Thursday, December 20, 2007

A week of 90 percents

How is my Christmas shopping? 90 percent completed! Christmas knitting? 90 percent! Copy on my desk that I have to turn over before noon today? 90 percent! Everything's at 90 percent.

That just means I've been completely buried by the other tens. It's kind of a problem, because once something gets to about 90 percent done in my head, I just go on and mentally check it off the list.

This morning I'm trying to do a full day's worth of my old job so I can devote the afternoon to figuring out what I'm supposed to be doing in my new job after next week. My door is shut so that when my head explodes I won't spray matter at anyone. No that it matters (ha ha) because most folks have already left town for the holidays.

90 is starting feel like good enough for most of it, don't you think? Except the knitting.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Forget it (I already have!)

I love the Christmas task listing! I started out in November with a big fat list of stuff I needed to do, and every week I cross things off! Because I haven't done them and now I no longer feel they're all that necessary to my enjoyment of the holiday.

Note to self. Sometimes ignoring things DOES make them go away!

Gertrude has launched her little six-year-old self into the season with a metaphysical exploration of all the major religious beliefs and their accompanying celebrations. This past weekend, she insisted on buying a wooden dreidel and phoning up a Jewish friend of ours to find out what the symbols meant. This was on the heels of a discussion of angels and whether or not people who are still alive can feel angels hugging them. This morning, she asked what Kwanzaa was and what kind of people celebrate it.

Meanwhile, I've fallen in love with this little ending credits song by Jonathan Coulton:

And I made an offhand comment to Gary that it really needed to be the centerpiece of a CD. Something about the epic struggle of man vs. robots and technology.

An hour later, he bounded upstairs and handed it to me. A CD of Evil Genius. Oh, yes. He is that good. You should borrow it sometime.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Like the new template? Neither do I. But at least this one's not breaking the Internet. And okay, Blogger's drag and drop editing IS way faster and easier than doing it by hand.

If I owe you a link, I promise I'm in the process of digging through the messed up code of the old site's wreckage to try and get that stuff back up.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Fun with bankers

We opened two new checking accounts today at lunch. Gary already has his business accounts at this particular bank, and we'd decided to switch our personal accounts over.

As our friendly rep was walking us through the online bill pay setup, he showed us how we'd be able to transfer money easily between accounts.

"You can also name them whatever you want," he mentioned. "Just type the name of the account in here."

Gary said, "We can name them anything?"

"Sure, whatever you want."

Gary looked at me. "We should name one Peter," he said. "And the other one Paul."

This is why I married him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dogs don't get birthday cake

Gert and I were cuddling on the couch before school, and Finnegan wandered into the room. He came over and set his furry little dog chin right on my knee.

"How's things, Bud?" I asked him.

"Rough," he said.

I skritched his ears sympathetically.

My little baby Gert is six today! She's such a smart and sweet and funny little human. No wonder Finnegan is a little sad to see her growing up.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Homemade Apple Pi

Did you need a quick and fun gift for your kids' teachers? Because I did…

Apple Pi

Apple Pi
A felted apple cozy with leaf drawstring

Less than 1 skein each Elann Peruvian Highland wool (or other feltable worsted wool), dark red and white or natural (off-white)
A few yards of worsted weight green yarn (example uses Reynold's Signature wool/acrylic)
Small amount of NON-WOOL scrap yarn
Size 4 DPNs (or size needed to obtain gauge)
Size G crochet hook

Gauge: 5 sts/inch in stockinette stitch, before felting

Bottom of apple:
Using red yarn, CO 6 sts onto 3 needles. Place a marker and join for working in the round, and increase every stitch by knitting into the front and back (KFB). (12 sts)
*Knit one row. KFB every other stitch to end of row. Repeat from * 3 times.
Rearrange sts over 4 needles when desired.
Knit one row.
KFB every 3rd st to end of row (54 sts).

Apple body:
at this point, if you do not wish to include the pi symbol, continue to "drawstring shaping" by knitting 21 rows plain.**
Knit 8 rows.
After marker, k 5 sts and then begin working chart at row 1, working each row from right to left:


9. - - - - o o - - - -
8. - - - o - - o - - o
7. - - o - - - - o o -
6. - o - - - - - - - -
5. o - - - o - - o - -
4. - - - - o - - o - -
3. - - - - o - - o - -
2. - - - - o - - o - -
1. - - - - o - - o - - (← begin chart here)

After row 9 of chart, knit 5 rows plain.

Drawstring shaping:
Next row: *K2, k2tog. Repeat from * to marker at end of row. (42 sts)
Knit one row.
*K2, yo. Repeat from * to end of row, ending with a yo.
Knit 3 more rows.

Picot point bind-off:
BO 2, *slip lone stitch left on right needle back to left needle. Cast on 3 sts to left needle using backward loop method. BO 5. Repeat from * to end.

Thread non-wool scrap yarn through drawstring holes and felt vigorously, using the felting method of your choice.
Reshape and allow to dry.

Leaf drawstring:
Using green yarn, crochet a chain approx. 12 inches long. Break yarn and pull through loop to secure.
Remove the scrap yarn from apple and thread the chain through the drawstring holes. You should have both ends exiting from the same hole.

Leaves (make 2):
Using green yarn and 2 needles, CO 3 sts, leaving a 4-5 inch tail.
Next row, slip 1 st knitwise, KFB to increase, k1. (4 sts).
Sl1 purlwise, bring yarn to front and KFB next 2 sts, p1. (6 sts)
Sl1 knitwise, KFB, k2, KFB, k1. (8 sts)
Sl1 purlwise, purl to end of row.
Sl1 knitwise, ssk, k2, k2tog, k1.
Sl1 purlwise, purl to end of row.
Sl1 knitwise, ssk, k2tog, k1.
Sl1 purlwise, p2tog, p1.
Slip 1, k2tog, psso. Break yarn and weave in end.

Knot each leaf's CO tail to each end of the crochet chain, and weave in ends securely.

Apple Pi

Friday, November 09, 2007

Siblings of the night

Gert had a half day at school yesterday, so I met her at the bus for a lunch date at McDonalds.

A bunch of kids from Gert's school had had the same idea, so as we were waiting in line for McNuggets and fries, she pointed out to me which kids she knew.

One set of blonde-haired kids accompanied by a grandparent looked about the same age, so I asked Gert if she knew if they were twins.

"Yes, they are!" she told me. "But they don't look exactly alike. They're nocturnal."

The twins looked directly at me with innocent smiles, and their pale eyes flashed red.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I'm sorry... WHAT time is it?

Hello, it's Monday. It's November. Daylight savings time has officially kicked in, and with it my annual holiday freak out.

I'm not knitting Christmas gifts this year. I'm not! Except for the seven that I haven't started yet. Seven is actually a lot more than zero, I guess, if you really think about it. Thinking about it is where I draw the line.

Thinking about things leads to thinking about more things, which leads to a big, fat anxiety spiral. But that's another topic.

The Christmas knitting involves things I really do want to make, so I'm looking forward to that. Just not the rest of it.

Every time I try and let things go, I end up feeling twice as worthless because of all the things I could have done but didn't. So that's not the answer.

Maybe this will help. I printed the checklists, forms, and countdowns on this site, and put them in a neat little binder. The more tasks I check off, the more sane I feel. So maybe that's a good thing.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Genome Map Socks

Hooray, hooray, it free pattern day!

I'm really excited about this one. Not only does it start the month off on a deliciously geeky note, it gives you the opportunity to "play" with the louder and brighter colors in stripy sock yarns. So here we go...

Genome Map Socks

Socks knit from the cuff down in self-striping yarn, applying different stitch patterns to certain colors to achieve distinct areas of color that resemble a linear genome map.

Genome Map sock

Yarn: 400-500 yards of sock yarn in a repeating colorway that contains one predominant color or hue, and 1-3 accent colors.
Needles: 5 size #1 DPN’s or the size needed to achieve gauge.

7 stitch = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Women’s S(M, L)

Cast on 52(56, 60) sts and divide equally over 4 needles. *Purl 1 row. K 2 rows. Repeat from * 3 times to create garter stitch cuff.

Begin stitch pattern:
Designate one accent color as Color A, and a second accent color as Color B. If you want to designate a third color (Color C), it can be worked in the same way as Color B.

Work in st st (knit every stitch) until the color of the yarn changes to Color A or Color B (or Color C, if applicable). When working stitches in Color A, *yo, k2tog, repeat until the yarn color changes again, ending with k2tog. Resume st st in main color(s). When working stitches in Color B, purl every stitch until the yarn color changes again. Resume st st in main color(s).

Continue in stitch pattern until length of cuff measures 6-1/2(7, 7-1/2) inches or desired length.

Work heel flap:
Knit across 26(28, 30) stitches for heel flap, and arrange the remaining stitches on the other needles to be worked later. Turn, and purl back across heel flap. Continue heel flap as follows:

Row 1: (RS) *Slip 1 stitch wyib (selvedge stitch), k1, repeat from *.
Row 2: (WS) Slip 1 stitch wyif (selvedge stitch), purl to end of row.

Work heel flap until you have 13(14, 15) selvedge stitches on each edge.

Turn heel:
Row 1 (RS): Knit 15(16, 17) sts, ssk, k1, turn.
Row 2: slip 1, p5, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 3: sl 1, k to one st before gap, ssk, k1, turn.
Row 4: sl 1, p to one st before gap, p2tog, p1, turn.
Repeat rows 3 and 4 until all heel sts have been worked.

Knit across heel sts, and pick up and knit 13(14, 15) along heel flap. Work 26(28, 30) instep sts in established pattern. Pick up and knit 13(14, 15) along other side of heel flap. Total sts: 68(72, 78).

Decrease gussets:
Round 1: K to 3 sts from instep, k2tog, k1, work instep sts in pattern, k1, ssk, work to end of round.
Round 2: k to instep sts, work instep sts in pattern, k to end of round.
Repeat rounds 1 and 2 until sts are decreased to 52(56, 60) sts.

Arrange stitches on needles: 13(14, 15) sts on needles 1 and 2 (top of foot), and 13(14, 15) sts on needles 3 and 4 (bottom of foot).

Work sts on needles 1 and 2 in pattern, and needles 3 and 4 in st st until foot measures about 6-1/2(7-1/2, 8) inches, or about 2 inches less than total desired foor length.

Begin toe decreases:
Decrease round: On needle 1, k1, ssk, k to end. K to last 3 sts on needle 2, k2tog, k1. On needle 3, k1, ssk, k to end. K to last 3 sts on needle 4, k2tog, k1.
Knit 1 round plain.
Repeat decrease round and knit round until you have 6(7, 7) sts on EACH needle remaining – 26(28, 28) total.
Repeat decrease round until 8 sts total remain (2 sts on each needle).

Graft 8 sts together using kitchener st.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

NaKniDeMo! Let's make stuff up.

OK OK! This is going to be fun.

Thursday is the first day of November, which means it's the official kickoff of National Knitwear Design Month!

On each Friday in November, all participants will post a NEW and ORIGINAL free knitting pattern on their website. Each pattern should include:

1. A detailed sketch of the design

2. Photos of test swatches for gauge and illustration of key stitches

3. Complete, written pattern instructions for a handful of realistic sizes (for example: S, M, L, XL... or whatever makes sense)

I'm not a pro at this, so there are going to be errors. Therefore, anyone who knits up a NaKniDeMo pattern and provides feedback and a photo will be rewarded with a nifty set of beaded stitch markers that I will personally hand make with love and appreciation.*

*Anyone = a word which here means the first 3 people to submit feedback on each pattern.

Feel like designing too? Grab your ass and let's go!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A November of new designs!

For this year's NaNoWriMo, I'm going to skip all the in-between crap and take you right past the part where I bitch and complain and eventually give up.

Wasn't that satisfying? I kind of feel like it was.

Instead, I'm going to make the world a better place by designing a bunch of knitwear.

Will there be sketches? Yes! And patterns? Yes! Will they be posted here for free? You bet!

Will they be any good?

Um. Free!

And there will be fabulous prizes awarded to daring and speedy test knitters. No kidding. I'll have to work out all the details, but that's what I've got so far.

There's just no way I could get through November without making shit up in some fashion or another.

If you don't knit, you have six days to learn so you can be in on the fun. NaKniDeMo!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hannah Hangover

Hannah Montana, it was awesome.

Matilda screamed, danced, and sang at the top of her lungs the entire night.

Gert went into complete shutdown mode after the first half-hour, and rode out the overstimulation fest by sitting and watching from the safe venue of Daddy's lap. (She is only 5. The deafening sound and chest-thumping bass is probably something you have to develop an appreciation for over a few concert experiences.)

This morning, Matilda left the house for school totally decked out with a pop princess fashion aesthetic, her pink Miley concert tee layered over a pink striped, long-sleeved tee and her hair tied back with a pink skull-and-crossbones headband.

She bought a Jonas Brothers poster with her own money, and after hours of needling I finally got her to admit which Brother she "likes."

As groggy little Gert was getting dressed today, she asked if we could go again tonight. I told her Miley was well on her way to the next city by now. "Are you sure?" Gert pleaded. "We still have our tickets.."

Monday, October 15, 2007

The claw fairy

The cat lost a claw, and Gert found it. She held the pointy little whitish thing up to me, pinched between her thumb and finger, for me to identify.

The cat frequently leaves pieces of herself in my bedroom. Usually it's hair, or the contents of her stomach. But occasionally I find whiskers and claws too. I assume this is normal.

When I explained to Gert that Kismet must have lost a claw, she got very excited. She immediately ran to her room and put the claw under her pillow.

"Um," I hedged. "I don't think that works for claws..."

But Gert was undeterred. When Matilda walked into the room, Gert ran up to her to share her news.

"Kismet lost a claw!" she exclaimed. "And I put it under my pillow. For the Claw Fairy!"

Matilda looked at me, and we both started struggling to stifle laughter.

"Well—" Matilda choked. "I guess maybe some sort of fairy might come..."

I knew she was picturing the same thing I was. A horrifying, demon-spawn devil of a fairy with claws for hands and fangs for teeth, wild hair, and soul-less eyes like mirrors of the blackest depths of hell.

I think I know what I'm going to be for Halloween.

P.S., the Claw Fairy did come last night. She left a handful of dry cat food and a note that urged the cat to be kind to the little girl named Gert who loves her so.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Because coincidences ring hollow when they're not true

One day, I joke about giving Matilda a promotion.

Later the same week, I'm offered a promotion.

No, seriously. I have too much shame to make up lies that transparent.

You're looking at the new Creative Services Segment Manager. I'm a promotions strategy and initiatives leader! (I have my chest all puffed out when I say that.)

I'm excited. And a little conflicted, because for 90% of my professional life I've defined myself as a writer, and now writer is gone from my title. I'm in a new box on the org chart. I'm outside the writer/designer "talent pool." I report to my former boss' boss. I'm not so much writing anymore, I'm strategizing. I'm liasing. And I don't know what any of that means!

I need to go cast on for a new sweater...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


This morning, I came into Matilda's room and sat down on her bed beside her. She looked at me funny, because I usually try to stay out of her space in the mornings. (She has a very tentative relationship with waking up, and most human contact throws the delicate balance into chaos.)

"Congratulations," I told her.

"Why?" She was suspicious.

"We've decided to offer you a promotion."


I went on, my voice rising with enthusiasm. "We'd like you to take on the role of Senior Daughter. You'll receive a new title with an additional set of tasks and responsibilities, but with no appreciable pay increase. And we'll also ask you to take the bulk of the blame whenever things don't run smoothly around here."

"Um... okay...?"

I stood up and reached out to shake her hand. "Well done, M!"

She still has no idea what happened.

By the way, I have a new sweater! Here she is, Vernik Avery's Silver Streak from the current Vogue Knitting (it's one of the free cover patterns, here).

Silver Streak

Details on Ravelry! (apologies to the non-users -- that link will work as soon as the site's live, I swear!)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I keep thinking it's Friday. That means instead of Tuesdaying through the backlog of work on my desk, I'm sitting here with my eyes glazed over, Fridaying about what I'm going to do this weekend.

I need to find my winter clothes. Actually, I did find them. And they all depressed me.

Amended: I need to weed through my winter clothes and find things that A) still fit and B) aren't ugly.

I'd kind of like to unravel the rest of the alpaca sweater I started pulling apart last winter and see how much yardage I can get from it.

Skein & wash recycled yarn = Fun! Not! Come over and help me. We can also have cheesecake.

Is the garden dead yet? No. I can keep ignoring it while it continues to make futile offerings of tomatoes and peppers, hoping to recapture my affection.

Mittens. I think I'll make the girls mittens this winter. That alpaca is probably perfect for Eunny's anemoi mittens. For me, anyway. I think Gert and Matilda each need a pair of SpillyJane's piggy mitts.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Simon Says

Simon Says is the best game ever.

I say to Gertrude: "Simon says... go put your pajamas on!"

And she fricking does it!

How long can I make this work?

The other night, she was in the bathtub fooling around as usual. I told her to please wash her hair. She said no. I told her, "Simon says, put some shampoo on your hand..."

She grabbed the shampoo bottle and happily squeezed some into her hand.

"Now scrub it into your hair!"

She paused, grinning, looking at me expectantly.

"Simon says scrub it into your hair!" I amended. She proceeded to scrub happily.

"Simon says..." I began. Gert sat there, with her head full of bubbles and her soapy hands held out in front of her, waiting for instructions.

I said, "... lick your hands!"

Gert's eyes got big and wide.

"I'M KIDDING!" I said.

I know. It was mean. But it was funny.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Day 2: In which corners are turned and lines are crossed

When the alarm went off at 5:25 on Day 2, I was already awake. I was gazing vacantly at little Wheelie who was sitting on the table beside the alarm clock with his big, wide eyes staring back at me with a mixture of excitement and trepidation.

It was funny how his expression seemed to change depending on the situation. On the ride Saturday, he’d be looking up at me with eyes that sometimes confidently urged me on, occasionally wondered how we were going to make it, at one point pleaded for it to be over, and then proudly shined with triumph.

The night before, he and I both looked a little like this:

Weasel kicks back after the ride on day one

Over a few of these at dinner, our entire team decided to take the 40 mile loop on Sunday. After all, we’d done the work. We’d raised our funds. We’d ridden like banshees all day long. For crying out loud, we’d earned the easier ride.

Breakfast was being served at the start again, but the Waffle House behind our hotel was calling us. I wanted to want waffles. Instead, I wanted the peanut butter sandwich I knew I wasn’t going to get. Anything else was promising to sit in my nervous stomach like antimatter.

I looked around at the handful of other cyclists sitting at the counter and in booths, us all in our brightly colored team jerseys and lycra shorts. I was wearing the uniform. I was in the club. Cool.

It was a beautiful morning, and we took off following the green 40-mile arrows up a smooth incline. Wheelie beamed. I pedaled. We were in perfect synch with the bike, the scenery, and the road.

And at the first rest stop... peanut butter sandwiches!

I elbowed Gary. “Let’s do this route twice!”

I was feeling good. The kind of good you feel when nothing hurts and you have nowhere else to be.

I was riding along behind Gary and another team member, feeling fantastic and full of energy, and then it occurred to me. I always rode behind anyone I was riding with. Always! Even if I felt like pulling ahead, I’d say behind.

Because apparently, I was a sheep on wheels.

With that, I stood up in the pedals and pulled past Gary and Jon, sailing over the crest of a slight hill and then down a long and fairly steep descent. I ducked down into the drops and felt the wind from the speed wash over me, so loud I couldn’t hear anything but the rush of air.

I didn’t touch my brakes. I didn’t think about what would happen if I hit an acorn or a hole in the road. (Or an armadillo.) I went with it the entire way down.

Wheelie grinned up at me with a slightly dazed and blissed out look. Yes. We were officially hooked on speed.

After that, the uphills didn’t phase me as much because there was usually a downhill to look forward to. When it got tough, I bargained with myself just to stay on the bike as long as I could before I walked.

I didn’t have to walk that often, but near the end it became clear I was reaching a limit. I started looking for the please-make-this-easier gear, and then soon, the Jesus-stop-the-madness gear.

Look, said my legs after a particularly heinous climb. We’re not sure you’re completely understanding our situation here.

I ignored them, and on we went.

I found myself making mental lists to keep my mind off the fact that I’d been on the bike for about 8 hours over the past two days.

One: The human body is not a perfect machine. There are going to be peaks and valleys of energy, and you have to keep pedaling through one to get to the other.

Two: There’s no point worrying how fast you should be going or how well you should be able to climb a hill.

Three: Lip gloss is nature’s gnat magnet.

Before long, we were at the finish line. People cheered and held out medals. I reached out and snagged mine as I rode past, and held it up in the air, total cheeseball style. Wheelie’s eyes were brimming with emotion. I actually think he was proud of us.

We ate a bratwurst and headed home, all stinky and unshowered, to pick up the kids.

If you’d asked me at the finish line if I was planning to do anything like this again, I would have said hell no. But now? Absolutely I will. It’s kind of like childbirth. The memory of the sucky parts doesn’t stick around too long. All you’re left with is the good stuff.

You wouldn’t believe how great my ride was yesterday.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Day 1, part IV: In which I learn to love the small chain ring

At 25 miles, I was feeling fantastic. At 35, my energy was flagging, and I really started to wish for a sandwich. The food offered at most rest stops was hit or miss, and Gatorade that tasted like turpentine was a real pleasure.

At about 45 miles, I called up to Gary, "Okay, hold on a minute. I need to stop and gnaw on my own arm."

He laughed.

"You think I'm joking."

I kept promising myself that lunch had to be just over this hill. Okay, maybe this one. Or not.

Finally, after 50 miles, the rest stop that was serving lunch drew into view. It was a thing of beauty. Huge tents of tables. Shady grass laid with blankets. Volunteers handing out roast beef and turkey sandwiches, chips, and cookies. Hundreds of tired people relaxing, laughing, chatting, and listening to music.

I gladly accepted a bagged lunch from a volunteer and sat down with my team. "Good thing it's lunchtime, I'm starving!" I said.

Only suddenly, I wasn't. I stared down at my perfectly appetizing sandwich and chips, and it stared back at me. For some reason, the thought of putting food anywhere near my stomach made me want to hurl.

But this was my only decent chance to eat. Blaming the queasiness on low blood sugar, I started with the cookies. Because cookies can't hurt you.

I did feel slightly better as I moved on to the turkey, but nothing even vaguely resembling hunger ever resurfaced. Not then, and not later. That would turn out to be a problem.

I choked down as much as I could and then stretched for a while as we waited for the rest of our team to finish up. With only 25 miles left to go, it was easy to feel like we had the day beat. This was officially my longest ride ever, and by far the most challenging.

Gary spent the next several miles flying up (yes, up) hills at breakneck speed as I chugged along at a steady but conservative pace.

"Too bad you got taken out on that hill," he commented, soft-pedaling alongside me. "You've seemed a lot more sluggish since then."

As soon as he said it, it occurred to me why. I hadn't shifted out of my small chain ring in over 30 miles. No wonder I always seemed to have fewer gears than I thought on the tough climbs.

Okay, it was time to get serious. Time to start acting like I knew what I was doing.

Mile 63 was where something seemed to switch. I was no longer riding along as part of a team. It was me, just me, against this evil, hilly bastard of a road.

My awareness closed in like a funnel, almost to a pinprick of intensity, where my breathing sounded loud in my own ears and my sight was always focused on the point just beyond the crest of the next hill.

Remember the killer hills at the start of the course? Yeah, now we were going back up the other side of every last one of them.

I pedaled. I breathed. I bargained with my legs to give a little more. That was all I needed, just a bit, just something, anything. Anything at all! And they argued back that I'd already taken them for all they were worth. So... sorry, but I was on my own.

We stopped off at the last rest area before the finish. I would have rather done anything but eat, which was unfortunately the one thing I needed to do most. And they had ice cream sandwiches! But I couldn’t do it. I managed to get down Cliff Shot and some Disney Princess fruit snacks.

Running on fumes, but still under my own power, the finish line appeared up ahead. Gary motioned me ahead so I could cross first, and then he pulled in alongside me.

Crowds were cheering. Riders were celebrating. 75 miles? Done! And now, free beer.

Up next: Well, it’s not like we HAVE to kill ourselves...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Day One, part III: In which I discover I'm just not that into kink

Hey, by the way... new pictures are up! Taken by various team members, so I'm actually in a few of them.

Highpoint Hill is true to its name, although I took to calling it Highlander Hill and muttering threateningly to people, "There can be only one!" for added drama as we drew closer to it.

But hell, it was just another hill. And I had plenty of gears.

By this point I was hitting my stride and was starting to take the route personally. I was going to kill this thing. I started up Highpoint with good momentum and started passing people. I stood up. I climbed. About two-thirds of the way up there was bit of a break before it pitched pretty much straight up, and at that point I knew I was going to make it. There was no question. This hill was mine.

I moved over to the left of the riders in front of me and called out that I was passing, preparing to launch up the side of this hill with everything I had. And then, one of those riders started to weave right into my path. I saw his knee jerk out and his handlebars twist.

I knew what was coming. I'd seen this before. I'd done this before. He couldn't get his shoe unclipped fast enough to catch himself, and he was going down.

His bike collided with my front tire, and we both hit the pavement.

You all know how routine falling over has become for me. It seems to happen in slow motion, in three distinct stages that my brain helpfully narrates for me. "Hey, look!" says my brain. "We're falling over. First we'll unclip." Click-click! go my cleats. "Now, we'll land on our side." Wham! "And now, our head will bounce heavily on the pavement like a bowling ball!" THUNK-thunk-thunk-thunk.

Lots of colorful metaphors exploded like sparklers in my head, and many of them probably escaped without my notice.

And then, the guy riding behind me landed on top of me, too. Frick!

Aside from a few scrapes, Pearl and I were uninjured. I disentangled myself from the carnage and pulled her to the side of the road. Oh man, I was pissed. Pissed! There was no good way up the rest of this hill now. I didn't want to walk. But I couldn't ride. Aside from having no momentum, I was a bit shaky from the crash adrenaline. Rather than be a hazard to the rest of the throng, I reluctantly joined the other walkers plodding miserably up the hill beside their bikes.

Mary from our team rode past me and asked if I was all right. Yes! But pissed! She looked confused, and I realized she probably hadn't seen the crash, she just assumed I'd tanked on the hill like everyone else. The injustice of that made me even more pissed.

By the time I got to the top of the hill, I was fuming. By the time I met up with my husband again at the next rest stop, I gladly let loose of a string of profanities that I believe called into question the parentage, legitimacy, cleanliness, and mating habits of at least three species of mammal.

Mary brought it all into perspective: "So HOW many men ended up on top of you?"

A trip to the medic tent properly fueled my need for drama:

Me at the Med Tent

Up next: The finish line, and other legal intoxicants!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Day One, part II: In which High-Maintenance Jenny is made the hill's bitch

I'll admit, the first hill caught me a little off guard. I was expecting a few hills, of course. I'd trained on a few hills. But this first hill, less than half a mile into the course, was a significant hill.

No matter. I could do this. I would have liked a little more warm-up, but I'm a big girl. I downshifted and pretty much kept the pace to the top.

And I was feeling pretty good about myself, too, as I crested that first hill, and saw… another hill.

Okay. I coasted downhill for a bit, shifted a few times midway up, really powered through that last bit to the top.

And then. Another hill. A big one.

Um. Are you shitting me?

The gap in our team was widening, with Gary and the other alpha cyclists speeding up ahead and me and the rest doing whatever we could.

At the top of the fourth or fifth major hill, I stopped for a breather. There was a small cluster of people doing the same. Some were leaning over their bikes and wheezing. One fellow proclaimed that he was quitting and seemed ready to walk away and leave his bike lying by the side of the road.

High-Maintenance Jenny sped past me with her team of bright, shiny sorority girls in cute, little bike shorts. I sighed and very attractively wiped sweat out of my eye with the palm of my glove.

Still, it wasn't too bad. Gary stopped to wait for me at the top of most hills. Lots of riders began walking up, and I was proud of the fact that I was able to keep pedaling, even when standing in the pedals and forcing all my weight down with each stroke barely seemed to propel the bike onward by a few inches. My energy surged on the descents and rebounded quickly after most of the big efforts.

Day One

About ten miles in, we were stopped by a wreck up ahead. Rumor trickled back through the crowd that it was an asthma attack. Then someone else fell over while waiting for the ambulance to get through. (It wasn't me!)

As we maneuvered around the sag van parked on a particularly nasty incline, I caught a glimpse of unmistakable blonde pony-tail sitting in a ditch with her arm held by a medic who was saying to his colleague, "... fractured collarbone."

The whole route was hills. Not the "mostly flat with a few moderate, rolling hills" we'd been promised. These were seriously challenging climbs, one right after the other.

And apparently, the worst was yet to come.

Prior to the ride, we'd received an email full of safety do's and don'ts. Do wear your helmet. Do signal with turning. Do not ride more than two breast in the lanes. And ominously, in all caps, a dire warning: "DO NOT attempt to ride up Highpoint Hill unless you are well-trained and experienced!"

If you didn't see that foreshadowing from a mile away, I can't help you.

Up next: Dominos!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day One: In which breakfast nearly gets the best of me

I've never done anything like this before. But wow. Was it cool.

We got in to Columbia Friday night, hours later than expected thanks to some freak rain and a pile of accidents on the interstate right in front of us. I talked to Mary from our team and told her we'd see everyone in the morning. Team pictures were scheduled for 7, so we set our alarm for 5:45, figuring that would give us plenty of time to get our gear sorted out and head down to the main grounds.

Fifteen minutes later, Mary pounded on our door. I think I opened it still blinking and with a toothbrush hanging out of my mouth. They'd decided (and neglected to tell us) to meet in the hotel parking lot at 6. It's 6! Let's go!

So we hastily grabbed helmets, gloves, nutrition, shoes, water bottles, cell phones, and – oh, yeah – bikes, and everything else we could think of without the use of our caffeine-dependent brains and tried to pretend like we'd been awake for hours.

We entered a line of cars at least a mile long queuing up to park on the grass beside the expo center where tents were set up to house food, medics, bike mechanics, and team meetings. The chill air was damp and tingly, and I began to get a nervous fluttering in my stomach.

We walked our bikes down the wet, grassy hill toward the food tent for breakfast, which was an egg on a tortilla, a very frightening link of sausage, and a scoop of cheesy potatoes.

I very much wanted my usual pre-ride peanut butter sandwich.

The anxiousness inside my stomach wrapped itself around that slippery sausage link and formed itself into a hard knot that refused to budge.

Day one, before lift-off

I found the coffee tent. Coffee helped. This was normal, warm, reassuring, familiar. I could feel my equilibrium seeping back.

Walking our bikes to the start line, Pearl seemed to roll weightlessly along next to me, as if she were moving on her own. She was ready for this. Her tires were gripping the gravel drive as if they already knew what to do and where to go. My gloved hands fell naturally into place on her handlebars.

I overheard snippets of conversations from other teams along the way. One group of girls had gathered by the port-a-potties and were loudly teasing one of their own:

"Oh, that's right! It's High-Maintenance Jenny! Did you get all your make-up on this morning? Is every hair in place?"

The blonde with the hairsprayed ponytail perking out beneath her helmet and the impeccably applied make-up laughed through perfect teeth. I felt a flicker of irrational envy, but quickly put it aside. Everyone here was wearing padded bike shorts, the great fashion equalizer. What exactly was she trying to prove?

Cyclists were streaming, literally pouring out in groups, from the start line onto the rural road in the directions of the marked routes. The 40-mile loop started in one direction, and the 75- and 100-mile routes took off in another. Our 75-mile route was marked with a green arrow.

Okay. We straddled our bikes. Okay!

Out into the stream of cyclists, out into the road, matching the pace of a group that quickly broke into those moving slower and faster. It was nice and even and smooth. I clipped in and we rode over a smooth incline, through a few intersections, more or less staying together as a team.

And then, I think we crossed over into Hell.

Up next: "Rolling hills???"

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

We made it!

Wheelie shows off his medal!
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

While I catch up on work, you can view photos if you so choose!

We had great weather and the ride was beautiful even though the hills were killer. I wish I'd taken more pictures. But I am glad I didn't take my camera with me because it would have surely been destroyed in the Highpoint Hill collision.

More soon!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Wheelie the Cycling Weasel... let's roll!

Wheelie the Cycling Weasel, ready to ride!
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

See you in 150 miles!

Wheelie is going to be riding along with me in honor of all his adopted brothers and sisters who helped support our ride. (Hi, guys!)

I can almost guarantee you I'll fall over at least twice this weekend. It's kind of become my thing.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Finnegan the LOLdog sez...

Finnegan the LOLdog
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.



Friday, August 24, 2007

I don't think of myself as a judgmental person, but I am a label collector. I tend to collect interesting bits I might hear or discover about a person I don't really know, and then every time I see them I think to myself, "Oh! You're the _____!"

For example.

There's a woman who works in my building who, according to rumor, sneaks into supply closets of other departments and takes things. Just random things like post-its. This is funny because she's also apparently very religious. And a little too handsy with other female coworkers, leading further rumor to suggest she might lean that way but be too religious to admit it.

So I bumped into her coming out of the bathroom this morning. "Hello," she said.

"Hello!" I replied.

In my head, I said, "Hello, Clepto-lesbian!"

Then I started thinking of all the other people I've labeled in the building.

There's Shifty Grate Jumper, the fellow on crutches who parks in a makeshift handicapped space over a grate in the parking lot, and every morning I see him shifting his way carefully around the bars of the grate.

There's PoopJoke. This woman has actually never told me a joke involving poop or anything else, but I've heard they're her favorite. I don't know why that's stuck with me.

And Poncho Maria, who can often been seen walking the halls in a Clint Eastwood-esque blanket, complete with fringe, no matter what the season.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

So, kindergarten?

Kindergarten is no problem for Gert, who suddenly seems so much older and more confident. Yesterday she rode the bus home with a new friend, shared a snack ("We're not supposed to eat or drink on the bus... but we were careful."), and cracked out her first Serious Homework last night.

Serious homework is the kind of homework they don't give you in preschool. This was not coloring or drawing a picture of your family pet. This was taking a serious pencil and a serious sheet of white, lined looseleaf paper, and writing your name with utmost care three (3) times. And then she had to think of and write down three (3) things that began with the same letter as her name.

Matilda spent the evening on her own serious homework, reading the first three chapters of Little Women and working through several pages of algebra.

Apparently, though, it's easier to concentrate on all of this with High School Musical Two (2) merrily replaying in the background. Wild-Cats-Every-Where...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Growing up, I guess

Gert starts kindergarten in two days, and it's really weighing on me. A couple of years ago we had bright, perky, mischievous baby human:

Baby Gert, circa March 2002

And now we have a kid who loves to swim in deep water, ride a two-wheeler, read books and cuddle together, and find new and creative ways of cornering the cat to administer massive doses of love:

I'm petting the cat! I'm petting the cat!

What am I going to do? I don't want her to get on the bus, but I have to want her to get on the bus. But I don't.

She's more and more adorable every day, but every day I miss the little Gert she was before.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Gert lost a tooth!

Lost a tooth!
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

I don't know why she's looking like I'm about to whack her in the face with the camera. I guess when you've had a tooth fall out you stop trusting so much.

Actually, since this photo was taken, she's also parted with another bottom tooth, giving her a distinctly whacked-in-the-face appearance.

But now she can suck through a straw and bite at the same time. That is the best.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Don't talk to me, I'm reading.

No, not Book 7.

Book 1.

While my husband and oldest daughter are plowing through the latest, instead I've decided to forget everything I've ever gleaned about Harry Potter by simply not living under a rock for the last ten or so years and Actually Read the Books.

Journey back with me for a moment, won't you? The year is 1998. I've just started a job at a nifty little local publishing company that hasn't yet been purchased by several different larger corporations. I'm busily making copies alongside my new coworker friend who is yet to become Fluid Pudding, and I'm floating a little because I've just met the man I'll end up marrying.

And then, my goody-two-shoes cube mate (we'll call her Stephanie), pokes her chubby, annoying face around my cube wall and strikes up a conversation.

"Hey there! Have you read any of the Harry Potter books? They're really good!"

"No, haven't." I tell Stephanie, silently vowing that I would never read whatever books these were, lest I accidentally have something in common to discuss with this girl.

So Stephanie lost 50 pounds and moved to Florida where she's no doubt teaching poor children about Jesus, and frankly, I want my Harry Potter experience back.

If you tell me the Harry Potter books are really good and that I should read them, I'll probably say, "Oh really? Who writes them?" as I reach for a pencil to jot down the name.

Because I am blissfully immersed in chapter three of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

And yes. It IS really good.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Reality Bites like a honey mustard pretzel

I'm slowing coming face to face with a harsh realization on one of my projects: I am going to run out of yarn.

I don't know this for certain yet, so I keep holding out hope, row by row, that somehow two little tightly re-wound balls of cotton are going to make the right front of this shrug.


It could happen. It's not impossible. And I've probably got some more of this yarn knitted into a striped pullover I didn't really like. So I could probably pull a half a ball or so out of that.

I wonder at what point I'll have to rip it all out and kick myself for not thinking ahead.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An honest-to-goodness rainbow

Honest-to-goodness rainbow
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Gert spotted her first rainbow during a weird sunny/rainy day. We were in the car on the way to buy shorts, so we chased the rainbow down the highway and captured it as best we could in the parking lot with a camera phone. This doesn't really do it justice, but it was really cool!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hey, little fellas! You're famous!

Pick up St. Louis Magazine this month if you're in the area! Weasel spotting on page 38!

They're so proud of themselves.

Hey, we're famous!

Hey, we're famous!

Since this article came out, nearly all of the weasels pictured here have found new homes and we've passed my original fundraising goal -- in fact, we're now several weasels past $300. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all you nice people!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Duct tape: is there anything it can't fix?

My 12-year-old daughter is too cool to wear handmade things. Unless she's the one handmaking them, apparently.

One afternoon, she called me at work and asked if she could use the duct tape. I told her sure.

When I got home, she was sporting these!

Matilda's "darn clever" duct tape sandals

Aw! My little girl pimped her sandals, duct tape style! I am so proud.

Matilda's "darn clever" duct tape sandals

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Holding perfectly good yarn hostage since 1930

I finally came to terms and liberated the yarn from this gauge disaster:

Knitty's 1930 bra & panties, in progress

Still love the pattern. Still love the yarn. After two years of trying to make it work, it was time to admit that they just aren't right for each other.

Meh. I have a migraine.

My choice between migraine pills seems to be:

A. Nausea-inducing headache
B. Nausea a la carte
C. Brain-numbing drowsiness

I usually opt for C, take a gigantic wad of cotton batting, and stuff it in and around the crevices of my brain.

(Nobody better say one single word about Grandma's Lye Soap on this post, I freaking mean it.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider

Yesterday was a good ride, and I needed a good ride because lately I've been feeling plagued by fatigue. And when you're plagued by fatigue, the garden gets overgrown, mildew collects in the caulked edges of your bathtub, and the closets fill with dirty clothes. That's just the way it is.

I rode anyway, with my legs feeling like mud, because my drill sergeant husband made me. Something about training, and commitments, and blah blah blah. I loaded up my helmet, gloves, water bottles, etc, into the car and drove halfway to the trail before abruptly turning around and coming back home.

Yeah. I forgot my bike.

The first five miles felt miserable, but then it was like something shook itself loose and I was flying.

I was chased by a bird and almost ran over a ginormous black snake. Two angry cyclists fixing a tire glared at me from the side of the trail, though I'm not sure why. Did I look like the kind of girl who randomly tosses glass bottles into the path of oncoming riders? I chased and caught a guy on a road bike, and matched his speed for a few miles until he turned off and went home. I don't know what that speed was, because I also forgot my bike computer. But it felt speedy.

Then I went home and immediately ran three loads of laundry. Exercise is weird.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday wisdom

Sometimes, when you buy a can opener from Everything's $1, you get a bargain.

Other times, you get a can of soup only halfway opened and gash in your thumb from trying to pry open the jagged edge of the lid.

And then, as you're standing in front of the microwave with your bleeding thumb in your mouth, watching your bowl and its contents lazily circle the perimeter, you realize.

All that for vegetable soup.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Long-overdue correction to the DNA top/vest

Remember Protopretty over there in the free patterns section?

Well, someone much smarter than me pointed out that the "diamond" lace pattern on the back begins with a yarn over.


So awkward, in fact, that when I was making it up as I went along, I instinctively kept an edge stitch on each side to anchor those rogue holes.

And then I forgot to mention that in the pattern. Um. Sorry about that.

What floors me is that there are several brave knitters with completed Protopretties out there who somehow either added instinctive stitches too, or struggled through it with fiddly stitches hanging off the ends of their needles. Either way, you all deserve to be taken out for ice cream.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I'm back!

My pumpkin vines are teeming with beetles, my youngest daughter screams herself sick every morning before daycare, and I'm stuck here sleeveless in an overly air-conditioned office rewriting things I routed last week. If that doesn't say summer, I don't know what does.

I'm mostly bummed because I'm no longer in Disneyworld eating dessert at every meal.

Gary is dedicating hours of his post-vacation life to uploading and captioning the 600 photos we took, so those of you who are really in love with my family will be able to fully immerse yourselves in our Disney experience. The rest of you can look forward to a few choice hightlights.

In the meantime, I can show you how I amused myself on the 2,000+ mile roundtrip drive.

One Waving Lace sock:

Waving lace socks

This is the nicest sock I've ever made. It actually fits like a proper sock and not like a smooshy leg sleeve. I did modify the pattern to leave out two lace repeats (I cast on 48 instead of 60) so it's nice and snug. I just love it. I'm almost to the heel of sock #2.

Also, I made this:

Bamboo Clapotis

I resisted the Clapotis for years despite the fact that every single other knitter was raving about this pattern. I thought, what is the point of knitting a stitch if I'm just going to unravel it? Also, I didn't like the bulky, weird shape of it.

But I had five balls of bamboo yarn and time on my hands. So the bamboo Clapotis was born. And honestly, it's now one of my favorite things. If you haven't made a Clapotis, immediately make one out of bamboo. It's silky, drapy, warm, and fun to knit.

And just before we left, I put the finishing stitches on the Petunia Tote from Interweave Knits. Bessy is modeling it here:

Petunia tote

It's huge. And it's lined thusly:

Petunia tote

And it's covered with sweet little petunia-like purly flowers:

Petunia tote

Now I have to go to a meeting and explain why one page of a brochure will not hold three pages of product description, even though I'd rather be knitting.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My favorite flavor of irony is Religion

Today, I was passed by a car sporting a "We Vote Pro-Life" bumper sticker as it lead-footed at what must have been over 40 miles per hour through a school zone, just as the elementary-aged kids were boarding their bus.

Friday, May 18, 2007


Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

A moment of Zen from little Gert, the old soul with an eye for composition.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Weasel update!

Once upon a time, there lived an orphanage of poor, pitiful baby weasels who cried themselves to sleep every night because all they really wanted was a loving home and a family.

Then, many kind and generous people reached out to the little weasels and offered to adopt them! The babies are now settling into new homes across California, Idaho, Missouri, West Virginia, Maryland, and the UK!

Not only are these kind folks enjoying the sort of unconditional love that only a baby weasel can provide, they've contributed over $100 toward finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis! And that, my friend, is something to be proud of.

If you can possibly find room in your heart for one of these little guys, please stop by the Weasel Knits shop and adopt your own weasel today! 100% of sales will be donated via my ride in the MS-150 Bike Ride this fall.

Seriously, thanks to everyone who's already adopted a weasel. You guys are the best!

Friday, April 27, 2007

I was wrong

An amendment to my previous post. The snack below is not complete until it is A) wrapped with bacon and B) grilled until crispy.

Because today I received this recipe for bacon-wrapped hamburgers in my inbox, and I realized that wrapping something with bacon is a special kind of miracle.

Plus, you may or may not be aware of my food-inside-other-food fetish. For example, cheese ravioli. What's better than noodles and cheese? Noodle-WRAPPED cheese, of course!

You're all invited to the food-wrapped food party I plan to have one day. I'll be dressed as a Hot Pocket.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Power snacks

This is my new favorite thing:

1 crunchy little banana chip
1 craisin or dried cherry
1 yogurt-covered raisin

Gather these three things into your hand and then quickly pop them all into your mouth. Are you with me? Are you experiencing the sweet, crunchy, creamy, chewy, tangy taste/texture explosion?

I only know this because I bought a bunch of dried fruit for my kids to eat after school in place of candy and chips, and they proceeded to laugh in my face.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mulch mountain

What did I do this weekend? First, I let my husband know how glad I am that he came into the world on that cool, spring day in April, 1973. Then I affectionately counted his gray hairs.

And then I moved over 700 pounds of hardwood mulch. No, I'm not kidding. I have mulch in the front of my house. Mulch in the back of my house. Mulch in my shoes. Mulch in my hair. I think I brushed my teeth with mulch. And I'm pretty sure that was mulch I ate for breakfast.

When you say the word "mulch" often enough, you start to feel like you're producing excessive saliva.

Which is unfortunate, because it's now illegal to spit in public where I live.

But it IS legal to replace the word "mulch" with other words in conversation for your own amusement. For example, while surveying your freshly mulched yard with your newly 34-year-old husband, you can remark, "This does look MULCH better!" and then giggle uncontrollably.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pretty is

Gertrude and I are heavily into Barbara Park's Junie B. Jones books. Right now, we're reading Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, which is all about how Junie B. and her friends Lucille and That Grace try to impress the chunky new boy in Room Eight.

Lucille wears fancy dresses that her richie nana buys her, and fluffs her fluffy hair.

Grace shows off how fast she can run.

Junie B. makes a lame joke, and then finds herself rolling in the grass on the playground, unable to stop laughing.

Warren concludes that Junie B. is a nutball.

So at the end of a chapter, we parked Gert's caterpillar bookmark in between the pages and I set the book on her nightstand.

"Which one of those girls would you want to be friends with?" I asked casually, always chasing the reading comprehension monkey.

"Lucille," replied Gert, without hesitation.

That surprised me. Lucille, while harmless, is clearly a vain and shallow little rich girl. She's thoughtless and self-centered, and certainly not very good friend material. So maybe my compassionate little Buddhist daughter was simply sensing that by befriending Lucille, she would somehow be able to address the core of suffering and insecurity that caused Lucille to look down on those less fortunate than her, which would free Lucille to blossom into a kinder, friendlier person.

"Why Lucille?" I asked.

"Because she's pretty."


I was suddenly seized with the horror that all these years of "pretty on the outside, ugly on the inside" analogous tales we had read to our daughters had instead indoctrinated them into the belief that being pretty EXCUSES inappropriate and unkind behavior. Oh crap. Crap, crap, crap.

"You know," I said, "just because you're pretty, that doesn't make you nice."

"It doesn't?"

"Oh, no! I'd rather be friends with a nice person than a pretty person. In fact," I went on, totally making this next part up, "there's a girl at my work who is very pretty, but no one wants to be her friend because she's so mean."

Gert was intrigued. "What kinds of things does she do?"

"Uh." Thinking. Need a believable example. Okay, how about this. "She makes people feel bad. She says things like 'Nice shoes!' but then she laughs at you and makes fun of your shoes when you're not around."

Weak. It was the best I could come up with.

Gert nodded. She seemed to get it. Then she said, "If that girl does it again, you oughta punch her in the beans."

I sighed. For the hundredth time, "Girls don't have beans, Gert."


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I think my cat is having a midlife crisis.

An indoor dweller all her life, suddenly she has decided she Must Go Outside. She stands at the back door and yowls. She scratches insistently at the corner of the door. She comes running when I call the dog to let him out. And then she gets all huffy with me when I push her back with my foot so the dog can pass.

She won't believe me when I tell her there's nothing out there for her.

We've taken to opening our bedroom window so she can lounge against the screen and catch a breeze.

And she's been acting even needier than usual. Instead of sleeping at the edge of our bed, she's been cuddling up between us. Sometimes I'll wake up to find her perched on my hip. The other night, I believe she was actually spooning with Gary.

Okay, but yesterday was the weirdest. I keep my current knitting projects in those satchel-shaped business bags, you know the ones I mean? They look like flat rectangles, and could probably double as laptop cases. (I do this so that when I bring my knitting to work every day it appears as though I'm carting paperwork around with me. Ahem.)

I had one of these bags sitting beside me on the couch with a string of yarn trailing out of it and onto my needles. Kismet jumped up on my lap and sniffed my knitting. I patted her and then tried to talk her into leaving me alone. With her nose on my yarn, she followed the loose string all the way from my knitting down to the point where it disappeared into the bag. And then my cat disappeared into the bag.

This wouldn't be that weird, except that the cat is a whole lot bigger than the yarn satchel. So she had to curl herself up into a furry little donut, dig her way in to the very bottom of the bag, turn around a few times, and then plop down and promptly doze right off.

I poked Gary, who was on the couch next to me, and pointed. "What the?" I said.

We considered.

A cat in a state prior to its being let out of the bag?


Cat and carry?

Nap sack?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bring it, fuzz-butts

I'm completely pissed off at the bastard rabbits in my yard. Or squirrels. Or whatever it is that always eats what I plant.

It's not bad enough that they've nibbled most of my snow peas (which by the way, DID survive the frost) down to little nubbins. This morning I went out and found the chewed and frayed strands of my brand-new maypole-style trellis swinging free in the breeze.

What the hell. Are they calling me out?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Adopt a weasel

Like many people, I ride a bike.

Because I'm extremely fortunate to be able to do so, I'll be riding said bike in the MS-150 this summer to help raise money to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.

Is this a plea for donations? Sort of. I'm actually hoping you'll consider adopting one of these:

Mabel weasel, up for adoption

This is a baby weasel, personally created, hand knit, and lovingly felted by me.

Adopt a weasel

Every baby weasel is completely unique, made of natural fibers and stuffed for extra squishability. Yes, they're ugly, but they are extremely sweet and gentle creatures, friendly toward other pets and children, and completely self-sufficient.

Best of all, 100% of adoption costs will go toward funding the cure for MS and supporting Weasel Knits on our charity bike ride debut.

You can adopt one of these pitiful little creatures for only $12!

Plus, you'll have the privilege of counting yourself among the elite group of official Weasel Knits MS-150 supporters.

Please give a baby weasel a home! And help us find a cure for MS!

You can pick out your baby weasel right over here at my Etsy shop, which conveniently accepts major credit cards, PayPal, checks, and money orders. While you're there, you'll also have the opportunity to purchase weasel knitting patterns and felting kits if you're inclined to make one of your own. 100% of sales go toward the cause.

More orphaned weasels are being added to the shop each day. The conditions there are less than ideal. These weasels are counting on you!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Pea vs. Sheets, round IXV

It didn't seem like too early to plant two weeks ago when March temperatures were in the 80s. Of course, now that nighttime is dipping into the teens tonight, I'm joining the rest of the neighborhood by tucking my little sproutlets in under a sheet.

Maybe they'll be okay.

These are (were? are?) my snap peas:


And for once, in the epic battle of pea vs. sheets in our house, the sheets came out on top:


I'm apparently the only one around here who finds this funny.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monster poo. RAWR!

This post contains more urine and feces than a Metrolink elevator.

First, the urine.

I'm trying to be healthy. I've been taking vitamins and processing that into the most vibrant of hues. I love it. Mornings are never boring.

And now, I promised Gertrude I would not repeat this story. Which means I absolutely have to.

I was watching TV and Gert peeked her head around the corner. "Mom? I've got a monster poo knocking at the door, so I'm going to the bathroom!"

I looked at her. I have no idea why I needed this information, but I said, "Okaaay…?"

Several minutes later, Gert pranced by on her way to her room. "False alarm!" she announced.

I began to wonder if I'd somehow signed up to receive informative, periodic updates on Gert's bathroom behavior. If so, how could I unsubscribe?

Then Gert came up to me with a concerned look on her face. "Uh, mom? I think I need a little help."

"Why? What's wrong?"

She shifted her weight awkwardly. "I thought I just had a fart, but it came out a little extra."

I leapt up and led the way to the bathroom, calmly explaining that it's nothing to worry about, everyone has a little accidental skid mark from time to time. No big deal. I helped her off with her undies, we'd just give them a quick soak and –


That was no skid mark.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Watch this.

This will fill you with joy and cure all your springtime allergies.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I am a gratuitous ballerina

I made this! And it doesn't suck!

Pink Spring Dress

Admittedly this is much more complicated and fitted than I'd intended my first* dress to be. I should have started with a skirt. This was hard. But I love it. I love it so much that it makes me want spin around and get all dizzy.

Pink Spring Dress

Pink Spring Dress

I know. I'm silly.

*Okay, okay. I made a dress with my mom's help when I was 13. And the thrill I got from that tiny bit of bust shaping should have been my first clue that I'd grow up to be a fiber addict.

Friday, March 16, 2007

They're not Tagalongs, but...

...speaking of Cookies. Have you seen Cookie's new sock collection?

Holy God! Look at them. LOOK AT THEM!

I'll just add a little vacant space here to breath while we both wait for our pulse rates to come down.

And by the way, did you know that Eunny Jang of See Eunny Knit is the new editor of Interweave Knits magazine? This is fantastic news! Eunny is just the person to give IK the young, brilliant, talented kick in the pants it so desperately needs. Not that I don't love it now. Actually I don't. I think most of their patterns are sort of "meh," but I am making two things from the current issue (the Tea Rose halter and the Petunia bag). And while we're weighing in on Interweave, can I just let it be known that I PREFER THE NEW LAYOUT. I also do not enjoy the boxy, boring cardigans you seem so hell-bent on publishing, so please. Stop being so safe. Do you really want to be the Woman's World of knitting mags? You're better than that, IK.

Also, today is my brother Dan's birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAN! I hope you were wishing for a new pair of handknit socks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Hello, Samoas

I was going to write something smart today and tell you things. And show you stuff. And be interesting.

Instead, I'm going to probably eat my weight in Girl Scout cookies.

Would it shock you to learn I'm not a fan of Thin Mints? But put a Tagalong in my hand and I'm quickly ask you for another.

I deserve this. I took the dog rollerblading yesterday, and a neighbor laughed at me. Though admittedly, he did look pretty silly with those skates strapped to his paws.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Skirts and 'blades

Matilda and I went up to school last night to pick up her straight-A's report card and gaze admiringly at a few of her paintings hanging around school in the school art show.

After the requisite gazing time, I announced, "Come on, sister. Let's go buy you an "A" Present!"

The "A" Present in our house is a little educational incentive that is sometimes paid out in cash per A, or plunked down as a lump purchase on a toy or gizmo. PS, I know there's debate about whether paying for grades is correct parenting or not, but when you have a child who happily does homework on Saturday mornings and busily works ahead through all her extra challenge work, you've really got to show your approval of that somehow.

For us, last night, that meant rollerblades.

And as Matilda was trying on every single pair in the local Sports Authority, she told me she thought it was funny that I called her "sister."

Because, she went on, the other day her teacher had asked Matilda if I was her mother... or her sister.

And so that is why I spontaneously purchased a pair of youthful, though somewhat unreasonably expensive, roller blades for myself, as well.

And it also explains why I went out at lunch today and brought home an armload of youthful, ivory cotton gauze with which I will sew myself breezy, youthful skirts and sundresses.

I might just rollerblade past you in a gauzy sundress! Because that makes no sense!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday morning trainer ride

Dad set Gert up on a trainer next to his this morning.

Dad adjusts Cycling Gert's bike

She immediately began taunting him.

Cycling Gert taunts dad

She then slipped these on, kicked into her biggest chain ring, and called out, "See you later, sucker!"

Cycling Gert announces "later, sucker!"

Friday, March 02, 2007

Recipe for a Friend

The other day, Matilda and Gert walked past me, each carrying a teaspoon of something white and granular.

"What, are we freebasing now?" I said.

Matilda explained, "It's sugar. I'm going to help Gert make an imaginary friend."

So this intrigued me, and I followed them to the hall bathroom where Gert's older sister told her to stand in the corner and pay attention.

Matilda began the demonstration.

"The first thing you have to do," she said in her teacher voice, "is stand in front of the mirror and close your eyes, and imagine what you want your friend to look like." She squeezed her own eyes shut and imagined for a moment. "Really see her, what color her eyes are, what color hair she has, what she's wearing."

I glanced over at Gert in the corner, holding her spoon tightly and grinning excitedly, her eyes glued to her sister.

"Then," said Matilda, her eyes popping open, "you cast your sugar into the sink!" She sprinkled the contents of the spoon into the basin. "Then you spin around three times and say your friend's name to summon her!"

Too much Harry Potter in my house? Never.

"Then," said Matilda when she'd finished whirling, "turn on the water, and when the sugar's all washed away, you look into the mirror, and there you'll see her! But only you can see her. And only if you believe."

"OH!" shouted Gert with profound delight. "My turn!" She all but shoved Matilda away from the sink, scattering sugar over the bathroom tile.

Some time later, I looked up from my knitting to see Gert parading past, clearly leading an army of the imaginary behind her.

"We're going to go play school," Gert told me.

"Oh, okay," I said. "Who is?"

"Me and Emily and Mylie."

If this was Matilda's way of shrugging off her little five-year-old shadow for a few hours and having some personal Gameboy time, that girl is freaking brilliant.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Antique chic

Every month the knitting forums at Craftster have a "knitting challenge," and February's was What Would Marple Knit - vintage knitting patterns in a modern context.

If you were to click over there out of curiosity, you'd see a whole board full of mindblowing, original designs people have submitted. These are the kinds of projects that started cropped up mid-month, and I quickly realized I had not a shot in hell of winning this challenge.

But I did actually kind of want to knit some antique lace. That's just the kind of girl I am.

Kendal lace

This is a lace pattern from a book published in 1891 called "Home Work: A Choice Collection of Useful Designs for the Crochet and Knitting Needle: Also, Valuable Recipes for the Toilet".

Note that I did not make any of the toilet recipes. I don't even know where to go with that.

The pattern I used is the Kendal Insertion.

Kendal lace

Kendal lace

You can also wear it as a hat, a brooch, a pteradactyl...

Friday, February 23, 2007


Q: What do you get when you take a capecho down into your basement and poke it with a stick until it relents?

A: Minicardi!

Reinvented Capecho

Reinvented Capecho

And NOW I'm in love with it!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A new hope?


I don't mean to get your hopes up or anything.

But I've just put the finishing seam on my fully reengineered and modified-within-an-inch-of-its-life capecho.

And I don't mind saying... It. Is. Cute. It's cute! It's actually cute!

I can't wait to get home and take pictures.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I need a distraction

Addi Turbo lace needles?

Yes! With sharper points and a grabby finish!

Please buy them for me. If I immerse myself in a new and complicated lace project, I might forget about the chamber of horrors that is my sewing room. It might help me block out the screams of the capecho that I've left contorted and pinned to a dress model.

And now I promise I'll stop talking about it.

I'm going to make a million pairs of these to wear cycling this summer.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Speechless and head over heels

I'm so not worthy of this, in fact I have no words, just a stupid smile on my face. But I am, by far, the luckiest.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Come on, you know me better than that.

After blocking the living shit out of it (as Sacchi suggested), this is where we were (artistic photo composition and shots, courtesy of Gert the budding photog):

Gert's artistic Capecho composition (with rubber butterfly)

Capecho,post-blocking, still ridiculously huge

There's no getting around it. The capecho, in its current form, flatters no one. Therefore I won't be trying to gift it to any of my fuller figured friends (sorry, Bambi).

But you know I couldn't just walk away.

Capecho Modification #1: The "Cape"-echo

"Cape"-echo, minus the sleeves

I ripped back the ribbing on the sleeves to finish off those pentagons as regular pentagons, resulting in a poofy, cabled caplet.

Then I was found myself faced with the harsh reality that I will no more wear a caplet than I'll wear, well, a capecho.

Stay tuned for Mod #2, in which scissors may play a starring role.

Let the Capecho demolition commence!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Norah Gaughan Capecho: Final Decent into Madness

Vogue Gaughan Capecho, finished
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

At least I like the cables on the back. At least it was fun to make.

And at least it's finished.

And... at least I didn't waste good money on expensive yarn.

If you need photographic proof of the complete ridiculousness and disappointment that is this garment, you'll have to find your way to my flickr account.

I'm closing the book on this one.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My bike is proud of me

My bike is proud of my capecho progress
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

Pearl (my lovely Fuji) wanted you to know that all I have left to knit on the Norah Gaughan capecho is one long piece of cabled collar, and then I'll probably quit thinking about it the whole time I'm riding.

The Gertrude Sweater: Embossed argyle cardigan in pink (of course)

The Gertrude Sweater

children's 6-8

Bernat Satin (100% acrylic, 166 yds), 3 skeins
Size 6 needles
Size 8 needles
Size J crochet hook
tapestry needle
8-10 small buttons
needle and thread

1x1 rib: *k1, p1; rep to end of row. In all subsequent rows, knit the knit sts and purl the purl sts.

Garter Stitch Diamonds (from "The Harmony Guides: 450 Knitting Stitches, Vol. 2"):
1st row (RS): Knit
2nd row: p4, *keeping yarn at front slip 2 purlwise, p6; rep from * to last 6 sts, sl 2 purlwise, p4
3rd row: k3, *C2F, C2B, k4; rep from * to last 7 sts, C2F, C2B, k3
4th row: p3, *keeping yarn at front sl 1 purlwise, yb, k2, yf, sl 1 purlwise, p4; rep from * to last 7 sts, sl 1 purlwise, yb, k2, yf, sl 1 purlwise, p3
5th row: k2, *C2F, k2, C2B, k2; rep from * to end
6th row: p2, *keeping yarn at fron sl 1 purlwise, yb, k4, yf, sl 1 purlwise, p2; rep from * to end
7th row: k1, *C2F, k4, C2B; rep from * to last st, k1
8th row: p1, keeping yarn at fron sl 1 purlwise, yb *k6, yf, sl 2 purlwise, yb; rep from * to last 8 sts, k6, yf, sl 1 purlwise, p1
9th row: knit
10th row: as 8th row
11th row: k1, *C2B, k4, C2F; rep from * to last st, k1
12th row: as 6th row
13th row: k2, *C2B, k2, C2F, k2; rep from * to end
14th row: as 4th row
15th row: k3, *C2B, C2F, k4; rep from * to last 7 sts, C2B, C2F, k3
16th row: as 2nd row
Repeat these 16 rows.

Single crochet: insert hook into a stitch, wrap yarn around hook and pull up a loop. Wrap yarn and pull through loop. After last stitch in row, chain 1 (wrap yarn and pull through loop 1 additional time).

CO 60 sts with smaller needles. Work 1x1 rib for 1.5 inches, ending with a WS row. Switch to larger needles.

Slip 1 edge stitch, begin Garter Stitch Diamond pattern to last stitch, k1 edge stitch. Always keep 1 edge stitch on each side of the diamond stitch pattern (k on RS, p on WS) – this edge stitch is NOT mentioned in the pattern above. Work until piece measures 11" total length.

Begin armhole shaping: at the beginning of each row, dec 3 sts twice, 2 sts 4 times, and 1 st 4 times (42 sts). Continue in pattern as established.

When piece measures 18", BO center 8 sts and work each side separately. At neck edge, dec 3 sts twice, then BO rem 11 sts.

With smaller needles, CO 28 sts and work 1x1 rib for 1.5 inches, ending with a WS row. Switch to larger needles. Slip 1 edge st, work Garter Stitch Diamond pattern, k1 edge st. Work until piece measures 11", then begin armhole shaping: at the beginning of next RS row, dec 3 sts. Then dec 2 sts at beg of next 2 rows, and dec 1 st beg next 2 rows (19 sts). Continue in pattern as established until piece measures 17". On next WS row (at neck edge), BO 4. Then dec 2 sts at beg of next 2 WS rows (11 sts). Work to 19" in established pattern. BO rem 11 sts.

Work as for left front, but reverse shaping (work armhole shaping on WS and neck shaping on RS).

SLEEVES (make 2):
CO 30 sts with smaller needles and work 1x1 rib for 1 inch. Switch to larger needles and k6, place marker, k18, pm, k6.
Next row (row 2): p6, (keeping yarn at front slip 2 purlwise, p6) 3 times.
Continue Garter Diamond Stitch pattern above beginning with Row 3 as established, adding 2 edge stitches on each side.

On Row 8, inc 1 stitch at the beginning and end of row (32 sts total, 3 edge sts each side).
Continue in pattern and continue to increase 2 sts every 8th row 9 times (48 sts).

When sleeve measures 16", begin shoulder shaping: BO 3 sts at beginning of next 2 rows, 2 sts next 4 rows, and 1 st next 4 rows (30 sts). Continue in pattern as established until piece measures 18". Dec 1 st at beginning of each row 7 times (16 sts). BO remaining 16 sts.

Seam all pieces together.

Pick up an even number of sts around neck edge and work 1x1 rib for 1 inch. BO loosely.

Button band: Work 3 rows single crochet along front edge of Left Front. On Right Front, work 1 row single crochet, then on row 2, chain 1 and skip 1 st at evenly spaced intervals to allow desired number of button holes. Then work a 3rd row of sc.

Line up buttons with holes and sew into place.

Weave in ends.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Fun with preschoolers

Gertrude woke up this morning and announced that today was opposite day.

First, she lost the logic battle to her older sister.

Gert: "Today is opposite day!"

Matilda: "So, by telling me this you're actually saying that it's not opposite day?"

Then she played it with me for a while, announcing that she didn't love me, didn't want to eat breakfast, and definitely was not wearing clothes to school. When that got old, she informed me that it wasn't opposite day anymore.

I said, "So... you mean it is?"

"Please," Gary said to me. "Stop the madness."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Inevitably, when I take out my knitting in a public place, the person next to me will say, "I've always wanted to learn to knit!"

I have no response to that. Here are a few of the things I've said in the past that I don't think are quite right:

"That's nice."

"You should! It's fun."

"I did too, so I learned."

"I love it. Once I got started I couldn't stop."

"Beats smoking crack."

I'm not trying to be deliberately antisocial, but it's hard to have a conversation about something when the other person has a limited frame of reference. I have the same problem when someone comments on a book I'm reading.

They'll ask what I'm reading, I'll tell them, and they might say, "Oh! I've always wanted to read that."

Um, okay. Then... do it?

Do I just not understand how to carry on my side of that conversation?

My favorite non-exchange is when someone asks me what I'm making. I'm not sure if they expect a complete knitted sweater to drip off the needles, cartoon-style, or what. But if I say it's a sweater, they'll spend the next fifteen minutes squinting at it sideways –- is that the neck? Is it a sleeve? Is it a sweater for a manta ray?

I really need to start knitting nutsacks.

No! These! What is wrong with you?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Norah Gaughan capecho in progress

Norah Gaughan capecho in progress
Originally uploaded by squeakyweasels.

This is what I've been working on... and I have to say I LOVE this pattern. It's probably the most fun I've had knitting in a long time. It's a little challenging but instantly gratifying as each little cabled pentagon forms to join its neighbors. I have one motif left on the back, then it's just sleeves and collar.

And then I'll have to shave my eyelashes and drain the blood from my face so I can be a Vogue cover model, too!