Saturday, September 30, 2006

Who Got Custody of the Car?

So, I was reading Crazy Aunt Purl's blog today and between guffaws at her mad encounter with AAA couldn't help bristling at how women often get the short end of the stick when a marriage comes to an end. The short version: After 10 years as joint members of AAA, after her divorce Aunt Purl got herself a brand-new "solo" AAA membership...and was promptly denied the upgraded coverage (which she would have paid extra for) because she hadn't been a member for a year. Did her ex suffer the same fate at the hands of the evil car people? You betcha not, chica.

Whoever says it isn't a man's world any longer just isn't paying attention.

I remember about a decade or so ago when I took out a loan to buy my first car, the teller at my local bank who helped me with the loan -- and who was about my mom's age -- told me about how she was denied a loan at her very own bank...never mind that she friggin' worked there, they knew she had the capacity to repay the loan, etc etc etc. She said, "It's a good thing to establish your own credit history now, before you're married, or else everything gets tied up in your husband's name and you'll never establish your own independent record." Eeesh.

The scariest story by far, though, came from a book about hunger in America (the title of which completely escapes me now). The book was a collection of true stories of Americans who can't afford to feed themselves, and let me tell you, some of them were the people you'd least likely suspect of going to bed hungry. The first story is the one that made the biggest impression on me by far. It was about a middle-aged woman who did the classic put-the-husband-through-med-school-then-stay-home-and-raise-the-kids thing. One day, her big-shot husband came home and, as they were getting dressed to go out to a family party, told her that he was leaving her for his secretary. She was floored, and also aghast that there were family members waiting right downstairs for them. The husband said not to worry -- she should go to the party without him and they would talk about it all when she came home. When she came home -- did you guess? -- the house was empty. He had taken all his stuff and nearly everything of value and gone. He'd also taken the trouble to empty all their bank accounts. This woman who had literally given her husband the best years of her life was reduced to stealing food coupons from her synogogue's food bank to put food on the table for herself and her teenage sons.


When I got married, I decided there was no way in holy hell that I would ever be put in that position. No. Way. I kept a bank account in my name, in trust for DH, who knows all about the account. That way, if anything ever happens to me, the money will go to him, but till then, I'm the only one who can make withdrawls. Weird, huh, that I trust him enough not to smother me in my sleep for that money but I still need the security of having the account in my name only. I'm sure a shrink would have fun with that one.

Still, I'm not giving up that account. And I put money in it every month, too. Because you simply Do. Not. Know. You think you hope you do...but you don't.

So, ladies, be smart -- and for you men out there, you be smart, too. Put whatever you want in joint with your SO, but leave something that's just yours. You never know when it may be the only thing you've got left.

Oh, and remember to put the AAA membership in your name.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

'Scuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

The postman, that is. Look what he brought me today:

Lest you think ALL that yarn is for me, here's my part of the score:

The rest -- 20 skeins of assorted Lamb's Pride -- goes to IV for her triloom weaving.

So, now, here's my problem (well, not so much a problem as an, er, issue -- if it were a real problem, I wouldn't be buying yarn at all, 'kay?)...I have absolutely no idea what to do with all this fiber.

Except, of course, stash it.

Never mind that I've filled two bureaus, nearly half a dozen giant plastic tubs and part of the freezer with fiber. Never mind that my stash is rapidly approaching SABLE (Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy) proportions and I'm not even 40 yet. This yarn from The Sheep Shed Studio was too cool to pass up. I mean, check out those 4 skeins of Wildfoote sock yarn. Who could resist that colorway? And is it soft??? C'mon, folks, it's a miracle that I only came away with 4.

And don't get me started on the Lamb's Pride Bulky. I just love, love, love the stuff. I had some vague notion of using the Black Cherry colorway with some luscious Mango Moon viscoise yarns I have in the stash -- for what, I have no idea, but black goes with everything, right?

And look at the pretty handpaint in the lower-right corner. It's called Sarah's Dress. Isn't that just too sweet? It'll make something stunning for Baby M one of these days.

The green Nature Spun, I must admit, looked better online than in person. Online I could picture myself in a gorgeous emerald-colored pullover; in person, I can imagine someone else in a kelly-green something-or-other, but I have no idea what. Oh, well. I can wait till the yarn speaks to me (and until then, it'll make for fine insulation -- wool holds in the heat, you know...yet another reason to buy more yarn).

And how could I forget the spinning/felting fibers? The rear-right bag is full of Big Bale fiber; dark grey and softer than I'd expected, I'd planned on using it for felting but now I'm not so sure. It may have a date with the wheel. The rear-left bag was supposed to be silver-grey mill-end roving but looks far darker than I'd anticipated. I've already written Carol at the Sheep Shed to see if I can send it back for the other, but the more I look at it the more it grows on me. We'll see what happens there....

And, of course, Carol threw in a little bag of fiber (the brown and white bag on top of the huge bags of grey) just 'cause. I do love those folks.

And if that wasn't enough excitement, guess what else arrived in the mail today?

A Mystery Box.

If you caught my post on surprise packages and the like, you'll know how much I love a Mystery Box. And this particular Mystery Box was ordered by my very own DH for my anniversary gift.

I have no idea what's inside. And I was given strict instructions this morning Not. To. Open. It.

But it's small-ish (about the size of a shoebox). And it's light. And it comes from Washington State.

Anyone care to guess what my anniversary present will be...??
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Office

I've read about people who get weird looks when they knit in public. I always found it odd; I mean, what's weird about knitting? It's certainly no stranger than staring slack-jawed and glassy-eyed at a handheld video game or mini DVD player, no odder than shouting with total disregard for decorum and common decency on a cell phone (bonus points if it's the walkie-talkie kind that lets everyone within earshot hear both ends of the conversation). I thought that whatever else New Yorkers may be, they were certainly too sophisticated (or at least too disinterested) to care about what anyone around them might be doing, especially if it were as nonoffensive a thing as knitting.

Apparently, I was wrong.

I've met two anti-knitters, both (oddly enough) women, both maybe in their 50s, both white. I don't know if any of that means anything more than mere coincidence, but there it is. The first was sitting next to me on the train as I headed into work. As I knitted, she turned to me and asked, "Do you have enough room?" I had just smiled (I love it when people talk to me when I knit) and opened my mouth to say that yes, I was just fine, when I realized that she wasn't actually smiling at me but more like sneering, and that her tone was decidedly sarcastic. I could hardly comprehend it. Was she trying to say my knitting was getting in her way?

I was actually quite disturbed by that. I tried to think about how I had been knitting. Had I been waving my arms wildly in her direction, maybe as I'd pulled yarn out of my skein? Had my needles gone flying out of my knitting and clipped her? Had the clicking of bamboo tips pushed her over the edge?

The second woman was even more aggressive and clearly a couple of stitches short of a full row. She sat down next to me on the subway (mind you, there were plenty of other empty seats and I was knitting when she sat down) and, after a few stops, demanded that I stop "waving those things" (I can only assume she meant knitting needles) in her face. Um...huh? I was perfectly sure that time that I hadn't absent-mindedly lost control over my needles, hadn't pulled yarn anywhere but out in front of short, I wasn't anywhere near her face. I did what any born and bred New Yorker would have done; I ignored the crazy person and kept on knitting. After a couple of more stops, she said, "Come on, give it a rest already! You've already started one fight over this."


Of course, there are the other, wonderful people I've met on the trains while I knit. I love the kids most of all...the ones who ask questions (What are you making? How do you do that?) and the ones who offer advice (You could make a small one like that for your baby....) and the ones who share their own knitting stories (I made a scarf/hat/sweater once....). I also love the men who talk knitting with me, those who knit themselves (rare) and those who have mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, wives or friends who knit. And the people who share their own talents with me: the man who learned how to sew from his mother; the artist who knitted new sleeves, borders, collars and other pieces onto vintage clothing; the mother who crocheted her daughter a peacock-blue party skirt as she commuted to and from work. I'm happy to say that these people far outnumber the knit-haters.

Good thing, too. I'm not about to give up my train knitting, and I'd hate to get in many more fights about it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why Ripping Out Rows (Or Postponing Your Heart's Desire) Can Regenerate Your Life

That's the title of the section I'm up to in the book I'm currently reading, The Knitting Goddess. How appropriate since I just realized the entire 32-inch warp I so painstakingly tied over these past three days will have to be completely re-done. Can you say AAAARRRGHHHHHH?!

Yeah. Me, too.

So, what happened is that I failed to consider how my nubbly, puffy novelty yarn warp would cling to itself. No matter how I tried, I just couldn't form a shed when I tried to weave. Instead of every other warp strand slipping effortlessly by the next, one up and the next down, to form the space necessary to weave within, all the strands moved as a solid unit, the nubbly strands sticking together like so much starchy spaghetti, completely useless from a weaving perspective.

Excuse me while I grit my teeth and groan yet again.
OK, now that that's out of the way, here's how I've decided to resolve the problem. You might think I've decided to take a scissors to the entire mess and then heave the cursed thing, loom and all, out the nearest window. And you'd be close; I certainly considered it.

Fortunately, I figured I'd try releasing every other warp thread so I'd have half the total number of threads spread out over the same 32-inch width. Lo and behold, it seems to work! With such large spaces between threads, there's no sticking problem. Of course, this still means I need to re-warp the entire loom (AAAARRRGHHHHHH!!!) and god only knows what a blanket with such a wide weave will look, feel or wear like.... But, hey, I'm nothing if not open to suggestion at this point, and so far this is about the best idea I've got.

Anyone else want to chime in before I delve into re-warping?

Monday, September 25, 2006

And the Winner Is....

...the loom!

This is a shot of my current warp, which I put on while watching some of the second season of Lost on DVD last night. This is the widest warp I've ever used; it fills my rigid heddle loom from side to side for a total of 32 inches. I'm using a wonderfully nubbly, textured novelty yarn that I picked up for a buck a skein at the local dollar store. I bought a whole giant tubfull of the stuff with the vague idea of knitting some shawls on large needles, but I like the idea of a soft, puffy afghan much better (not to mention that weaving will go much faster than knitting and will be far easier on my hands).

Tonight's goal: get all those warp ends threaded through the heddle "eyes" while I watch yet more Lost.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating: Weaving takes a whole heckuva lot more patience than mere knitting does. With knitting, I can pick up my needles and some yarn and boldly cast on; in as fast as that, I'm knitting. With weaving, however, the first flush of excitement of starting a new project wanes as the lengthy and time-consuming set-up process known as warping the loom takes place. It will take me at least two more nights of set-up work, maybe more, before I can actually begin weaving. If that doesn't teach patience, nothing will.

In other news, I'm almost finished with my current travel-knitting project: Beethoven's Variations on a D ickey (huh-huh...she said "dickey" -- right, Terri? *g*), and I'm practically bursting with the need to wear it AS SOON AS IT COMES OFF THE NEEDLES. It'll make for an interesting scene on the subway, I'm sure. Stay tuned for more details....

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I Have a What?

A million, zillion public thanks to L & J for coming over today and ID'ing my floor loom! This, you'll recall, is the loom my friend IV gave me about a month or so ago, just before the new semester (and the associated insanity) started.

It seems that I possess a "counterbalance loom." It also seems that counterbalance looms are more difficult to use than the typical jack looms (naturally) and that mine has a few bends where no bends should be (which may require DH's newly-acquired metalsmithing skills to repair, a possibility that tickles him no end). But I'm so excited to finally have some information on this and some ideas of how to proceed with fixing it up and weaving on it. J & L, you rock!!

Aside from J's wonderful weaving advice, L also showed me how to spin long-draw, a skill I'd never been able to get the hang of myself. What a difference an in-person demo makes! I can't wait to pull out my lovely new alpaca roving and spin it up long-draw. Let me say it again: J & L, you rock!!

L also brought a boxful of toys with her, including half a dozen gorgeous spindles. We compared Bossies and I realized that I'm not totally insane to think my Moosie, while gorgeous, isn't necessarily the best spinner...L has found something similar with her Moosie. I still wouldn't trade mine -- it's so pretty to look at! -- but I don't know that I'll get much actually spinning done with it. At least I feel better now that I know it's not just me.

In fact, I'm so "fiber-inspired" that I can hardly decide what to do next. Do I start that alpaca before my fingers forget the feeling of long-draw? Do I warp up the RH loom and make the throw I've been planning as a gift for friends? Do I keep working on my alpaca dickey and try to finish it off in the next day or two? Decisions, decisions.

All I know for now is DH needs the computer, and if I want to get anything done tonight I'd better stop blogging and start fiber-ing. Guess I'll just head out to the living room and see which project calls the loudest....
Lemons to Lemonade

I admit defeat. Those White Buffalo things simply refuse to become felted bowls.

But I did follow through with my felted cloche idea:

How cute does Baby M look? Kinda like a cross between a 1920's flapper and someone's grandma in her Sunday hat. To be honest, I added the Loom Bloom because without it, she looked more like Bob the Builder in his yellow hardhat. Still, I think it's pretty darn spiffy, especially since the alternative was burying it at the bottom of the UFO pile and denying all knowledge of its existence. Now I'm just waiting to see whether my co-worker's baby-on-the-way turns out to be a boy or a girl so I can appropriately decorate the small, hat as a present.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I'm baaaaaaaack....

And no, I haven't been neglecting my knitting (AP, if you're reading, I'm wearing my hand braces and not overdoing it, so no evil looks-of-death, please *g*); I've just been squeezing it into my commute time these past few weeks while I've been working crazy hours with barely enough time to eat and sleep let along blog.

So, what have I been occupying my scant moments of free time with? Well, pretty much two things. The first is turning out rather nicely, if I do say so myself. It's a Variation on Beethoven's Dickey by *deep bow of respect* Elizabeth Zimmermann, high priestess of all things knitterly and an absolutely brilliant architect of knitwear design. I'm particularly pleased as I'm using my very own homespun -- sky blue alpaca from Winding Creek -- and it'll be the first clothing I've made from fiber I've spun myself. So, woo-hoo me! Here's how it looked a few days ago:

I've done more since, so now I'm working on the front decreases and it'll just be one more short side and the second half of the back till I'm finished. Can I woo-hoo myself again? Of course I can: WOO-HOO, SPLINDARELLA! YOU GO, GIRL!

OK, I really did need those extra woo-hoos because I'm not nearly as pleased with my next project, and the woo-hoos kinda geared me up to facing my complete and utter failure with what must be the simplest pattern on the planet. A little while back I decided that I would have to simplify my Christmas knitting if I was ever to knit for the whole family and not put myself into terminal carpal tunnel-itis. I therefore decided to bag the idea of doing bath sets (MDK bathmats with matching washcloths and possibly hand towels) and try something small but sweet: the felted bowls from One Skein. I decided to substitute the recommended yarn with some White Buffalo 100% wool I had lying around in the stash. The White Buffalo is a 6-ply unspun yarn -- not terribly soft to the touch (hence my idea of using it for felted bowls) but pretty and fun to work with. It also turns out it's fairly water-resistant, which for my purposes means I ran it through a hot wash/cold rinse half a dozen times and only got from this:

to this:

Not really my idea of nicely felted bowls; more like...geez, I don't even know what they're like. what they're not like is the photo of the beautiful felted bowls in the One Skein book. Sheesh. I was tempted to bury them on the bottom of the UFO pile but decided against it when Baby M grabbed the larger one, jammed it on her head and pranced around in it like she'd just found the Holy Grail. You have to understand that Baby M does. not. wear. hats. period. Rips 'em off her head like they're on fire. But this weird un-felted un-bowl she likes.

I'm going to slap a couple of handmade wool flowers on the thing and call it a cloche. How's that for lemons into lemonade?

Saturday, September 16, 2006


This is the first night this week that I haven't collapsed exhausted into bed at the end of a long day of dealing with students, problems, problem get the picture. Yesterday I had to scold a middle-aged Korean man as though he were a naughty child because he simply WOULD NOT stay in the class he was supposed to be in. One teacher threw him out of her class when he tried to intrude; I had to drag him out of another class whose teacher was too kindhearted to bar him from the door. This is the same student who wanted to attend his wife's classes with her for the first week so he could "take care of her." Geez. Someone save me from this madness.

But, enough about me. Believe it or not, and contrary to the usual all-about-me-ness of my blog (it IS
my blog, after all), this post is about DH. And he, who usually teases me (gently, of course...I get snippy otherwise) about blogging actually suggested I make this post; that's how I know it's important to him, and so I'm happy to oblige, if only in recognition of the fact that he would never, ever try to follow his wife around like some obsessed lunatic in the guise of protecting, her, unlike at least one other man I have the misfortune to know. But, I digress.

This past weekend, DH finally did something he's been wanting to do for years but never put aside the time to do: he took a blacksmithing class. My husband the pen-and-paper artist is now officially an iron-and-steel artist as well. Take a look:

Is that not cool? It's a fireplace poker. DH came up with the design himself, and he's especially proud of the ergonomic design of the handle, made to fit in the palm "just so."

Close-up of said ergonomically-designed poker handle. Impressive, no?

I must say, I'm very proud of DH. Despite all his artistic talents (remind me to post photos of some of his sketches one of these days), he never really thinks of himself as an artist, but he's always wanted to be an artisan, at times in wood, at times in stone, of late in metal. I'm so glad he finally took the plunge. Of course, this does mean he's now pricing out forges -- can you imagine a forge just hanging out in the backyard or the garage, ready to be cranked up and turning out ironwork at a moment's notice? No odder than a house full of spinning wheels and looms, though, I suppose.

So, for all you spinners and weavers out there, all you fiber-folk who share space with a non-fiber SO, I've found the secret to forging (pardon the pun, I just couldn't resist, ya know) a successful relationship with a person who will just never, no matter how hard you try, really understand why you need another bag of fiber/drop spindle/spinning wheel/floor loom taking up space in an already overcrowded house: Get said SO a hobby of his/her own, preferably one that requires large, somewhat unsightly equipment (but takes place in a totally different type of space than your fiber hobbies, so as not to compete for limited storage room). Once DSO is firmly addicted to his/her new hobby, s/he will be powerless to criticize your hoarding tendencies because s/he will probably have developed similar ones him/herself.

Now if I can just figure out where we'll be able to store all that raw metal....

Monday, September 11, 2006


Rough, rough day at work today. I have stuff to blog about and photos to take and post -- and a special post to make for DH, to show off something very, very cool he made yesterday -- but it won't happen tonight. Was up at 5am today; will be up at 5:20 tomorrow. Time for sleep now. G'night, all.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Ode to A Knitting Needle

To be sung to the tune of "Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone"

Why don't they make nylon circs any more?
Why don't they make them for me?
With their points so sharp
And their joins so smooth
Why don't they make them for meeeeeeeee?


Last weekend, I lost one of my favorite knitting needles. It was a vintage, turquoise-colored size 6 straight, which is kind of odd since I usually knit everything on circs and love them to death. Nevertheless, this pair of needles was one of my favorites -- they were made of some sort of nylon-ish material (or maybe some sort of coating over metal), but whatever it was, they had just the right amount of grip vs. slide, just the right feel in my hands, they never split my short, they were great.

Losing one has made me think about what I like in a knitting needle, especially since DH asked -- quite reasonably, I might add -- why I didn't just go out and buy another size 6 pair of needles (never mind the 4 or 5 other pairs I already have) and I was forced to explain that I would never be able to find another pair like that pair, and of course I then had to try and quantify why that pair was so darned special.

Here's what I figured out:

Aluminum knitting needles are classic. They take me back to my earliest days of knitting with my mom. They let yarn slide like much so that my knitting often slides right off the ends and onto the floor in a cascade of live stitches and inappropriate language (mine, not the knitting's). They are also cold, and I vaguely worry that one day I'll be knitting with aluminum straights in the car when we'll get in an accident, the airbag will go off and I'll be impaled with my knitting.

Wooden needles are also classic, but in a different sense. If aluminum needles feel nostalgic in a vaguely 50's post-war-era sense, wooden needles hearken all the way back to our ancestors who knitted by candlelight through long, dark winters. Wooden needles are slightly grippy, which is great for working with slippery yarns. Wooden needles also splinter, and I just don't have the patience to break out the sandpaper and wax every time I want to knit.

Bone, shell, tusk and similar needles are impossible to find these days and probably illegal, although I do own two hand-carved bone crochet hooks of such impossibly tiny gauge that I can only imagine pixies used them to make itty-bitty little doilies for faerie tea parties. They are incredibly brittle and delicate and I keep them in a case where I can take them out to look at occasionally but never, ever use them.

Nylon circular needles are, for me, the absolute best knitting needles that money can buy. Circulars in general are far better than straights in my opinion (and yes, I'm sure there are people out there right now who insist straights are far better than circs, to whom I say I've got a stack of straights I'll trade for your circs right now, and we'll both be happy). First of all, it's far easier to knit with circs on a crowded subway than with straights -- I always wind up sticking someone with an errant end of a straight, and let me tell you, the looks people give you after being poked with a knitting needle are never pleasant. And, of course, it's nearly impossible to lose a circular needle or have it accidentally fall out of your knitting -- as Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote, unless you deliberately yank a circular needle out of your knitting, it's pretty much in there to stay. And I've found that nylon circs are the best of the best. The points are nice and sharp, making them ideal for lace work and other patterns involving lots of K2- and K3togs. And the joins...well, there really aren't any joins per se, just a length of nylon that goes from thick and sturdy to thin and flexible, unlike every other kind of circ that has some sort of lump or bump or groove at the join to snag your knitting and make your (ok, MY) life miserable. Nylon circs don't splinter, they don't break if you sit on them, and if I'm ever in a car accident while knitting with them, I figure the worst they'll give me is a minor flesh wound.

Of course, since nylon circs are the ideal knitting needle, they are no longer being manufactured. Anywhere. By anyone. So, short of haunting ebay and snapping up lots of nylon circs whenever I see them, I'm at a loss for finding the knitting needle of my dreams.


What's your favorite kind of knitting needle? Cast your vote in the poll on the sidebar to the right.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

All Work and No Play...

...makes Splindarella crazy!

It's the beginning of the semester, and I'm losing my mind. I've been working long hours and extra days getting students tested, placed, registered, oriented.... And it won't let up for at least another week, probably two.

The only knitting I've been doing is for my friend's baby shower, to which I just found out I've been dis-invited. Let me hasten to say it's not my friend's fault. Her party is a surprise, and the person throwing it is the one who dis-invited me. Get this: The baby shower is a cocktail party. When I spoke with the hostess to RSVP, I asked if I could bring Baby M with me as I didn't have a babysitter. The hostess said she preferred to keep it an adult party, but if it was a choice between coming or not coming, I should come with the baby.

Apparently, she changed her mind, but didn't want to tell me about it. First, she "lost" my RSVP. The husband of my friend, the expectant mom, phoned me asking if I'd gotten my invitation and if I'd be able to make it. When I said I had and that I'd RSVP'd already, I also mentioned that I'd be bringing Baby M. Just yesterday, my friend's husband emailed to say that the party hostess told him that children weren't invited -- they wanted to keep the "atmosphere of a cocktail party." And so, I said I wouldn't be attending.

Now, can someone please explain to me how one throws a cocktail party for an expectant mother???

Anyway...I suppose the good thing is it's one less thing I have to do at a time that's already busy and stressful enough. I can finish my baby knitting at my own pace and not have to sit through what already seems like it's going to be a pretentious, pain-in-the-a$$ event. (Not annoyed much, am I?)

Meanwhile, it's back to the grind for me. Send good knitterly thoughts my way, if you would, that I keep my sanity over the next few days....

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Getting to Know Me

Blogger's not playing nicely and refusing to publish my photos today, so instead of blogging about the baby bunny that DH and I took to the wildlife rescue over the weekend and the wonderful MDK Swapcloth package I received today, instead I'm going to steal a list from I Don't Blog and share a little different information about myself.

Items in italics are things I've done. What would YOU mark in italics on YOUR list?

  1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
  2. Swam with wild dolphins
  3. Climbed a mountain
  4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
  5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
  6. Held a tarantula
  7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
  8. Said 'I love you' and meant it
  9. Hugged a tree
  10. Bungee jumped
  11. Visited Paris
  12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
  13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
  14. Seen the Northern Lights
  15. Gone to a huge sports game
  16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
  17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
  18. Touched an iceberg
  19. Slept under the stars
  20. Changed a baby's diaper
  21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
  22. Watched a meteor shower
  23. Gotten drunk on champagne
  24. Given more than you can afford to charity
  25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
  26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
  27. Had a food fight
  28. Bet on a winning horse
  29. Asked out a stranger
  30. Had a snowball fight
  31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
  32. Held a lamb
  33. Seen a total eclipse
  34. Ridden a roller coaster
  35. Hit a home run
  36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
  37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
  38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
  39. Had two hard drives for your computer
  40. Visited all 50 states
  41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
  42. Had amazing friends
  43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
  44. Watched wild whales
  45. Stolen a sign
  46. Backpacked in Europe
  47. Taken a road-trip
  48. Gone rock climbing
  49. Midnight walk on the beach
  50. Gone sky diving
  51. Visited Ireland
  52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
  53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger's table and had a meal with them
  54. Visited Japan
  55. Alphabetized your cd's
  56. Milked a cow
  57. Sung karaoke
  58. Pretended to be a superhero
  59. Lounged around in bed all day
  60. Posed nude in front of strangers
  61. Gone scuba diving
  62. Kissed in the rain
  63. Played in the mud
  64. Played in the rain
  65. Gone to a drive-in theater
  66. Visited the Great Wall of China
  67. Started a business
  68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
  69. Toured ancient sites
  70. Taken a martial arts class
  71. Gotten married
  72. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
  73. Been in a movie
  74. Crashed a party
  75. Gotten divorced
  76. Gone without food for 5 days
  77. Made cookies from scratch
  78. Won first prize in a costume contest
  79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
  80. Gotten a tattoo
  81. Rafted the Snake River
  82. Been on television news programs as an "expert"
  83. Got flowers for no reason
  84. Performed on stage
  85. Been to Las Vegas
  86. Recorded music
  87. Eaten shark
  88. Had a one-night stand
  89. Gone to Thailand
  90. Bought a house
  91. Been in a combat zone
  92. Buried one of your parents
  93. Been on a cruise ship
  94. Spoken more than one language fluently
  95. Performed in Rocky Horror
  96. Raised children
  97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
  98. Created and named your own constellation of stars
  99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
  100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
  101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
  102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn't stop when you knew someone was looking
  103. Had plastic surgery
  104. Survived an illness that you shouldn't have survived
  105. Wrote articles for a large publication
  106. Lost over 100 pounds
  107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
  108. Piloted an airplane
  109. Petted a stingray
  110. Broken someone's heart
  111. Helped an animal give birth
  112. Won money on a T.V. game show
  113. Broken a bone
  114. Gone on an African photo safari
  115. Had a body part of yours below the neck pierced
  116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
  117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
  118. Ridden a horse
  119. Had major surgery
  120. Had a snake as a pet
  121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
  122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
  123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
  124. Visited all 7 continents
  125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
  126. Eaten kangaroo meat
  127. Eaten sushi
  128. Had your picture in the newspaper
  129. Changed someone's mind about something you care deeply about
  130. Gone back to school
  131. Parasailed
  132. Petted a cockroach
  133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
  134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
  135. Selected one "important" author who you missed in school and read all their books
  136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
  137. Skipped all your school reunions
  138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
  139. Been elected to public office
  140. Written your own computer language
  141. Thought to yourself that you're living your dream
  142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
  143. Built your own PC from parts
  144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn't know you
  145. Had a booth at a street fair
  146. Dyed your hair
  147. Been a DJ
  148. Shaved your head
  149. Caused a car accident
  150. Saved someone's life

Monday, September 04, 2006

And the Winner Is....

My last post started out as a commentary on the generosity of fiber folk and ended up as a contest asking people to post answers to the chicken-and-egg-type question of whether generous people are somehow drawn to the fiber arts or working with fiber somehow makes people more generous. An amazing 21 responses came in, and I was incredibly impressed with everyone's thoughts. I was touched by wavybrains' story of how she learned to crochet in order to make Christmas presents; I smiled at robin's image of fiber gremlins and fairies flittering around her stash; I loved the strong feminist ethos underlying terri d's comments about the "culture of domesticity" and "true womanhood" vs a non-gender-specific desire to nurture. In fact, everyone's comment contained something wonderful and inspiring, and picking just one writer to send a surpise to was really tough.

But, I kept coming back to one comment, I think because I was moved by the fact that the writer started out knitting because she wanted something for herself, and through the process of knitting discovered that she wanted to give to others. Here's the comment as written by its author, in full:

"I started knitting because I saw a pair of fingerless gloves I wanted to make in a book. I never thought I would want to start knitting things for other people. To some extent, I think that having the ability to knit has caused me to look beyond just knitting for myself and, instead, see places where I can bring a smile to someone else's face. Giving a handknit is much different to me than giving money because part of me is in my knitting... the love I have both for knitting and the person I am knitting for, the time I spend choosing a pattern and yarn and knitting it up makes a handknit so much more valuable a gift. I would hope the recipients agree. Maybe that is why generous knitters are drawn together; they understand the work put into creating and can appreciate that at a level many other people cannot. To answer your question more directly, I think that truly having something to give makes many people who work with fiber more giving."

So, congratulations, REN -- you're a winner, in more ways than one! A little surprise will be winging its way to you in the near future.... :)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Contest: Secret Pal 9 and the Lure of the Swap

Yesterday, I signed up for the Secret Pal 9 swap. I haven't participated in any of the previous 8 Secret Pal swaps, but I've enviously been reading posts about Swap 8 and thinking to myself that I have to get in on the next one. I've participated in smaller swaps hosted by Spindlers and MDK was only a matter of time before I went for the big 'un.

I've been wondering why I like swaps so much, whether of the anonymous, "secret pal" variety or the more straightforward, barter-type "I send you something and you send me something of equal value in lieu of cash" swap. After all, I recently got burned pretty badly when I sent off 3 pounds (yes, you read that right -- 3 pounds) of superwash merino in a barter deal and got absoltely nothing back for it, not even after many emails, a list mom intervention and a certified snail-mail letter. (Laurel Smith of Adkins, TX, if you happen to read this, I'm still waiting for my alpaca.) DH asked me as much after the "Superwash Incident," as it's come to be called in our house, and I think I've figured it out.

As a kid, I always loved surprise packages. I would dutifully send off my $1.99 (or $3.99, or -- if I managed to save up enough of my allowance for the giant-sized package, which in all honesty I don't think I ever did -- $7.99) for a Mystery Surprise Package from one of the knick-knack catalogs that my mom always got in the mail around Christmastime. I would then wait with anticipation until the day that my package arrived in the mail. They were always full of junk, whatever the mail-order company ordered too much of or hadn't sold enough of, but I loved it all nonetheless. I pretty much just loved opening up a box with no idea of what could be inside, knowing it was full of...stuff. Maybe great stuff, maybe kitschy stuff, maybe (probably) stuff I never would have bought if I'd seen it out on a shelf. No matter; if it came in a Mystery Surprise Package, the experience alone was enough to justify the expense.

As an adult, I no longer send away for random boxes of Carol Wright-esque crap. But, I still just love a surprise.

And so I'm willing to take a chance that the bulk of the knitters and spinners in this world are honest. I'm willing to send something off to someone else and get something back in return, sight unseen. And even moreso than in a barter-type exchange, I'm willing -- no, not just willing, actually eager, truly looking forward to -- putting together packages of stuff for a person I've never met; stuff picked with thought and care in the hope that the recipient will love getting that surprise box just as much as I enjoyed getting my surprise boxes all those years ago. And judging by the popularity of fiber swaps of all types, I'm not alone.

Are we fiber-folk just weird? I mean, I don't see the people on DH's listservs (mostly martial-arts and weapons-related sites) arranging to swap personalized gis or handmade pocketknives.

Hmm. I wonder what it is about fiber-folk that can account for that level of generosity, that degree of joy received in the giving. While some knit-lit writers (the Yarn Harlot comes to mind) write, mainly in jest, about not wanting to share their stash, I find that for the most part, fiber-folk are more than willing to do just that, whether in the form of sending stash yarns to people who had lost theirs, knitting for a variety of charities, or just making and giving handmade gifts to those they love. There must be some sort of chicken-and-egg conundrum going on here: Does working with fiber make people more giving, or are generous people somehow drawn to working with fiber?

In the spirit of giving, therefore, I'm creating a little contest. Leave a comment with your answer to the question above (Does working with fiber make people more giving, or are generous people somehow drawn to working with fiber?) and why you think it's so. I'll pick one answer that I think is particularly nifty and reward the writer with a surprise. The surprise will be a good one, and I may just check out the writer's blog a bit to get an idea of how to tailor the surprise to suit his or her likes and dislikes. So put your thinking caps on, everyone, and let me know what you think!