Breezy Spinning

About three weeks ago, many people will remember that a rather crazy Derecho swept through the middle of the East Coast, and Michael and I were not excepted.  We lost power from Friday night until the next Tuesday Night, and consider ourselves lucky that it was only that long – many people in our area lost power for longer.

Our picnic 

If you remember, it has also been hot, and let me say, the Metro DC is humid hot.  The first day Michael and I surveyed the damage, and hung out at a friend’s basement.  They didn’t have power, but at least it was cool.  The second day, tired of being cooped up indoors, we walked down the street to Sligo Creek, which runs nearby us.  Armed with books, knitting and and all the foodstuffs that we were worried would spoil, we headed down to the creek.  There, in the shade in the creek-bed (which, might I remind you, creeks are the lowest points in the area and thus are oftentimes much cooler) with our feet in the water went spent the afternoon and evening on a rock.  It was lovely, and while not what we had planned to do with our weekend, an nice treat.

The creek also did a good job keeping our lemonade cool, which we submerged in the running water.

By that time we were lucky enough to have a friend call us who had power, and offered to let us use her freezer for anything that would spoil.  We went and did that.

And then we went back to our 8th floor apartment.  Which was not as nearly pleasant as the creekbed.  I remarked to Michael that it wouldn’t be nearly so bad if I had a fan.  Instead, I was sitting and sweating and spinning.  I couldn’t knit or crochet because well – my gauge changes when my hands sweat.

So what did Michael, the most wonderful man in the world do?

I with modded spinning wheel/fan

He disassembled a fan, melted a hole in it, hooked it up to my orifice, and rigged it so that as I treadled, I spun.

Not a bad weekend, all things considered.

Train Trips and Stitching

I’m working on another design that’s under contract, which
is why I haven’t been posting many progress photos recently… gotta keep it
under wraps. 
Riding on the train is prime knit and crochet time for
me.  It’s partly because there’s few
distractions.  It’s partly because
something about the movement of the train. 
And it is partly because I can turn on the music, look down at the work,
and get into the zen mode.
On the way down I’ve finished the sleeve to the contracted
project, worked a little on a vest that was hibernating and I’ve dug back out,
and also worked on another square for the log cabin blanket of alternative
Basically, I’ve been using the log cabin blanket to work out
some different ideas.  And stashbust.
I’m starting to brainstorm for the final shawl of the four
shawls I’ll be releasing in the next year. 
We’re going toward the winter one. 
I have to balance my desire to just drape a blanket over my shoulders in
the winter with something that is wearable and flattering.  We’ll see what comes out.
What have you been working on lately?

Travel, Alone/Lonely, Random Bits, Driving a Manual!

Michael is traveling for work.  Sometime around my senior year of college I realized I really wasn’t a person that did well living alone.  Now, this is not to say I dislike having alone time.  Being the oldest of four children, I used to beg my mother for some time to play when I did not have to share.  But I always knew I could go back and play with my siblings, or someone.  When I went off to camp I shared a cabin with 7 other girls, and there was always someone to play with.  When I moved to college I had room mates.

That is, until my senior year, when I got a single.  Michael, who I had been dating for a year and a half at the time, was away at sea, and I for various reasons was not as proximal to my friends as I was used to. (Is proximal a word?  If not, I’m pulling a Shakespeare).  I loved being able to set up my room however I wanted for about a week and a half.  Then I kinda just fell apart.  Without a room-mate there really wasn’t anyone to say “maybe you should go to bed” or “maybe you should eat.”  There was no social pressure to shower regularly.  I went to classes because I was a rule follower and because there was social pressure to go to class, but for a semester I was terribly lonely.  It was awful, and it was about then that I realized I really wasn’t happy living alone.  It also took a while for me to develop coping mechanisms to be able to live alone, which involved numerous alarms to remind me to eat, sleep and wake up.

I was so happy when Michael, and many of my other friends the grade below me, finally came back from abroad.  My second semester went much better, especially because Michael practically lived in my room more than his.

Which basically means that when Michael travels, I wander around the apartment looking rather lost.  It helped before we moved that I had a room mate that would basically take me under her wing while he was gone, but now I just sit home alone, and well, it’s kinda sad.  Normally the second or third day I’ll remember how to live alone, but there’s always an adjustment period.

I also have been known to just eat raw veggies and fruit and yogurt and corn while he is gone.  Which is kinda embarrassing.  But really, I don’t even want to eat my own cooking.


On a brighter note: I drove to the post office and back in the Manual, and only stalled once, in the parking lot, which practically doesn’t even count.  Didn’t stall out or roll back on any of the hills.  And the other day?  I drove across town for an errand by myself.  Be impressed.  This is hard work, when you learned to drive an automatic.

EDIT:  Just to clarify.  I first learned to drive an automatic.  Now I can drive an automatic AND a manual.


Last week was my birthday and it has now launched me into my
26th year… that is, I’ve completed 25 years of my life.

My sister Rosemary called on the morning of my birthday to
wish me a happy day.  In the course of
our conversation she pointed out to me that I’ve lived a quarter of a
century.  “You know, you’re old,” she
told me from her vantage point of 17 years of age.  “And if you are really unlucky, you’ve now
lived about half of your life.”
“Thanks,” I told her. 
One of the lovely things about being the oldest is my three younger
siblings.  They just love telling me how
old I am.
Later, I went to work at the Yarn Spot, where I got wished
happy birthday again.  There, everyone in
the store was telling me how young I was, “a practical baby.”  It’s amazing the range of reactions turning
25 gets.
I guess I expected 25 to come through with more of a flair,
but I feel like 24 was actually a bigger birthday, in some ways for me.  More was starting or beginning a year ago,
now I’m in a rythmn, and 25 just represents another year turning, a
continuation of the story instead of a new book or new chapter.  This is not a bad thing, as beginning over
and over again can be exhausting.  That
re-forming and re-defining of yourself and your surroundings is tiring.
The weekend following Michael and I had a small birthday
party.  It was supposed to be bigger, but
many people had to step out at the last moment. 
Ellie made me a lovely rainbow confection again, this time a cake
instead of cupcakes.  Any more of this
and it will start becoming a tradition. 
It was delicious, and Michael and I were eating the leftovers several
days afterward.
My friends at the Yarn Spot got me some lovely yarn they
know I have been eyeing.  Bobbi acquired
a really neat puzzle from Interweave that I’m looking forward to putting
together.  My family also showered me
with cards and love.
How do you celebrate birthdays?  Do you make a big deal about it?  What was your 25th birthday like
(if you’ve had it), or what do you imagine it being like if you haven’t?  I’d like to know.
PS: Also, I called my mother on my birthday and thanked her
for birthing me.  I suggest that you do
that for your mother too.  And as my
mother said this year when I thanked her, she laughed and said “Oh, I remember that like it was
yesterday.”  I don’t think she was
talking about the joyfulness of the occasion.

Interview question

Michael and I were talking the other night and he shared with me his new favorite interview question. “You are being mummified but only have one canonic jar. What organ would you take to the afterlife?”

“My spleen.” I said.

 “that’s what I said too.”

 Both of us, in tandem “-because it would be fun to say.”

 “And,” Michael pointed out, “How great would it be in the afterlife to be wandering around with your spleen in a jar?”

 I have to admit I agree with him. That would be cool.

So I will turn the interview question on you… What organ would you bring to the afterlife?

Michael Sorting Patterns

Michael was helping me organize some old pattern books as we worked to finish unpacking into our new place before his parents arrived the next day.  Partway through, he started flipping through some of the books and commenting on him.  This, to the best of my ability, marks his observations on some rather… interesting photos from an old knitting pattern book.  (Side note: please read all comments with as much innuendo as you can muster.  Also, Michael is a bit of an elitist when it comes to schools.  Davidson (our alma mater) is the “Ivy League” of the South, and since the South is better than the North, Davidson is better.  And, lest you argue that Duke is on the caliber of Davidson, Michael will let you know that Duke has neither an honor code or a free laundry service.)
Men’s Book: Skiing, Ducking and Golfing, Just what three guys like to do on a Saturday afternoon.  (Jen’s note: I love how one guy is planning on going skiing, another golfing, and another is just holding a wooden duck.  Put a bird on it! Takes new meaning.)

There, Steve, that’s where we’re going to go.
Hey, wanna see my Sword.  Look at that line of eyesight.  You know what’s going on there.  They’re probably from Harvard too.  Harvard dudes would be like that.
Do I look spiffy in this Cardigan.  He also looks like Pierce Brosnan.
Huh.  He’s totaly from Yale.  Look at those eyes.  He’s like I’m holding a penicl and this is a globe. What are you doing tonight.  And I’m wearing a sweater vest-cardigan thing.  Look at him, he thinks he looks so spiffy.
OOOH.  Zippers, seriously?  That’s funny.  He’s also a Yaleie.  He’s like, I’m going to take your picture, pose for me.  I’m looking good in this sweater/cardigan.
*Laughs*  Nice… rackets you have there.  That’s what she’s saying.  He says, I know, let’s go play with my shuttlecock.  I don’t know where they’re from.,  They’re wearing white, which says southern to me, no self-respecting southerner would pose suggestively like that.  I got it.  They’re from Princeton.
Oh, it’s old man bowling!  I don’t know if he’s actually posing, he looks a little natural.  Strikes every time, with that sweater in his bowling league.
He is totally from Yale.  Just look at thsi face, he’s like, that’s right, birdies, they’re all mine.  Look at the smug cock of his left shoulder. Because he’s wearing that knit/sweater/polo thing.  He thinks he’s all that.
With English accent.  I am sir goodfrey.,  This is my knitted chain-male.  Look as I pose with my helmet with my coquests from the far east.  I think he’d look better with a mustache.
I’m not sure what to think about him.  He’s creepy.  Definitely from Cornell.  He’s just sitting there.  So, I throw the pidgen, will you shoot skeet with me?  Seriosly, who would ever wear something like that if you’re going to shoot skeet?  Obviously if you’re a yuppie going to Cornell you would.
Ooh, here’s one.  Definitely harvard.  He’s like, India. I’ve been to India once.  I saw it on my yaght, well, from my yaght.  I’m going to mark it on my globe as a place I’ve been to.
Harvard’s from Boston, right?  He’s from Harvard, ’cause he’s got ice skates.  He’s like, “want to help me sharpen my skates?”  Plus the cabling on this sweater really makes me go fast.  That and the creases in my pants.
Son, let me show you how to handle a firearm.  Gee, golly willikers, it dad, it looks like you hit him from here.  Up, no more trespassers.
Yey!  We’re so great we’re going to hold a trophy.  Okay, I’m done with this one.

Adventures in Quilting (because all my hobbies eventually turn into careers)

Most of you who have been reading for a while know about my fiancé,
Michael, who loves trains. 
Seriously.  When we first started
talking about the wedding, we entertained (for about oh, ten minutes) the idea
of getting married on a train.
Whenever we get the opportunity, we take the train instead
of flying.  We have two different train
board games (TWO!) that Michael loves playing. 
When we went to his parents house for Christmas, he spent a lot of time
in the garage with his father playing with their train layout.
Now, I might not be as excited about trains as Michael, but
I appreciate them for other reasons.  You
can access the internet when on the train instead of on a plane or a car.  If you are on a train, you don’t have to
drive.  Trains are far more comfortable
than cars anyway.  Plus, it appeals to
the part of me that loves old-timey things, that likes the steampunk stuff
(before it was popular) and that loves how people used to get dressed up for
train rides.  We have even been known to
get dressed up for train rides (summer 381).
So a while back I decided to make Michael a train quilt, but
I wanted to make something that was… well, not childish.  That might be able to carry into
adulthood.  I had come across some
vintage train fabric, and it gave me the idea. 
Just to note:  There are
remarkably FEW train fabrics that are not Tomas the Tank Engine/Dinosaur Train themed.  This makes me sad.  But after much perseverance, I made a train
Like the story of my very first quilt (which I’ll share with
you sometime), this one had a lot of help. 
I also learned a rotary cutter is my friend.  Really good friend.

This last weekend, I mitered the edges of my quilt.  I had this really great train track fabric,
and I wanted it to run around the edge of my quilt like a border.  But I couldn’t just have the train tracks
running into the distance, I NEEDED to have them line up.
So I did the edge, and was VERY proud of myself.  I showed Michael.  Michael looks at it, and says, I kid you not,
“That’s really cool, but I wish they also made a switches fabric, so I could
run my train around the edges and have it switch tracks.”
So, anyone want to take on not only designing a train track
fabric, but also one that has switches that go between the two?

Michael’s Super Power

Michael has a super power, which I don’t talk about often, but is just shy of miraculous.  You see, Michael can find free food anywhere.  I kid you not.

For example: My senior year, Michael was a junior and studied abroad (well, technically on a ship, but that is another story) and came back home a month before the semester was over.  Rather than going home and bumming around, he persuaded his boss at work study to hire him as an intern for a month and a half.  Then, he arranged to crash at a friend’s place (and really, let’s be frank, he mostly crashed in my room) while he worked on campus.  The only problem?  He didn’t have a meal plan, or even a place he could really cook meals, since dorm rooms are short on anything other than a microwave.  Instead, he arranged to have various friends bring him sandwiches and wraps from the eating hall for brunch (our school had a rule that if it could fit in a coffee mug, you could take it out of the eating hall.   You’d be amazed what you can fit into a coffee mug) and then for dinner, he would find some club or other event that was offering free food (like pizza, pancakes, hamburgers, etc).  He managed to keep himself fed (and even gain a little weight) this way.

Nowadays, this manifests in Michael’s work network.  You see, he has people at work who owe him favors or want to ensure that their computers get taken care of quickly.  So they “bribe” Michael by inviting him to eat the leftovers from various luncheons, breakfasts, or other events.  Most days Michael ends up bringing his packed lunch home because he’s managed to fill up on free bagels, cookies, sandwiches, cupcakes, and other sundry items.

It truly is a super power.

Good News!

I’m excited to announce that Michael, my boyfriend, is now my fiance (that’s the fifth time I’ve introduced him as such, and while it’s rather silly, I’m going with it).

He proposed at Camp Chimney Corners (it’s in the Berkshires of MA) while we were walking around Smith Pond.  It was very romantic.

I’m pretty razzed about it, but I’ll try not to talk about it too much.

In other news, I’m in the process of submitting a few new designs to magazines.  I’ll let you know when I can tell you more, and there’s some sneak peaks forthcoming!

It’s My Birthday!

I know, Weight Watchers and Pie? Read on.


It’s my birthday, and right now I’m at the boyfriend’s family farm, and probably sleeping in.  (I scheduled this post before I left, because I’m just that considerate).

210So, as I might have mentioned before, I’m a member of Weight Watchers.  I’ve lost 50 lbs on the program in total, 17, since I’ve moved to Maryland.  I go through cycles where I’m really successful, and other times where I’m just going through the motions.  I try to be kind to myself when things don’t go right, and not excuse my successes.  (I have a habit of saying thinking, well it was just a pound.  I could have lost more if I tried.  Really, how silly is that?  A pound is a big deal).

A big part of my success is the Boyfriend, who stands in the background cooking me delicious dishes, cheering me on, and in general walking the fine line between helping me too much and not helping me at all.  (That’s hard.)
One of the ways he does this is by setting up rewards.  I’m highly susceptible to positive reinforcement.  The rewards don’t have to be that big.  My latest reward was supposed to be a bikeride to Mt. Vernon, where we were going to have a southern-style picnic which would include lemonade, fried chicken, potato salad, and strawberry-rhubarb pie.  Lest you think that a food reward seems counter-intuitive for a weight-loss program, let me point out the ride to Mt. Vernon is 20 miles.  And I would have had to bike back after I’d eaten pie.

Unfortunately, on Saturday when we were supposed to go, it rained.

A lot.

So instead, we went and picnicked under one of the porticos to the EPA building (near Federal Triangle).  Then we went to the American History Museum and the Natural History Museum.

Not quite what we were planning, but we’re adaptable.

Yes, Purple Potatoes.  How Cool is that?  It makes them look so much more nutritious.

The point to this story (other than bragging about Boyfriend’s pie making skills) is that I persuaded the boyfriend to use purple potatoes in the potato salad.

Let me just say, you haven’t had a southern style picnic until you’ve thrown it on it’s head by using purple potatoes.

It was the best.

Anybody interested in the purple potato recipe?