Friday, July 29, 2005

Valuable Yarn Guide...

On my bookshelves is a 15 year old copy of Your Valuable Yarn Guide, a rather rough looking publication with an orange paper cover containing vital statistics of most of the commercial knitting yarns in production at that time. Now it is sadly out of date. Not just because it doesn't contain all of the (crappy) novelty yarns we've been deluged with...but the put-ups and other specs. on some of the old standard yarns have changed (like Cascade 220, Galway, etc.)

However we now have: Yarndex - the Yarn Directory!

I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere else, so I thought to toss that bit of info out into blogdom. That is all....for now.


Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

So, Echinacea
doesn't do anything for colds.

(click on the word to see the NEJM report.)

I can say that echinacea, if ingested will give me a good case of the hives along with an asthma attack. Ditto for chamomile. Knowing that I can have such reactions to plant materials has kept me away from natural dyeing. However, I am enjoying reading about the history of cochineal in A Perfect Red. I think I learned about this book from Cassie's blog.

Speaking of the perfect red:

wool crepe
Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

This is a photo of some wool crepe fabric that I found on sale yesterday for $6.99/yd. I love the color and the hand of this fabric is lucious. It will be made into this suit. The pattern calls for a commercial lace collar and cuffs. I think I feel a trip to Haberman's coming on.

On the knitting front: I'm slowly making my way along the lower border of the Peace shawl. This could mean that the shawl would be completed in less than a month!

Thank you to all who provided kind and supportive comments regarding my son. He seems to be fine. The staples come out of his head on Monday. Meanwhile, we can effectively threaten him by saying we're going to hold a magnet next to his head ...(just kidding...)

Tomorrow ds and I are scheduled to take a "Driving Awareness & Vehicle Dynamics" class at Michigan Proving Ground. This should be interesting....

Sunday, July 24, 2005

My Unitarian Jihad Name is: Sister Dagger of Quiet Reflection.

Get yours.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Glad to see the back side of this week!

Hours after my post with the rose and little poem, we had another event in our household.

Around 4:30 PM yesterday, my son took a header from a 32 foot extension ladder and landed on his head on asphalt. We spent the subsequent 24 hours at U of M hospitals...first in the emergency/trauma unit then on the 5th floor.

He apparently landed on his head, since that is the only outward trauma to be found. He has 15 staples on the upper right side of the back of his head....a Harry Potter looking wound. Since it's on the back of his head, we've decided that he looks more like Harry Potter going than coming.

We got to University of Michigan hospitals about 2 hours after him. He had already had cranial and spinal CT scans and they were waiting for results. He was alert but disoriented. Very scary to go through the "Where am I? What happened?" conversation every 10 minutes during those first hours.

So we stood at ds's side and tried to think of ways to bait his memory without suggesting thoughts and details that were not his own. A few times I told him the facts that we knew: who he was with and where he had been at the time of the accident. After the third time through that he said, "Mom, Wow! deja vu! About 3 months ago I had a dream where you told me the exact same thing and we were in a place just like this!" My husband said...."Uh, that was about 30 minutes ago and it wasn't a dream."

Meanwhile, the reports from the cervical spine scans were clear so they could close the wound on the back of his head, but they still couldn't move him off his back. Two young residents were assigned this daunting task....God bless them, they couldn't have been more than 6-7 yrs. older than ds. And they had to figure out how to get to the back of ds's head while he had to remain immobilized on his back without anesthesia.

Ds has this thing about needles so I decided to distract him and bait his memory at the same time. Knowing that he and his friends could recite most of the script from all of the Monty Python movies I asked him what he remembered from Monty Python.

Just as the one resident was ready to clip in the first staple, ds recites in his best cockney accent: "Tis only a flesh wound!" The residents cracked up, then took the reigns. "What was the name of the castle where the women were...?" Ds: "Castle Anthrax!"

A few more quips were exchanged before I remembered ds's favorite scene was the plague scene: "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!" "I'm not dead yet!" BAM! "You are now!" I didn't think it was such a good idea to go there since we were in an open bay in the trauma section of the emergency room in Ann Arbor on a Friday night. Other emergencies were we redirected the conversation.

With his(our) overnight stay in the hospital, the fog began to clear. The reports from all the cranial and spinal CT scans came back negative and we brought him home almost exactly 24 hours after the accident.

His memory is pretty clear this morning and we seem to be getting back to normal. It's kind of like playing with one of those hand held toys where you try and get the silver balls in the holes......he's still getting some of the "balls to drop in the holes" as to what actually happened.

And I am thankful for the excellent care that he recieved and his wonderful sense of humor. Am also praying that there are no residuals to his head injury. You are welcome to join me in that.

Friday, July 22, 2005


Are we tired of roses yet?

Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

I certainly am not...and was very gratified to see this, the first of the second round of blooms, from the rose bush at my front door. The rose and following poem should provide some evidence that I'm creeping out from under my rock. In fact, I've spent much of the day on the patio engrossed in Marilynn Robinson's Gilead. What a beautiful book!

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the Apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand---
So what could I do but laugh and go?

- Richard Le Gallienne -

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

This is where I was headed yesterday....a photo of chicory. This one is stilllighter in color than the "cornflower blue" that I love.

The walk this morning was rather abbreviated by carrying camera and tripod. I think a UV filter will be my next photographic purchase.

Continuing on the color theme: I'm really pleased with the color that came through from this cardinal flower. Reds are often tricky with digital cameras...especially when it's red yarn. There was a beautiful butterfly hanging around while I was taking these, but it never lighted for a good shot.

Cardinal Flower
Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

While the chicory & cardinal flower provide color inspiration, let's move onto structure:

Nature's Lace
Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

Isn't this an exquisite little inspiration for lace? The 8 pointed star-like pattern really lends itself to knitted lace. Perhaps a shawl or a doily?

More thoughts about the park:

Foot in Mouth
Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

This is another view from the same park. Around 17 years ago, a sculptor was hired to create items for the children's play area at the park. The plan was to center these in a sandy area where kids could climb and play on them. There are about 7 of these very disturbing looking, phallic shaped items. They were never a hit with the kids.

Around the time my son was in first grade(about 5 years later), a group of parents started a campaign to build a real play area for the children. The result is a huge, timbered structure with slides, gongs, ring other words, something a little more practical where kids would actually play. Two years ago, a spray scape was added. A very cool idea for a community with no public swimming facilities other than the school pools.

Meanwhile, these sculptures have become unsafe and are cordonned off with orange mesh so they don't topple on a kiddo.

Perhaps the sculptor was using the foot in the mouth image to communicate he knew it was a bad idea?
Off to clean house, then sit down at the spinning wheel with some mini-combed cormo locks!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Park path

Park path
Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

This is part of the path that I walk at the township park on most mornings. Every spring, they do a controlled burn along this section of the path to simulate what used to be normal prairie conditions.

There are so many wildflowers in here. From the earliest part of spring on through fall, each week there are new species to see. It's always a treat on a morning walk.

Summer is speeding by quickly this year, particularly since it got such a late start. Soon I won't be able to walk this path in the mornings until late in September. Because of this:

Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

Ragweed and grasses are one of my worst asthma triggers. For the past 3 years I have been in the emergency room during the week after Labor Day because of asthma. During the rest of the year it's very well controlled with a minimum of medication. This year I am determined to avoid the emergency room. So, now that I've noticed that this stuff is about to bloom I have begun to execute the asthma management plan that I worked out with the dr.

Looks like I'll be walking in town, or on the treadmill for awhile.

BTW...the Bergamot Shawl photo was also taken at the park this afternoon.


Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

Thought you might like to see the Peace Shawl in progress. I intended to take the photo beside some chicory to help with color identification. I forgot, chicory closes up when it's so darn, stinking, hot outside. Actually the Bergamot color is much closer to the yarn color anyway.

Now doesn't this make you want to go have a cup of Earl Grey tea? Well...maybe as iced tea!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Back from the beach....

Bet you didn't even know I was gone, lackadaisical blogger that I am these days.

The trip to the North Carolina shore afforded many hours of car time (~20, I think), so I am about 2/3's of the way done with The Peace Shawl. This was the reason I was looking for lace weight yarn in my previous post. I did find a skein of Lorna's Laces in a light periwinkle that is working well in the pattern.

It galls me that I could have purchased a whole pound of zephyr from Halcyon and dyed it myself for the price. That'll teach me to plan ahead in the future. Maybe I should just order up a pound of zephyr in white right now? Or better yet, I could spin up 8 oz. or so of the superfine wools that I have stashed around here.

Much time for fiber thinking on the trip. I walked the beach for 90 minutes every morning, until a blister put the kaibosh on that. Collected a bag of sea glass...which may well just be mostly sea quartz. I needed a substitute for shells, of which there are many scattered through this house in various containers.

I promised my sister that I would do a color class for her knitting guild in the spring of '06. I'm thinking that it would be nice to teach some basic principles of color in knitting, but it would be even nicer to have worked up a pattern for a functional item that incorporates a number of the color knitting techniques that they would have as a record of what they've done. I started thinking a knitted bag...but nah, those are best felted and in doing so would lose the details of what was done on some of the trickier techniques. Maybe a pillow with a button closure? I'm still pondering.....there's a limit to what a room full of knitters can accomplish in 9 hours.

More pondering...I knitted myself into a corner with the Salsa socks. I adapted a pattern from a recent Interweave Knits, knitting it from the toe up. However, the top ribbing is k2, p1, continuing from the pattern in the body of the sock. I could have changed it to make the k's and the p's equal in number. That would have made the sewn cast off easier, but the top of the sock awkward looking. While knitting on the shawl in the car, I decided that I would just do a sewn cast off, simply treating the knits as knits and purls and purls. It doesn't look as elegant as the sewn bind off on a k2, p2 rib, but it does work.

No pictures today, though. I'm mired in post vacation laundry, grocery inventory, meal planning and shopping for the week. Perhaps tomorrow....

Friday, July 01, 2005

All Politics is Local...

This summer I have committed myself to get more consistent with asana practice by adding a Yoga-fit class to my schedule on Mon. and Fri. mornings. This morning's class was a reminder that "all politics is local".

The Summit runs summer day programs for school age kids, so the regular fitness classes get moved around. Today, yoga fit was in a nice exercise "studio" that has one of those sliding, dividing walls. I always stake out a corner in the back for yoga classes: it cuts down on the number of people who can stare at my butt. So I was back in the corner by the retractable wall, paying attention to the breath with soft Indian music in the background.

About 15 minutes into class, some gawdawful, high-pitched, screeching "music" started coming directly behind me on the other side of that wall. Tai Chi class had begun. So here I was, straddling the border between Tibet and China while standing in the center of Canton, Michigan!!

We did convince the Tai Chi class to at least move their "music" source to the opposite side of their room. So there was an amicable settlement to the dispute for the remaining 45 minutes of class.

Other stuff:
- I did a "sewn" cast off on the bottom of the Oatmeal Toddler Gansey last night. All that remains are the sleeves and the rolled neckline. Pictures at this point would be redundant, you'll have to wait.

- I bought myself a copy of The Opinionated Knitter, Meg's compilation of EZ's Woolgatherings. How interesting to note that Elizabeth started publishing Woolgatherings when she became disgusted with the way magazines were publishing knitting instructions. It would seem that history is repeating itself. However, instead of one lonely voice sitting down at a manual typewriter to send out well thought out knitting message, we now have a thousands (maybe millions?) of such people sitting down at computers and broadcasting their knitting opinions via the web. However, I've learned in my blogrolling that some opinions are more informed than others.

As for the current knitting mags.....there's a wasteland out there.

- I decided that I wanted to knit another one Evelyn Clark's triangular shawls, published by Fiber Trends (probably the Peace Shawl). So I went to the LYS looking for laceweight yarn. Now, this is a shop where the yarn is literally spilling out of the door. No laceweight. "Not much call for it", I'm told (?!?!?!) This very same shop used to cary some of the finest Italian merino laceweight yarns. That was back when there were fewer knitters. Now we have a glut of "knitters"...and no laceweight on the shelves.

I know that I can order what I want online, and I will. But somebody please reverse this trend of Stepford Knitters with recycled garbage for yarn.

Well, this is probably longer than anyone wants to I'll quit right here.