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Saturday, July 30, 2005

I Lied!

I lied when I said it had been almost a week since I last knit, because I know I knit on my birthday (after I finished painting my mug, which I picked up today), and I think I knit on either Monday or Tuesday. I finished the front of Amira's Not Square Play, anyway.

Just got back to the leaf edging on my two skein wonder. Perhaps I will be able to really have it finished in time to wear it to the shop next Saturday.

Today was fun! I worked with another woman and we had a few knitting 911s that came in. I was able to teach one woman how to do stranded knitting with one color in each hand, showed another how to fix her mistakes and another how to remount her stitches and pick up lost sts with her needle. It wasn't as busy as it has been lately, but still brisk business. I only wove in four more ends in the Little Boy Green.

We're hosting our church tomorrow for a blackberry feast. We will pick berries, make dessert and eat. I'm roasting a turkey, and folks are bringing side dishes. We'll make the dessert with what we pick: pies, cobblers, crisps, milkshakes (Rich makes an incredibly purple blackberry milkshake which is to die for!). In fact, I recently received some yarn in almost the same purple color, but the Brown Sheep Company calls it Prairie Lupine. What do they know?

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Friday, July 29, 2005


There is a small chain (three stores) of green grocers in our area. They are owned by the same people, share a single ad circular, have the same style building, same stuff in them and for the same price. Their gift certificates, however, are not redeemable at any one of them, only at the issuing store. I called and asked if I could use mine at the one closer to me, and the manager said yes, with a sigh, but that he would have to call the manager at the other store to give him my name and let him know I was coming. So, I guess I'm going grocery shopping tonight. Why do they not have reciprocity? What kind of idiocy is that?

Not much on the knitting front. I don't think I've knit anything for almost a week. I've been busy cataloging recipes I want to make/have made from my Fine Cooking collection.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sloth, Avarice & Pride

The batteries and the camera have not been in the same place since last Friday, so no photos still. Yes, I am too lazy to get the diaper bag out of the car and bring it inside to replace the batteries in the camera. Amira wore her dress to Sunday and delighted in untying the ribbon throughout the service. That is, when she wasn't busy pulling her hair clip out of her hair and yelling "NO!" when we tried to help her put it back on. Then throwing it on the floor when she couldn't get it back in her own hair. I don't think we could have gotten her to stand still long enough to get a photo taken anyway. Regardless, she looked beautiful, and all the folks in our Bible study who have been watching me make it were suitably complimentary.

There is currently a discussion on the Knit List about teaching young children to knit, how early they can do it, what size needles they should use, etc. I'm taking bets on how many days until the list moms put the kibbosh on it. The last time people were discussing knitting with children, it was forbidden as a non-knitting, even though the people talking about it were talking about knitting while homemaking, making time for knitting, places that knitting could take place, how one could knit while looking after children. Evidently, though, this workplace wasn't seen as an on topic subject, while folks talking about knitting in the office, at board meetings, while commuting and even in the bathrooms, was. So, here's the deal: Leave a comment with your estimate of when the list moms will shut down the discussion, and a way to contact you. The closest guess will get some Cotton Angora yarn from me, and if they don't squash the discussion, I will randomly pick someone to receive yarn.

Rich called from work to ask if I had a problem with his going out to hit some golf balls with a friend tonight. This is the kind of thing single people ask us about in heavy italics: You have to ask permission to go do something? Well, yes and no. We don't have to, it's just nicer. It is courteous and respectful to check in with your spouse before you take off leaving them holding dinner for hours, of worrying if the car died somewhere and you are stuck, if there were plans made already that you forgot, this is a good way to find out about it before you leave your family in the lurch, and sometimes your husband/wife will say that s/he would rather you didn't do something because it has been a difficult day, s/he isn't feeling well and would like some company/help/caretaking. Also, amazing as this may seem to those folks who think marriage is boring, restricting and pleasure killing, we actually _like_ spending time with each other, and sometimes just want a little face time. Even still, the answer is usually no problem, go ahead.

Well, when I said I had no problem with his going out (he was going to be meeting with this fellow tonight anyway, and they'd just go hit the golf course afterward, and I find golf to be a boring interruption of an otherwise pleasant walk and would rather he took someone else along anyway), he waxed poetic about what a great wife I was. I asked him from whence this adoration sprang, because although I know he was sincere and really thinks this of me, I didn't think anything particularly noteworthy had occurred. However, I think I have discovered why he did this. I overheard the fellow who works for him in the background, and this guy has been through a rather ugly divorce in the last five years and has become rather jaded about marriage. Rich has been trying to let him know that marriage and wives aren't so bad, after all, and he shouldn't look so harshly on them.

This is the same fellow who said to Rich on the first Valentine's day he worked here: Oh, that's right, you have to go do all that romantic garbage tonight. I love Rich's response: I know you had a bad experience with marriage, but I have a good marriage, we love each other and I want to be with her.

Just another reason I'm glad I married him.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Because of Kat, I wasted several hours spent some time doing lots of fun quizzes on Friday. This is what I found for my birthday:

Your Birthdate: July 24

Born on the 24th, you have a greater capacity for responsibility and helping others than your may have realized.

You may also become the mediator and peacemaker in inharmonious situations.

Devoted to family, you tend to manage and protect.

This birth date adds to the emotional nature and perhaps to the sensitivities.

Affections are important to you; both the giving and the receiving.

What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

I am ordering my birthday club order from Red Bird Knits as I type. They give you 10% off your order and free shipping if you join the birthday club and order on your birthday. Since they are a Canadian company, it is even cheaper than that for me. Whee! I've ordered the Charlotte Bronte Shawl, the Creatures of the Reef Shawl and the Peacock Feathers Shawl. One thing about them, it's better (and cheaper) to order Canadian designs from them, as the American ones get whatever added cost/tax/fees added to cross the border and those are reflected in the price.

Rich, Alexander and Dominic painted me birthday cards yesterday. Dominic's was all about natural disasters, he said it was a flood, Alexander's was a house with a rainbow on one side and fireworks on the other, and Rich's was a Mediterranean inspired house overlooking the ocean on a grassy hill. Very beautiful.

We did get a sitter tonight. Our priest's eldest son is going to Creation Fest and wants to earn extra money to buy cds and stuff. He is the oldest of six children, and great with the kids. So, we get to do the Art & Soul trip, and Rich called to make sure they had a stinking mug and put it on hold for me. I asked if they had two, but they only had one. At least I can paint that while Rich makes progress on his bowl. His pottery is art, he spends a lot of time sketching out a scene or image and then picks a billion colors to make it and does infintessimal detail work. I slap some paint on and do some simple shapes or geometric designs. I get more finished.

If the jazz music is lame, we are going to take a walk or come home and watch the pilot of Little House on the Prairie on DVD (another birthday gift to me).


Saturday, July 23, 2005

One More

One more great day of working at the yarn shop. I got to open up and close today, and we did a great day's work. A lady came in who didn't know how to do applied I-cord, and I taught her. Another lady wanted to learn how to tension her yarn better as she purled and I taught her too! Many projects saved by my finding the right yarn or color and I even finished off Amira's dress! She is wearing it tomorrow to church, and I'll get a photo of her in it.

One more reason to give up sleep: With part of my first paycheck, I bought some tatting thread, a set of tatting needles, and a how to book and taught myself how to needle tat last night! I am needling away on crochet thread, on perle cotton and on tatting thread. I am going to make tatted butterfly earrings! And dragonflies! And flowers for dresses, and edgings for pillowcases, and christening caps for my grandchildren! This is almost as good as knitting.

One more day until my birthday! You thought I'd forgotten, didn't you?

Friday, July 22, 2005

Two Skein Wonder

I finished the main body of this last night while staying up way too late to watch the extended DVD of Return of the King. Got about five repeats out of 14 of a leaf lace edging done on the left cuff. There is the right cuff to do and the edging around the body, which will be 50 repeats. I even think I will have enough yarn in the two skeins.

Tonight we watch the extended DVD with commentary, so I'm hoping to get the edging all finished. I had four options for edgings that I was considering, this lace, a scalloped leaf edging, braided cable and a picot chain. I'm thinking of doing a few more of these in different yarns and trying it with the different edgings, and maybe even make one that is similar to the original pattern. I didn't like that she put the increases right on the end, though, especially since you had to pick up sts to work the edging, so I did those increases one st in. If I get this finished tonight, I can wear it to work tomorrow, and I'm trying to wear at least one handknit each time I go in to work.

Also, one more modification to the Not So Fiery Bolero I didn't mention, I'm using garter st bands to match the garter st in the dress rather than the ribbing the pattern has. Rich bought some batteries today, so I should be able to get some photos up soon.

Birthday plans: Jazz festival and bbq with the kids, and if we can get a babysitter, a night at the pottery painting place for Rich and me.

They were out of mugs the last time we tried to go. Mugs! I finally went in with a plan and they were out of what I wanted, I had even sketched out my design ahead of time. So, Rich gallantly said we should come another time, he had a bowl to finish, but didn't want me to be stuck just picking something I didn't want or watching him. That was last week. Rich's folks came into town to visit with the kids and help us out around the house, and gave us money for a date and watched the kids for us. We got take out fish and chips from The Tides (where they make the best ever fish and chips). - I asked for this, a steak sandwich from those cheesy mall shops and Chinese takeout when people asked me what they could get us or do for us when I was in the hospital having Amira. I knew that the hospital would bring me mediocre food, so I had delivery. - Anyway, back to the date, we got the fish and chips, ate them on the water and took a walk around the harbor. We thought of getting a peddle boat, but missed them by an hour, so we drove over the bridge to get ice cream and take a drive around the five mile loop at Point Defiance. It was quite beautiful, and except for those people rushing past us who didn't appreciate the majesty around them, we had a lovely time. Laudate was cancelled the following night, so Rich's folks watched the kids again and we went and had that peddle boat trip anyway.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Journey Through Center Earth to Discover the Fate of the Bean of Power

I am so looking forward to this movie coming out! It will be a late birthday present for me and Rich Alexander. We saw the trailers on the most recent release, Minnesota Cuke and the Search for Samson's Hairbrush (which was also hilarious, and had a silly song spoof of Teen Angel called Pizza Angel, it's our youth group's new theme song, we were singing it in three part harmony). You can learn about the Lord of the Beans by visiting Big Idea to see the trailers.

Just thought I'd share, now go wait for it.


"'Got the munchies on that fateful night, 'round eight o'clock. So, I phoned in a pizza for delivery. But I had a feelin' that something wasn't right 'cause I waited for hours and no pizza.'

I set the table with a paper plate.

How would I know that it'd be late?

It's taken so long, how could it be?

Had a thirty minute guarantee!

Pizza Angel, please come to me!

Tomato sauce and cheese so gooey!

Pizza Angel, I'm on my knees!

You're my number one pie from Sicily!

Did it get lost, did they just forget?

Should I have ordered on the internet?

Ready for dinner,

Now I'm not so sure.

I think my soda's room temperature!

Pizza Angel, please come to me! - come to me

Tomato sauce and cheese so gooey!

Pizza Angel, I'm on my knees! - on my knees

And don't forget to add my favorite anchovies!

I was concerned for my delivery.

Eight little slices of heaven for me!

Can't stop thinking it would make me smile

When I taste my first Chicago-style!

Goin' crazy while I pace the floor.

Then my heart skipped,

When I heard the door!

'I opened the door in expectation, but it was the saddest sight I ever saw. I could still smell the sweet aroma of deep dish goodness, but the box was empty.'

'The house number was broken, so I couldn't find you. I was getting kind of hungry, so I, I ate your pizza. You don't have to tip me or anything.'

Pizza Angel, please come to me! - come to me

Tomato sauce and cheese so gooey!

Pizza Angel, I'm on my knees! - on my knees

You'll live forever in my memory!

Pizza Angel, please come to me! - come to me

Tomato sauce and cheese so gooey!

Pizza Angel, I'm on my knees! - on my knees

I will miss you for eternity!

'I'll never forget you, Pizza Angel.'"


I keep forgetting to ask this, and it's been several months. Does anyone know what happened to Bagatell? The last post I've seen there was in April.

Three days to birthday: Maid Service.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

KnitPicks Plus More Birthday Ideas

KnitPicks has finally gotten some solid colored sock yarn, so I may be in danger. They also have a couple color cards available, but I am waiting for them to get all of their yarn on color cards.

Since I am supposed to be working on Elijah's sweater and starting fish slippers for the boys, I have cast on for an entrelac top for Amira out of a sherbet variegated superwash merino I bought at Madrona, the coordinating black bolero for her dress and a One Skein Wonder for me. Except, I have changed the gauge (4 spi for a little garment is weird to me), using Anny Blatt Merinos at 5.5 spi, changed the shaping (it was lopsided on the sleeves, or rather it wasn't symmetrical), and changed the edging. It is now a two skein wonder, and I have all sorts of ideas for other things to do with this pattern to change it completely. I'm still working on Dominic's sweater, too.

The top for Amira is a lot of fun and goes pretty quickly, and since I cannot just follow patterns as they are, I've changed this one too, as it was sized for an adult and I just cut the size of the squares in half to make it her size, I'm also adding sleeves. This is from the Summer 2004 Knitters' Magazine pattern Square Play. It's my first attempt at entrelac, and I like it. The bolero is also modified from a magazine, this time Interweave Knits Summer 2005, the Fiery Bolero. I've changed the gauge and kept the directions for the smallest size, cutting the length where needed, so it will fit her.

It is too warm for me to be knitting on a shawl, I need something small and quick in my hands, thus the projects currently on needles. I will be putting the Pi Shawl into my UFO pile for a while. Maybe it will be a Christmas present. Since Nancy doesn't know I am making it, I have no deadline. And if we go along with the same trajectory as we have been with our children's spacing, I should be pregnant sometime next month and I will be seeing Nancy on a regular basis this fall, so I'll have plenty of time to work on it. No, that isn't an announcement.

So, one more birthday idea. I've been in love with this brooch since I first saw Fellowship of the Ring. The price has been going up steadily since the first film came out, and I really want one anyway. If you buy it for me, I will be your best friend for at least a month. Four days until B day.

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Black Sheep Report Part 2

Here, at last, is the second part of the Black Sheep Report.

I believe we left off on Friday. Saturday, we slept in a little bit, had a leisurely breakfast, and Rich sent me off to Black Sheep by myself, while he took the kids on a walk to the park, via the fire station where they were given a tour by the fellow who was there.

I arrived at Black Sheep at around noon thirty. Started off in the center building and took my time looking at the different displays. There was a spinning circle, and although I don't have a wheel, I sat with them and worked on my knitting. When I was sufficiently hungry, I stopped to eat my lunch, which Rich had lovingly packed for me that morning. There were Oreos and Cheetos in there along with my healthy ham and cheese sandwich on whole grain bread and bottled water.

After lunch, I went back in to look at the prize winners for the knitting, weaving and spinning competitions. There was a really neat girl's sweater with a large lace heart on the front that I want to try to recreate. I didn't really care for the neck, and I will do different edgings around the hem and cuffs, and get rid of the honking bobbles around the heart, and make it a modified drop shoulder rather than a straight drop shoulder, but I took a close up photo of the heart so I could figure out how to make it. There were some amazing examples of color and lace and construction in the knitting categories, and the yarns that were spun were gorgeous! I don't know a whole lot about weaving, but what I saw looked nice to me.

Just around the corner from this display was a booth with these great blown glass pens, knitting needles and crochet hooks. They were out of my price range, but now that I have this handy yarn money job, I may be able to pick up a pen (I'd be afraid of the kids breaking the needles, if I left them out in a project).

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Most of that afternoon, I spent wandering and chatting with people. A woman with an alpaca yarn booth was also married to a pilot and he was there. We talked about some of the changes in airlines, procedure, how flying has changed since 9-11, and I told them about the jet tie I was planning on knitting for Rich (bought the perfect red there for it). Her husband flies into our area sometimes, so I told him to look Rich up. I didn't have a whole lot to buy, since I was primarily looking for lace yarn for me, and scouting out some small companies our yarn shop wants to sell in our area.

I left the fairgrounds at around 3:30 and ran a couple errands, then went to pick up the family for the potluck at Black Sheep. Three sheep farmers donated a romney, border leicester and corriedale to be roasted for the potluck, and everyone else brought something to share. I got to spin some silk and merino on a wheel I am interested in possibly buying, and the kids ran around having a blast. The food was amazing! Amira walked around saying bye bye to everyone she passed, and making devoted followers of all who saw her.

We went home and crashed after that. We had an early day the next morning, because we needed to be packed up and checked out before we headed to church at 9:00 am. Rich and I packed up as much as we could that night, so the morning was spent putting it in the car, rather than packing it all up. We laid out the kids' clothes, our clothes and a change of clothes for after church (which we never used). Then, we had another night of reading out in the breezeway, before turning in a bit earlier.

Sunday, after church at St. Matthew's, we went to my mom's house. She had lunch waiting for us, sambousak, foul medammas, salad, and a chicken and meat dish that she swears I ate as a kid, but I can't remember, it is based on the same dough that gatayif is made of, but is savory instead of sweet, and layered (though you can make it rolled like gatayif if you want to be fancy). We brought pita bread, and had a great lunch. Mom got to see the kids running around, we got to have a pit stop before making the drive home and I got to show the kids pictures of me when I was a little girl, and pictures of my maternal family. My grandmother died a year and a half ago, and she had never met Rich or the kids, so I showed them some pictures of her and told stories about the times I had had with her.

We left there and headed up to Portland to have dinner with Rich's folks. That was a really quick stop, just long enough to eat, change diapers and make potty stops and head back on the road, because Rich had to be at work the next morning. Next time, we are planning an extra day, so we can rest on Monday.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Back to Knitting

I am seriously considering ripping out the Mystery Stole. I like the side panels and the lattice at the beginning, but I am not thrilled with the center panel, at least not in this yarn, and I really don't want to start over in another yarn. The lattice would be a nice block in a baby blanket, or an edging on an otherwise plain sweater, and I can likely find a way to use the panels I like in something else.

As for Amira's dress, I took a break from it right after her choking, I just couldn't look at it that night, and didn't want to touch it again right away. However, I brought it to Bible study and my women's group and have it all sewn up and all the edgings finished on it. I need to weave in the ends, sew on a button, wash and lightly block it, then thread the ribbon through the eyelets. I am going to modify the fiery bolero from the Summer IK for Amira, and make it in the same yarn in black. She can wear it with the bolero in the fall and with a shirt beneath it and the bolero in the winter.

Our camera is still missing its batteries. I will buy some soon, and take photos. Elijah's sweater is back on the radar, I have it in my knitting bag so I can work on weaving in a few ends when I have a few minutes at the yarn shop when we have a slow time. He may even get to wear it this fall, before it goes to Amira.

Working at the yarn shop is such a blast! We had the grand re-opening party this last Saturday, and had tons of people come in. There was an Anny Blatt fashion show in the morning and Debbie Macomber came in to sign her new book, A Good Yarn. I hadn't seen her since her last knitting novel came out, and had been wanting to renew the friendship, so we made tentative plans to get together in mid September. She hadn't seen Amira since last year, and hasn't seen the boys in a long time. Rich taught her husband how to fly instruments, and that is how we got to know each other. She has almost an entire yarn shop in her basement! I only have half of one.

Birthday countdown: Five days to my 29th birthday! We still don't know what we are doing, although we certainly have my presents in order. Even the boys have figured that out, they keep telling me that they are giving me yarn. A friend of mine is going on a trip to the Brown Sheep factory and picking up pounds of yarn to order for her other friends, me included, and I'm getting a few patterns that I've been wanting for some time. So, I will make some cake, and we'll grill some food and have a nice time together.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Thank You!

Thank you for all of your prayers. We are slowly getting back to normal here. Eventually, Amira will balk at our pureeing all of her food, but for now it is a comfort to us. *smile* This morning's breakfast was the first at which I wasn't watching her every bite, terrified. I'm just a little nervous now, but nothing like the stomach in a knot, someone just pounded me in the chest feeling I've had since Sunday night.

I will write about some more light hearted things soon. Just not in this post.


Monday, July 11, 2005


Amira came home asleep last night, but fine. She was exhausted, the doctors said a seizure like this is like running a mile sprint. We put her to bed in a pack and play in our room, more for our sake than hers. She slept fine, and was breathing alright. She woke up very thirsty at 5:00 am, and I gave her some water, then she went back to sleep. She woke up cheerful and calling out "Hi There!" to us, and then to 'Lijah, Dodit and Dander.

She had a great day, and except for us cutting her food up into molecular pieces, everything was normal for her. Her parents are still traumatized. Rich was able to get her breathing just in time, too, as evidently after the seizure in cases like this, it gets much, much worse, and chances are she would have died then. Rich kept her upside down in his lap as he drove up the ramp to the airport office, which they said is probably what kept the food from going back down the wrong pipe and beginning to choke her again.

We are abundantly grateful to God that this happened while Matt and Arthur were here to see it and help, that Rich knew how to do the back blows and could do so with a cool head, that the paramedics arrived so quickly and that she is doing so well. Rich said that the paramedic gave her a toy at the hospital and she smiled at him and said thank you, which made the paramedic's night, he said it was a good sign that she was responding so cheerfully and normally.

You can still be praying for us, and for her brothers who are understandably still shaken up.


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Prayer Request

Amira choked tonight and it caused a seizure. Thank God that our godson was at the table and saw her shaking and turning blue, he gave us a chance to do what was needed in time. She entered into hypoxia, but Rich dislodged the food, and our children's godfather called 911. They didn't want us to take her anywhere, but they never could have found our house, and that was lost time we weren't going let happen. She resuscitated on her own in the car on the way to the airport office to meet the medics. They gave her some oxygen, and she is at the hospital now drinking apple juice. They say she is fine, and that it doesn't look like she suffered any damage to her heart or brain. She should be on her way home tonight, but is exhausted from the seizure. Her brothers were at the table and were terrified, because they saw it happen. Elijah ran from the table and tried to just go to bed. He didn't want to eat, and I held him, rocking him for quite some time. Alexander, also is very affected by this, but sweet boy that he is, he is praying for her continually. Dominic has been less visibly shaken, and was much reassured that she was doing alright, he also told our godson that he knew that Amira wouldn't die until she grew much older, after Mama and Baba died. His confidence is a comfort in times like this.

We were able to pray together, which calmed us all down a bit. Rich was wonderful in how he took care of Amira and comforting me when he checked in from the hospital. The first passage of scripture I turned to in my Bible just flipping it over was Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the hills; from where is my help to come? My help comes from the LORD, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved, and he who watches over you will not fall asleep. Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep; the LORD himself watches over you; the LORD is your shade at your right hand, so that the sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; it is he who shall keep you safe. The LORD shall watch over your going out and your coming in, from this time forth for evermore.

The ambulance driver told Rich he had probably saved Amira's life, and Rich said he knew that it was Someone else who did it. Please pray for Amira as she is recovering from this and for the boys that their fears be calmed.


Saturday, July 09, 2005

First Day of Work at the Yarn Shop & More Birthday Ideas

I hadn't mentioned this in any previous posts, because I hadn't yet signed all the paperwork, but I am now working Saturdays at our local yarn shop! I get a decent pay check, though I did volunteer to do it for a monthly yarn allowance (it would have saved them all that pesky paperwork and those employee taxes), and a 30% discount! I told Rich this was like letting a drug addict work as a pharmacist, but hey, this is legal!

My first day was pretty busy, and went really well. I worked with one other woman, and learned the new computer system. There was some sort of fair on the waterfront, and a wine tasting at the nearby wine shop, so we had lots of walk in business. I had a lot of fun, and got to look at and play with all sorts of yarn. I will be winding my lace weight at our winding station.

Also, the kids' god father and son were visiting this weekend, and they stopped in to see me at the shop. Then, they bought yarn for me! Rowan All Seasons Cotton, three skeins in a periwinkle, Ravish [corrected to show the right color name], and six skeins in a honey/butter, Tapestry. Arthur said something about how this should count for my Christmas present or something, and I mentioned that since my birthday was this month, it would do for a birthday present.

So, more birthday ideas:

Dalegarn pattern books, especially for babies and children, but any of them will do.

Dale Tiur Yarn

Koigu Yarn

More Rowan All Seasons Cotton

Any Debbie Bliss Yarns, Especially Cashmerino, Baby Cashmerino, Cashmerino Aran, Cotton Angora and Alpaca Silk

2 skeins of Silk-Angora Lace Weight

Poetry in Stitches

Rowan Magazine Subscription

Gift Certificates to Elann or Knit Picks


Braun K750 Food Processor

And here, again, is my Amazon Wishlist.

15 days until B-Day! I promise I will get the second half of my Black Sheep Report up this week.

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Sugar Camp Quilt

I finished this book last night and am quite stunned that there was no credit given to Jane Austen. Jennifer Chiaverini used the tone and feel, and quite a few of the scenes and lines, from Pride and Prejudice, just put them in a different setting and time frame. Within the first few pages I was shocked at the similarity and outright transposition of the first dance scene in Meryton to this pre-civil war era Pennsylvania town. Perhaps there are not other people who have been reading Pride and Prejudice since they were nine years old, but to me it was unfathomable that the similarities in this book were an accident. Even having the lines and scenes deeply embedded in one's mind would not remove the knowledge from which they came.

The basic theme to the plot was of "First Impressions," the villain being perceived by the heroine to be the hero and the hero being perceived as the villain and all of this coming out when the true character is revealed in the "villain" as the heroine learns more about him. Cyrus Pearson plays Wickham pretty well in this book, with a few dalliances as Bingley, though he gets one of Fitzwilliam's lines and describes his mother using Darcy's words. Thomas Nelson does a wonderful Darcy, though without the wealth, and Dorothea Granger is a stunning Elizabeth Bennet, with a hat tip to Lorena for having some of the ridiculous character of Mrs. Bennet.

I would like to think that Chiaverini did this unwittingly, but it seems odd to me that so many similarities, down to scenes and almost exact lines would show up in this book without her knowing their source. I checked the acknowledgements and end notes carefully to see if she credited Jane Austen, or Pride and Prejudice, and perhaps had done an purposeful imitation, perhaps as a tribute, but there was no such line.

The first chapter includes a country dance to welcome a newcomer to the neighborhood (hmmm, Meryton ball? A certain resident of Netherfield?), but this is a common enough theme. There is, however, an interesting exchange between Cyrus and Mr. Nelson which is similar to that of Bingley and Darcy, in which Cyrus asks why Nelson isn't dancing. He is chiding him for his ill manner, and trying to coax him to the floor. This passage in particular is where I was shocked to find that it wasn't simply a borrowed theme:

"Pretty?" Mr. Nelson paused. "Yes, perhaps one of two of them are somewhat pretty, but I do not find ignorant country girls amusing. It is far better for me to avoid them than to subject us both to an excruciating attempt at conversation."

"I cannot believe you seriously mean this. What about her?"

Dorothea closed her eyes, hoping fervently that Cyrus was directing Mr. Nelson's attention toward the other side of the room

"That young lady is Dorothea Granger," said Cyrus, with a suggestion of pride. "Surely you can see how lovely she is...[he describes some details about her as a character in this book and Mr. Nelson replies with a similar detail then says this]

"...In any event, the manner in which she gazes so longingly at the dance floor suggests that she has not set foot on one in quite some time. I assure you, I have no intention of directing my attention to any woman ignored by other men, especially those here, who know her character."

Note especially the part I have in bold. Now, here is the passage from Pride and Prejudice which was immediately brought to mind:

Elizabeth Bennet had been obliged by the scarcity of gentlemen to sit down for two dances; and during part of that time, Mr. Darcy had been standing near enough for her to overhear a conversation between him and Mr. Bingley, who came from the dance for a few minutes to press his friend to join it.

"Come, Darcy," said he, "I must have you dance. I hate to see you standing about by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance."

"I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this, it would be insupportable. Your sisters are engaged, and there is not another woman in the room whom it would not be a punishment to me to stand up with."

"I would not be as fastidious as you are," cried Bingley, "for a kingdom! Upon my honour, I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening, and there are several of them you see uncommonly pretty."

"You are dancing with the only handsome girl in the room," said Mr. Darcy, looking at the eldest Miss Bennet.

"Oh! she is the most beautiful creature I ever beheld! But there is one of her sisters sitting down just behind you, who is very pretty, and I dare say, very agreeable. Do let me ask my partner to introduce you."

"Which do you mean?" and turning round, he looked for a moment at Elizabeth, till catching her eye, he withdrew his own and coldly said, "She is tolerable; but not handsome enough to tempt me; and I am in no humour at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men. You had better return to your partner and enjoy her smiles, for you are wasting your time with me."

Again, note the passage in bold at the end here.

In The Sugar Camp Quilt, Dorothea goes home and has much the same dissection of this interchange that Elizabeth did in Pride and Prejudice.

Later, Cyrus accuses Mr. Nelson of wrongdoing, and implies that Nelson wishes to avoid him in a most similar manner to Mr. Wickham. Shortly after that is when he gets to speak Darcy's line, only instead of being about himself, it is about his mother:

"This is most unfortunate." Cyrus's characteristic grin had fled. "Mother's good opinion, once lost, is rarely regained."

Here, from Pride and Prejudice, Darcy speaking:

"My good opinion once lost is lost forever."

There is even a scene where Mr. Nelson tries to be honest with Dorothea about their differences, but insults her in the process, without the marriage proposal that is included with Darcy's speech. As Dorothea begins to distrust Cyrus' nature and character, and learns that she does not love him, she is also awakened to the fact that she is not marriageable to him because she had no money to bring to the union, much as in Elizabeth and Wickham's case, however, he explains it to her as Colonel Fitzwilliam did in the walk at Rosings. From Sugar Camp Quilt:

"A man with property of his own may make choices a man without it cannot."

And from Fitzwilliam himself:

"A younger son, you know, must be inured to self-denial and dependence." [as background]

"Younger sons cannot marry where they like."

The plot follows very closely along the lines of Pride and Prejudice, of course with different details (the villainy is slave catching rather than womanizing, the place, time and setting are different, and there are not so many main characters, so some are combined). The worm turns for Cyrus, as he loses esteem in the eyes of those who matter to the reader. He becomes suddenly engaged to another woman, after having paid much attention to Dorothea, again, much like Wickham and Miss King. There is a point when Mr. Nelson turns from scorning Dorothea to courting her favor, as Mr. Darcy does for Elizabeth. He helps her family out of a tough financial spot, grows closer to her and more agreeable in her eyes and the point when she discovers that he is precisely her ideal of a man of character. There is a confrontation between Dorothea and Cyrus which is more pointed than the hints Elizabeth gives Wickham that she has his number, but it parallels as well.

Another line which triggered my memory was Mr. Nelson's to Dorothea, after their relationship became more amiable:

"I am quite sure I deserved your censure."

Mr. Darcy says:

"What did you say of me that I did not deserve?"

The words are not the same, but the meaning is, and the timing was. At the point when they are discussing their past misunderstanding of each other, her criticism is found to have been just. Fill in whichever him and her you wish, they are interchangeable at this point.

Toward the end of the book, Dorothea and Mr. Nelson have a continuation of this enlightening, which is part of the same scene with Darcy above as well as a comment to her sister Jane. Dorothea visits Mr. Nelson and he says:

"Would you please sit down? Shall I call for some tea? I apologize for being such a poor host. When I think of what I said about you upon the occasion of our first meeting, I cannot consider myself deserving of this visit."

Dorothea forced a shaky laugh as she seated herself. "So much has happened since then, I hardly remember what words we might have exchanged."

"I cannot forget them."

Dorothea flushed and bowed her head. "I have forgotten them, so you must do the same. If we are to keep teaching together, we must attempt to be civil."

The tone is very much the same as the final "proposal" Darcy gives to Elizabeth. Their discussion of their past together, the undeserving feeling of Darcy.

"We will not quarrel for the greater share of the blame annexed to that evening," said Elizabeth. "The conduct of neither, if strictly examined, will be irreproachable; but since then, we have both, I hope, improved in civility."

"I cannot be so easily reconciled to myself. The recollection of what I then said, of my conduct, my manners, my expressions, during the whole of it, is now, and has been many months, inexpressibly painful to me. Your reproof, so well applied, I shall never forget: 'had you behaved in a more gentlemanlike manner.' Those were your words. You know not, you can scarcely conceive, how they have tortured me; though it was some time, I confess, before I was reasonable enough to allow their justice."

Elizabeth replies later with:

"Oh! do not repeat what I then said. These recollections will not do at all. I assure you that I have long been most heartily ashamed of it."

There is further similarity in what Elizabeth says to Jane on discussing her engagement to Darcy:

Jane looked at her doubtingly. "Oh, Lizzy! it cannot be. I know how much you dislike him."

"You know nothing of the matter. That is all to be forgot. Perhaps I did not always love him so well as I do now. But in such cases as these, a good memory is unpardonable. This is the last time I shall ever remember it myself."

Although The Sugar Camp Quilt is interesting, and provides some background to the Elm Creek Quilt series, the imitation degrades it. Pride and Prejudice was a far better book.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Mystery Stole & the American Spirit

I downloaded clue number four, and indeed it is a repeat of the beginning trellis lace. I am nowhere near completing the main body, so I won't be getting to it for some time.

I did finish the neck on Amira's dress while watching fireworks last night. The party was wonderful, a little smaller than it has been in the past couple years, but very fun. The food was amazing, and they brought in an organist to play the Wurlitzer.

I was once again astonished at things people feel they are at liberty to say to people whose politics, religion, world view is completely unknown to them. I got to sit in and smile wanly at people who were quite vociferous about what morons Christians were, how evil republicans are, how stupid conservative voters are, etc. One thing that tickled me particularly was how they described the recent gubernatorial race. The republican candidate was pro-life. Everyone I knew understood this, regardless of whether they agreed with him or not. Well, these women were talking about how he wasn't Pro-Choice! and how this was hidden from those stupid people who voted for him (because, after all, if they knew this, even they wouldn't vote for him). This was actually a positive thing for most of the people we know who voted for him, and neither he nor his campaign (nor, I might add, the opposing campaign) seemed to want to keep it a secret. These people also had some lovely things to say about Roman Catholics, Fundamentalists (who they seemed to think were the same thing, actually) and most heterosexual men. I pretty much stayed out of the discussion and accepted with celerity the refill on my margarita when the bartender came around. It gave me something to do with my mouth.

I was actually quite surprised that they were saying these things in front of me, given that we had never met and they didn't know what I thought or believed (and I was wearing my cross, but then, perhaps they thought I was a Christian they way two of them were Jews, they didn't actually believe or practice anything their religion taught). Perhaps they thought it a given that a friendly, somewhat attractive (at least I didn't look like those ogres on the religious right), intelligent and funny woman couldn't possibly be one of them. I know they thought it inconceivable that there were women working for this particular candidate's campaign, since he was NOT PRO-CHOICE! and all women must be in their estimation. They spent a good deal of time on "contraceptive equity" explaining it in terms of forcing health plans that cover other medicines to cover contraception. I did not take the opportunity to reply that medicine is for counteracting and curing illness and contraception is to counteract the normal, healthy action of a woman's body. I figured it wouldn't go over well with this crowd. They crowed over how the legislature had forced Roman Catholic health plans to provide contraception, even though it is forbidden by their religion, and nobody is forced to use Roman Catholic health care, and there are so many alternatives to them it makes your head spin. Then, they talked about government taking away private rights, and they didn't start laughing at the contrast of government stepping in on private religious rights and their indignation at people not being able to take knives on planes.

The hosts' daughter did very well, and stayed very non-committal on the topic. To our neighbors' credit, we know nearly nothing about their political views. We know a little of how they viewed the recent presidential election, and we know some of their fiscal views, and that is about it. We can guess, and are likely correct, but nothing firm. It is refreshing that people would show some discretion in a strictly social exchange.

The most amusing part of the night, though, was how these people fawned over Rich and the kids, for being such nice, kind (and in the children's case) well behaved people. They were pleasant and fun to be around. Even though our children were victims of a horror of abuse like spanking (they were surprisingly free and easy with us, their tormentors), and my husband was a control freak patriarch (who was amazingly caring and sensitive and loving to me and the children) and I was one of those stupid women who didn't know her own interests (but could have intelligent conversation, laugh at jokes and down margaritas like nobody's business). To coin one of the phrases they used: It's nice when you have such easy answers for every issue.


Monday, July 04, 2005

Independence Day Knitting

We are attending a 4th of July party at our neighbors' home this afternoon. They always have tons of food themselves (new dishes appear every hour it seems), and it is potluck for the guests, they also have an amazing bar. We will be quite full by evening's end. In any case, I will be bringing Amira's little apricot dress which is almost finished!

I would have posted more photos, but the batteries died on our digital camera and I haven't had a chance to get to the store. I have finished the back and the front, and joined the shoulders. There now remains picking up the neck and armholes and knitting some garter st bands, sewing the side seams and one button on the back and threading the black ribbon through the eyelet holes. Then, it is on to making the bolero to go with it, in black to match the ribbon. I think it will make quite the striking ensemble for our little fashion plate.

Enjoy the holiday and the fireworks and the food! Happy Independence Day!

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