Back to normal

You know, being faithful to just one project, as I was the whole time I was test knitting Arabian Nights, was not easy for me. And as soon as I finished, I started itching to start new things. You've seen Arabian, 2.0. But that wasn't enough. Nooooo.

I got these pretty silver lined olive green beads that I knew would be just right on the terracotta cashmere/silk I have. 


So I unknit the small amount I had done in it. And I looked at the pattern for Secret of Chrysopolis again. And I looked at al the pictures of finished ones I could find on Ravelry. I came away from Arabian Nights knowing two things for sure -- I really like wider stoles because 20-24 inches just doesn't quite do it for me; and I like a lot of beads in the design.

So first question was how to make the stole wider. And I remembered the portcullis element in Arabian Nights. So I added that, which added 22 stitches. And the second question was solved by doing a beaded cast-on and then running beads along the long edge of the stole, as Arabian Nights does.

Odds and Ends

It's an odds and ends kind of day, appropriate for a Saturday, I think.

I had my first experience with a hostile commenter today, hostile beyond the disagreeing with what I write level. Not here -- you all are a delightful bunch -- but comments made to my In Treatment posts. I have never blocked anyone from commenting but I don't feel any obligation to provide a platform for someone to insult me and then spam the comments. I must say that it felt good to know I didn't have to stand by and idly allow it to happen. Tools are a good thing.

If you haven't seen the two part Frontline "Bush's War", I urge you to watch it online. It is superb.

Random American Idol  opinion -- I would not be unhappy to see Jason leave. I wish it had happened this past week. I still think the auditions are the really fun part.

After seeing the recipe on Habeas Brulee, I decided I had to make kumquat marmalade. We got the kumquats several days ago but kept forgetting to get cheesecloth to wrap the seeds in. Finally yesterday I got cheesecloth so I wa all set to start today. It takes a while to slice and seed 1.5 pounds of kumquats. Take my word for it. And I didn't slice them terribly thin either. Here they are in the pot with the bundle of seeds and weak Earl Grey tea. They have to soak for 24 hours then tomorrow -- marmalade will happen.

This is spring????

Look at how glorious it was yesterday when I got up --

March 27

There was sun and melting. By afternoon it was warm -- well in the 40's anyway -- and I saw a couple of boys in shorts and tee shirts having a snowball fight on the Common. There is something delightfully wacky and Maine about that.

And then, this greets me this morning --

It was snowing. And it snowed all day. Not hard, just slow steady snow. Until about an hour ago. 

So don't talk to me about crocus and daffodils. Not for a while yet!

I think I have made my piece with the flame beads. I have a tall red-headed friend who loved the picture I showed her, so I think the finished stole will go to her. She has the drama in her to carry it off.

I am going to make kumquat marmalade tomorrow. Watch for pictures.


I'm still iffy about these beads. I haven't frogged it but I just don't know about the color of them. The dark navy I love and the fact that the pattern is lacier in silk than in wool. But orange beads?? What do you think?

The beads glitter more than the photo shows -- they are silver-lined. Sometimes I like them, other times I cringe.

In the process, I have switched to another method of attaching the beads. I was happy enough with using a crochet hook, except that I couldn't hold many beads at a time on it. So I decided to try using Super Floss. And it is a terrific method. Here is what it looks like loaded with beads. I can take photos of the process if anyone is interested.


Moving right along...

Easter is a quiet day around our house. We are sort of occasional Unitarians and these days reading the Sunday NY Times seems to grab us more than leaving the house for church. And, of course my kids are all grown up. My daughter was off with her husband to her in-laws for whom Easter is a huge family gathering thing. But who can pass up the opportunity to make a feast anyway? So we had a rib roast, potatoes, and asparagus. Yumm.

I do miss the foofarah of Easter when the kids were little -- dyeing eggs, making baskets for them and getting them each a new stuffed animal each year. That was probably the best part -- the search for e right animal. One year they each got a Babar character. Another year dinosaurs. And a number of bunnies, who had to look a little different. I remember we named one Bunny Begonia. Stuffed animal bunnies, not real ones. Hiding the eggs and hoping we found them all -- because, you know there is just nothing like rotten egg to make the house smell great.

There are faint signs of spring. The bare patch in the side yard is growing as the snow ever so slowly retreats. And this morning I heard birdsong for the first time since last fall. The male cardinal of the pair that has been at our feeders all winter was singing his heart out this morning. Yesterday was Maple Syrup Sunday -- that is an early spring event. So the end of winter is coming into sight.

They came!

It was dreary yesterday -- and my beads didn't arrive. So I soldiered away on one of my many unfinished projects. 

Today the sun came out --


AND my beads arrived. So I immediately threaded a gazillion of them on the navy silk and got started. Here we are after the fringe is complete -- Spike decided to be the background


The beads are silver lined flame red and they are a bit more to the orange side than I would ordinarily choose, but I think maybe it will be okay. If not, I will give it away because I know there are people out there who love orangey red.

Spike thinks I should stop worrying and just get on with it.

Le sob

The calendar may say this is the first day of spring but you wouldn't know by looking out my window --

It's the ever popular "wintery mix" -- snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain. 

And when I got back from teaching this morning, all full of hope that my red beads wold be here ...

they weren't. The tracking information says they left Scarborough, Maine this morning which means I will get them tomorrow. But I really really hoped for them today. :::BIG sigh:::

I need to find some just right patterns for my cashmere/silk. It is really cobweb weight and I don't have enough in every color I have gotten to use it double stranded. And it is  so light it is almost weightless. I am going to play with beads to see what they will do to give it a little more drape, because the lightness of the fabric makes it almost float.

I have to say I am glad it was Amanda who was eliminated last night on American Idol. I thought she had too little range to be interesting.

Here's hoping that tomorrow I will be able to show you the beautiful red beads on the navy silk. Keep your fingers crossed!

On Another Note...

A little bit on politics today. Now if you are an Obama supporter, please don't leave comments telling me about how I am wrong and I am failing to see his magnificence. I have said many times already that if he is the nominee, I will vote for him but he is not my first or even second choice.
Saturday during my workshop I was talking about the status of women in ancient Greece and the fact that they were not citizens. That collectively we develop and add groups to the category of citizen as we expand our consciousness. And I said that first slaves, then women in this country gained full citizenship rights, became fully people. I have used that every time I have presented this material.  

But this time a man in the group commented how interesting it is that slaves preceded women, in light of the current nomination race. And then we moved on.  

Last week my husband and I had a small argument about this very issue, about race vs gender in this contest. I realized that the gender issue looms a lot larger than I had realized and hits me with more emotion that I was aware of. Hillary Clinton is not my first choice --Edwards was and I still believe he is the best of the lot. Still, there is something important for me as a woman that a woman is running and could win. What is making me feel very uncomfortable is the degree of misogyny her candidacy has exposed and continues to expose. The op-ed on the myth of post-feminism Sunday in the New York Times nails it.  

Don't argue with me, even if you are certain you have an important point to make. These are my *feelings* and no reason from someone else is going to change them.  

Anyway, I took my daughter to see Geraldine Ferraro back in '84 when she was on the ticket. I took her and made sure we were in the front row because I was excited that finally a woman was on the ticket. My daughter  was 8 and got to shake her hand. I thought maybe times really had changed a lot.  

And I am really sad that this may not be the time a woman will become president. And that the slams and slurs against women go on unchecked, because it's still okay to harbor those ideas about us. And I am sad that if Hillary doesn't make it, then I may very well not see a woman president in my lifetime. 

What could this be?

As I look outside my windows today, here and there patches of something brown are appearing. We have been snow covered since the first week of December so this is quite startling --


Bare Ground!! Still I remind myself that April was our snowiest month last year.

The two new amarylisses I got this year had moved on to the stage of just leaves I thought. But no -- each of them has thrown up a third flower stalk! I will definitely be getting more of these next fall!


I am still restlessly moving from knitting project to knitting project. I miss the sense of purpose of being the test knitter for Arabian Nights, that extra frisson of excitement that comes with knowing I am the first to knit it. There was no finished version to look at to compare my own work with, so there was a heightened sense of adventure to the whole project. And I really like the end result a lot. So why am I wanting to knit it again?

Well, I will be using silk so the drape and feel of it will be very different. And I may make a modification tot he pattern here and there. It will be a whole new adventure, therefore, not a replication of something already done.

Restless Knitter Syndrome

I am afflicted today. Arabian Nights occupied me for these last weeks and I was totally faithful to her. And now that she is finished, I don't know what to do next. 

I have this beautiful cashmere/silk from Colourmart --

but I was thinking about using it for Secret of Bad of Nauheim, which hasn't started yet.

And there is this, equally beautiful wool/silk from Colourmart --


I've been thinking about it for Dem Fischer Sin Fru, but I don't really want to start it yet.

Or there is this gorgeous deep red cashmere/viscose from Colourmart --


I don't know yet what I want to use it for.

What I really really want to start is another Arabian Nights. That's right, another one. This time in some deep navy silk from, you guessed it, Colourmart, and use red beads. I started it last night, but the red beads I have are not very good quality, not as good as he ones I had for the one I just knit. So, I ordered enough silver-lined flame red beads from Foxden -- so no starting again until later this week.

Presenting Arabian Nights!

I got her all blocked and in one piece late Friday evening, just in time to wear her to my seminar yesterday. 

And here she is--



I am delighted by the finished stole. The width is perfect at 30 inches. I find that the more usual 20-24" width makes for a wide scarf rather than a true stole. And at 91 inches, the length is also perfect for me. I am short -- just 5'3' -- but I am also wide and the length allows for it to really drape nicely and stay in place while I am wearing it, which I did all day yesterday.

The pattern I knit is an earlier version so thee are some minor differences between mine and what others making it will see. In the original version, the two halves wee to be grafted together, but I just did not have the patience. Susan changed to a beaded three needle bind-off in the final version, which is what I did. If I were doing it again, I would not extend the beads for hat all the way across the stole, but just across the middle section Even so, I like it. The weight of the beads gives the stole a nice heft and I believe also helps keep it in place. 

At Last ...

All of the knitting is done at last and the two halves are complete.

It isn't blocked yet and I haven't decided whether to graft the two parts together, to use the beaded 3-needle bind-off that Susan has in the final pattern, or a plain 3 needle bind-off. By my calculations, I knit something on the order of 132,000+ stitches to make this. And so many beads. It looks wonderful. I am considering doing a lazy blocking, using steam, today and then next week, when I feel more human again, wet blocking it as I should.  We'll see.

My cold is retreating but is still quite in evidence. I had planned to get my hair cut today but the thought of going made me want to lie down, so I cancelled and the group tomorrow will have to deal with my hair as it is -- a bit too long and kind of wild. 

Other than my cold, my head is filled with thoughts about Medea and which pieces I want to include tomorrow. I have been living with this material for 8 years now and have presented it in seminar form twice before. New will be some thoughts about Medea and what she tells us about midlife, and also looking at the consequences of subsuming one's life to one's husband and his ambitions through considering political wives. I am a little timid about the latter but why not sally forth and  try it?

Can't stop now ...

Just 25 rows to go! Pictures late tomorrow!

Struck down by the Shadow

One of the concepts from Jung that I find really useful is the Shadow. The Shadow is that not-me part of us which we do our best to keep out of consciousness. And the more we identify with the brightness of light, the darker the shadow. So again and again we see politicians and other public figures who have represented themselves as moral crusaders or enforcers  falling prey to the public exposure of their shadowy underside.

"Unfortunately there can be no doubt that man is, on the whole, less good than he imagines himself or wants to be. Everyone carries a Shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. If an inferiority is conscious, one always has a chance to correct it. Furthermore, it is constantly in contact with other interests, so that it is continually subjected to modifications. But if it is repressed and isolated from consciousness, it never gets corrected and is liable to burst forth suddenly in a moment of unawareness. At all events, it forms an unconscious snag, thwarting our most well-meant intentions." C.G. Jung,  Collected Works, vol. 11: Psychology and Religion

Say it isn't so!

Spike is upset by the news of Eliot Spitzer's misconduct --

So how do you like it?

I decided a change in look was in order, so to mark the beginning of my second year, a new theme. Like it? I'll probably change again when summer begins or when the urge strikes, whichever comes first.

I know now I will make it and get Arabian Nights finished. I am 25 rows in on the last big motif, which means just 75 rows left to knit. So by week's end, I should be abl eto show you the finished Arabian Nights stole!

The rain left and it has been sunny most of today. But this is how we started out --

Incessant coughing is rendering my mind non-functional so back to my knitting I go.

Well, it isn't snow ...

If this is Saturday we must be having a storm. And we are --


and it's rain. Lots of rain.

So I have that to add to my cold as reasons to be grumpy today. 

Then I noticed this --

a second flower stalk on my favorite amaryllis and lo and behold, a third one has started to grow! This helps my mood.

As does this -- just 20 rows left before I start the big beaded motif on Arabian Nights.

And today is the one year anniversary of this blog. To my readers, thank you so much for coming here and reading!

I'm down but not out...

First it was my husband, who got sniffly and sneezy and stuffy and achey Tuesday. I tried very very hard not to get it. I really did. But when I wasn't lookingyesterday, it caught me too. And now I am sniffly and sneezy and stuffy and achey and my voice is hoarse. But I am a good little knitter and I *really* want to wear Arabian Nights next Saturday when I give my seminar. So I am knitting. A little slowly  but I am knitting. 120 rows left.

The sunrise was glorious today

but that red sky was indeed a warning -- storm starting tonight and by the time it is over, we're supposed to get 2+ inches of RAIN! Just imagine how much water will be running down the hill!

Sigh of Relief

This photo tells the tale of what it was like when I got up this morning--

Yes, that is ice on the window. Ten years ago, Maine had a truly dreadful ice storm. I lived in Portland at the time and though we got ice also, we didn't lose power. But up here in Belfast, folks were without power for days and in some towns for 3 weeks. So when the forecast predicts ice, we all shudder a bit in memory of that awful storm. But it is warming up now and it is now rain that is hitting my windows and the ice is disappearing from the lilac outside my window. Sigh of relief.

Another sigh of relief last night. The candidate I was really wanting to win was John Edwards. And since he has dropped out I have not been either for nor against any of the remaining Democrats. But it hit me earlier this week how much I have been feeling some of the frank misogyny I have heard directed at Hillary Clinton. And this made me want her to do well yesterday, which she did. So another sigh of relief. I am not against Obama and I am not for Clinton, but I confess I kind of hope I will see a woman in the White House in my lifetime and maybe she could do it.


At the end of the year I said I would not be doing Blog 365 because I just couldn't post that often. But here I am 64 days later and I have managed many more posts than I ever imagined I would be able to make. And I have taken my morning photo each of those days and see no reason to think I won't do so for the remaining 302 days this year. So I can't say to my self that I lack discipline, because I have created evidence that I can be very disciplined when I want to be. An interesting lesson for me. Writing every day has become important to me. These last 6 weeks I have posted every day about In Treatment  and not always here about knitting. But the act of making that post every day has seeped in, just as taking that photo has and now, when  am late writing or have trouble finding something to write, I notice it and feel incomplete for the day. I am not sure how this will play out after  In Treatment ends, but I doubt I will return to my more lackadaisical posting pattern.

So where am I with Arabian Nights? Well, I have completed 13 of 20 of the repeats of the long section, so I am on track and will likely begin that last beaded section by the weekend. Which means I should be ready to put the two pieces together by late next week. And be able to wear it on the 15th to talk about Medea. I need to make a more fiery version of the pattern to reflect her -- maybe later this year.

After the storm

Could it be more beautiful -- 

or less suggestive of spring?

Wait a few minutes

The old saw about weather in New England, attributed to Mark Twain, is that if you don't like the weather just wait a few minutes. So from below zero and sunny yesterday we go to

It is snowing hard and we are on our way to another foot or so of accumulation. Here on the coast, we don't begin to rival Kim in New Hampshire, but for us this is a lot of snow and a very snowy winter -- over 100 inches so far.

I wound the last of the yarn for Arabian Nights today and I have this afternoon and evening to forge ahead. I am a bit ahead of my schedule now, with just 190 rows left and 12 days to do it -- I am allowing myself a cushion of a couple of days to make certain I have enough time.

Knitting is one of those activities that frees my mind to go wandering and play with new ideas and begin the writing process. I am filled with ideas about midlife and later life and what this time, the afternoon and evening of life means for us and how we can best take advantage of it. So while I knit the stole, I am also knitting together new thoughts and ideas. Like I am seeing a way that Medea can be read as a woman at the crossroads of midlife. And that will give me some fresh material to take to my seminar in two weeks. Instead of Scheherazade's 1001 tales, my Arabian Nights is expanding on the tale of my work.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.