personal record) for me. Most projects take months and months to finish. For example, I started working on the completed sock at Thanksgiving.

Jez helped me knit this morning and it plum wore her out:

Valerie asked if the teal roving I showed actually is Corriedale. The answer is yes. It's from The Woolery. I ordered BAY-2025. I suppose they could be pulling the wool over my eyes and substituting a different fiber but probably not. I'm definitely not proficient at telling what breed the wool is from. I just buy what sounds nice and spin it up.

I'm currently reading French Women Don't Get Fat, hoping that it will provide some tips for me to enjoy eating the way I want and lose weight. The book reinforces what I already know: eat smaller portions, eat slowly and mindfully, drink lots of water, and be active. But the author writes in such an engaging style that it gives new life to those common sense activities. And she provides recipes that definitely are not diet fare. I'm attempting to follow her advice and it seems to be working. I've shed a couple of pounds over the last several weeks. It's quite encouraging. And the best part? I don't feel hungry and still get to eat chocolate!

Well, I'm off to work on sock #2!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Stuffed to the Gills

Tom and I just got back from the inaugural beer dinner at Thoroughbreds, a brewpub that opened less than a year ago in Leesburg. We've never been before, but my brother-in-law found out about it from the Chile Man and asked us to go. What a pleasant surprise! The food was very good and the beers were excellent. It turns out that our neighbor is the brewmaster there. It's pretty amazing.

So, we started off with a little bit of grilled duck sausage on crostini with creole mustard. No beer with that little tidbit. That was followed by:

  • Smoked cheddar and ale soup (Paddock Pale Ale)
  • Baked Oysters on the Half shell with Spinach and Bacon (Dry Mill Keller Pils)
  • African Spiced Chicken Breast with Preserved Lemons over Basmati Rice (White's Ferry Wheat)
  • Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Mole Sauce, Plaintains, and Black Beans (Ball's Bluff Barley Wine)
  • Apple Phyllo Tart with Caramel Sauce (Oatmeal Stout)
  • A premiere tasting of their Dopplebock

Now, I'm not normally a big beer fan. It's okay is small quantities. But this place served pints (or close to it) with each course. In the interests of staying somewhat sober, I drank less than half of each beer, except for the White's Ferry Wheat and Ball's Bluff Barley Wine. I didn't think I liked wheat beer (or heffeweizen) very much, but this was very good. And paired with the chicken? My, oh my! Was it ever tasty! The Chile Man's Thunderbolt sauce was served with the chicken. It's a habanero-based sauce and it was quite tasty and quite hot.

The challenge now will be to try to get a good night's sleep on a very full stomach (there went the diet) and feeling somewhat decent in the morning.

In knitting news, I was successful in casting off the sock and actually getting it to go over my foot. I'll probably graft the toe on Friday or over the weekend. And then I'll have a picture. The sock isn't perfect, but's my first sock. And it was fun to knit and finally understand short rows. My very first knitting class was a sock class and the whole concept of short rows gave me a headache that lasted the entire weekend.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Who am I?

Why am I here? These questions were going round and round in my head early Sunday morning as I lay in bed, waiting for the migraine medication to kick in. I feel like I'm approaching a cross-roads in my life. This prospect is exciting and scary at once. Exciting because I feel like I'm beginning to get "un-stuck" and scary because I'm approaching something unknown. At lot of disparate things are beginning to converge in my life. Or if not exactly converge, this sometimes dense brain of mine is beginning to pick up on similarities in messages from different sources in my life. Volunteer, give back, open up, communicate, be congruent...

We recently hired a new Director of Product Development at work. I've been sending a message out to the universe in general that I'm ready for a teacher and I think the teacher has arrived, at least for the professional aspect of my life (I lead a software testing, technical writing, and technical support team). His philosophy is very similar to mine, but he has much more managerial experience than I do. I think with his tutelage, I can increase my effectiveness at work, particularly when it comes to managing up.

In yoga class, the message is unfold, open up, and arrive. A similar message was given at the Greater Olney Civic Association awards ceremony, where my mother-in-law was presented with the Citizen of the Year award for her volunteer work with her church, Olney Help, and Manna.

So what will happen? Stay tuned.

In knitting news, I almost finished one toe-up sock. I got to the casting off point and realized the instructions were not making much sense. There was an error in the pattern, so after verifying that what I thought should happen was correct (I still don't have enough confidence to bravely forge ahead), I'll finish casting off tonight and then graft the toe tomorrow. Just think, in another three months, I'll have a pair of socks! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The Cabled Cardigan

Well, here are the pictures. I finally figured out how to post multiple pictures to a single entry. The pattern is the #17 Cabled Cardigan from Tahki Yarns 2004 Spring/Summer collection. It uses green (#15) New Tweed, which is a merino/silk/cotton/viscose blend. And now, for your viewing pleasure, the sleeve:

And here's the back:

The photos don't do justice to the color and texture of the pattern. This is my first attempt at knitting a cardigan and I suspect that the fit will be a little off. But that's okay. It's a good learning process.

And now I'm off to eat dinner and maybe work on a sock.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Final Snowstorm?

Well, yesterday's snowstorm was a disappointment. I think we got about 4 inches of snow. I was hoping we'd get the full 10 inches or maybe more. And with today's sun and warmer temperatures, the snow has almost completely melted.

Jezebel doesn't care, as long as she can enjoy a nice warm radiator.

I finished blocking the cardigan back and sleeve last night and it looks as if the left front is the right length. Time to start decreasing. I would have had pictures, but they didn't turn out so well and then the batteries on the camera died. I'll try tomorrow. Or perhaps tomorrow I'll get some knitting in. Or maybe some spinning. Or maybe both will have to wait until the weekend.

This is what our backyard looks like in the snow.

I finished blocking the cardigan back and sleeve last night and it looks as if the left front is the right length. Time to start decreasing. I would have had pictures, but they didn't turn out so well and then the batteries on the camera died. I'll try tomorrow. Or perhaps tomorrow I'll get some knitting in. Or maybe some spinning. Or maybe both will have to wait until the weekend.