Of Rats and Jen

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

January’s End WIP Report: FO! Yoga Socks, Clapotis, and Olympic Yarn

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 2:36 pm on Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lest you think we’re always completely hypocritical (alternating diet/exercise posts with chocolate/candy posts, on the same day even!) and non-crafty here at I Knit Around, I bring you an end of January WIP report.

Yoga Socks!
Yoga Socks

Pattern: My own
Yarn: Sockotta, Colorway #502 (Blue, Charcoal, and Violet with Fair Isle effect stripes)
Needles: Addi Turbo Size 1 24″ circulars (2)
Gauge: 8 stitches/inch

Notes: I like these a lot. Today they’re getting their first real test, being worn around the house as I go about my life.

The first thing I’m noticing is that they feel a little bit loose. I knit these to fit my exact measurements, trusting the 2×2 ribbing to give the elasticity for a good fit. But I think that next time, I’ll subtract a half inch from all measurements to give a little negative ease. It’s still possible, too, even though the wool content is superwash, they might shrink some in the laundry, so they might still come out a closer fit.

I like the length of coverage on the foot, but I find that as I walk about, the feet tend to slip forward towards the toes a bit much. I think the heel holes are too big, and that’s allowing too much movement for the foot. I worked these from non-toe up, and when I got to the heel opening, I bound off about half of my stitches for it. I’m already scheming a plan for a much smaller heel opening in the next socks.

Without a toe or heel, even my big feet were actually able to get two of these socks out of one ball of Sockotta – with lots to spare. (Knitting standard socks I had found I needed about 1 1/3 balls.) I could have worked the legs longer, even if my heel holes had been smaller. I’ll probably use the leftover yarn for a small bag or something.

I find these comfortable to wear. Even though my toes and heels are exposed, my feet feel noticeably warmer, which is a good thing in this drafty apartment. I foresee a lot more yoga socks on the needles in 2006.

I’ll be doing several more pairs in Sockotta before I feel the pattern’s ready to commit to my Christmas Gift Cherry Tree Hill Supersock yarn, however! At that time, too, I may consider making the pattern available – but with the work that’s going into this one, it will probably not be free. If the final pattern is what I expect, though, it’ll be worth spending a few dollars on!

Clapotis In Progress
Clapotis

Clapotis is moving along swiftly. I’m still working the “straight” section – the one where you are actually skewing the knitting a stitch to the left on every row – and I’ve done about 10 of the 12 additional repeats at last count.

I’m liking the colors in this Red Heart yarn – I may have to see if I can hand dye something to emulate it in a soft wool someday. Maybe with softer color transitions.

It’s going to be fun when I get to the end and finally take all the dropped stitch ladders all the way to the bottom!

Kool-Aid Dyed Yarn Ball
Olympic Yarn

I finished winding the Kool-Aid Dyed laceweight yarn into a ball – the stuff I’ll be using for my Knitting Olympics challenge, Kiri. All 1700 yards of it. I must have a blue-green thing I didn’t know about – the colors aren’t completely like, but are reminiscent of, the Red Heart Kid’s yarn I’m using for Clapotis above.

I also did some training yesterday, knitting a couple small sections of Kiri on different sizes of needles. Size 4 Addi’s are way too big, creating a very loose and open structure. Size 1, however, just right! I’ll need to buy a new set of Size 1 circulars for the Olympics, however, since the only pairs I have are my 24″ ones for sock knitting, and I’ll want at least a 40″ for this.

Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the training swatches – they were very small, only big enough to tell me what I needed to know. Besides, you’ll see plenty of this in a week or two! I liked how the colors were knitting up, though…

And the Also-Rans…

The ruana has sat idle for several weeks. It may see some play before the Olympics, but I’m not sure. I’m having too much fun with the other projects.

And Wearable Hug #13 has been keeping it company. I haven’t felt compelled to knit on the Demanding Diva (as I have come to call her) for a while. Clearly, whoever she belongs to won’t be needing her right away!

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A 99:99 Update

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:53 pm on Monday, January 30, 2006

I know, this makes a second post in one day – not that I’ve ever shied away from doing that before. But I felt this subject was deserving of undivided attention.

If you don’t know what the 99:99 in the title refers to, it’s a plan I’ve devised that will hopefully help me develop better discipline about varying my activities – and most important, including exercise in the schedule.

The 99:99 comes from the maximum time I can set on the digital timer I’m using that’s key to the plan. Essentially, the idea is that instead of losing myself in the flow of one thing all day (and thus winding up never moving from one chair, and ignoring other chores and activities), the timer goes off at intervals to remind me to think about what else I might be doing.

In a rather angst-ridden post on Friday, I talked about why I’m doing this. It’s to the credit of you, my readers, that many of you came forward to express your understanding and support. I can’t tell you how much it meant to see all those comments and e-mails – some from names I recognized, some from names new to me – and to know that you’re all pulling for me and hoping I’ll be able to make this work. Thank you.

One friend who’s local to me was even able to guess the identity of the doctor, and I’ll tell you, that may have helped the most to know that I’m not the only one who has had a similar reaction to her. It proves that it isn’t all just me, and that’s a tremendous relief. This friend also reassures me that working with this doctor gets better – more good news!

One thing that will help to keep me honest about implementing this program is to fill you in now and then about my progress. I’m going to try, each Monday, to let you know how the previous week went and what my goals are for the current week.

Last Friday, the first day I worked the 99:99 Plan, I did 5 minutes of marching in place. And because the plan is about more than just exercise, I also took the beeping of the timer throughout the day as opportunities to spend time: straightening up the table in my crafting area so I can do beadwork and other crafts again; reading a bookbookbook; and working on other things on my computer besides just blogging. I also did enough knitting to count, so it’s not like I can say I feel deprived of that by including all the other activities!

For now, the important element in the 99:99 Plan is that I’m trying to include 5 minutes of marching in place (while watching television to distract me), as my exercise option. The ultimate goal is for a total of 30 minutes a day/5 days a week, but since my history has not included any exercise at all, I’m starting slowly. This week, I’m aiming for 5 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In future weeks, I’ll either add more days each week, add more sessions each day, or extend the length of the sessions until I reach the goal.

Today is Monday, and I’ve already done my 5 minutes of marching. I’m hoping in other 99 minute time chunks today to read a little, perhaps do a little beading, and to try to formulate a plan that lets me write a few blog posts a day or two early, to help with time management on those days I have lots of places to go.

Many, many thanks to all of you who spoke up. If I haven’t already responded personally with my gratitude, you’re likely to get it today – one of my 99 chunks will be devoted to dealing with e-mail!

Tune in next Monday to see how I did this week!

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C is for Chocolate, and So Much More!

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:28 pm on Monday, January 30, 2006

It may be true that I tipped my hand for this week’s ABC-a-long pictures when I posted my Knitting Around With Candymakers entry last week. But I did save some of the images for later…and, really, don’t you think these pictures make the subject worth a re-visit?

C is for Chocolate Candies

Assorted Chocolates

C is for Chocolate Turtles

Chocolate Turtles

C is for Chocolate Covered Cherries

Chocolate Covered Cherries

And finally, a different image of the same caramel corn from last week…

C is for Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn

Chocolate Covered Caramel Corn

Hungry yet?

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It’s Awards Time!

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 8:00 pm on Sunday, January 29, 2006

temple_shirley.jpg
It’s Time!

Just sitting here, watching the Red Carpet Parade for the Screen Actors’ Guild awards, airing tonight at 8 p.m. on TBS and TNT.

I’ve only been sort of half paying attention, though, because I decided that I wanted a photo to illustrate the one comment I have to make about the awards, so I’ve been Googling and checking out images online. I found a few, as you’ll notice. I have paid enough notice to the Red Carpet, though, to notice a few things…for instance, I think it’s pretty cool that the Desperate Housewives seem to have coordinated their outfits, wearing a lovely lavender. Helps to reinforce the feeling of the cast as a family and a team.

shirley2.jpg
Red Carpet Attire Means Dressed to the Nines

(I have to confess, though – I was a late adopter of DH, only starting to watch with reruns over last summer. I quickly lost interest this fall, and have dropped the program altogether. I just can’t seem to keep interested in the lives of these people who, frankly, for all that they stick together and support each other, also seem to constantly do very hateful things for all the wrong reasons. As if there’s a right reason to do a hateful thing…)

I’ve never actually caught the SAG awards before. They’re not advertised on the major networks, you just kind of have to know when they’re coming up. I was lucky and spotted a tv ad not long ago on a cable network, that’s how I knew to watch tonight.

shirley-temple-002-pics.jpg
I’ll be Relaxing and Enjoying the Show

I’m looking forward to this because the SAG awards are one of the peer-voted awards. That takes it out of the realm of popularity contest, which so many of the other awards sometimes seem to come down to. No, in this case it is professionals in the field, who know what it takes to be excellent at their craft, who are choosing who they think has done an exceptional job this year.

But I think what I’m looking forward to the most – the Lifetime Achievement Award tonight will be presented to Shirley Temple Black.

shirley 1.jpg
Who, Me?

I’m a huge Shirley Temple fan. She’s one of those stars for whom, if I’m flipping channels and see her on the screen, I’ll stop and watch whatever it is. Unfortunately, that happens all too seldom these days.

It’s my big wish one day to have all her movies on DVD. I know they’re available, but, well…I have yet to find them in an un-colorized version. Colorization is, in my opinion, one of the worst tools to be made available to video distributors ever. It allows someone other than the original creator to alter the work, solely for the purpose of making it “more commercial”. No, making money isn’t a bad thing. But should they be allowed to distribute a product that is no longer in the form that was intended by the creator?

The Little PrincessA precious few of Shirley’s films were in color – Blue Bird and The Little Princess among them. Blue Bird isn’t even available on DVD right now.

The last time I saw Shirley Temple Black on television was on the Academy Awards several years ago. I think it was a significant anniversary year for the awards, and they decided to get that number of big award-winners from past years on stage all at the same time. They opened the curtain, and there was a big bleachers-like arrangement filled with celebrities, whom they focused the camera on one at a time and announced their name, and the year(s) they won.

I was fine with this, even a bit ho-hum, until they came to one unmistakable dimpled face. Shirley Temple Black looked as adorable as ever. She smiled, and there they were, those dimples, and my heart welled up along with my eyes. I cried happy tears just at seeing her, happy and alive, and being honored as she deserves.

shirleytempleblack.jpg
Yes, You Adorable Thing – YOU!

So the most eagerly awaited moment for me tonight will be when they bring this lovely lady out on stage. That will make the whole thing worth it.

And what’s the menu?

On the menu tonight – another rendition of the same pizza that was such a success for the Golden Globes a couple weeks ago, and some of that incredible caramel corn that I showed pictures of the other day!

Ooops…was gonna link to those posts, but the show just started! TTFN!

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Friday Frustration; and, the 99:99 Plan

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 5:40 pm on Friday, January 27, 2006

My apologies in advance – large parts of this post will be mostly venting. They may not be as coherently written as I usually require of myself. But as much as I’ve been venting to my husband about this, I apparently still need to clear some of the crud out of my brain.

Please understand that I’m not asking for advice, and I’m not asking for answers. I don’t want to join any sort of online support group, that doesn’t work for me. I have to make changes (mostly) in solitude, with no one passing judgment and making me feel like my progress isn’t good enough yet.

Note that the thoughts and emotions I may express are not necessarily based on logic. My logical brain reacts to things as they are, but my gut frequently overrides it with reactions based on fear and/or anger. I realize that there may be inconsistencies and inaccuracies in my depictions of people’s motivations for why they say or do what they say or do, but those are all because of the illogical gut’s perceptions of events. There’s no need to tell me that “they didn’t mean that”, my brain knows it. It’s my gut that is hard to convince.

If you’re still with me now, thank you for reading this far. If you choose not to deal with today’s post, I understand. It’s not among my more pleasant accounts, though I hope that the conclusion comes across as optimistic.

I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday morning. The first one with the woman who has theoretically been my primary care physician for a while now.

I hate those introductory sessions with doctors. I have a very strong understanding about how my mind works, and I know what it takes to get me to implement a change. It’s on a glacial scale – nothing happens over night. But given the opportunity to set my own pace, and the motivation to see that it’s worth it, I will make change.

But every time I wind up meeting with a new doctor, I have to start all over again explaining to them how I work. I’ve been overweight my whole life. Every doctor you meet with for the first time thinks that they’re the first ones to ever see you, that if you haven’t lost the weight by now it’s because you’re too dense to have grasped that it’s a good thing for you. And so with every new doctor, you get the lectures all over again.

First of all, I’m 45 years old. I’ve been overweight for at least 35 of those years. And I have a functioning brain, and I don’t live in an isolated cabin in the backwoods with no communications. I know that overweight is bad, and that exercise is essential.

It’s hard for me to start moving more, because I have a lifetime habit of not doing it. I grew up addicted to reading – an active day for me was one where I rode my bike to the library and came home with a pile of books, after which I would curl up nearly immobile and read them all. Rinse and repeat. That’s the story of my childhood.

So the habits weren’t established early. As an adult, yeah, I knew that I should exercise, but I was always doing something else, and there was never time. I know, I know – you’re supposed to make time. But I remembered from gym class throughout school how much I hated how I felt afterwards, and I have a strong instinct for avoiding things that make me feel bad. So I didn’t feel much motivated to try harder.

But at least for a lot of that time, I was working outside the home, and living in Syracuse without a car, which meant getting around by bus or by foot. Even if you rode the bus, you wound up walking to and from bus stops to your destination.

Then I met a great guy over the Internet who lived in New Hampshire, and everything was right, and we got married in Syracuse and I moved to New Hampshire. We tried for a while to have me working outside the home, but here in New Hampshire it seemed like my asthma was constantly getting triggered by people in the workplace who smoked on their lunch and came back in reeking to high heaven, or who bathed in perfumes, and I wound up sicker than a dog. So we made a decision that I would be the homemaker.

I’m darn good as a homemaker, too. I can cook like nobody’s business, and I craft such that I can make most things we can’t buy – and I make many things we could, but that I can make nicer. But it doesn’t get me out of the house. Besides, there’s precious little for public transportation around here – absolutely none in Wilton – so driving a car is the way of things.

Bottom line, life became more sedentary here in New Hampshire than it ever had been in Syracuse. I gained even more weight, and then a little over a year ago, my blood sugar just barely tipped over the edge into the diabetic range.

I changed some things in my diet immediately, and lost 30 pounds. My blood sugar is completely under control with oral meds and diet. I still haven’t integrated exercise, though.

Now, a year later, I meet with this Doctor for the first time. My blood work shows that my overall cholesterol is good – 150-something – which is not surprising, because my family tends to low cholesterol. (My dad surprises his doctors by being able to eat absolutely anything he wants without affecting it.) But apparently, while my bad cholesterol is at a good low, my good cholesterol is also lower than it should be, by many points. And the doctor says one of the only things to raise that is exercise.

The doctor asks me about my exercise routine, and I try to start explaining about how glacially-slow I make these changes, and how I really haven’t established one yet. She interrupts me and starts into the lecture about how I have to be doing 30 minutes 5 days a week, and there’s no other choice. I have to exercise. At least that’s how my gut is hearing it.

I know what the desirable goals are, I do. But she’s managed to hit my panic buttons. The irrational gut in me interprets what she’s saying – “30 minutes 5 days a week” – as a minimum requirement for immediate success, not as a goal. And my gut screams, “That’s impossible! I can’t just start doing that overnight!” It comes across as nothing but a recipe for failure, because my gut is claiming that anything short of what the doctor is specifying will be deemed as losing, and not in a good way.

I get flustered, and I try to explain to the doctor that I understand that, but that I can’t do it instantly. She stresses again the “30 minutes 5 days” and asks why I’m getting upset with her? I don’t entirely know why – I just know that I’m not feeling understood and that I’m not being listened to. I fear that she’s already written me off as someone who’s not going to comply with sound health practices. I don’t want to be abandoned, I don’t want her to give up on me, but I can’t, absolutely can’t, meet the standards my gut perceives her as having set.

I won’t even try to outline the rest of the visit. Eventually I realized that my gut had taken control, and I tried to at least get the discussion stopped by saying that I knew what was needed, and I’d do what I could, and please try to trust that it’s possible for me, overweight at 45, to make changes. After all, I’d changed my diet enough to lose 30 pounds and keep it off last year. Why couldn’t she believe that I can do this?

I’ve been upset ever since this appointment. I’ve spent a lot of alone time trying to understand why the issue of exercise – and other people’s expectations of it – is such a traumatic one for me. I think I’ve begun to grasp it, though I’m sure there will be even more insight to come over time.

Some of the comments I made above are actually the result of that insight, things I realized later, not during the conversation with the doctor. “I don’t want to be abandoned, I don’t want her to give up on me,” for instance. I realized later that the first panick came not when the doctor suggested what the desirable goal was – the “30 minutes 5 days” – but when she responded to my explanation about how slowly I integrate new things like exercise into my life by reiterating the same message – “30 minutes 5 days”.

That sent my gut a statement that only “30 minutes 5 days” was an acceptable result. No halfway measures, no incremental stages, no baby steps. Only “30 minutes 5 days”. So my gut immediately decided I was going to be a failure to this doctor no matter how I tried, and therefore, what was the point in the doctor sticking with me? Hence, the fear of abandonment, of being given up on.

Insert Mood Change Here

Okay, I feel more relaxed now. I guess the venting part of this is over.

Let me tell you what, in spite of my upset, I’ve managed to do.

I’d already before the appointment been disappointed with myself for how I spend my days. On the one hand, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been artistically. The knitting is so exciting and rewarding to me that I never want to put it down.

That’s the bad side, too. It’s too easy to get to the end of the day and realize that I’ve spent my entire, waking-to-sleeping day sitting cross-legged in that one chair, Folkcat’s Knitting Spot, watching my Tivo’d programs and knitting endlessly.

Parts of me feel good when I’ve done that. I look at the rate at which I’m creating new knitted objects and I’m ecstatic. I see the technical aptitude I’m developing for not only knitting, but developing a new pattern, and I’m thrilled. But part of me realizes that, by the end of that day, my butt is sore, my legs are stiff, and my hands feel puffy and achy. And I often realize that things I could have done elsewhere in the house – working on my websites, writing up patterns on the computer, cooking pots of food to store in the freezer, and such – have been neglected because of the knitting euphoria that left me in the armchair all day.

I’ve been wanting to find some way to shake up the routine for some time. I’ve always tried to tell myself at intervals “you’ve sat here long enough for now, at least get up and go sit at your desk chair and work on the desktop computer for a while.” I suppose that stretches different muscles and compresses different nerves and blood vessels than camping in my armchair does, at least.

So here’s what I’m going to try to do. We recently picked up a new kitchen timer, a nice digital one that goes up to 99 minutes, 99 seconds, and has a loud sequence of beeps that doesn’t stop until you actually pick it up and press “Stop”. I’m going to try to use it to stir up my day. I’ll start each morning by setting it for the maximum time, which works out to about an hour and 40 minutes. Within reason as an arbitrary activity limit, though I know most sources say to get up and stretch every 45 minutes. (Baby steps, remember. We’ll see about 45 minutes later.)

I set the timer this morning, and when it went off, I kept my show running on the Tivo, but I got up and I marched in place for 5 minutes. Exercise, after all, doesn’t have to be elaborate. Dance moves may be fun, but I don’t want to have to stop and think that hard about what I’m doing. The television show keeps me interested, and the marching in place is doable with zero brain power.

After those five minutes of marching, I set the timer again for the max – 99:99 – and I changed to a different knitting project.

The idea is that every 99 minutes, 99 seconds, I’ll have to think about what I’m doing. I will add in more instances each day of marching in place for 5 minutes, maybe eventually increasing it to ten. (Studies have shown that the 30 minutes of exercise don’t have to be continuous to be effective.) I’ll think about changing to a different activity – working in the kitchen, cleaning up my studio or doing beadwork, or working on my blog or websites. At a minimum, I’ll try to change to a knitting project with a different size of needles, to keep the hands from getting stiff.

I’ve started an exercise log in Quattro Pro which I’ll use to track the dates and amount of time that I march. I’ve told Gryphon what my plan is, and now I’ve told you.

Gryphon and I, years ago, read an article in Reader’s Digest about implementing change. There were three M’s that the author advised were absolutely necessary to make it happen: Make a Commitment; Modify the Environment; and Monitor Progress.

I’ve Made a Commitment – I’ve told my husband and all of you what I’m doing, and I’ve told myself that I’m doing it.

I’ve Modified the Environment – I’ve got this timer helping to remind me to think about getting off my duff, telling me that it’s time to get up and move, to do something different for a bit.

And I’m Monitoring my Progress – the exercise log I created will help me to see how well I can integrate my marching in place into my life.

In Conclusion

I feel like I can do this, but it does have to be at my own pace. I think my 99:99 plan offers an answer that will work with the way my brain integrates change.

I don’t feel like the doctor was trying to give me a hard time, really I don’t. The problem is getting my gut to believe it.

I see the doctor again in six weeks for a follow-up regarding a new med I’ve been put on for the diabetes, just to make sure I’m reacting well to it. I hope to be well over my anxieties over this encounter by then, and to have some positive progress to show her.

And, though this incident was very stressful, it forced me to take a look inside my own mind and understand myself a little better. And that’s never a bad thing.

If you’re still with me by this time – well, I wish I had a prize to hand you, because I know that can’t have been easy to read. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring enough to stick with me.

Baby Steps. Baby Steps. Baby Steps.

But Are You Knitting?

Oh, yeah. And making good progress on two of the four projects currently on the needles. Clapotis is still looking much like she did before, though, and the other project being worked on is the one for possible publication, so, well….no pictures today, I’m afraid!

Thanks for listening! You guys are the best!

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Knitting Around With Candymakers

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 2:52 pm on Thursday, January 26, 2006

This week’s Knitting Around adventure takes us to Nelson’s Candies, a handmade candy shop in Wilton, NH. The real danger for me in this place is that it’s open almost every day of the week, and it’s located only a block away from my home.

The shop is operated by Doug and Mark Nelson, direct descendants of Alan “Pappy” Nelson, who started the business in 1914. That’s 92 years, and they’re still going strong! The Nelsons are known throughout New England for their handmade sweets – fudge, turtles, caramel corn, and salt-water taffy, which they make year-round. They’re famous for their handmade candy canes at Christmas, too – it’s not Christmas in Wilton unless you get a Nelson’s candy cane. They come in every size from normal – fits in one hand easily – to walking stick. (My size designations – Nelson’s sells them by the pound.) And Easter isn’t Easter until you’ve picked up a handmade chocolate Easter Bunny…

Knitting Around with Caramel Corn - CHOCOLATE Caramel Corn
Knitting Around with Caramel Corn – Chocolate-Drizzled Caramel Corn!

When we visited, a fresh batch of their caramel corn – made from scratch in the copper kettles you see hanging at the back of the picture – was spread out on a work table to set up. This wasn’t just any old caramel corn, though – this was destined to be drizzled with both milk and white chocolate! Behind me you see Mark Nelson starting the process as he dips a spatula into a bowl of melted milk chocolate.

Freshly-drizzled Chocolate-covered Caramel Corn
All Together Now – YUM!

I was ready to buy a bag of this the instant it was done, but they can’t package it up that soon. I’m probably going to stop in today and get mine.

Doug and Mark Nelson Making Caramel Corn
Doug Supervises as Mark Drizzles White Chocolate

You can see the blur of his hand as Mark drizzles. It was a joy to watch him – he clearly has the technique down pat to get just the right amount of chocolate onto the caramel corn. Not too thick, not too thin….just right!

If you decide this all looks too good, there are a couple of options for getting your own fix. Obviously, of course, you can come to Wilton yourself and buy straight from the source. If you want to do that, you’re looking for these signs on Main Street:

Nelson's Candies Sign Nelson's Candy Storefront, Wilton, NH

You’ll see an open flag mounted on the corner of the building as well. I’m sorry I can’t give you their hours, as they change throughout the season. Call them at (603) 654-5030* to verify when they’re open.

With Valentine’s Day approaching, they’re actually open a lot right now. Christmas, Easter, and Valentine’s Day, as you can guess, are their big seasons.

Chocolate Heart Boxes
Sweets for the Sweet – Chocolate Both In the Box and Of the Box

If you visit their website, they have online ordering available.

Edited 01-27 to add: I dropped in today to visit the shop and get my own bag of the caramel corn I’d seen them making. Good thing I did – I told Doug and Mark I’d put up this post, and linked to their website, and Doug said, “What website?” Turns out that Nelson’s Candies is no longer associated with the Pappy’s Candies website I had listed. They used to be wholesale suppliers for Pappy’s, but no longer. I trusted the link because the Wilton Main Street Association (incorrectly) listed it as the website for Nelson’s.

Doug Nelson does assure me, however, that they will gladly ship their candies to interested buyers. You can call the shop at (603) 654-5030* to discuss what they’ve got available and details about how to order.

Or, you can explore in your own town and see who your local candy makers are. There’s bound to be someone within easy shopping distance from you.

Desktop wallpaper fans, keep your eyes open at the beginning of February – I took several pictures at Nelson’s that are destined to be wallpaper downloads. You might want to waterproof your keyboard now, though – they’re likely to induce heavy drooling!

Oh, yes – the what is she knitting data! The blue-green project on the needles in this Knitting Around episode is Clapotis, the free pattern available from Knitty.com. It’s coming along nicely, a very enjoyable knit!

Don’t forget, I’m accepting submissions for your own Knitting Around stories now! Please visit the FAQ at the side of this page for instructions about how to send me your entries.

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Potential New Bead Store

Filed under: Beading - Confessions of a Chantraphile — folkcat at 4:25 pm on Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Absolutely nothing to report about my own beadwork this week. The knitting is still blazing along splendidly, and now I’ve committed to joining up with the Knitting Olympics, so there will be an intense focus on the fiber arts for a while yet.

In other news, somewhere around the seacoast there may be a new bead store in the future. I was contacted by one of the people planning it last night because they name they want to use – The Bead Store and More – was brilliantly deemed by the State of New Hampshire to be too similar to our own The Big Little Bead Store. Clearly, since our store hasn’t even existed for nearly a year, I have no issue with any of this. Heck, I don’t even consider the chance of confusion sufficient to complain if my store were still open!

So Gryphon and I drafted a letter and sent it off, stating our non-objection to their name. That’s what the State said they’d need to be able to register their choice, so hopefully that will take care of it for them.

Meanwhile, if you’re somewhere in the Seacoast area in New Hampshire, keep your ear to the ground for early warning signs of a new bead store. I won’t give more details because, well, everything I know came from a brief phone call last night, and I wouldn’t want to get it wrong…

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The Most Romantic Moment I’ve Ever Seen

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:13 pm on Wednesday, January 25, 2006

It’s no secret that I watch a lot of television. Sitcoms, CSI in all its variations, reality competitions – a little of everything finds its way into my Tivo.

One of my favorite of the new sitcoms this year has been CBSHow I Met Your Mother. In fact, I’d say that of the few new sitcoms that debuted this year, this is the best.

Edited 03-06-06 to add: Since writing this post, I’ve had a comment from Amy, who created the fan website for the show at http://www.howimetyourmother.org . The site is new, but she’s off to a good start at gathering all the details, episode summaries, reviews, and trivia that true fans will be interested in. Good site design, too – clean lines and clearly laid out content. Check it out! – FC)

himym_main_pic.jpg
l to r: Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segal, Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, and Neil Patrick Harris

The premise is that, 30 years in the future, a dad (voiced by Bob Saget) we only know from his voice-over is talking to his teenage daughter and son (who sit bored on the couch), telling them the story of how he met their mother.

Ted (Josh Radnor) is the future dad. His best friend and roommate, Marshall (Jason Segal), is engaged to Lily (Alyson Hannigan). Seeing their happiness, Ted has decided that he’s ready to find The One, to commit to a relationship with the woman he’s going to spend the rest of his life with.

All his friends, including slimy womanizer Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), support and aid him in his quest, even as sometimes they think Ted has set unrealistic expectations.

We have watched through this inaugural season as Ted has journeyed through the world of dating and relationships. First he met Robin (Cobie Smulders), a reporter for a local news station, and we really thought this was it. And even the future voice of Ted told his kids, “And that’s how I met your…”

Kids: “Our mother!”

Ted: “Nope. Your Aunt Robin.”

Zing!

And this was only, like, episode two. The interplay between Ted and Robin continued, though we knew now it was doomed. But it was interesting to watch as they danced around each other, Ted wanting a committed relationship, Robin very interested in Ted, but very certain she didn’t want to marry yet.

All of this is supported by intelligent writing, a great sense of humor, a good sense of place (the show is set in New York City, and the character of the city is evident in every episode), and believable performances by the cast.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

A week ago Monday, Ted and Robin danced closer together again as Ted cajoled two friends who were getting married to let him bring a date to their wedding. He figured it was a great way to try things with Robin again after she’d been seeing someone else who then dumped her. Robin was looking forward to going, and Lily had helped her find a killer red dress. But just as tuxedo’d Ted arrived to pick her up and was floored by how gorgeous Robin was, she got a call to fill in as a weekend anchor on the news program – an opportunity she’d dreamed of forever.

Well, she had to go. Ted’s so nice a guy he’d never consider anything else. And Robin, while clearly upset about it, certainly didn’t consider saying “no” in favor of going to the wedding with Ted.

So after annoying the heck out of the bride and groom to get permission to bring a date, Ted shows up dateless to the wedding. At the reception afterwards, however, he looks across the room and locks eyes with a pretty woman (Ashley Williams) sitting alone at another table.

End episode.

This week, we picked up where we left off. As I sat knitting yesterday (notice insertion of obligatory knitting reference!), I watched the continuation on my Tivo…

Ted being open to possibilities, and knowing in his heart that Robin could never truly commit to anything but her career, goes to talk with the woman.

They click immediately, making small talk about the issue of hooking up at a wedding. She has a rule against it, but she proposes that they try to get all the good parts of what makes such an encounter memorable, while establishing ground rules to avoid the bad parts. They’ll have their amazing night, and then never see each other again. They’ll forget about each other except that one memorable encounter, they’ll never try to find each other, the whole nine yards.

Ted agrees, and the evening begins. They grab some champagne and glasses, and he takes Victoria by the hand as they dart out of the reception hall.

Ted and Victoria find an empty room with a piano, and spend time singing, talking, laughing, dancing…they consider kissing, but Victoria points out that the best part is always everything leading up to the kiss itself – the “drumroll”, as she puts it. After that point, there are too many things that can go wrong…too much tongue, not enough tongue, you name it.

So T&V lean in…closer…closer…closer…the tension is astounding, I kept wanting to scream at them “Kiss each other already! You both know this is real love!” But no, they hold to the promise.

Later, they find their way back to the reception hall, only to find that everyone else has left. Ted finds a boombox on a table and turns on the music so they can share one last dance together. They comment about how wonderful the whole things been, then as they dance, they lean in for a kiss again….closer…closer…and then they pull away.

Ted comments on how he’s going to have all these wonderful memories of this fantastic evening, except for one horrible, horrible one – the memory of her walking out the door. Victoria says, “Ted, close your eyes and count to five.” Ted does. At one, she’s still standing there looking at him. At two, she’s made a slight motion with her hip as if to turn, but her eyes are still locked on Ted, and she seems torn. By five, Ted opens his eyes, and she has vanished.

Recounting this to his friends the next day, Ted realizes he has to see Victoria again. The thing is, he knows nothing about her – not her last name, not where she lives or works. He risks permanently alienating the bride by calling her as the couple waits in the airport to leave for their honeymoon to ask who Victoria was – with a malicious glee in her voice, the bride says there was no Victoria on the guest list.

Ted and friends try several other things to find Victoria’s whereabouts, but finally, a little sloshed from a complimentary drink while waiting for their delayed flight to leave, the groom has convinced the bride to give up the information. Turns out that Victoria wasn’t on the guest list because she’s the baker who made their wedding cake! The Buttercup Bakery is her place, and Ted and friends pile into a taxi to find her…

A moment later, Ted gets out of the cab, and stares through the window of the bakery at Victoria. She’s in the back, icing cupcakes, and doesn’t see him. He hesitates – is he having one final battle over whether to spoil the perfection of the night before, or is he steeling himself for the rush of emotions? The bell on the door jingles as he walks in, and he stands there, silent, just looking at her. Victoria looks up, and in a breathless voice exclaims, “Oh, thank god!” as she runs to him. They embrace and kiss, and we cut to closing credits.

Single. Most. Romantic. Moment. I’ve Ever Seen. On TV.

My eyes are tearing up even just reading my own description of it.

It’s not been explicitly stated, but I get the impression that we’ve now met Mom.

You can keep your Bachelors and your Temptation Islands. For romance on television, I’m sticking with How I Met Your Mother. (Mondays, CBS, 8:30 p.m. Eastern)

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First Photos – a WIP Report

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 2:54 pm on Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It’s Craft Circle night, so as usual I don’t have a lot of time for a blog post today. So I’m going to finally share pictures of a couple of WIPs that are currently on the needles.

Ruana

This is intended as the replacement for my Ugly Crochet Poncho. The pattern is in the Interweave Press book Folk Shawls, which I’ve had for some time, but I was finally inspired to choose this to knit after seeing Franklin‘s commentary about the one he knit for his sister. His favorable review was the final impetus I needed.

Ruana WIP
WIP – Ruana, about 1/3 done

I chose to use this as a stash-busting project, so I dove into the piles and selected 8 different yarns in the same color family. Some were worsted weight, and some were bulky. I’m making up for that by using the worsted weight double, and they’re all knitting up about the same. The textures vary as well – some are simple smooth worsteds, some are fuzzy. There’s a little Lion Brand Homespun yarn, a pink yarn I’ve had over 20 years that’s a single plied with a satin ribbon (sorry, the label is long gone. Probably lost before I even moved to New Hampshire 13 years ago), and a “Thick ‘N Thin” yarn from Jo-Ann’s that has huge slubs in it.

I’m using my gaming dice to help decide which yarn comes next, how many rows I use it for, etc. But I’m not giving random chance complete control. Each time I roll up a color, I check to see to see how recently it was used, etc.

The Thick ‘N Thin yarn and the bright pink/ribbon yarn I’m using as accents that only get knit one row at a time. On every row I knit, if it’s been at least two rows since the last accent row, I roll a 20-sided dice. If a 1 comes up, then I roll again – an odd number means to use the Thick ‘N Thin, an even number the pink.

The integration of the dice into the decision process is probably more complex than I can even try to describe. And maybe it’s not completely necessary – I’m sure some of you are shaking your heads and wondering why I don’t just pick whatever color speaks to me next. But I enjoy what the dice rolls add to the process – it becomes a little bit of a game with fate for me.

Ruana Try-On
Showing the length

This probably isn’t a fair depiction of how this will sit on me. For one thing, I’ve not completed the first half of the ruana yet, so it will actually come further down the arm than that. And when I wear it I won’t be walking around with my shoulder hunched up and my arm straight out the way I put it in this photo. Sheesh – I must have been in a hurry to take the picture, huh?

Franklin’s ruana was knit much, much longer than this, but then it was intended as a significant outerwear garment for his sister to wear in Maine weather. Mine is meant as a replacement for a short poncho that I wear to protect myself from drafts indoors, while I sit in my chair knitting. The extra bulk of material in a full-length ruana would be inappropriate here, so instead I’m working to approximately hip-length or a little shorter.

I’m liking the fabric that I’m getting, though. It is developing the look and feel of a heavy-woven wool textile, such as you might find in South America. I think I’m going to really enjoy this when it’s done. I may even have to make plans to knit a full-length version to actually wear outdoors…

Clapotis

I know, I know – this was over last year, but then, I only just started reading blogs when Knitty.com‘s Clapotis made the rounds.

I have been wanting to knit Clapotis for a few weeks now, and have been shopping for a nice yarn. I really wanted something multi-colored, and unfortunately, I was having trouble finding something I could actually afford that had colors that spoke to me.

Yarn snobs might want to look away now. You won’t like what’s in this picture.

Clapotis WIP
WIP Clapotis

Yes, that’s Red Heart yarn. Red Heart Kid’s yarn, no less. For some reason, Red Heart has decided that a mix of crayon-bright colors could only appeal to children. (Personally, I think that age- or gender-based color biases are insane. Who’s to tell me I can’t like Bright Pink just because I’m over 12?)

Why Red Heart? I was getting discouraged trying to find a multi-color yarn that appealed to me and would also be appropriate for Clapotis as well as affordable on my tight budget. Besides, there’s every chance that as this gets worn around here during mud season, it might, well, land in mud if it falls off. I need to be able to toss this in the washer and dryer without any worries.

And I don’t mind acrylic yarn for simple knit garments. Yes, it’d be nice if this were a super-soft merino or something. But as I mentioned, I couldn’t find colors I wanted. So Red Heart it is.

I’ll be continuing to search for yarns suitable for Clapotis that come with in my budget and suit my color sense. They also have to be scratch-free – I have so little tolerance for itchy fibers, and this would be worn right around the neck, after all. When the time is right, I’ll find my next Clapotis yarn.

Meanwhile, I’m loving the color play in this one.

Oldest Functional Finished Object

Speaking of Red Heart, the afghan that Clapotis is posing on here is likely my Oldest Finished Object that I still use. It’s a Fisherman Knit afghan from a Leisure Arts book published sometime in the 70’s. This particular pattern – Kilkenny, if I remember right – is knit all in one piece, which appealed to me greatly. At the time, I couldn’t stand the notion of knitting what amounted to a bunch of scarves and seaming them together.

Since afghans are so large, and since at the time specialty yarn shops were so hard to come by, my yarn of choice for my Kilkenny afghans became Red Heart Super-Saver. It came in a variety of good colors, it was washable, and I could afford it. And I could actually find it for sale at shops available to me in Syracuse in the 80’s.

I have knit this particular pattern at least 15 times or more, sometimes for friends and family, sometimes for charity raffles. The only time I did it in the traditional off-white color was the first time, and that’s the afghan you can see in the picture. This piece is going on 25 years old now. There’s some pilling that I should probably shave off, and there’s a mysterious stain on the back that I can’t figure out where it came from. But it’s still warm, still cozy, and still covers my lap nicely on a brisk winter’s day.

I refered to this as my “Oldest Functional Finished Object”. That’s because I actually have an older FO, a knitted stuffed snake, that I’m fairly certain dates before the afghan. But since the snake was created in a coiled, curved shape, it isn’t useful even as a draft dodger (a tubular piece you place at the bottom edge of a door to block drafts). Thus, the distinction between Functional and not.

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Knitting Around Last Thursday – a Late Report; and, a WIP Review

Filed under: Knitting — folkcat at 4:14 pm on Monday, January 23, 2006

I know, I know – I shoulda told you all about it on Friday. But I got busy, and I had that other stuff to post about, and…

But you don’t want to hear excuses. You want to hear about the Thursday Knit Around at Panera Bread. Right?

So, Bea and I got there and hung out knitting as usual.

Folkcat & Bea
Folkcat and Bea Knitting Around at Panera

Abby, founder of SnB-NH, was able to make it! She was working on a beautiful pair of cable-knit fingerless mitts in Noro Kureyon.

Bea and Abby
Bea and Abby Knitting Around at Panera

Abby had to leave after a little while, but I’m so glad we finally got to meet!

I was knitting on the Edgar Scarf through the evening – you can see it piled up on the table in the picture above. You can get a much better view of it this way, though:

Edgar Scarf at Full Stretch
Folkcat and Bea Take Edgar for a Stretch

I actually finished knitting Edgar Thursday night. I had also knit an earwarmer headband to go with Edgar, using the Multi-Directional Scarf instructions so that I’d get interesting colorplay from the multi-colored Mega-Stoppino yarn to go with Edgar’s chevron stripes. Over the weekend, I wove in the ends on everything and stitched up the headband. Edgar still wants blocking to get all his diamond points nice and crisp, but I’m pleased with the results. And I used all but about 12″ of the Mega-Stoppino between the two.

A little while after taking the Edgar picture, Bea and I were delighted to spot Lynne walking in! We had met Lynne on Monday the 9th at Toadstool Books’ knitting group, Eats, Knits, and Leaves.

Lynne totally flattered me by saying she’d read my blog, and had already acted on my idea of knitting yoga socks. She ordered the pattern I had linked to, and had a significant portion of the first sock worked by the time she arrived on Thursday.

Lynne at Panera
Lynne Becomes One With Her Yoga Sock

Memories of Beads Past

Both Lynne and Abby surprised me by telling how much they loved my bead store that I used to run here in Wilton. It’s sometimes hard to believe it hasn’t even been a year since we closed our doors, but it’s true. Our last day of business, the end of the clearance sale, was on Easter Sunday, March 27th, 2005.

It would have been nice if we could have continued the store, but it just wasn’t to be. Too many factors combined forces to make it impossible. Sometimes I question whether I truly had the skills to keep it going. Then folks like Lynne and Abby remind me that, even as inexperienced at retail management as I was, I created and ran something for around 2 1/2 years that touched peoples’ lives.

Even if I say so myself, that’s not an insignificant accomplishment.

I still bead, though not as regularly as I did while the store existed. Knitting has come to the forefront as the superstar artistic outlet of the moment, and I’m loving every minute of it.

Still, it’s nice to know that my involvement with beading made a lasting difference for so many people.

What’s on the Needles Now?

Okay, obviously Edgar is done – what next?

I did cast on and start knitting a new project on Saturday, but it’s another one that has potential for future publication, and so, well…I can’t talk about it or show you pictures.

My Ruana has sat idle at about 1/3 done, and I really should return to it. Especially since I have the Knitting Olympics coming up, and I need to be training for the Kiri shawl I want to knit with my Kool-Aid dyed yarn.

Rest assured, there is knitting happening, and plenty of it. Just not much that I can show right now.

But the important thing is, I’m feeling very satisfied with the current projects, both process and product.

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