Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dyein' yarn at Patsy's

Fellow knitting group member Patsy B. was kind enough to invite me over to her house yesterday to observe while she dyed up some roving, yarn, and some of her own handspun.

All the chemistry took place out on her pretty back deck:
In various & sundry crock pots:

Mmmm-mmmmm! Nothin' like a big ol' pot of yarn!

And a stainless steel pot on a burner on the grill:

Here are some of the mad scientist's potions:

better knitting through chemistry

When the fiber had taken up all the dye it would take,

and had cooled down a bit, it was rinsed in a pan of lukewarm water:

and hung out in the backyard to dry:

As you can see, Patsy gravitates to warm colors, much like I gravitate to cool blue-greens:

That pretty dark green alpaca/llama/mohair blend was originally an incredibly soft, grayish-colored roving that Patsy is spinning up:

Who knows -- I might end up buying the finished product at her next yarn sale!

Thanks for having me, Patsy! :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

If you're sick of seeing knitted hats...'ve come to the wrong place.

Nephew #3 requested a hat for his birthday, and wanted solid black (snore).

But, ask and ye shall receive.

  • Yarn: Cestari 3-ply 100% merino in Bulky Black Rose from Unraveled
  • Gauge: 3 stitches per inch
  • Pattern: Cast on 60 stitches; join in round; K3,P3 for 1½", then knit every round for 4½"; decrease & finish according to Super Simple Hat Calculator
  • Needles: U.S. size 11 (8mm) Denise interchangeable circulars & Crystal Palace bamboo 8" DPNs

Proof positive that I do, in fact, finish things once in awhile.

I'll have a few more FO's to share in a day or so. And they'll be more colorful, too. :-)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Coming to a theater near you...

...sometime in 2008....

(a few more pictures my sis sent to me of her own excellent adventure):

dancer extras on location in Rodanthe
(my sister is second from right)


leading man at Hatteras Marina
(he can still make my heart go a-flutter)

I can hardly wait!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Acute writer's block forces me to stoop to such lowbrow topics as television.

Lord knows, I love me some idiot box. But I find it frustrating when the networks put all the big shows up against each other, and then force us to choose. Anyone who's a fan of both ABC's and NBC's Thursday night lineups knows what I'm talking about. (Note to NBC: Perhaps if you put your Thursday shows on another night, you might get more loyal Grey's Anatomy viewers to watch your shows, too. Then maybe your ratings wouldn't tank so much. Give up your game of chicken with ABC -- you're losing.)

Even if one has a DVR, the scheduling can be frustrating. Last night was a perfect case in point. Fox's 2-hour American Idol (<- I almost typed "idle" there - how strangely appropriate) season finale overlapped ABC's Lost 2-hour season finale. So I watched the first hour of Idol, taped the second, and watched all of Lost. When I went back to watch the second hour of Idol to see who had finally won, the program had run a few minutes over and the recording CUT OFF BEFORE THE WINNER WAS ANNOUNCED. Talk about frustration! Yeah, yeah, I know -- Jordan won. But it would have been nice to watch it being announced. (Not that it was a big surprise.)

In addition to the two big season finales, I also finally watched the series finale of Star Trek: Voyager. I never watched that show when it was originally on the air, so have been catching up with the syndicated episodes airing on Spike. The series finale was somewhat creative, but also somewhat anti-climatic, and they tied up things just a little too neatly. I got the sense that the writers found out late that they were cancelled, and sorta scrambled to tie up loose ends in various story arcs. I was a little disappointed that the last scene shows them in the Alpha quadrant, but they never actually reach Earth. Perhaps they'll make a Voyager movie someday.

The season-ending episode of Lost delivered its typical white-knuckled, action-packed, stomach-churning punch of a finale. I tell ya, I'm glad they only have three more seasons, because as I'm getting older, I don't know how much more anxiety my heart can take!

As with every Lost fan, I've been eagerly anticipating the season finale all week. It didn't help to have the actors that play Kate and Hurley both gush on Jimmy Kimmel this week about the huge, mind-boggling "reveal" at the end of the episode.

(Here's where I write about events from last night's episode. Proceed at your own risk.)

Jack Flash. Okay, I wasn't all that impressed with the aforementioned "big reveal". So, Jack has a flash-forward (rather than the usual flashback we've come to expect). I don't believe that future for a minute. First of all, he refers to his drunken father TWICE, as if he were still alive. Do people come back from the dead in Jack's futuristic world? I think the flash-forward was just a plot device and made for an interesting finale, but I do believe it was one big red herring. The future is uncertain.

Charlie drowns. I won't believe he's dead until they show us his cold lifeless body. He was still conscious in his last scene, (although the situation was quite dire), and he could very well swim through the porthole to the surface and survive. Desmond might even be able to swim through the porthole and pull him out. We'll see....

Hurley saves the day. How great was that? I love Hurley. I would place money on Hugo and that VW Bus eventually getting them off the island. While rockin' to Shambala on the 8-track.

Sayid is Rambo. Was anyone else as impressed as I was after he snapped that bad guy's neck with just his legs? (I suppose that makes me a little sicko.) Sheesh -- I want that guy fighting on my side any day! I didn't used to understand what other gals who swooned over him saw in him. Now I see it. Hhhhhhot.

Locke lives. I'm really not surprised he survived being shot and thrown in the pit of putridity. After all, he's a main character with three more seasons to get through. But I was really curious as to how they'd pull it off. I'm still not sure what happened, and am not interested in the various theories floating around the Lost message boards.

And that's how I feel about the rest of the unanswered questions, such as, who's on the big boat? Who is Naomi, really? (Does it matter, now that she's dead?) Are Ben & John right about the boaties being super-baddies coming to kill everyone off? Who is that freakin' Jacob-ghost? How will they explain Walt appearing to be so much older? What's the deal with the smoke monster and the polar bears? What is the temple Ben referred to? And what the hell is the significance of the numbers?

Since only a finite number of episodes remain, I'm trusting that the writers will creatively reveal all, over time, but I may have to wait three years to finally, completely understand. In the meantime, I'll eagerly anticipate Season 4, which doesn't begin until February 2008! Ack!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tuesday Night Knitters get their Yarn on!

Last night was another fun evening with the Tuesday Night Knitters. Although it wasn't the largest group we've ever had, we still had a very decent turnout of regulars, semi-regulars and even three new faces!

First of all, we celebrated Mary Jane's birthday -- Happy Birthday, Mary Jane!

the smiling birthday girl

There was even delicious birthday cake:


And we got to meet Donna & Brian, a very cute and nice husband & wife knitting team who are friends of Mary Jane's, (and who were kind enough to bring the birthday cake):

Such a cute couple!
Donna is currently knitting a Hokie square, and Brian is knitting a necktie from the book Knitting With Balls. (Incidentally, Brian & Donna were quoted in yesterday's RTD article about the Hokie Healing Blankets. How cool is that? Although we were all a bit annoyed that every square depicted in the article was crocheted, rather than knitted.)

Anyway, we're always glad to greet new faces and welcome more knitters to TNK -- come back anytime!

Other attendees last night included Katie, Jane and Norma:

admiring Katie's cute Havanese puppy pictures
I love the cardigan Jane is wearing. Handknit, of course.

Robin C. and Nancy sat across from me and knitted and chatted:


And Renny also sat across from me, and shared stories about her darling granddaughter:

proud Grandma!

Patsy sat to my right, and in between sips of her Frappaccino,

worked on her beautiful Salvia sweater from the Spring '07 issue of Knitter's:

my photo does not do the colors or stitch pattern justice

Patsy is using her own handspun yarn for the ribbing at the waistband. Lovely!

Poor Isobel dropped a paver on her foot this weekend, so was propping it up while she knit:

the pain didn't seem to stop her from enjoying herself!

If you're a regular reader, you know that Issy is one prolific knitter, and seems to crank out at least one, (often more) beautiful finished objects every week. (When I grow up, I want to knit like that.) She's currently working on a pair of socks, perhaps to keep her poor injured foot warm:


Cathy sat to my left, and to her left was another new face -- Loren, who is a new yarn rep for the Richmond area (and probably much of the mid-Atlantic region):

Cathy & Loren

Lauren was gracious enough to drag her huge sample suitcase into B&N so that we could all drool over new yarns that may very well find their way into our local yarn shops in the near future. Mary Jane was a smart-cookie shop owner and took advantage of the market research we provided, as we oooo'd and ahhhh'd and fondled Loren's various and sundry yarns:

Pandora's suitcase
Loren is a rep for several yarn vendors, including O-wool and SWTC, who provides such yarns as Tofutsies, Karoake, and Vickie Howell's new line of yarns. She's also the new rep for Jane's sister Lawre's lovely knitting bags, and brought a plethora of bags and beautiful swatches for us to marvel over. But what really caught my eye last night were the handspun and/or hand-dyed yarns from Pagewood Farm. They have some really luscious offerings, and so I'm looking forward to being able to purchase them locally sometime soon!

Here's a little yarn pr0nography, from within the magical-mystical wonderland that is a yarn rep's suitcase (click any image to super-size it):

Finally, this is totally unrelated, but still fun -- I felt compelled to take a picture of the car parked in front of mine at Barnes & Noble. As a former Parrothead myself, I can truly appreciate the spirit of this artwork (click for big):

I love the hula-dancing parrots

Fins to the left, fins to the right....


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Vicarious Living

Sometimes in life, lots of stuff happens, and by default, there's lots to write about. More often, NOTHING happens for days at a time, and there is therefore absolutely NOTHING to write about. The latter has been the case this past week, which explains, but perhaps doesn't excuse, my unintended, extended absence.

I've got a major case of writer's block here, I think mainly because I am paralyzed while I try to land my next gig for work. I've got three or four balls in the air, and am waiting to find out which one will land first. The waiting is killing me, and keeps me frozen, and my mind stays blank. I can't even knit when it's like this. Sigh....

And so, I must live vicariously through others.

My sister, for instance.

A couple weeks ago, she sent me this email:

----- Original Message -----
From: Terry
Sent: Sunday, April 29, 2007 11:12 AM
Subject: for Richard Gere fans and Hollywood wannabes

Alright girls,

There is a casting call Friday and Saturday for extras in the movie "Nights in Rodanthe", starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane, filmed in part on the Outer Banks. (It is a Nicholas Sparks book, if you are not familiar). Who's up for it?


I would have jumped all over that, had it not been the same weekend as MS&W. You see, back in high school, I was in love with Richard Gere, during his Officer & Gentleman heyday. My senior year, we had a Christmas locker decorating contest, and my friend Lynn and I won first place for our "Santa Dick" decoration.

Here's a picture of me in the back seat of Lynn's car, puckering up with Dick after we'd taken down the locker decoration and pasted it to the car window:

His word balloon says, "What do YOU want for Christmas, little girl?"

Don't judge me. I was a teenager inappropriately in love with a movie star. I've grown out of my unhealthy Richard Gere obsession. He's since been replaced by a more "healthy" admiration of all things George Clooney. Mmmmm.... The Clooney.....

But I digress.

Anyway, about a week after her first email, I got this follow-up from Terry:

----- Original Message -----
From: Terry
Sent: Wednesday, May 09, 2007 8:37 PM
Subject: richard gere sightings . . .

...have been happening all over the place! He is staying in Manteo, at the Tranquil House. (Hollywood comes to the Outer Banks for the filming of "Nights in Rodanthe", from the book by Nicholas Sparks). I haven't been so lucky, but talk it that he is real nice! Leah and I went to the extras casting call, but haven't received a call yet, and probably won't. I think I'm too tall! (I heard that they don't want extras to be taller than the stars!) Anyway, everyone is abuzz with the movie biz. Monday we had a storm so bad that school was cancelled (Saturday school again this week), roads were closed, you name it. (it is now tropical storm Andrea). I mean the wind was blowing so hard you didn't want to step outside, but damn if they didn't spend 4 hours on the beach filming! (If I recall the book correctly, there is a storm in it, so I guess it is fitting).

And that is all of the celebrity gossip for today.


Fun times! For those folks who live in L.A. and see celebs all the time, this is not a big deal. For those of us on the east coast who only see celebs in movies, magazines and on tv, this is news!

A couple days later I received another follow-up email from Terry:

----- Original Message -----
From: Terry
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2007 8:29 PM
Subject: OMG

So, I am sitting in the orthodontist's waiting room today, minding my own business, when my phone rings, and it is someone from the "Nights in Rodanthe" movie, telling me that I have been hand selected by the director to be an extra in a scene, now get this, dancing on the Rodanthe Pier. The girls had tears in their eyes from the laughter induced by the thought of my dancing publicly. I'll probably look like Elaine on Seinfeld and get kicked off the pier and into the drink. Both Richard Gere and Diane Lane are in the scene!!!!!!!!!! I have to go to a rehearsal tomorrow and the filming is Wednesday. Wish me luck! They will probably take one look at me and realize that they have made a huge mistake, so don't buy your movie tickets yet.
We were beside ourselves after that little bombshell was dropped! My sister gets to breathe the same air as Richard Gere! Holy-freakin'-moly!

I waited with baited breath to hear how rehearsal and shooting went. Terry did not disappoint.

----- Original Message -----
From: Terry
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 8:53 AM
Subject: Re: OMG
OK, so here's the scoop so far:

Drove down to Rodanthe yesterday afternoon. A big tow truck slammed into me as I was waiting to turn into the place where we were rehearsing, but that's a different story, different hassle. (my poor, beautiful new car). So anyway, about 18 of us rehearsed a scene where the locals have come out after the hurricane to celebrate survival with their community. We will be dancing with a band on the pier, while others are nearby having some sort of feast. Richard and Diane were not there last night, but are in the scene, so hopefully I will get to schmooze with them today!! They flew in a choreographer from LA to show us regular people how to dance in a way that doesn't look choreographed, though it is - it's a mixed group, agewise. The song is a minute and a half long, but who knows how much of that will make it into the movie. The choreographer and director were really nice. The choreographer was the choreographer for the movie Dreamgirls, and used to be a dancer with J. Lo, Will Smith,etc. so he is big time. We were there for about 3 1/2 hours last night (but get paid for 8 hours - gotta love that union!), and will probably do 10 or 12 hours today/tonight. It's going to be really hard getting up for work tomorrow - don't anticipate more than a few hours of sleep. I was going to work this morning, but instead am hanging out at home to try and take care of insurance stuff, with the car.

More details to come.


Terry is fine, thank God. Her car will need some work. But back to our story. I had to wait until Thursday to get details about how the actual shooting went. Again, she did not disappoint:

----- Original Message -----
From: Terry
Sent: Thursday, May 17, 2007 7:52 PM
Subject: Re: OMG

I'm back!!!!!!!!!!!! And Richard Gere is hot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, here is the scoop in a nutshell. We got there around 2pm yesterday, and basically waited around for hours until we were called to "the set" which is the Rodanthe Pier. We did not mind the waiting too much (the other "dancers" and I) because they were paying us $15 an hour, plus overtime! Anyway, in our scene, which we did repeatedly throughout the night (I got home at 4 a.m and had to work this morning - yuk!), Diane Lane is dancing RIGHT BESIDE ME, like inches away, with the old man from Talladega Nights, while her man, Richard Gere, gazes at her (he was sitting at a picnic table about 5 feet away from me!!!!!!). He basically had to look through me to see her!! It was so cool!! The other cool thing was, I guess due to union rules, "dancers" are treated way better than your average extra - better pay, better bathrooms, more access, you name it. We dancers cracked up about that, because we were all just regular people, pretending to have rhythm. The wind was howling last night on the pier, so we were quite cold, and I'm sure looked horrible, but it was very interesting, exhilarating, exhausting . . .

Gotta run.


Every time Terry wrote, I replied with, TAKE PICTURES! Or, SEND PICTURES! She told me that they were told that they were not allowed to take pictures on the set. (And I'm thinking, since when has she been so obedient?) Fortunately, someone else she knows was less rule-abiding, and sent her a couple of pictures they took, which I include below:

I'm gathering that they were taken somewhat on the sly, which explains that second one that's particularly blurry. I'm not even sure if the girl in the dress is Diane Lane.

But still -- candid Richard Gere pictures! Rockin'!

Sometimes life, lived vicariously through others, is definitely worth the livin'!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

And they called it -- Puppy Love....

...and they say we're much too young....

That adorable cutey-pie is none other than Stanley, one of Mary Jane's three Havanese puppies born 9 weeks ago. Mary Jane was kind enough to bring him by TNK last night: we could all get a chance to cuddle him, before he jets off to his new home in Manhattan. (His new owners will be giving him a new name, but I can't remember what that is, so he'll always be Stanley to me!)

Mary Jane has been kind enough to send all of us TNK'ers weekly updates and pictures of the puppies, and it's been a real kick.

Last week she brought all three puppies into her shop, Unraveled, and had Stanley's sisters, Fiona and Nell, try on a knitted doll poncho. They are so cute, I can hardly stand it!

Fiona in her stylin' poncho
Nell takes a turn with the poncho

Last night, Norma got a chance to cuddle Stanley:

...and I was also allowed to snorgle with him, and came very close to dog-napping him! His pictures just don't do him justice. Besides being unbelievably cute, he's got the sweetest temperament, is gentle, alert, and playful but not too wiggly or spastic. All in all, a perfect puppy, (MJ - you raised him well!). His new owners are one lucky couple!


After Mary Jane and puppy left, (*sob!*), there was actual knitting taking place, although I didn't manage to photograph everyone there.

I did get a picture of Nancy:

...working on what appears to be a purse that will be felted. Sitting next to Nancy was Patsy, whom I forgot to photograph, but she was working on something incredibly beautiful -- my eye kept being drawn to it. (I hope you'll bring it next week, Patsy, and I'll try to get a picture of it then!)

Renny is working on a beautiful top in a gorgeous turquoisey-teal colored cotton:

my favorite color!

And Amy has finished her pretty cabled sweater:


Here I managed to catch Rita and Jo enjoying a funny story that Jane was telling:

Rita is working on a beautiful top made with three different Ironstone yarns carried together:

gorgeous fabric!

Issy had yet another beautiful finished object to share:

shawl made with Noro Sakura

...and she's also working on another Tilly Thomas bag:

This time it's an eyeglass case which she's crocheting, and it's just lovely. Another incentive for me to learn how to crochet.

I'm currently working on several things, including Virginia Tech blanket squares and a black hat for my nephew's birthday (his request). I hope to have some finished-object pictures to show in a day or two....

In the meantime, Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, May 14, 2007

400 years ago today...

...104 male settlers, after arriving at a site they named James Cittie the previous day, established the first permanent English settlement in the New World.

To celebrate, I share with you an old 1939 Richmond Times Dispatch Fred Seibel editorial cartoon I find particularly amusing, especially around Thanksgiving-time when the media focus tends to be on the Pilgrims and Plymouth Rock:

(click for big)

I love this: "... North Virginia, (now called Massachusetts)..."

Happy birthday, Jamestown, Virginia.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

Tranquil Saturday Sky


Today's predicted thunderstorm lasted about five minutes, unfortunately. We could have really used the rain.