Monday, July 31, 2006

A word I find interesting


Weighing In

Apologies for anyone I might offend, but if you have a (free) NYT subscription, click this link and read. It's about a pastor who's refusing to allow his church to weigh in on political issues.

(I wish that church was here, where I live.)

So last night, though some of you may think I'm the weirdest weirdo to ever come from Planet Weird, I watched a couple of shows on Discovery Channel about people who were severely overweight and doing something about it. That's the attraction for me - I don't feel like watching just to watch. I want to cheer people on.

Anyway, three years ago I lost 50 pounds on Weight Watchers. I still use their maintenance program, but lately - life, stress, stomach, asthma - I haven't been as good at my workouts. So it helps to watch and be inspired by other people to continue down my path to health. I never have worried that much about looking thin, but I sure don't want diabetes and heart disease.

Last night I realized something, which probably tells you a lot about my Inner Poseur: gaining weight back after you've lost it, or falling out of the habit of original. How easy, how cliche, how boring. I know there are people out there who have medical reasons they'll fight their weight all their lives, but I don't have that excuse.

My only excuse for being out of shape or overweight, ever, is going to be bad choices.

Thinking along these lines, I'm not going to knit a project to the bitter end if I've made a bad choice of pattern, yarn or size. I'm not going to pursue finishing a layout if I've made a bad choice of crop, photo or typeface. Generally realizing I've made a bad choice means I'll do everything in my power to undo that choice. So why not apply that to health as well?

There was a time when I thought every single day, "Have I done everything I possibly could to be healthy today?" That was always super helpful to me, because it made each day the sum total of choices. And though I'm not in any danger now, aside from maybe needing to lose four or five pounds and START WALKING MORE, it's still the sum total of choices. It's just whether I let myself sit home and not work out and make excuses (even though everyone agrees that working out is the only thing that keeps weight off long term), or whether I do it.

I have always felt this way about myself - I know I can do lots of things. The question is, will I.

I know, I've turned into your motivational speaker lately. But I'm trying to motivate myself, and just sharing what I'm thinking about.

These things are simple, but they are not easy. This week I'm going to walk four times and be more careful about what I eat for lunch.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

We'll see

Inspired by Grumperina's Addi Thorno campaign, I wrote a letter to Billy Bag tonight to tell them that some of the stitching is wearing out on my bag, and also a hole is beginning to show in one of the bottom corners.

Friday, July 28, 2006

It's all about the pink

I'm serious, I didn't realize all my WIPs and recent finished objects were pink. But there is no denying it!

Works in progress

From top left: Cosmetic Bag from Holiday Knits, M-D dishcloth, M-D bib o' love, new Sock.

The cosmetic bag is the fair isle training wheels project for me - the red lining is what killed my hand last week. The warshcloth is finished - I swapped the foreground/background colors halfway through, that was fun! The bib is for Niecie and looks like melted ice cream. The sock I started today in Dale Baby Ull, 2 colors, and just kind of started knitting.

I totally frogged the Koigu. I wasn't feeling the love. Plus, it wasn't PINK. (Really, I'm not all that into pink, but apparently I am.)

The earrings are a WONDERFUL "Pay It Forward" gift from Mama-E. PIF is a sort of random acts of kindness secret pal thing, and I did the button for it - it's over at Mama-E's blog. These little greenie happies have daisies on them (the FRIENDLIEST flower) and are precious! Go give Mama-E some blog love, and give your friends some love by Paying It Forward!

The purple tissue paper is a gift Mama-E included for Fiona, cause Fee loves her some tissue paper. Every bit I get in packages goes into her stack under my desk, and every night she crawls on top of it and settles in. Bet Mama-E didn't know she was giving a giftie to Fee as well!

In return, Fee gave Grady some of her treats. He hasn't paid anything forward yet, but when he does, I'll let you know.

(They both ran away from me when I tried to take their picture.)

Floyd denies cheating


Thursday, July 27, 2006

I'm with Phloyd

First off, can someone tell me why it takes three trips to the store for me to remember butter and tea?

What I think about Floyd is that if Floyd is guilty, Floyd should be sacked from Phonak and generally disgraced. Do I think he IS guilty? Well, there's the test, but to my mind nobody would BE THAT STUPID to try to pull off a win the Tour using drugs. Any stage winner, any yellow jersey holder - the minute they're off the bike, they are in the trailer getting a drug test. They know it. It's ridiculous to try to beat that system.

He flunked the test at Morzine, stage 17. The day he had such a killer ride and made Tour history. Again, I doubt he use drugs and call attention to himself.

So, the SI article I read says, Floyd had been crying when he called the interviewer. Because his mom essentially couldn't go home because so many reporters were angling for a quote. Floyd says it isn't true, and I'm inclined to believe him. I hope and pray it's a flawed test, that the B sample clears him, that it's a medicinal side effect, or that it was simply a mistake.

I hope when they announce that it was, they do it in a way that shows that the Tour's directors are not bitter people bent on defeating Americans in any way possible.

I don't think he did it. I'm with Floyd.


I had a long post, but I deleted it. I'm stuck in knitting purgatory - the point in time where you start Learning a New Technique but you aren't Quite Comfortable yet.

Fair isle. Not kick-your-mom fair isle, just three colors, two per row and a four-row repeat, but enough to kick my behind. I'm making the cosmetic bag from Holiday Knits.

How do you hold your yarn? Both in left? One in each? Both in right? Help! Send help please!

Had a fun lunch with Betty. I must say, it is awesome to have lunch with a friend and talk mostly about knitting and not feel like they are going to think you're crazy. Because I have two cats, I'm single and 36 and I knit. Because at some point people are going to start giving me those looks.

So what I was posting before about (but went on way too long) was the idea that books are designed to work in a certain manner - letterspacing, line spacing, font, color, margins, size - so that when you're reading you don't realize you're reading. Getting way involved in the story is why people read - it's called suspension of disbelief. The page design helps that, so your conscious mind can disengage from the physical act of reading and focus on the content. Knitting is like this too - dependent upon muscle memory - and it becomes automatic over time. I'm not there yet at all with this stranded knitting stuff. But when I finish I will have a lovely gift to give someone. I complained all the way through the lining, because it was knit on 4s with worsted cotton. (Ouch.) Now I've changed to 6's but am using 3 colors. I am not giving up, but I could use your tips and tricks.

S.O.S. !!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Obsession

(cue Animotion track)

(it was Animotion, wasn't it?)

(it's amazing how many 80s songs were so shamelessly about...ahem.)

My obsession

Here you see scientific evidence of two things:
1. Someone has an obsession with cotton yarn, including dishcloths, placemats, bibs, burp cloths and a cosmetic bag.
2. Someone's right hand really hurts.

Someone's stomach, however, is feeling better. Not a lot better, and not 100%, but definitely better. I worked out last night. I wish you could have heard my internal dialogue. "I'm tired." "No." "Come on, there's a stitch in my side." "You are not slowing down." The thing I like about exercise best is that almost always, your body can do way more than you think it can (cue Tour de France clip). I'm glad I pushed through it - I feel better for it.

I have just learned the charming bungalow in a truly crappy neighborhood in Nashville that I have been interested in recently is on the market for $979,000. (Yeah, that was my reaction too. It better bake me biscuits every morning and feature self-cleaning toilets for that price. And no, I am not even remotely in the market for a house that expensive. Besides, I don't need an 8 bedroom house, no matter how charming.)

Someone ELSE asked if Addis and INOX Express (with the black cords) were the same in terms of pointiness. INOX needles are definitely pointier, but they won't poke holes in your hands. A lot of people like the INOX for lace knitting for just that reason (they are around $7 a pair.) Another someone else asked about Sugar n' Cream vs Peaches n' Creme yarns. They're very similar. Heavy cotton with virtually no give. I think Sugar n' Cream probably bleeds more colorwise. I use both, though at the moment I've been buying mostly Sugar n' Cream. And thank you for all the thoughtful comments about needles and stuff, y'all know I love reading your comments, don't you?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

But why is everyone calling them cheap?

Ok, I understand some of you love the Options needles from KnitPicks. Me, personally? I like a lighter needle, and my tastes run pretty parallel to our gal Grumperina except for my preference for magic loop. I've got a really nice collection of INOX Express with 40" cords, a smattering of Addi Naturas and three Turbos. (I don't like how blunt the Turbos are, but I'm stuck with them for size 0 magic loop.) So Grumperina did this test where she weighed the needles she bought, and they were all about twice as heavy as her other needles, and she sent them all back. I think there were dpns, an Options circular, a Classic circular.

So okay, you use the needles you like and I'm not gettin' preachy about it. Just saying that there's scientific evidence to back up the reason I'm not interested in buying them.

On to the slogan: Only knitters could come up with something this cool. Oh yeah? Apparently these people have never felt the sleek caress of a sports car on their behind. (Or all the car designers at BMW are knitters.) Dumb slogan.

I think their other (main) advertising slogan offended a lot of people - not the "traveling the world" slogan but the way they kind of act like "why would you ever go to an EXPENSIVE yarn shop when you have us?" Which is kind of sad - there is plenty of room in the market for Rowan and KnitPicks both. (Personally I wonder if they were aiming straight at Rowan when they said all that, but it could just be indigestion.)

The yarn isn't bad, though the shipping is pretty atrocious. In contrast, try ordering something from KPixie, the online shop KnitPicks filed a lawsuit against because they thought people were confusing "Knit Pixie" (an upscale, online knitting boutique) with "Knit Picks" (totally the opposite except for being online). If you order from KPixie you'll have your yarn in two days, tops. Order from Knit Picks and you'll be lucky if it's shipped in five.

Again, not picking - you can order from wherever you choose. But what I have a beef with is knitters calling this Options set "cheap."

Ok, maybe the materials are cheap, and that explains the weight. The packaging certainly is, and is another reason I've no desire to own them (sorry, I'm a designer at heart and I've been known to put a Bible back on the shelf because I didn't like the way the type was set, so I'm just being consistently anal).

But the prices? The circulars are comparable to INOX Express, and the Options kit has 9 needle sizes and 4 cables. For $60. And that is most certainly not cheap.

Controversy like this in the knitting world is often very amusing. You get people who say "YES, BUT HAVE YOU TRIED THEM" - my answer is no. I will take your word for it that for you they are the best thing you've ever used. Other needles are that for me - just try to understand - no need to tell me you feel that way. You get other people who don't really care except for a few bizarrely misplaced words in their campaign (like me). And then there are people who already have Boyes or Sister sets or Denise who are just fine with them and have no need to spend $60 on another needle set.

See, Mom and I were talking yesterday morning in another context about the reasons people buy things. Status. Price. Value. There's one other, but Consumer Behaviour was quite a few years ago in my lift. A Status shopper is probably going to go for all Addi, all the time. Or a Sister set. Price people will go for the cheapest thing they can get their hands on. They'll shop within a context (Wal-Mart) and if they don't find something that's what they need, they won't buy it. Value shoppers, however, are willing to look around for a bit. They dig a deal (see Hype handbags at TJMaxx) and are willing to look for it. They may be status shoppers at heart who will actually spend $210 on a purse, but not until they know they can't find a better price anywhere else.

I think Knit Picks is trying to hit the Value segment, and I think they overshot the price points by about $10. $49.99 would have seemed like a bargain for this set. $59.99 sounds a lot higher, though it's only $10 more. But I also think that the Knit Picks brand has become so associated with Value shoppers (those willing to wait for shipping to get a deal, or deal with not seeing the yarn till they get it, or whatever) that most people ordering Options needles feel like they must be getting a deal because it's Knit Picks.

Now, love them, hate them, adore the needles or ignore them, that is a stroke of pure marketing brilliance. When you can take a set of heavy needles in cheap packaging that are absolutely minimal in features, make people wait 2-3 weeks for shipping and still charge them $10 more than a bigger set they can drive to their local yarn shop to get, your brand has some power behind it.

It won't, ever, with the Status knitters (which is lucky for yarn store owners because those are the people who will seriously spend money), and some things will hold certain Value shoppers back (ahem). They'll never get the Price knitters. But it's a decent market chunk, and they've obviously created a strong brand.

And now I'm off to work to do some branding of my own.

Monday, July 24, 2006


It truly looks like a bomb stuffed with cotton went off in my living room last night.

I bought some shiny new Brittany needles and five skeins of Sugar n' Cream in a pretty light blue, and I started knitting some placemats. (I'm not sure if I like the knitted fabric, but they seem pretty cool and a super fast knit so far.) The pattern is from Holiday Knits. And watched Fight Club. And didn't finish my in-progress dishcloth, burp cloth or hat. Or socks. Um.

And I read the prescribing information for Singulair, because somewhere back in the dim outer reaches of my brain, a light went on. And yes, it causes stomach pain, stomach upset, and heartburn.

So we're stopping that for a bit. Blech.

Saturday, July 22, 2006


GB told me I scored ten points for buying the new bag, he didn't care how much it cost and I believe he thanked God Himself a time or two.

Hilarious. (In my opinion, sarcasm is a vital part of any relationship.)


Ok, first off, GO FLOYD. (Talk about winners!)

The prize for the Christmas in July contest is a skein of Mama-E sock yarn in the July / Project Spectrum colorway Beauregard (as in, Violet):


It's a little more purple than what you see here, and very lovely!

The winner is Anne! Hi Anne! Please email me with your address at meangirlATcomcastDOTnet and I'll send your yarn out Monday! (Also, let me know if there is anything from the States you are dying to have.)

Thanks everyone for playing! (PS, which post didn't matter - as long as you put in your high temps, you were entered.)

Friday, July 21, 2006


So I have this little quirk in my left leg. As far as I know it's always been there - it's a hole. In the bone. Upper tibia. Or maybe it's the other one - whichever one is on the inside. Just a small little hole that never caused me any trouble until I was 13 and walking home from my "boyfriend's" house, in a snowstorm, with my shoes untied (because it was 1983 and I was cool). I slipped. I landed with my whole weight on top of that knee, kind of sitting in a bizarre Indian style position.

From that point on, it's hurt me every time it rains. I had many, many tests done on it years ago - CAT scan, bone scan, enough x-rays to sterilize me, blah blah - and the verdict was that I had a little hole in one of the bones that was helpfully filled in by cartilage, and my wild adventuring had knocked it slightly loose.

So it filled in with scar tissue, and the result is that on rainy days like today, it aches. Just a little, but just enough. I'm a walking barometer. I never take anything for it, because I like how it feels. I like remembering the snow on my face and my stupid ugly built-in-vest coat and my Nikes that cost a pretty penny and how I was half-walking, half-sliding on the ice, and then bang! Ow.

I like that. Because I'm crazy.

They say that yesterday was the biggest single day ever in the history of cycling. One thing is for sure: Floyd kicked it. It made me wonder if I have ever really kicked it physically a day in my life. (I have professionally from time to time.)

When the doctors told me about the hole in my leg they used words like "structural weakness" and told me not to do any impact sports until I was 18 and stopped growing. Then I went to college and I was on a rowing crew my freshman year, and I ran, swam, lifted weights and rowed till I puked (literally). I guess I did kick it. My knee never bothered me - maybe all those years during high school of only riding my bike paid off. I have no idea if the hole is even there anymore.

But Floyd? Floyd has a problem with his hip. Most specifically, the artery that fed the ball joint in his right hip died. And so did his hip joint. And after this year's Tour, Floyd is having a hip replacement. And those are sketchy - nobody knows if he'll be able to return to professional cycling. And he was out there yesterday, basically beating the pants off the best guys in the world. Ignoring his hip, apparently. And kicking it. He started the day eight minutes and eight seconds behind the yellow jersey, and ended just 30 seconds short. Which in cycling is monumental.

So what I'm wondering is, what has ever held you back? Has a physical ailment or your mental state or maybe your finances or your family kept you from doing something you wanted to do? Maybe you have always wanted to learn Fair Isle, or knit an Alice Starmore, or maybe just make your first pair of socks. What's holding you back?

Can you think about it just a little, just for today, and decide if you really want it? Maybe you'll decide you don't - that's ok. But maybe you'll decide you're going to try to kick it, and maybe if you do, the guy that rode 3600 km in the Tour de France with one leg longer than the other and no hip joint on one side could inspire you.

I'm thinking it might inspire me.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New goodies!

I've been TJMaxxing again. This time my search brought me this:

New bag

A Hype Dublino hobo bag. (I got a huge stinking deal on this, more than half off retail and it's perfect.)

But, unlike my Billy Bag, this one does not have a spiffy internal pocket to hold my socks in progress. I'm not really ready to give up the Billy goodness, and I actually went looking hoping to find another Billy. But there were none, and I've been wanting a Hype bag for about a year. So this is definitely the next best thing. (In addition to that, GB can no longer complain that my bag looks like his grandmother's luggage - to which I always reply "Your grandma is cool").

Annnnyway. So, needed a knitting bag to put inside of purse for sock carrying purposes. Today I went to a cute little place called Woo Cosmetics and found three little bags, two ORE and one Walker:
3 Little Bags

The orange and brown canvas bag is for makeup and traveling. The black bag holds my everyday survival kit - lipstick, shiny sheets, mints, eyedrops, lip gloss, tea bag. And the white bag is for this:

Sock Bag
That's right! One pair of socks plus my haul-with-me notions. How fun is that?

I stopped at the yarn store and bought some Blue Sky cotton for another chemo cap, and some Misti Alpaca and needles to teach a coworker to knit:

Blue Sky Cotton

Misti baby alpaca

Now I'm home and, Lord help me when I first got in I thought I could smell cat pee - but it turned out to be a leftover dish of canned cat food from this morning. (Vile.)

I started another bib in a white/pink/brown combination last night while watching L'Alpe d'Huez. I'm so sorry about Floyd. He bonked. That stinks so bad.

Have fun with this link: Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974 and don't forget about the contest. YOUR local highs! Just post 'em!

Today it really truly is 98 degrees, at 7:02pm.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Makeup source

Mel asked for my dealer where I get this fantabulous makeup - it's called BareMinerals, and I doubt I would buy it from QVC even though they have it. Like someone noticed, they love their "autoship" where you automatically get more every x months. I can't imagine needing this more frequently than every 4-6 months, possibly longer.

They are based in San Francisco (good for Mel but maybe not everyone else) and here is an online link.

If you can find it I'd recommend the kit that has 2 foundations, mineral veil, warmth (bronzer), bareVitamins, and 3 brushes - $60 and a good starter kit.

Don't forget to leave me a comment for the sock contest! (And yes, I do want you to leave your forecasted temps for the week, all of them, but if you already posted just an average or something, don't post again!)

Monday, July 17, 2006

98 degrees and a CONTEST

Ok, isn't that a band? Isn't July too early for that kind of weather?

One thing I want to report, since it's been so hot (and is supposed to be A HUNDRED on Thursday) is that this BareMinerals makeup is holding up like an absolute champ. It doesn't slide off, melt, run, get sticky or otherwise break down, even in the heat, at least not as far as I can tell. I've gotten a bit damp in it, and after I dry out it seems to look just as perfect as before. I really can't recommend this stuff highly enough. (Make sure to get the Mineral Veil with the foundation.)

Maybe today if I'm lucky I'll get some sock knitting done.

It's going to be hot. Let's have a contest: leave me a comment with your posted & forecasted highs for the week by Friday at midnight, and Saturday I'll use a random number generator to give away a skein of LOVELY Mama-E sock yarn from my stash. (All you wallflowers, give me a comment for once!)

We'll call it "Christmas in July," how's that?

Sunday, July 16, 2006


For anyone who's a Nashvillian, I spent a very enjoyable night tonight at The Blue bird Cafe - the most fun writer's night in town (I put the space in to avoid those search monsters). We also went to see the Pirates movie, and I'm not sure why everyone thought it was so confusing. (It wasn't to me, anyway.)

Can you believe I didn't knit OR watch the Tour today? I fixed up my bathroom. Got down and scrubbed the floor. Bought new rugs, the old were v shabby. They are a lovely ocean blue. I even got a toilet rug (though not the round-cornered type, this one has square corners) and put it sort of under and sort of in front of le cat box, and it helps the tracking a lot (we are going with the wheat for now).

My tummy is getting better, but just as a side note - though Mylanta may make you feel lots better, do not drink it without measuring it. I am not going to explain that one except to say my mom (the nurse) laughed at me when I told her I did it. (Har.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Watching your friends' kids

It's nice to be awakened at 7:30 in the morning by the 7-year old calling you from the gate, a half-mile down a very large hill and next to the road, because she went to look at the horses.

(Hey, at least she called.)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Friday

Who says a conga line can't be in a music video???

Feeling slightly better

Koigu makes it all better sometimes. Yesterday was a horrible day, and having some yarn to knit with absolutely no pattern in mind led to me spending my lunch hour playing around with graph paper and coming up with this:

Sometimes Koigu makes it better

That's loosely based on the Spiral Rib Wristwarmers from LMKG. I'm doing 5-row blocks before I switch the round one stitch over. It seems to be working well, but I did do a 16-stitch repeat and maybe I should have made the sock a tad bigger. It fits, but it's stretched on my leg. Not painfully, just a little. Won't be on the foot though.

So maybe this one is one I'll actually come up with a clever heel and toe on and publish the pattern. (Don't want to jinx myself though. I have been reading Stephanie's blog.)

My tummy's feeling moderately better and Fee's is all better (I hope). Seems like Nexium works little by little. I have been eating way too many Tums, still, but I think I'm improving.

Here's Fee, telling you all how she felt yesterday:
Fee's tummy hurt

She'll get no sympathy from the Schmade:

Thursday, July 13, 2006


From L'Equipe:
C'est désormais Floyd Landis qui est aux commandes du Tour.

We love Floyd!

They don't want to be mine...

I'm heartbroken. This may be the first time I've picked yarn and pattern carefully and (I thought) intuitively for a project, and then the final didn't turn out at all as I hoped. I'm talking about those Madder Rib Socks I've been working on off-and-on for two weeks. They are a flop.

It's not the yarn - the yarn is lovely and yummy and if it were me, I'd call the color 3-D, because it looks like it would look really cool through 3-D glasses. It's not the needles - the needles are right for the pattern. It's the heel - it's too narrow for my wide-ish foot. And, more importantly, it's the toe - it starts too early and decreases over the widest part of my foot, so it feels tight.

It's the pattern. While the pattern is lovely and brilliant, it's not the right shape for my foot.

Which means I have a decision to make. I could finish them as they are and gift them to my friend, who has narrower heels and toes than I do but the same size feet. I could rip them out totally and start again, or I could rip the toe back and knit a normal one, thereby completely blowing my "master's study" idea, and just learn to love the heel.

(TMI ALERT) To top it all off, GB gave the kitties some canned food they hadn't had before last night. Fee had a little trouble with it. She did make it to the box, but I still had to clean up a little this morning and she feels terrible, I can tell. (This has never happened to her before.) (/TMI ALERT) My morning commute took an hour (usually 20 minutes) and it's raining. And my stomach hurts.

So I did the only reasonable thing a girl in my situation can do - I went into the stash and found some needles and Koigu, and I'm going to knit something else while I think about what that Sundara yarn is going to be.

Really, do you blame me?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One last update on my mom

My mom had her 3-month post-op MRI on Friday, and the report/doctor followup today. (For anyone who doesn't know, she had an abscessed tooth and the infection went systemic and lodged in her spine, and she nearly died.)

On Friday, she took care of a Mennonite preacher who asked her what she was nervous about. It's unusual for her to talk personally with her patients, but she told him and he put his hands on her back and prayed for her and told her she was going to be okay. She said afterward she felt peaceful and safe for her MRI because of it.

Today the doctor told her there is no further sign of infection in her spine. He also explained what he did for her surgery back in April - he cleaned up a disc that was bulging a little and causing her some numbness in her right leg and has been bothering her for about 10 years or so, so now that's gone. He took out infection/abscess from both sides of her spinal cord, both intra-spinal (in the canal) and epidural. He told her that if she doesn't have any residual pain by now, she likely won't have any. For those of you versed in back-surgery lingo, she had 4 partial laminectomies at L2, L3, L4 and L5.

Also, he told her how lucky she is to be alive. Um, but I know better than to call it luck.

Light blogging for a while

Today the Tour goes up into the Pyrenees. I gotta be honest with you - this is my favorite part of the year. I may be scarce for the next ten days or so.

If you were to ask me why I love the Tour de France so much, the first thing you'd probably say is "you're a cyclist, right?" Well, no. I'm pretty paranoid about getting hit by a car, and cycling takes too long - the only sport I ever did on any level was rowing, and that is unique in its own right. You have only a few minutes in a rowing race to prove your mettle. In other words, I have no patience for cycling myself.

I love the grand nutty craziness of the Tour, the Caravan, the sweaty riders, the farmer tans, the spectacle of 3600km of crowd, complete with haystack animals, painted pigs and that weird guy that dresses up as the devil every year. I love the fact that I can't figure out why they do it - why they are willing to do the equivalent of a marathon for twenty-one straight days. I love how nice and chatty most of the riders are.

But really, most of all I think I love the fact that they don't quit. In America there is not a lot of gloire in le Tour. There isn't a lot of money comparatively speaking, and unless you're You-Know-Who there isn't much fame over here. I don't think they do it just to be famous in Europe.

Most especially as an example of something you probably ought to quit but don't, I love the climbing stages. Sprints are exciting but no match for going up a HC mountain. Mountain stages generally about four hours of sheer physical agony, amazing teamwork and unbelievable sticktoitiveness. I swear there are times during my workouts throughout the year where I think "if they can climb four cat-1 mountains in one stage, I can surely move a little faster." Tonight is the first mountain stage, and next Tuesday will be L'Alpe d'Huez, which is where Phil and Paul, the commentators, (if they haven't already) will start talking about riders "reaching into their suitcase of courage" and "cracking" as in "He's cracked 500 meter short of the finish!" The commentary gets more entertaining as the race does - these guys LIVE for this stuff.

It's all a lovely, glorious, messy, sweaty, public, don't-give-up spectacle. I start looking forward to it every year in May just after Memorial Day.

Anyway, that probably doesn't make sense to most of y'all BUT if you have OLN amongst your TV channels, give the Tour a try. (It starts at 7pm.) See what you think.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Why so much i-cord?

Sara left a comment: I've been reading your blog for a while now and have never figured out why it is "144 inches of I-cord! Enlighten please!

It's all Kirsten's fault.

Years and years ago, Kirsten was my roommate. We were good friends, went to the same church, and while I was messing around online with a boy crush, she had a nice crush on Jeep Boy, who lived across the hall. (You can tell my market is teenagers, right?) Kirs went away to be a missionary for 2 years on a ship, and moved to Oregon when she came back. I stayed here. Last July, Kirsten came here to visit. It was her first visit here where I was a knitter, and I made her go yarn shopping with me and show me everything she knew because I was so new. Somehow I decided I neeeeeeded to knit a Booga Bag. I bought the Noro, cast on, and over the next few days knitted my bag. Then it was time to knit the i-cord, and I hate i-cord. I whined, we watched the movie Wimbledon, and Kirsten was kind enough to knit a great lot of i-cord for me. We passed it back and forth for a couple hours.

Of course you know, lots of i-cord means lots of measuring. I asked her how much i-cord I had to knit, and she said, "Six feet is good," or something, and then I (who am math challenged) said, "How many inches is that?"

I had just measured my i-cord and after all this knitting had about 54 inches. (I could barely stand to knit any more i-cord and needed encouragement.) Kirsten's answer was "144?" and the look on my face must have been terrible, because we laughed till we nearly wet our pants.

Later I decided that if there was a seventh circle of knitting hell for me, it would involve knitting 144 inches of i-cord a day, the ultimate in knitted futility. I decided it was catchy, and that's how I named the blog.

So, remember the asthma trouble of last week? Late Saturday night I figured out it was my stomach and not asthma at all. The pains were different and involved more of not being able to expand my chest than my normal asthma pattern of hauling in air under a weight on my chest. Also it seemed like my inhaler just wasn't doing anything for me. After much talking with Mom (the nurse) and so much stomach pain yesterday I could barely stand it, I went to the doctor. It was about the weirdest exam ever - she kept asking me all these strange questions that I couldn't really say yes or no to. Have I felt like I was getting a kidney infection recently? Blah blah. She poked at my ankles (I guess for fluid, there was none.) The upshot is that I have acid reflux ickiness or a very irritated and mad stomach lining - the treatment is the same. So for at least two weeks I have to take Nexium and avoid caffeine and stop eating an hour and a half before bedtime (which I am sorry to say I have been doing). I am not thrilled about taking another prescription but if it helps, great. Probably the different time of eating is permanent and I have been hitting the caffeine too much for a couple of months - twice a week is about right for diet cokes for me. The Nexium is supposed to let my stomach lining replace itself without extra acid to irritate it. I got a lecture: someone my age should not be popping Tums twice a week .

Oh, and, to answer another kitty Fiona absolutely loves her laser pointer and will chase it till she pants. She'll chase, stalk, run up and down walls, and completely exhaust herself. (Grady could care less.) They also love ping-pong balls. Weird, huh?

Monday, July 10, 2006

This is all Ann's fault

(Not sure why.)

Bib and burp cloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting - this is my Tour de France "mindless" knitting. I love lime green and red together, and I love bright colors for babies. (But I hope I don't fry your retinas.)

My fancy Tour knitting

Fee does all she can to avoid capture:

And Grady surveys his kingdom:
Grady surveys his kingdom

On the table there are some "champagne" bubbles sent from my SP. The cats love them. I do them whenever I think of it for as long as I can without getting winded, and they chase them like crazy. No kitty was ever happier than when they can chase bubbles.

I didn't do much yesterday - you saw the knitting, I watched le Tour, and I sat around. It was pretty sweet. Maybe some pirates are in my future today.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I can't win

Apparently the newspaper box has become Box for #2, and the wheat box has become Box for #1.

I can't win.

Kitty friend successfully taken care of. It was a rough day. I have a headache.

The carpet is clean

I moved everything I could in the living room, dining room and my bedroom and vacuumed the heck out of the rug. I also dusted all the furniture, cleaned up my stash and filled the new vacuum's box with trash to throw out. I made new little hidey-holes for the kitties, I moved litter boxes around, scooped, changed and observed.

I can't tell anything. They show a slight preference for the wheat and paper litters over pine, and the paper tracks like crazy and it's teeny so you can't avoid it. (I like the wheat.)

Now they are down to two boxes - wheat and paper. I hope that I again won't be able to tell a difference, because if I can't, we're going with wheat.


I am in the middle of picking up stitches for my second sock gusset. I'm going to probably miss knitting group today - I have to go watch that friend's kitty again and I don't want to miss my Tour. I went out of town yesterday so today I need a break from cleaning and traveling.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The fun never stops

We're changing the name from Chateau I-Cord to Maison des Chats Méticuleux. (There is just no pleasing some kitties.)


(You really shouldn't zoom in on that one.)

Clockwise from top left: S'Wheat (scoopable wheat litter), Pa-Purr (recycled newspaper litter, also scoopable, but smells weird and plasticy), Feline Pine (their current litter, made from pine). You may notice a theme. I like to call it No Clay Litter And Everything Must Be Flushable. (According to some very unscientific tests, they do not actually like the pine. Grady loves the newspaper and waited all of 30 seconds before jumping in. Fee said "eh." Neither of them seem to have noticed the wheat yet. Score is 8-1-0 Newspaper.)

And look what arrived today!


I'm off to move my furniture and vacuum under it. Because, well, my deadline was moved, so I don't have to work this weekend, and the best I can come up with on short notice for "fun on Friday night" is "move the furniture and vacuum under it."

The fun never stops!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

To Dye For

Sheila gave me a yummy book for my birthday: Yarns to Dye For. I've been reading a little of it every day and the techniques are really interesting, the color combinations are overall pretty great, and while I don't think I'll be dyeing any faux Fair Isle I really love the self-striping techniques. (She's really good at describing the process of handpainting and I'm for sure going to try immersion dyeing when I can get some yarn to dye.) So that's been really interesting.

Last night GB and I watched Rock Star/Supernova. It's kind of a rocker version of American Idol with the winner as the lead singer of Tommy Lee's new band. (For those of you who don't know, I was obsessed with Tommy Lee Goes to College or whatever that show was called.) The singers are overall pretty good but it had its surreal moments. One chick from Africa was just weird and doing some kind of insane grim reaper act - she looked like a clown. The guy who did the best sang last, and though he looked a bit like an Oompah-Loompah, he rocked the house. Anyway, more on that later.

I bought the Feliway spray. Grady seems to be the most charmed by it - Fee kind of acts suspicious like there might be a cat hiding in the bottle, but he seems relaxed around it. We'll see what happens.

I also bought a new vacuum last night - a Hoover Windtunnel from Costco. Very tasty! My carpet looks new. My vac has been slowly failing (no vacuum can stand up to the terrors of that much cat hair for long) and it was time to replace it. This one has an attachment with a beater brush for picking up pet hair, and an embedded dirt filter! Green light goes on when the carpet is clean. Also a HEPA filter which I am hoping will help my asthma.

Not much knitting yesterday - I started the heel on one Madder Rib sock and the seam stitch seems like an interesting design element. I guess I never understood that it is recessed on the sock and you're not supposed to feel it. Now that I've seen Purly Whites' example, I've drunk the kool-aid and I'm trying it out. It's very interesting. (Purly Whites makes Sundara yarn.)

I've knit a few rows on the pea pod sweater, but I think my TDF project is going to be knitting baby bibs. I need something pretty mindless, and I've got enough cotton to outfit about 30 babies. I may also pick up the bath mat again.

Freezing here at work today. Must work, on deadline tonight and working late. Piffle.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Some things I have learned

Came home last night to cat pee on bedroom carpet, so no blogging last night. Woke up an hour late this morning, so no blogging this morning.

I've learned a lot today. I've learned that cats pee on your clothes when you aren't giving them enough attention, or when you are. As a "positive" feedback, or as negative.

I've learned that Feliway is supposed to put "friendly cat" smells on stuff so that your cats are calmer, less fighty, and don't pee on stuff.

I've learned that there's a Feliway air-freshener-type-thingy available at PetStoopie for $27.99. (Guess where I'm going after work.)

I've learned that I did not lose my Tiffany ring last night inside the carpet cleaner, the dish disposal, or the toilet. I've learned that it was in the hinge of the glove compartment, right where I left it. (Sorry, too panicky for pictures.)

And I've learned that there is a new Knitty up. Apart from the fact that I am spending all my free time working, watching le Tour, and cleaning up cat pee, there are quite a few things I want to knit in this issue - first and foremost being Fetching. I'm going on a yarn crawl for some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran this weekend, but if that doesn't work I've got some Karabella Aurora 8 in the stash that's dying to be knit into something yummy.

I've learned that 75 and rainy is not necessarily a better alternative to 96 and sunny when your car air conditioning is acting up.

And finally, I've learned that Advil and Pamprin makes a nice cocktail for those less-than-cheery days.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Happy Independence Day, y'all.

I'm not typing a lot today - the kitty I was taking care of yesterday sliced me open (what, does that make four or five scratches this month?) and my finger hurts. This after I fed her, cleaned her room and catbox, gave her a comfortable place to sleep, aired everything out and gave her some love...she was really enjoying me petting her head and then WHAM! blood. Ow. I bet it doesn't hurt as bad as Thor Hushovd's arm, though...

On the asthma front, I'm better. I forgot I was out of Flonase, which helps a lot to control it, and I think I forgot my other medication the past two nights. I got the nasal spray again and it seemed to help last night and got back on track with my Singulair. You never know about this stuff. (I didn't do it on purpose - I firmly believe medicine is a gift from God, I just get lazy sometimes.)

I'm off to have a cookout with friends - have a yummy and happy Independence Day!

Monday, July 03, 2006


Um, on that Madder Rib sock? It's a Dutch heel and a Pointed toe. Apparently Dutch = German and Pointed = Star in my internal glossary.

I hate having asthma. More than that, I hate waiting for my inhaler to work.


That would be the color of Sugar n Cream I dug out of the stash to start a small Odessa for my current favorite 21-month old girl:

Start of Odessa

You can see I'm doing all I can to avoid actually working on the sweater.

To answer a comment, the sweater yarn is none other than Encore Worsted (bought for its easy care and bright colors) in color 3335. (It really is that bright.)

Went to see Superman Returns last night in 3-D at the IMAX. It was pretty good - I don't know why but I didn't love it. It seemed kind of harsh. Kate Bosworth's makeup was perfect - Superman's makeup was too perfect. There were a lot of close-up shots that were supposed to show off his face; I saw the makeup. (Weird.) Overall it was a good superhero movie.

My boy Dave Zabriskie is in third place in the G.C. of the Tour de France - go Dave! I miss his old blog with all the super-funny one question interviews from the peloton: "Do you like Star Wars" "You mean the movies?" "Yes." "Thank you."

Happy Monday. Take it easy today! I'm off to work.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


So yeah, today I've been reading the esteemed Fashion Nightmare Blog, Go Fug Yourself. Because it's funny. Because they really think they look good.

So I was reading the archives and this Dear Auntie column has a "letter" from a person who thinks she's "edgy" because she has her nose, eyebrows, navel and several other body parts pierced.

I mean, COME ON, people, it is SO not 1986 anymore. That (while is may be your personal fashion choice) is most certainly not "edgy." Hilarious, and kind of reminds me of the House episode where the med school guy told House he was an individual because of the tattoos on his arms, and House responded by saying "yes, that's so original, you and 100,000 other kids who think getting a tattoo makes them original really have a point there." (Not that I mind tattoos, but he was right. Get them if you like them, not because they make you an individual.)

Speaking of edgy, I think my Pea Pod sweater swatch could have used some proper edging -

Pea Pod sweater swatch
(It's a little crooked but oh well.)

I swatched for gauge, then swatched the lace setup, the lace and the lace finishing charts. I don't know if I'm going to cast on for this. I really really really like the lace. I love the color of yarn i bought. But today I'm not feeling like casting on 134 stitches for a sweater. Even if that sweater is really super cute and cool. (Actually after some contemplation I'm not sure I want to knit anything green again for a long while.)

(Note: I did the garter stitch up top because I had too much trouble figuring out which side was which. I know. That doesn't make sense. But it helped me!

So today I'm knitting socks. And I'm really happy with my boy Thor Hushovd (Norway!) for winning the Prologue time trial. First rider in the tour to wear the maillot jaune.