August 29, 2003
Mountain Mama

We're off to the mountains of West Virginia tomorrow, to visit Caroline's godmother Elizabeth and her husband Matt, and see their new house, and just enjoy some end o'summer R&R. In the event there's knitting time, I have three scarves-in-progress in a bag: one more quickie for the ART 180 fundraiser, one that's a Christmas gift, and the just begun "wave and shell" wrap -- all of which I photographed tonight to post, but it's my camera software and not Blogger that's making the "blue screen of death" happen, so I've given up.

I spent more than half an hour just winding the Filatura di Crosa Cashmere 100 2/28 for the latter, with about 700 yards in its 50g hank. Thanks to advice from Rob, I cast on using US 5s rather than a smaller needle size I nearly started with. He reminded me that one should go up a couple sizes from what's normal for the yarn when knitting lace -- and this is some fine, fingering stuff, scored from last fall (before I'd started blogging, or even much blog-reading, and certainly had yet to find those ThreadBear friends). I stuck with the number of repeats the pattern uses, since it's my first go at real lace, but I did change the number of edge stitches, just to assert my individuality. I've now knit the first four rows, and it's hard, nay, impossible, to discern whether beauty lies ahead. Fun, though, to feel a different weight yarn through my fingers, especially one that's 30 percent cashmere.

Expect my next post Wednesday, as we won't be back until Tuesday -- just in time to tidy up for September's S&B! #

posted by Maggi at 8/29/2003 10:49:00 PM

August 26, 2003
Avengers, Unite!

I've enjoyed sharing, via the posts and comments of other knitbloggers, the love of language presented well -- and the annoyance with all-too-common errors. Now, thanks to Em, we're linking our blogs in a ring. See this way-cool comma button in the sidebar to check out other sites, not all of whom are knitters. I'm honored to join (again, this being my fifth ring) with like-minded bloggers. (Well, I'm thinking there are many Virginia bloggers whose minds differ greatly [but not Wendy!] from mine, but you get my drift.) Plus, I'm excited to be getting in on a webring where my number is nine instead of 300-something.

My favorite bit from the "guidelines" for the GA ring:
If, from time to time, you feel compelled to write about the misuse of apostrophes, or to bemoan the decline of spelling skills in your nation, or to blush at the incident the night before in which you either corrected or were corrected on a point of grammar and everyone just stared at you . . . well, that's just dandy.
And isn't it swell that its author blogs as "emdash"?

In knitting-related news, I finished the little lavender Cutie Patootie sweater on the same day its intended recipient came into the world. Maria (pronounced ma-rye-ah, not ma-ree-ah -- it's a Virginia thing) Coe Jones was born early Sunday morning, and I stopped crocheting the trim Sunday night. I gotta say, I'm glad Melanie and Greg got a girlchild, because this sweater feels a bit female to me (yes, I know, I'm the one who ranted about gender-specific kidswear). Since I'm still working on the matching hat, I think I'll hold off on the photo for now.

UPDATE: They're calling herCoco, so she won't have to worry about the Maria/Mariah thing after all. I couldn't get the movie to work, but the pix are nice.

I'll leave you with this, which "Little Bunny" sent me to discover. I'll try to be modest about it, but this was a needed pick-me-up today!

Ichi - "That one with wisdom"

What would your Japanese name be? (female)
brought to you by Quizilla

posted by Maggi at 8/26/2003 02:59:00 PM

August 23, 2003
Come Along

Yup, it's a scarf-along, or a shawl-along, depending on how you choose to knit up this free pattern.

Rachael is making it a black shawl in some yarn that I think is about a worsted weight; I'm going to try for more of a scarf in some baby-blue laceweight wool. I haven't taken up the needles yet -- not even sure what size I'll use -- and I'm not sure if she has, but we're going to do it together, and so are some others. Yes, Kathy, scarf season is upon us. I think I'll see just how many I can have on the needles at once. Rachael has a knit-along list on her blog -- won't you join us?

Cutie Patootie is almost done: One sleeve's in and both have their crochet trim. I'll get back to it now in hopes of having a photo to post tomorrow. Photo of the sweater, that is -- the tiny hat's still on the dpns. #

posted by Maggi at 8/23/2003 05:25:00 PM

August 21, 2003
Tropical Rib

How's that for a title? I'm going to be asked to name my ART 180 scarf, so that's what I've come up with. (Click on the thumbnail for a closer look.) The Lion Boucle' in this colorway makes me think tropical -- as does the dred-like fringe. I'm quite close to the end -- except for the dreaded (pun!) final end's fringe. I hope to make more than one scarf for the fundraiser, perhaps some that are sewn as well, but I'm going to hold myself to a one-for-auction:one-for-gifting ratio. (NOTE: See sidebar if this scarf thing's news to you.)

Here's the Cutie Patootie all ready to be seamed up and crochet-trimmed (Click it, too.). The baby's due any day now, but a phone check's just revealed that the mom-to-be's barely dilated. On to the matching cap. Oh, and two mice completed for Wendy so far. #

posted by Maggi at 8/21/2003 09:53:00 AM

August 18, 2003
Poetry Matters

Since I noted Friday that my browser's home offers a poem a day, I came across a good article about the current state of American poetry, in the free Twin Cities monthly called The Rake. I read it online, thanks to a link from the Arts Journal newsletter (which I discovered via The New York Times).
Here's the link to the article itself, by William Waltz.

In knitting news, I've finished knitting the three pieces (one body, two sleeves) of the Cutie Patootie sweater, and am leaving the scrolling progress bar at 80 percent to take into account the matching hat's completion as well. After assembly, crochet! The first scarf I'm knitting for the ART 180 auction (see sidebar) is nearly done, with one end bearing its bead-trimmed fringe as well. That assembly is the time-consuming bit (I mean bit*h) of this project -- try threading boucle' through a needle and a bead -- I'm glad I've done the two ends at different times. The real reason for doing so was to be sure I liked the look, and had reserved ample yard for said fringe. Pix soon. #

posted by Maggi at 8/18/2003 10:56:00 AM

August 15, 2003

Time once again for my (approximately) monthly go at these questions -- and then some cat content.

1. How much time do you spend online each day?
With a network that's always connected at my office, I could say that I get at least 8 hours a day, but of course all that time is not spent looking at the internet -- but my boss would think too much is, if he knew! At home I can sit for a couple of hours a couple of nights a week, reading email and blogs (and knitting, of course, since my modem is 56K). Often I'll surf the ring while my child naps on Saturday or Sunday. So I'll say 5-10 for this one.

2. What is your browser homepage set to?
Poetry Daily, a non-profit site that posts a new poem each day, and links to poetry news and features. I have a link in the sidebar, too. I just like to read at least one a day; it's nothing like medicine for me, more like a treat for my soul.

3. Do you use any instant messaging programs? If so, which one(s)?
At work I downloaded AOL IM, even though I am not a customer. Many friends are, and I enjoy the oportunity for the occasional quick hello. I've done the same with Yahoo at home, where I do have an account. But I have fewer folks on that "buddy" list, so I actually use it rarely.

4. Where was your first webpage located?
A year ago I created a webpage on Earthlink because it was free with my long-standing Mindspring account. Now I don't know how to delete it, and really, I only can access it from my work computer where I've bookmarked it. You've come a long way, baby, I have to say to myself, looking at the blogging I do now!

5. How long have you had your current website?
Four and a half months, by golly!
(Anyone know The Searchers? I watched the 1956 John Ford/John Wayne classic earlier this summer, and lately find myself saying by golly like Lars Jorgensen [who was played by an actor born in Canada to Norwegian parents, so at least the accent wasn't a stretch]. This was Natalie [nee Natalia Zakharenko] Wood's 24th film; at 18, she'd already been nominated for an Oscar for Rebel Without a Cause the year before.)

Knitting Kitty Kontent
Time's passed since I joined the webring, and I haven't posted any new cat pix. We took Ethan to the vet this week (he's doing great, thanks -- she said, "He's doing great for a 16- year-old . . . heck, he's doing great for a 10-year-old!"), which reminded me of the last time I was there, when we put Rosacoke down last October. So I thought you might enjoy the baby pictures I display in a little double-heart frame (even though I have no Photoshop skills nor software to recreate the heart cut-outs).

That's Rosa (1988-2002) on the left, and Mr. Cattitude (c.1987, with his long-gone baby blues) on the right. You can see the adult Ethan by clicking on "the obligatory feline" in the sidebar -- and in Wendy's Mouse-Along Gallery. One more thing, & I can't believe this synchronicity has just come to me: Ethan was named for the character John Wayne plays in The Searchers!

posted by Maggi at 8/15/2003 01:16:00 PM

August 12, 2003
Smooch this!

And here's the proof, Smooch all sewed up and modeled. I like it (if not the way my bra shines through in this self-timer shot)! I'm not yet adept at adjusting patterns to fit my unique body perfectly, but this isn't too bad. It flares a bit at the bottom where my hips don't, and could probably use some short-row shaping at the bust, but otherwise I agonized over my size selection for naught. I've decided to leave the armholes alone, having tried the crab crochet finishing and liked it less than the slight rolling under that's happening. I'm going to hear Caitlin Cary play in a bar tonight, and I'd love to wear my latest creation, but I'm not sure I'm willing to let it get that smoky stink the first time out. Does cotton air out like wool? #

posted by Maggi at 8/12/2003 09:46:00 AM

August 09, 2003
Kiss That Knitting Goodbye

Smooch is off the needles! I finished the knitting tonight and it looks pretty good. Too late to wander down to the basement for the pre-seaming steaming; I'll hope to assemble tomorrow. Maybe I'll even get to the bit o'finishing my imperfect armholes need. Alison, don't change my color yet, but I'm this close. And if you need any more All Seasons Cotton for the pipsqueaks, I've got nearly a skein of that blue left.

In other news, I received a call from someone named Ute last night, informing me there will be a sock-knitting class at my LYS next month. I'd given them my name for the potential future offering ages ago. As I've not tackled that on my own yet, I stopped in at the LYS today to register, and walked out with a bag of yarn, despite the moratorium I'm supposed to be observing. So many yarns were half priced! I got another set of Cotton Twist hanks to do a future Cutie Patootie, and three skeins of a yummy Classic Elite called Wings, which is 55% Alpaca/23% Silk/22% Wool, with a hollow core -- that'll become a scarf, as will the green skein of Rowan Magpie--with a name like that, how could I refuse, especially since it was 60% off. (My own cutie patootie snuck into the shot.)

I've actually got one more scarf already on the needles in addition to the boucle' one I added to the WIP scrollbar. I don't know how many of these will end up at part of the ART 180 180, but we'll see. A big thanks to Maureen for joining the ranks donating a scarf to this good cause. (See 8/6 entry for details, and I'll try to put the flyer in the sidebar.)

posted by Maggi at 8/09/2003 11:20:00 PM

August 07, 2003
Gender Rant

OK, I enjoy this fun little email I get called DailyCandy -- it's a frivolous distraction that cues me in to what's allegedly hip in the big city. When they introduced the weekly DailyCandy Kids, I signed up for that one, too; I live with a kid, after all. But this week's item annoys the heck out of me, as it's one more entry in the genderfication of childhood.

To wit: You know what they say. Nothing beats a great pair of Legos. Except for Clikits, a cool new building toy, designed just for girls by the folks at Lego.

My daughter has Legos. The original kind, in primary colors, just like my brother and I played with (only now they make the bigger pieces for the smaller hands). The box didn't say it was only for boys, or for girls; it pictured tots of all types.

Their well-stated philosophy makes no distinction for gender, and the site references "lifelong play" --
Our name comes from the combination of the Danish "leg godt", which means to "play well." It is both our name and our nature. We believe that play is the essential ingredient in a child's growth and development. It grows the human spirit. It encourages imagination, conceptual thinking and creation.

I know that I'll have to face the reality of such girl-directed products appealing to my child when she's a bit older. But I hate that these Clikits (does anyone else see an abbreviated reference to female genitalia when they look at that word?) only give girls the option of making bracelets and hairclips, objects of adornment (attraction?) rather than imaginary characters like the boy-directed Bionicals, for example.

Kids' clothing is the same way now, at the retailers' -- it's even sized differently for boys and girls, I discovered, when Caroline's boy-shorts had to be pinned at the waist. Pastels for girls, primaries for boys. But I like all colors, and I want my daughter to wear navy blue if she feels like it. I'm wearing brown right now, myself.

I can't change any of this, even if I try to subvert it through some boycott, or my own alternative stitching, or cancelling my DailyCandy Kids subscription (but that's a start). She's only two, my Caroline, and I'm well aware there are multiple annoyances ahead in consumerist America. At least I can have a little rant, here on my little blog, and feel better. Thanks.

Oh, and this is my new blogchalk:
United States, Virginia, & Carolina, English, Italian, stitching, poetry. :)
Maybe that should be stitching and bitching. #

posted by Maggi at 8/07/2003 05:56:00 PM

August 06, 2003
Record-Breaking Attendance

Even without the three dogs and two kids (and two cops, one bearing gifts!), the S&Bers numbered 20 last night, the most ever (previous high having been 18). And that included four who'd never come, two of them neighbors (Lisa and Randy with baby Ella) and one found via this blogworld. I knit on CP instead of Smooch, given my concern that hosting duties would interfere with my concentration. So the body of CP is done, and I've cast on to knit both little sleeves at once. I also took many pictures; click on the thumbnails or links to view a larger image.

Having finished and felted the Suki bag she was knitting last month, Heather brought her latest WIP, the beautiful eyelash-enhanced shrug she models here.
Coincidentally working in the same colorway, Teri-Kay completed this fabulous fabric bag, stitched from a c.1945 sewing pattern that retailed for 15 cents.

Regulars Michelle (left, in the shot at right) and Lisa worked on a beaded bracelet and a dishcloth respectively, while newcomer Beth (left, whom I found via comments) started a sweater, and the returning Molly, sporting a swell tank of her own recent creation, finished the stitches of a to-be-felted bag. Speaking of Wendy, I encouraged the gang to knit up a mouse or two for The Great Charity Mouse-a-thon.

Lisa, Sarah, Pam, Alice and I all took advantage of the fruits of stash reduction Frances (pictured with one of her twin daughters, Scottie) brought to share. I suggested that Alice use her "found" wool to knit a scarf for a local fundraising effort that Kim (with canines Zoe and Frasier) stopped by to promote.

Kim hatched the notion a couple months ago that we should create, and auction, a number of scarves to benefit ART 180, a five-year-old non-profit organization that "gives young people the chance to express themselves through art, and to share their stories with others." With a cohort of other planners, the project evolved into the ART 180 Scarf Auction, scheduled for November 15, at which 180 neck-adorning items will be sold to high bidders on behalf of ART 180. Last night we distributed this flyer in hopes of adding to the auction's fiber-art bounty. Already some folks in other states have committed to participate, so the organizers are confident that the total will be reached (if not exceeded). If any friends of maggistitches feel like joining in, I'll gladly complete the form on your behalf and save you the stamp (and the task). I'll even pay your shipping costs to get it here. Check out the ART 180 site, and see what great things they've done, then let me know you want to help. #

posted by Maggi at 8/06/2003 01:19:00 PM

August 05, 2003
Smoochin' on the Porch

Nah, I've got no make-out session scheduled: the monthly S&B tonight is also going to be an event of the 20th National Night Out, a crime- and
drug-prevention event designed to heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts; and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.

So, assuming the weather cooperates (storms have thundered regularly in these parts of late), this evening the stitchers will be on the porch or in my tiny front yard with their needles and my neighbors, as residents in neighborhoods across the nation spend the evening outside.

I'd noticed these events falling on the same Tuesday in the previous two Augusts, but not until this time around did it occur to me that they could merge. I've lined up citronella torches and serious lighting (to be loaned by a filmmaker), and I have a new bottle of bug repellant. We'll still put any eats inside, and can retreat there if it rains. My neighborhood association dropped off membership information and give-aways, so I hope this month's attendees include some of the regulars who actually live in my 'hood!

Speaking of , last night I forged ahead, and even though I ripped back one more time (because the first two eyelets were too far apart), I achieved a satisfactory left front and made headway on the right. I continue to do things differently from what Rowan advises, but one must in order to make the two sides match. There will still be much post-stitching finishing to face, but I could finish the knitting tonight!


posted by Maggi at 8/05/2003 12:41:00 PM

August 04, 2003
That dang Smooch ain't nothing like a kiss. Saturday night I (thought I) followed the instructions closely, juggling eyelets and decreases on both arm and neck sides, my brain astrain with numbers and sequences. When I took a closer look after the fourth eyelet, I faced facts, and frogged, relieved that I'd woven in a (fuchsia Cascade 220) lifeline to rip back to. Last night I made another stab, with a plan to "rewrite" the instructions to something I could more easily follow. After two eyelets, it looked pretty good. Fingers are still crossed, but if this doesn't work, I may end up with a plain V-neck.

I don't think Smooch is a terribly difficult design. I wouldn't have taken it on if I expected it to be terrifically challenging; it's only a summer tank, after all. A great-looking tank. But, hey, I do like for each new knitting project to teach me something new -- and I've gotten that here with the eyelet pattern at the hem, and its ruffled edge. And I love the All Seasons Cotton. Even though Cotton-Ease has a similar fiber content and gauge, the hand of the ASC is smoother, and it's easier to knit. I like the look of other designs in the All Seasons Cotton Collection, too, which justified my springing for a somewhat pricy pattern book. I've even already bought the yarn (albeit Cotton-Ease) for two other sweaters in the book. But if their instructions are as confusing or unclear as those for Smooch, this knitter will, regretfully, be having some other cotton sweaters. One thing's for sure: I won't be grabbing the yarn and trying another pattern from this set as soon as I complete Smooch. #

posted by Maggi at 8/04/2003 02:18:00 PM

August 01, 2003

Are they tangents if they aren't really related? I'm going to start with the knitting content, but then I'm going to take the risk of veering off, after four months blogging on topic.

The Cutie Patootie baby sweater's fronts are on holders while I complete the 50-stitch rectangle that is the back. I just realized that in the percentage bar at right I have based the number on the sweater alone, when there's also a hat to come. Oh well. Smooch, meanwhile, is ready to eyelet. I think if I start the neckline now it will be ever so slightly less plunging than the pattern suggests, but I've gotta do it because I can't juggle starting the neckline and the armholes simultaneously. Each time I read through the instructions, I feel confused by the lack of clarity. I'm going to run a lifeline through the current row, because I see some frogging in the future. Nevertheless, I'm determined to complete and wear this tank before Labor Day!

This is a picture of Bill Love, a guy I knew in college, a close friend to this day of one of my best buds. When I got a call from said friend, Tim, this week, he connected some dots that my mind had missed: Bill and his wife Beth and one of their four daughters were killed two weeks ago in the tragic plane crash in Kenya that took almost an entire three generations of a family. Although I came late to this news, it has weighed on me all week -- as I believe the story would have (if I'd fully heard it when it first aired/was published) regardless of whether I knew any of the victims personally. That they were last happily together as the extended Brumley family on holiday offers some solace. And some comfort comes from the thought that they surely died painlessly, upon sudden impact. But I just can't stop thinking about the five children who were left orphaned by this accident, the youngest of whom will hardly be able, at less than two, to retain scant memories of the fellow smiling above, her father.

And yet. Aunts and uncles can keep Beth and Bill alive for their girls, who'll come live in my very city with Bill's sister. Although I don't know her, I've sent a note, and hope to meet them all some day. Beth's pair of twin sisters missed the Africa trip; I can't help but think the universe/God/fate intervened in this way to give all five children a living connection to their lost parents and grandparents. A sliver of silver in a most cloudy sky. #

posted by Maggi at 8/01/2003 11:46:00 AM

Colleen Messick

past stitches:

life and things I'm making of it

stitches in progress
nine-patch blanket

recycled fluted cardie

wave & shell scarf

Brotherman socks

finished knit stitches
1980s pullover
Caleb's set (K & crochet)
ladybug pillow
hooded sweater
Suki tote bag
Fuzzy Feet
three scarves
Voodoo wrist warmers
small Galway purse
Sequin/Lily scarf
one-cable shell
pseudo-Suki bag
Portofino scarf
Wendy's catnip mouse
felted daypack
Haiku sweater
toddler jumpsuit
Portrait lace scarf
Smooch tank
beaded/ribbed boucle' scarf
Cutie Patootie cardigan
Maori scarf
Jen's (Caroline's) Poncho
pair o'Fizz+ scarves
Santa Fe socks
Strawberry set for Baby Boyd
Magpie scarf
Tawa twins' booties
Sarah's cabled hat

completed quilt stitches
Bright Sampler
Kathryn's Pillow
Christmas Cabin
Wishes for Caroline
Marcher Wishes and More
Lizzi's Blues (& Matt's)

37 stitches about me

stitches back at me

the obligatory feline

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Lives in United States/Virginia/& Carolina, speaks English and Italian. My interests are stitching/poetry.
This is my blogchalk:
United States, Virginia, & Carolina, English, Italian, stitching, poetry.

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a songbird will come.
--Chinese proverb