October 2006 Archives

Just not right


This is the weather forecast in my neighborhood. Tonight they are expecting it to get down to 29ºF, just in time for Halloween. But you know what's so very wrong? The next nine days won't drop below 39ºF! What sort of sick and twisted turn of fate is that?

Having grown up in NH, I know what it's like to ponder the benefits of bundling up against the complete loss of continuity in one's costume. Freeze and look "just right" or bundle up and have nothing but a tiara to show for your princess costume. Do princesses wear moon boots?

Even as I write this, I worry more for our supply of candy than I do for the health and well being of the children. I'm in a new neighborhood, full off little single family houses. Will I have enough candy? What if there's a line of kids outside my door and I run out? Will the kids accept roving instead? Can I really part with roving for a bunch of greedy kids in pirate costumes? Only time will tell, I suppose.

For now, I have to remember not to graze upon the candy I do have.

Saving up for a Wooly Winder


Note: If you tried purchasing before and couldn't, I am sorry. I think I've fixed the issue. Thank you!

Yup, I want me a Wooly Winder for El Matchador and I've decided that with unemployment looming in my future, I should approach this acquisition with some forethought. Wow, I sound almost like a grown up (let us not speak of the impulsive way in which El Matchador was procured).

One way I hope to save up my pennies is by selling my silly little Sculpey creations. I know, I'm no Amyville, nor am I trying to be. She is in a class of her own. But if any of those little guys appeal to you, including my newest addition, the Itty Bitty Sheepy Beads:

Then head on over to the For Sale page.

First carved pumpkin


Leo has never carved a pumpkin or had roasted pumpkin seeds before. Who knew? So last night, I sketched out a design and Leo used his brawn and patience to produce this:

Isn't he great?

And the pumpkin seeds? That's my department.

Roasted in a little butter and olive oils with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little spinning. I haven't mentioned much about it recently, partly because El Matchador and I have had a couple ugly moment recently. There were some tension issues.
Let's be honest, these issues were my fault and I'm a big enough person to admit it. Wheels just weren't meant to spin with a mercerized cotton drive band. When I switched to a synthetic one that I had picked up a few weeks ago, it was as though the heavens opened up and angels began to sing. Another "oh duh!" moment for Marnie.

I haven't even calculated how much yardage I have here but it's a Merino/Tencel blend in a colorway called Sandstone. I bought it at Carolina Homespun, while on my road trip to Oregon. It's relatively fine, maybe a sport weight overall.

And here it is with my unblogable work, basking in a sun beam with Panda.



I feel like I haven't had much in the way of craftiness to offer you guys lately. That probably won't change much in the next couple of weeks. I'm knee deep in unbloggable stuff and even El Matchador is feeling the slight. I do, however, have some Panda cuteness and Pacific Northwest autumnal beauty. If that sounds interesting to you, keep-a-scrolling!

Sunday, we decided that Panda was well overdue for some running around and chasing the "squirrel". We didn't make it as far as the beach, just over to the same park we visited, not so very long ago.

It was a gorgeous day, mild, sunny, perfect for wearing out a high energy dog.

That toy got a nice coating of slobber.

Once Panda was exhausted (or at least in need of a break,) I took to wandering around the park and snapping pictures. I could fill this blog with the pictures I took. There are pear trees, apple trees, berries of all sorts, all just growing in a tiny little park tucked away in Portland.

There's a colorway in here somewhere.

As we were heading back home, Leo and I decided that maybe we should take advantage of the beautiful day and do some sight seeing. Since it was relatively warm and Panda was a bit tuckered out, we decided to drop her off at home.

From there, we just took off.

In the areas we drove around, yellow and a touch of red really dominate the autumn colors. I don't recall seeing much orange at all. This part of Oregon is greener than I recall New Hampshire being, when I lived there, and it's definitely warmer.


Aww, those pumpkins look so delicious pretty.

And since it is a lovely October day, we had to stop by a pumpkin patch. While I love those vivid orange pumpkins, we got ourselves a classic one. The plan? We'll carve him up, rip out his guts and bake up the seeds, Then we'll stick a burning flame in him, set him out for the kids to gawk at and, Leo plans to smash him after Halloween. Somehow, it all seemed less violent when we originally discussed the idea.



All of this, within an hour's drive from our humble little home. We were back before Panda finished her nap.



One Ms. Eve Ng has won our grand prize. She has chosen to receive a pair of knitting needles. She's left it up to me to choose which ones.

The remaining items will be sold in the near future.

For now, I'm sorting and charting and playing around with the 70 submissions I've received from all of you.

I'm fascinated and a little daunted by how many sizes and shapes we all come in. This should be a challenging project indeed.

Final Countdown


Wow, you guys are awesome! I have been getting so many submissions for the leg contest, along with great little asides from many of you. I'm sorry I haven't had the time to personally thank and respond to each and every one of you.

For those who might be on the line about sharing your measurements with me, here's a little something that might sway you one way or the other. Below are pictures of what the winner will get to choose from.

If you choose a spinning related prize, you can choose from one of these orifice hooks.

Either a lamb themed hook.

Or a lizard themed hook.

If you prefer a knitting related prize, you can choose from one of two pairs of US sized 7 Clover knitting needles with decorated ends.

Again, I have a lamb themed variety.

Or a lizard theme.

These are definitely hand made and look the part but they're made with plenty of TLC, for whatever that is worth.

If the winner opts out of any of the items above, there will be an option for a yarn or roving prize instead.

I've extended the contest just a little longer, so you may get in your entries until mid-day Saturday, when the winner will be chosen.

Thanks again for all the submissions so far. I hope they keep rolling in.

I have a huge favor to ask you guys out there. I'm working on a pattern for a company and I need to have some good leg measurements for all different kinds of women, from petit to zaftig. I would NOT expect anyone to want to leave those sorts of measurements in my comments, so I'm hoping I can sweet talk you into emailing me those measurements with assurance that your numbers and names will never be released in combination with each other.

So, what I'd need is:

  1. Circumference at ball of foot

  2. Circumference at ankle

  3. Circumference at knee

  4. Distance from ankle to knee

  5. Circumference at mid thigh (Sit down. Measure halfway between knee and crease of lap)

  6. Distance from knee to mid thigh

or click the "Contact" button above. Either will allow you to send me an email. Include the subject line "my leg" and the measurements for each number in the body of the message.

And because I know this is a bit of a pain in the butt, I'll be sending one random contributor a special gift. The winner will be picked Friday night and can choose either a knitting or a spinning related little prize.



While in India, I spun the aptly named Indian Wedding fiber I got from Janel.

The first time I spun this fiber, I think I was using a death grip of some sort because I recall having trouble drafting the fibers. This time, no such issues. It was pure delight to spin. I think the colorway is now discontinued not currently in stock but available by request. I'll have to think of something small and special to knit with what I have. As you can see, this is a fiber that loves the camera.

Here it is all plied up, using the always reliable Andean Plying method, to produce a soft 2-ply yarn. The results are about a DK weight or a touch lighter.

Here it is. in skein form, lounging about.

And what's that I see?

Ahhh, soft enough for a baby girl.

Home sweet home


Wow, I have been one lazy bum these past few days. I think my body had finally gotten used to being 12.5 hours off from PDT and coming back my mind just gave up on me and said "Forget it, you can just sleep ALL the time, for all I care." We went out for a really nice dinner on Friday night and caught some bands and clubs downtown, but it was an act of pure will power to stay awake. However, I wasn't a complete and utter bump on a log. El Matchador and I enjoyed a sweet sweet reunion.

The first thing I did was to finish plying my 4 ounces of Alpaca in the Iris colorway. There are about 315 yards of DK-ish weight 2-ply.

It was actually nice to start off with something as mindless as plying.
Once all my alpaca off the niddy noddy and hanging out to dry, I broke into some of my Merino/Silk in colorway Catalina.

Both fibers are from Janel's store

This skein is 2 ounces and is a 3 ply, using the Navajo plying method. There are about 190 yards and it's, more or less, worsted weight. I love this method of plying, but man am I good at getting it messed up. I had a few "ugly moments" in this skein. Let us not speak of it again.

I, of course, have more fiber on the wheel right now. I'll have to show you that some other time.

We did manage to get out of the house yesterday, to give Panda a proper run around the park. Our hope had been to go to the beach, but the weather, being Portland an all, wasn't quite suitable for such endeavors. This is not to say that it wasn't beautiful out, though. After 5 years in LA, I sort of forgot how beautiful drizzly autumn days could be.

We swung by Leo's office and I snapped pictures of the ducks in the little river near the parking lot.

And all around us, the trees were turning.

The overcast skies really make the colors pop by comparison.

With an adventurous spirit and a little luck, we even found a nice little park to let the girl run around.

It had an apple tree just overflowing with ripe fruit

And lovely little roses giving their last blooms before winter.

I love that Portland offers some of the vivid colors of autumn that I remember from New Hampshire, but offers mild enough weather to sustain roses. Talk about the best of all worlds!

I'm home!


Just a quick note to let you all know that I made it home safe and sound. It was a shockingly uneventful trip capped off with big hugs and kisses when I got home.

Dear Brad,

I know that I've been on TV and I'm an engaging knitting personality, but we've never met, you simply cannot be stalking me around the world; kids and "wife" in tow. It's unseemly and I am in a happy relationship. I thought I'd put enough distance between us when I moved from LA to Portland, but that clearly wasn't enough, and now you are here, in Pune, the same town in which I am staying. I'm sorry to let you down, but don't worry, you seem like a nice person, I'm sure that in time, you will recover and be stronger for the experience.

Your's truly,

No, I haven't run into them, they are a bit more stealth than that.

It's my last day in Pune and I'm marveling at how fast the two weeks seem to have gone. Everyone here, without exception, has been gracious and kind and made me feel welcome, despite the fact that there was much to do and plenty of work related pressure. But you know, I'm not sure I have much to complain about, work wise. It could be worse, I could have this job.

I'm not sure this position would pass OSHA's standards, but they do appear to be an Equal Opportunity Employer.

For my last little shopping excursion, yesterday, we went to the local market. The place was a mob scene, pure chaos and I loved it. The shops are tiny, with little room to move and one must dodge bikes, cars, scraggly looking cats and other obstacles, to enter the shop of choice, but if you want it, you can find it here. I even found yarn. Oh man, you have no idea how affordable yarn is out here. More on that later, for now, here are some pictures of our excursion.

Women carving stones into mortar and pestle and, I don't know, head stones?

Perhaps useful considering the risk to life and limb one takes, crossing the street.

The holiday, Diwali is just around the corner here in India and everyone is getting prepared. People buy vivid new outfits and colorful decorations in preparation for the Festival Of Lights. The markets are filled with items of every sort, in anticipation.

There's almost so much to look at, one can't decide where to start.

Flowers play heavily in the decorations, especially yellow and orange carnations.

I was able to find a last few items before packing my things and then we made our way back to our hotels for dinner. On the way, we encountered one of your everyday traffic obstructions.

If I were a bit more brave (read: stupid) I could have reached out my window and touched him.

In less than 24 hours, I'll be on a plane home and back to my sweeties. Speaking of which, you'll have to read Leo's response to some of your comments about his tattoo.



I only have a few minutes so I don't have much time for commentary other than to say that I think it looks wonderful.

And for those who asked, he confirmed that under the arm is, in fact, a very painful place to get a tattoo. Aww. But hopefully it was all worth the pain in the end.

A little over 4 years ago, I designed and got a tattoo of a dragonfly on my back. I loved the little guy and I figured if I couldn't see it everyday, I'd be less likely to get sick of it. I think it worked. I still love seeing him hanging out back there.


It got Leo thinking that he might like something himself. He asked me to think of some possible ideas. He knew he wanted something that had a female face, and he was thinking he might want an armband.

Now, I dabble in illustrating, but it is, by no means, my strong suit. I sketched, I used Illustrator, I submitted ideas to him and yet we kept coming up with misses, not hits. I'll be the first to say that no one should get a tattoo unless they feel 100% sure it's what they want and, luckily, Leo feels the same. Yet, I was beginning to think I'd never come up with a design that could meet his discriminating taste.

Finally, we hit on an idea that seemed perfect to him. Two female profiles facing each other with their hair intertwining around his arm. It was a design that we hasn't seen on anyone else (which is not to say that it hasn't been done, we just haven't seen it) and Leo thought he could love it enough to have it forever.

When I finalized the sketch and got it to where he thought it was perfect, he asked if I could include a Japanese character in the middle. I've take a little bit of Japanese before, so I knew enough to search for the character online and then look it up by it's radical to confirm the meaning. There's still a chance that it has some colloquial or slang meaning that may come back to haunt us, but I suppose that's the chance you take when you go getting tattoos in languages you don't really know.

Anyway, the characters should mean "lion" which is what Leonardo means as well. Leo jokes that it's as close as he gets to being between two women at one time. Ha! Funny, very funny.

You may recall that I said the designing happened over 4 years ago. We went to a few places in LA to see what it would cost but we it ended up just falling by the wayside. Over time it just seemed to be (I thought) forgotten.

Well, bruised, beaten, exhausted and bloodied, after 5 hours of continuous inking (he said she didn't even take a potty break) his tattoo is done, and from what I can see, it's amazing. Want to see it? Check the pics after the jump. If you are not so fond of the look of freshly tattooed skin under plastic wrap and tape, you can see the original illustration here.

Off the clock and in overdrive


Here in India, we are working the standard 6 day week, which means that when we leave work on Saturday, we are off the clock until Monday. I've been feeling a touch sick since yesterday morning, but I'll be damned if it'll keep me from enjoying my day off.

I moved out of my old hotel into one that offers a few more amenities. The last place had room service but only during normal meal hours which meant that those days in which I went to bed mid-afternoon and woke up well before sunrise...

This little guy greeted us early one morning, above the office entrance.

I often went 16 hours without a meal (though, luckily, our host always made up for the deficit, with plenty to spare). I will miss seeing "Chicken Alabama" on the room service menu, though.

I'm not from Alabama, but I don't think I've ever heard of a dish quite like that.

If you are wondering about those prices, they are in rupees. Divide by 45 and you get the approximate value in dollars. To make it easier for me (I'm not so strong with math) I just move the decimal place over two spots to the left and double it.

Some rupees.
635 rupees is equal to about $14, which could (theoretically) get me 4 servings of Chicken Alabama with something left over for tip.

Today, leaving all work responsibilities (well, maybe I did a little work in the morning) in the hotel room, Clasonda and I headed over to Panchami's house.

Yah, just a camel in traffic, nothing to look at here.

Panchami is a woman you hate to love (I mean that in the best way possible). She's successful, beautiful, a gracious host, excellent cook, phenomenal mother, loving wife, doting daughter, and generous friend. She doesn't work directly with my company but works in the same office as the people who do, and she simply jumped at the chance to host us at her house. So while she leaves us all feeling inferior, Clasonda and I knew we couldn't miss the chance to spend the day with her.

Could Panchami's mother be any cuter? I love her sari.

When drinks were done, we moved to the kitchen for a lesson in making stuffed naan.

She makes it look so easy.

We had our fill of her delicious food and then she draped a sari on me.

Yes, sure, I remember all those steps.

I think the socks and bra strap really make the outfit.

She topped off the look with a lovely necklace and a bindi. I'm not sure I'm going to trade in my trousers and blazers for saris, but I can see why so many women in India choose to wear these regularly.

You'd think with all this kindness, Panchami would feel content seeing off two full and grinning guests, but she wasn't done with us yet.

They were lovely little dishes used during the holidays. I plan to find a special place for mine at home.

After giving us gifts, she took us to the local shop where she bought her outfit and we did a little shopping.

Clasonda is getting some custom made clothing. This place rocks.

I would love to have had the time to get some outfits made before I left, but I was happy to settle for shopping vicariously through Clasonda.

Believe it or not, this is the abridged post. I have many more pictures, including some spinning to share with you. For now, though, I need some sleep.

A day in the night of my life in India

  • Wake up at some god awful hour which is a lazy arse late hour in the US, say 1AM here (12:30PM in PDT).
  • Stagger into bathroom, remind self repeatedly NOT to put toothbrush under tap when brushing teeth.
  • Come back out to bedroom/office/dining room/living room/blog central
  • Turn on tv and brace self. Rapidly press volume down button in anticipation of it turning on at full volume.
  • Wait for ringing in ears to subside.
  • Get caught up in commercials and shows* spoken in language I am not familiar with *Quicktime required
  • Flip through 37 overdubbed and local stations and sigh each time I hit the cartoon channels (also overdubbed)
  • Settle for BBC World News or English language anime station
  • Check if Leo is on IM
  • Log into personal email
  • Log into work email
  • Work work work work work
  • Realize still in jammies and will need to go to office
  • Lament not being home in Portland where jammies are now normal work attire
  • Ride to work in backseat of car with no seatbelts
  • Thank lucky stars it's too dark to notice just how scary the drive is
  • Work work work work work
  • 8-12 hours later, pack into the car to go back to the hotel.
  • See the cow with the groovy horns
  • Fear for safety and wellbeing of all pedestrians, animals, and other motorists, on the way
  • Make it back to hotel in what would be, by all accounts, record time
  • Knit, spin and do a bit more work, and now thanks to a generous soul at the office (Thanks Ash!) I now have an iSight to use so that Leo, Panda and I can all see each other.
  • Take shower
  • Chat with Leo and Panda some more
  • Blog and surf other peoples’ blogs
  • Tuck self into bed in the afternoon
  • Read
  • Fall asleep to sound of rush hour horns expressing their disdain for the inevitable traffic.
  • Rinse and repeat

I've been spinning a little bit here in India and it got me thinking about creating a balanced ply. I've had pretty good success doing this on a spindle and I thought I'd share the method I like to use.

I like to think that my spindle has seen more sights than most.

Once you've spun your singles, you are ready to ply. I like to use the andean plying method but this works just as well from two center pull balls or from two ends of the same center pull ball.

Begin to ply your singles until you are ready to wind them onto the spindle.

Here's a two ply, but how do I know if it's balanced?

Holding both ends of the plied section in place, bring your two hands together and watch the way the yarn reacts. Pay close attention, you need to note which way the yarn twists, if it twist at all.

The yarn may twist around itself clockwise

Or it may twist counter-clockwise

If the yarn twists back on itself, you will need to drop your spindle and twist it in the SAME DIRECTION as the yarn twisted around itself.

This is the key. Note how many times it twisted back on itself and use that as a gauge for how much you will need to correct it. After attempting to correct the twist, do the same test again. Your goal is to have the yarn hang straight down, no matter how close you bring your hands together. The results should look like this.

It may take a little while, but with patience you will achieve this result.

After a couple of sections, you will begin to get a feel for just how long you need to let the spindle spin to get a balanced yarn. At that point, you will not need to check each section before winding on to the spindle. Instead, you can do spot checks occasionally as you ply the remaining yarn.

That little extra effort yields beautifully balanced yarn.

66 yards of perfectly plied A Type Pygora lace weight yarn.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to those of you who haven't been happy with your spindle plied yarn. And for those of you who are advanced spinners out there, feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments.

Today is day 4 of my 14 day trip in India. Having just acclimated to the time change, I'll be switching shifts once again, working 4AM to noon for the remainder of the week. If I were a wise woman, I'd be getting settled to go to sleep right now. But you know, if I were well rested, I wouldn't find things like this so amusing.

I've seen a lot of variations of floor numbering, but this is the first time I've seen floors 0 and -1.

But we did manage to leave the hotel for a little shopping and sight seeing yesterday.

Maya and her daughter were great guides to our shopping adventure

Walking around is a nice change from being in the car all the time. It gives you a chance to catch those little moments that are too fleeting to capture while hurtling down a dirt road, weaving through pedestrians and livestock.

Awww, sleepy puppies

But I know my audience, here. You might like dogs but what you love is textiles. These pictures cannot even begin to express how much fabric was in this store. It was two stories, floor to ceiling, of every imaginable fabric.

I think Clasonda is experiencing sensory overload.

After wandering through all kinds of great stores and finally finding a place that sells yarn (though it was closed, poo!) we packed into the car and headed back towards the hotel

In Boston, we had "make way for ducklings" in India, it's "make way for cows"

The day was great and ended with a delicious Chinese dinner with Maya and her family.

Today was a half day of work because it's Sunday in the states and a national holiday in India. When the words "lunch" and "Thai food" were mentioned, I had my things packed up and was ready to go in no time.

So as we drove through town, visions of curry dancing in my head, the heavens opened up, Flashdance style.

That's the river we had to ford to make our way into the restaurant

Soaked but still in good spirits, we sat down for lunch. Yum!

Why not a little semi-open air dining during a veritable typhoon?

The rain let up before the end of lunch which gave me ample opportunity to take pictures like the tourist that I am.

Well, if I plan to be of any use when they pick me up for work at 3:30AM, I best be getting some sleep.

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