Thursday, August 31, 2006

Did You Ever Have One Of Those Days?

You know the kind I'm talkin' about. The one where you wander around the house all day with a foolish grin pasted to your mug, disturb the cats, contemplate calling random numbers in the phone book just to "share" and mutter periodically under your breath:

The Finn is free of the wheel, set, skeined and awaiting the needles! I even think I've found it's pattern, although it remains to be seen whether I suddenly find myself in a fit of self-doubt and frantically begin seeking another, more suited to it's beauty.
I've been spinning for about four years now. Back when I first started, I was too much of a newbie to realize that there might be some limits to my skills. Thus, I was a bit more willing to experiment with different fibers. One of the first fibers that I spun that summer was silk roving and I now often recommend it to new spinners. It has a long staple, feels good to the touch and looks faboo even if you make every mistake known to man. The Finn has a very similar feel to it and almost seems to draft itself. I'd say it is an excellent choice for a new spin-ster and a nice ego boost for a Sheep who, while an experienced spinner, may or may not have had a couple of recent "episodes" involving recalcitrant sock yarn.
Dang it all, I wish I could take all the credit for this. But the majority of the skill here was in Sheila's hands as she is the one who dyed it so beautifully. I agree with those who commented on the "sunset" look to the finished yarn. And, wouldn't you know, the color on my monitor looks about dead-on. Too bad you can't feel it, though...I've been hugging it more often throughout the day than I care to admit.
In an effort to keep myself humble after such a fibery triumph, I decided that it was time to break out the flax. Now, I have never met a fiber that so desperately wants to be spun. However it wants to do things it's own way and this is not always in line with my artistic vision. I'm finding that dry spinning it results in a less smooth yarn, but one that I have a bit more control over. I think that may be the route I'm taking on this one. God knows, I have enough of this stuff upon which to practice! I was the beneficiary of a recent de-stashing and got it all for the cost of shipping. Will I live to regret this score? Time will tell...
Meanwhile, I'm feeling reasonably good about the spinning part. But, as is my wont, I have sort of flung myself into this without really knowing what the heck I'm doing. I have no idea whatsoever how to set the twist on this stuff. I'm assuming that it is similar to cotton and that I'm gonna have to boil it up into linen soup. Anyone have any thoughts on this? I'm not above experimenting and it wouldn't be the first time I took the plunge only to have things go horribly and spectacularly wrong. Yet, it probably would be useful to get some input from the happy world of bloggers if any of my readers have ever spun flax.
If not, that's disasters seem to make for better blogging, dontcha think? :)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I Have The Power.

Any Sheep knows that there are things she can control and things over which no amount of will she exerts will lead to change. This is is good information to have what with the need to remain sane and functioning.

For example, being stuck on the Maine Turnpike for half an hour this morning along with umpty-gajillion of my fellow commuters while the authorities dealt with a somewhat nasty accident is something that is beyond my control. Now, the average Mainer does not have a working knowledge of "gridlock." It is beyond our ken. We get in our cars, we go places. We complain about lengthy waits at stop signs. We become completely flummoxed in the face of non-moving traffic. We also don't have Ikea...but that's another level of cultural confusion and not really relevant here.

Now, I could have joined some of my fellow motorists and departed my vehicle to wander amongst the bumpers and make friends. But this seemed inadvisable. I could have followed the stellar example of several of my comrades and attempted to drive in reverse for three miles, thus extricating myself from the tangle. I saw several potential problems with this given that I, myself, was nearly struck by several cars showily pulling off this maneuver.

No. It was best to simply accept that I had no control over this situation, turn off the engine and catch up on reading my mail. There was a lovely brochure from my plastic surgeon detailing all the other services of which I could avail myself during my upcoming mole removal which I read with interest. Of course, I had to read it from my left side so that my cheek mole couldn't see. I haven't broken the news to it yet and I don't know how it is going to feel about it's upcoming change of locale. The time passed, traffic eventually began to move and there was little to no stress involved.

There are, however, things over which I do have control. And God help you should you be one of those things and make the ill-fated decision to not bend to my will. There will be consequences:

Tough Love For Socks.
It had to be done. It would not behave. It developed a gaping hole with no apparent cause. I suspected a dropped stitch. However, after counting, I seemed to have more than when I started. I tried to reason with it. I explained the difference between "master" and "garment." It kept giving me 'tude. It shouldn't have messed with me. I am the Almighty Sheep.
And I smote it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

J. Crew Don't Lie

Despite my own mirror and a lengthy discussion of the matter with my doctor last week, I am capable of living in denial for quite some time. Today, though, as I put on my favorite "old-reliable" jeans the hard truth needed to be faced:

I've put on a little weight over the summer.

Now, a couple of years ago this would have been enough to put me in quite the little "shame spiral." I might disappear for days only to be discovered actually living in the refrigerator and wiping my tears of dismay on cellophane wrappers emblazoned with the word, "Hostess." I could be lured out with a pair of nice, stretchy sweat pants and a whole fried chicken if folks acted quickly enough.

I'm really much better about these things now.

The reality is that these things happen. According to the doctor, my Body Mass Index is holding at 22 (which is good) and that the development of some new muscle mass in my upper body has also added to the numbers on that mean old scale. It's nothing that isn't going to correct itself once I get back on a regular schedule next week.

During my bout with the Monkey Pox last spring, I lost alot of weight. More than I really let on. I sort of hid under some baggy clothing for a while there. Truth be told, I was actually fitting into a size two. If you had told me in years past that this might be a bad thing, I would have scoffed. And quite heartily at that. But that particular size, regardless of what Hollywood is telling me, is not a good look for this Sheep. I was told on numerous occasions that I bore a rather striking resemblance to a plague victim. Not good. I began to eat regular meals of chicken and doughnuts.

The doughnuts probably aren't anything that your physician might recommend...but I really wanted them.

So, it is with resignation, that The Sheep acknowledges the end of her feeding frenzy and returns to her regularly scheduled better behavior with the occasional piece of fruit or a veggie thrown in. Thrice weekly workouts will replace the haphazard "eh, we'll shoot for two this week" schedule. Ice cream eaten directly from the carton will be considered poor behavior.

I do it as a salute to the honesty of the J. Crew Boy Cut Jeans. They deserve the best I have to give.

With the loss of refined sugar in my life, I must find sweetness elsewhere. This seemed to fit the bill:

Skein #2 of the Finn!
It is still drying at this point, but will be ready for final skeining sometime tonight. Unless, of course, the recent spate of rainy weather slows things down. There is a wee bit left on the bobbins that still needs to be plied and then I can begin figuring out what this is going to become. I think that I'm looking at a bolero of some sort.
One that might look good with the jeans, dontcha know!

Monday, August 28, 2006

Kids Today...

I live in a condo. Eight units, four on each side of the building. It is fairly close quarters, but we all seem to manage to avoid eye contact as is appropriate. My next door neighbor has a teenaged son. He is, from all observations, a fine young man. He is respectful, witty, and will always offer to help his elderly, sheepy neighbor with her groceries. I'd say his one flaw might be that he thinks we should talk more often. He thinks that I am, God help me, "interesting." Relax...we don't have a Mrs. Robinson thing going on here. He's just one of those rare 16 year olds who happens to see beyond age and likes to get to know folks.

For all his finer qualities, though, he is a kid. A teenaged kid. And the teens, they run, they jump, they yell, they play that crazy rock 'n roll, and have any number of gee-gaws and gadgets that make noises. They are incapable of walking down a flight of stairs in anything remotely resembling a sedate manner. And they travel in packs.

I really do like this kid. He's respectful of his elders 'n all. But he has yet to attain the life experience necessary to appreciate the finer points of that most wonderful of middle-aged pleasures: The Nap. I do not believe that he is aware of the physical and mental strain put upon his neighbor by having to re-tune her sleep cycles to accommodate the start of school. He does not know that her mind is reeling after learning that her new classroom does not come with a desk for the teacher. She now has no earthly idea where she is going to keep her pencils and Xanax.

She needs a nap.

But the teen level of activity around here right now is not nap-friendly. By the time this fine example of today's youth goes back to school and the pitter patter of supersized kid sneakers on the stairs is silenced, I will be back to work as well. I'm going to have to learn to sleep at night like normal people.

I am forging ahead with the Penance Sock and this is one piece of knitwear that takes it's name seriously. Never a big fan of the heel flap, I tend to make most of my errors in that little spot. No matter how many times I tell myself to go the way of the short row, I just never seem to remember to do it. The yarn on this delightful little hoof covering is splitting regularly and fooling me into seeing stitches that do not actually exist in real time. At other moments, they leap boldly from the needles as if they actually have a shot in heck at surviving on their own out there.

Heels on a sock...who really needs 'em?
Much as I generally don't care for self-patterning sock yarn, though, I have to admit that this one isn't so bad. I like brown and I like blue so there is some hope for this sock to earn it's maker's love.
A nap would really help, though...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Love Hurts

A Letter To The Super Nice Folks At Renfro Foods:

Dear Super Nice Folks,

It is with delight that I discover your having seen fit to ship your fine products all the way from Texas up to the great state of Maine. I am particularly taken with your Raspberry Chipotle Salsa. Such a culinary masterpiece! I commend you on your ability to combine the sweet with the spicy in such a way as to give my bitter old heart such a glow.

I wonder, though, if perhaps you should consider a warning label of some sort. If, perchance, a middle aged woman with a digestive tract of the same vintage should decide to consume half a jar of this nectar at 11:00 pm it might behoove her to be aware of the consequences. It may also be worth mentioning that individuals raised in the northeast part of the country on bland chowders and lobster may not be ready for what the rest of the country considers "medium" salsa.

It would be helpful for said middle aged woman to know that, upon awakening, it is possible that her stomach will be distended in a manner reminiscent of the third trimester. This side effect is not due to divine intervention nor is it the result of alien abduction during the course of the night. Cold calls to locals priests, the FBI and GhostBusters at five in the morning are neither appreciated nor warranted.

These are really just guidelines and suggestions. I'm sure that you'll want the boys down in legal to flesh out the language a bit. All in all, though, I feel that I have covered the salient points.

In closing, let me again say how much I enjoy your fine products. I am hopeful that you will see fit to send another shipment to my local grocery posthaste!

I'm running low on the salsa.


Sheepish Annie

(And you thought it couldn't get any worse than two days of underwear posts.)

Despite last nights salsa fiesta, I was up and out the door bright and early in order that I might make the world a better place by burning data onto CDs for my technology-challenged boss. The burning was accomplished quickly and some time was spent fiddling with the best way to create a client database that she can comfortably access without needing to call me twenty times per day. (my boss is actually someone I consider a friend and is really a sweetheart. I'm honestly willing to move mountains for her if humanly possible)

I made it home before the noon hour and was able to get in a bit more time on the Penance Sock then finish spinning the Finn singles. Plying is occurring as you read this. As Blogger is my witness, I will finish this before the opening day of school!

Speaking of Blogger, we seem to be having a few technical difficulties. Yesterday was not a great day for commenting on posts and today they don't seem to be forwarding to my email. I generally don't fuss too much given that its a free service 'n all. And it actually works pretty well most of the time. It sounds like many others are suffering with Blogger Malaise right now...hopefully all will return to normal soon!

Tomorrow, though, I won't be able to stare at my computer screen and obsessively check for comments. I'll be heading into school to get the classroom set up and begin reviewing files and the like. With any luck, I can move quickly and not have to spend the full week at school. This is the last gasp of summer break, 'tis sad to say. I'd like to get in just a couple more minutes of vacation-y goodness.

And celebrate it with chips 'n salsa!


Saturday, August 26, 2006

A Sheep In The Doghouse.

There must be penance. Sure, The Sheep could just say, "oh what the heck, I admitted the error of my ways and have committed myself to treading the better path from this day hence." But would she really have learned her lesson that way?

No. Those of us raised in the fine tradition of guilt know that there is nothing better than a little self-imposed life lesson to reinforce better behavior in the future.

I failed to see the beauty of the good sock yarn. I publicly stated that it was naught but sheer folly to spend large amounts of cash on that which will reside in your shoe. I purchased yarns labeled with the word "sock" and knit with them boldly and with blatant disregard for the truth.

My eyes have been opened. I have seen the light. I was very wrong. There is, not merely a point, but a veritable principle at work here. All sock yarns are not created equal.

And so, in order that I might better appreciate what I have learned here, I have begun a new sock. And it is not in "good" sock yarn. It is in economy sock yarn. It was purchased at a chain craft store. It is scratchy. It is self-patterning. It lacks anything remotely resembling squooshy-ness or sproingy-ness. The Sheep, she suffers.

::sniffle:: Hold me...
As God is my witness, after this there will be Koigu. It'll be a nice respite from my penance.
I'm afraid I have alot of economy/penance sock yarn through which to slog.
Light a candle for me...

Friday, August 25, 2006

I Feel So Close To You...

Really. When you think about it, we've been through alot together. There was the disastrous sweater experiment back in December right after I started this blog. We've suffered through the constipated cat and the ministrations of my not-so-gentle dentist. Then there was the Great Bug Invasion. Oh, and lest we forget, the Monkey Pox debacle last May was quite the bonding experience. I often reflect upon the good times we all had during that little fever induced nightmare.

With all that we've been through, I feel pretty comfortable sharing the next saga. But, let's just keep this between us, 'kay? One hates to draw attention and all...

You see, I gots me this mole. Actually, I have several. My whole family is all about the moles. We're lousy with them. Rarely is there a gathering of two or more genetically connected Sheep but what we must compare our skin growths and the degree to which they threaten our continued existence on this planet. Today, I decided to make the Middle Aged Mole Patrol a part of my doctor's appointment. This is a fun-filled event where we get to decide which is a harmless little addition to my skin and which is a potential death threat. Happy day for The Sheep: only one was deemed worthy of biopsy.

But the one that I really wanted dealt with is the one on my cheek. Not that cheek, silly! My face!!! Sheesh. Like I'd even be able to see one on my other cheek. Think, people, think!!

Anyhoo...the one on my face is the one that bugs me. To the rest of the world, I'm sure that it is only moderately noticeable. In my mind, though, it has grown to epic proportions. I sometimes feel that it would be highly appropriate to just paint a face on it and pretend that I am one of conjoined twins. Or that I'm growing a cheek-eyeball. Or that it's a handy shelf for storing snacks in between noshes.

My doctor, who has been my primary care physician for years now, is highly tolerant of my ramblings and was able to sit through my lengthy dissertation on my mole while still gleaning the appropriate details. We have come to a decision and have made the appointment with the plastic surgeon.

Now, I toyed with the idea of telling you that this was a medical decision. While it sometimes gets a little irritated, it has been determined that Mr. Mole is no real threat to my general well-being at this time.

I'd also like to say that I am not a vain person and that this has been a heart-rending decision. Frankly, I am concerned with my appearance. While I don't envision endless series of Botox injections or having three layers of my face sanded off in the near future, I do think about how I look and do make an effort before heading out to the big wide world. Deep down, I think most people do. The Doc and I agree that, if this is something that is bothering me, then it needs to go. Plastic I come!!! I feel just like an aging diva! Fortunately, my appointment isn't until December so I have plenty of time to purchase the requisite gi-normous sunglasses and headscarf with which to conceal my identity from the paparazzi.

'Cuz, you know, when you want plastic surgery, you're gonna scoot right up to Portland, Maine. Where else might one go, after all?

And yet I remain humble, despite my foray into the world of embarrassingly vain actions. After reading some of Trek's recent posts on the joys of dishcloths, I found myself quite taken with the idea of producing some of these little buggers as holiday gifts. I mean, who wouldn't like the gift of more housework under the tree? And so, I present to you The Octagonal Swirl Dishcloth!

In two sizes, no less!!!
The white is made with Peaches 'n Cream and the blue is crafted from Sirdar Tropicana Cotton Effect. The difference in size is due to the yarn. The Sirdar is a DK and knit up on size 4s. While I like the look of the blue, I found the Peaches 'n Cream to be far easier with which to knit and less rough on the old hooves. I have an abundance of both yarns, so I'll probably continue to alternate. I'm having some trouble linking to the pattern, but as soon as I figure it out I'll pop up a link in case you are suddenly overcome with the need to produce octagonal dishcloths.
While mine don't chat engagingly to one another on the blog as Trek's do, I still find them charming. They are reminiscent of those that I inherited from my grandmother back in the day. I'll probably keep a few for myself. Even if they don't carry on witty conversations. I tried to make them talk. I begged, I cajoled, I threatened, I asked trick questions...all to no avail.
The dishcloths are apparently as diva-like as their maker.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Things Which Must Be Acknowledged.

Well, lookee here! The Sheep is up with the birdies and posting bright and early! I normally try to put something up each day and late afternoon or evening seems to fit with my muse's sleep cycle. I'd like to pretend that my frequent updates are due to my incredible rate of project completion and my endless supply of knitting and spinning tips that must be shared with the general population lest the whole art go the way of the poncho. It's really more that I consider it a mental exercise to try and come up with something coherent and at least mildly interesting out of the day to day existence of an average Sheep.

Besides, I don't get out that much.

Yesterday, though, I had me some plans. There was a little shindig over at the Cammad Household to which I was invited and one does not say, "nah" to my favorite nieces-by- proxy. A good time was had by all, the girls obliged their auntie by not growing up too much since last she saw them, and cake was provided. "Twas a fun-filled night! The grownups stayed up waaay past their respective bedtimes and I fear that the family's day at StoryLand is going to be a marathon for the parents today.

Had I been more of a Thinkin' Sheep, though, I would have at least put up this little photo for you:

Happy Feet!
The Socks-That-Began-The -Sheep's-Love-Affair-With -Fine-Sock-Yarn were finished up the other night and duly photographed for your review. This is a pretty simple pattern. But I am a pretty simple Sheep when you come right down to it. I'm quite pleased with them. And, given last night's plummeting temperatures, they made a lovely p.j. accessory and remained on the tootsies for the duration of the night.
I needed this little extra bit of loving warmth as I caught the midnight showing of Project Runway. Deep, deep down, I think I knew where this was leading. I opted to just watch it last night and get it over with rather than wait for one of the 8 billion reruns of the program which will occur over the next week. When the judges began using the word, "boring" again in their final summation, I knew that I would be bidding poor Robert a sad farewell. It didn't give me the level of angst that I experienced last week as I watched Alison literally flinch at the words, You're out" but it was sad all the same.
Before I sign off for the day and get ready to head into the office, I must acknowledge one more thing. In blog comments, private communications and a recent post over at cursingmama, there have been some extremely kind and generous comments made about this blog. It was almost exactly twenty years ago that a much younger Sheep, clad in an army surplus shirt, black tattered leggings and sporting eight safety pins in her earlobes, stood poised on the career precipice. While the idea of being a writer was most appealing, she was ultimately lured away by the glitz and glamour of the high profile life of the schoolteacher. No regrets, but it has been quite wonderful to find the blogging world and to be able to put cursor to screen and share my thoughts in print. Even if no one liked a word, I would probably still be cranking out endless observations about the bugs, the cats and my dentist. But it is awfully nice to know that I maybe could have pulled off the whole "author thing" had that been the choice all those years ago. And so I say, "thank you" for your kind words.
Have a great day!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Welcome To My Knitting Blog...

...where I ramble on about my constipated cat, invading insects, my trials in the world of graphic design and sing the "I Gots More Underdrawers Than You Gots" song. Every once in the proverbial blue moon, The Sheep is able to pull an FO out of her hat. Mostly though, its just explanations for why I didn't get something done.

You can imagine what it must have been like to be my mother.

Today's justification is brought to you courtesy of my school district. I jotted this little tidbit down a while ago, but I'll refresh your memory. If you recall the details, just scroll down. Teachers really don't get paid in the summer. What we get is a salary based on the ten months that we work. In the great state 'o Maine, that salary is typically broken down into "equal pays." Basically, educators are not known for their money management. If we were, then we'd probably have all chosen more lucrative careers. The ten month salary is doled out like an allowance so that our checks come at regular intervals. Thus, The Sheep is spared having to do the math herself.

This is good.

Except when it isn't. Every few years, the system needs to "reset" itself to account for the random months with three Fridays. This is one of those years. My last paycheck was August 18th. The next one will come my way on September 15th. We usually know about this well in advance. I've known since the end of June. Thus, I've planned for it. But, life being what it is, stuff happens. Trucks break, dentists need to be paid and sock yarn suddenly becomes more enticing than dark chocolate. And the need for dark chocolate still must be met.

So, when The Sheep was asked to come in to the office and cover a supervised visit today, it seemed like a good idea. It was an easy visit and I was able to also do some of the postcard mailing revisions. A wee bit o' the green will be coming my way as a result. 'Tis a Very Responsible Sheep you're dealing with here.

Not much knitting, though. The poor little sockie remains on the needles awaiting toe decreases and the Kursed Kitchener stitch. I will refrain from posting yet another photo of an unfinished have all been so darned patient with me it seems rather mean to force you to view another one of those.

However, we are having a few issues with insomnia of late. Thus, for your viewing pleasure, a big old bobbin of Finn:

Yeah,'ve seen the Finn before. Admit it, though. You love it!!
The next bobbin is on the wheel and the last of the fiber will be wound upon it in short order. I anticipate having finished 2-ply yarn ready for knitting by week's end.
And if you believe that then I've got some swamp land in which you might be interested...

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Mathematics Of Unmentionables.

There are two weeks remaining until the start of the new school year. I have transferred to a new school in the district and must set up an entirely new classroom. I have approximately 25,607 projects here at home that I'd hoped to get done during the summer break and failed to finish. Am I attending to any of these?

No, I am not.

For I have an "underpants situation" upon which to focus.

Now, I understand that I have hopelessly crossed the line of good taste, here. I fully realize that no one really needs or wants to have an in-depth analysis of my undie drawer foisted upon them. But, I can't help it. It is worse than I thought.

As of last night, I'd estimated the underpants count to be at or around 40 pair. I don't know where they all came from. I don't recall purchasing that many. I haven't been keeping up with the laundry. I have Underpants Alzheimers. It was all pretty overwhelming.

So today I decided to do what any rational person might do under these circumstances and conduct an Underpants Census. The top drawer was emptied, the laundry basket was dumped and the count began. Imagine my surprise.

I have 57 pair of underpants.

In what universe does one possibly require 57 pair of underpants? I mean, I could see if I was a professional bungee jumper, lion tamer or easily startled. Then it is conceivable that I might need a few back-up pair. But I am none of those things. Just an average Sheep living an average life and surrounded by underpants.

Mind reeling from the possible psychological disorders that might be at work here, I went to a very rational and logical place in my head. These needed to be sorted and catalogued in some way in order that I might find some meaning in all this. Here is what I was able to come up with:

Of the total 57 pair, 10 were too large and could be discarded.

Another 10 were thongs (an interesting and slightly disturbing discovery) And let's face it, these are not really the kind of thing you can wear daily and not lose your mind completely.

This left 37 pair that could be considered "front of the drawer" material.

That's 37 pair. Why it is that I somehow felt better about the fact that I can now only go just over a month without doing laundry is a mystery. But I did. Of course I then realized that I was actually wearing one pair (hey, I'm a lady) and that this increased the total by one, but I got past that fairly quickly.

I'm really only a couple quirks away from a tin foil hat.

Lest you think that I spent the entire day immersed in the undie drawer, here's a couple of other little projects that were considered worthy of my time and attention:

There is hope for an FO of one sort or another by week's end.
I have a few commitments this week (work, drs. appt. and the like) around which I will have to work. There is also some back-to-school shopping that needs to happen.
But there is one item that was crossed off the list pretty quickly, lemme tellya!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Making Of A Mogul

The Sheep has made an interesting discovery today. It seems that if you actually do all the laundry awaiting washing in the basket you will have a better understanding of how much underwear you actually have.

Near as I can figure, I must have gone through some sort of underpants amnesia over the last few months. The result is that there was, at the very least, weekly underpants purchasing. This short term memory lapse also seemed to have wiped out any recollection of these purchases as I honestly don't know the exact origins of some of these little guys.

I can say, without exaggeration here, that I have somehow managed to amass 40 or so pair of underpants. Some are still in the original packaging. Perhaps we here at Sheepie Meadows got a bit behind in the laundry...

Should terrorists ever target Fruit Of The Loom, Hanes and Victoria's Secret for destruction, I will be a very rich Sheep. I will become the foremost Underpants Mogul in all the land. I will begin smoking a cigar and take to wearing an eyepatch. I will layer gold chains, some of which will sport sayings like,"Got Underpants?" I also envision a hat with a feather of some sort, but I haven't fully fleshed out all the wardrobe details at this writing.

I will be photographed strolling into the most exclusive of clubs and, for the mere tip of a pair of boy cut briefs, will be escorted to the best table in the joint. Upon exiting these fine establishments, there will be masses of street urchins fighting over the lone thong tossed casually over my shoulder as I chuckle over the plight of the little people.

I will commission a statue of Lycra/Spandex. Neil Young will write a protest song about the underpants excesses of a certain Sheep.

But, I promise that I will continue to handknit my socks and hats. How else can I retain my connection to the common people?

Don't worry, folks. I have power of attorney. I'll see that she ends up one of the nicer "facilities."

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sheep On A Wheel.

Probably won't catch on like the whole "snakes on a plane" thing, but is an apt description of the day. Much like the proverbial hamster on his exercise wheel, there was a great deal of activity, but not a whole heck of alot to show for it.

I awoke this morning to discover that I was running low on toilet paper and flavored water. As I consider these to be two necessary (and somewhat related) items to have on hand, it seemed that a run to the store was a good thing to add to the day's schedule. Ever the thinkin' Sheep, I decided that going to Ye Olde Small Towne Market might be a bit quicker. It's an overcast day and the beach traffic should be minimal.

Not really. In fact, what was left out of the equation was the outpouring of tourists seeking something better to do than huddle under their beach blankets on the rain soaked sands. There was some very strategic and impressive driving on the part of The Sheep in order that she might arrive at the store in one piece and purchase the stuff she needed.

Back at the homestead, there was a great deal of fiber related activity, all of which was duly photographed and uploaded to this post. And none of which seems to be here.

You'll just have to take my word for it. Close your eyes and imagine half a bobbin of Finn and the beginning of a heel flap. It'll be almost like seeing it in real life...

It's probably for the best. You've already seen sock #1 and the first skein of the plied yarn. Perhaps this was some sort of sign from the Blogger Buddah meant to help me realize that showing pictures of half finished projects is really just a sad attempt to justify not actually finishing them.

Or maybe it's meant to keep The Sheep on the wheel. It could end up being a cool catch phrase...


Friday, August 18, 2006

"Handy" Knowledge.

While enjoying our Thai feast the other day, my favorite stylist and I found ourselves discussing "hands." Probably not such a stretch given that she makes her living with hers and I distract myself via my hobbies with mine. She noted the following with regard to my hooves:

They are quite small

They are shaped funny

...but not so's you'd notice.

I do have a couple of issues with regard to the shape of my hands that factor into certain knitting decisions. Nothing serious, here! We're at full mobility and all. I also suspect that others have similar "issues" which, while having no real impact on day to day stuff, may become more noticeable with certain tasks. Here's what I have to work with:

The charmingly bent thumb that my doctor insists on referring to as a "birth defect." I prefer to think of it as a "unique feature." Either way, its pretty stiff...

Fingers in a state of "perma-flex." This is as flat as my hand will go.

Not a big deal. Honest! But I do tend to get hand strain and fatigue a bit sooner than others do. Thus, I listen with interest to the ongoing discussions out there in the blogoshpere with regard to that elusive creature: "the perfect needle."

Now, I fully understand that this concept means something different to everybody. What works for one will be the bane of another's existence. Pointy vs. dull, four inches vs. eight inches, bamboo vs. solid gold, hand-forged by wood elves in the Black Forest...the debate will rage on well past our span on this big, blue marble, I'm sure.

But I'm out! I have found it! The double point of my dreams. As you can imagine, I've tried quite a few. They've ranged from the "cheapies" to the "o-my-god-you-spent-how-much" variety and I've always ended up going back to my grandmother's old aluminum needles. They weren't quite "it," but were as close as I was ever gonna come.

Enter April.

In a recent goody bag that exceeded my wildest dreams, she included a set of Crystal Palace size 2 dpns. And there you go. Smooth finish that isn't overly slick, pointy, but don't draw blood and they are a nice eight inches. They flex a bit, but not enough that I feel I'm going to snap one. They're also within a working Sheep's budget. I have been knitting on these pretty steadily for a week now and the "wrist clicking" that has so plagued my sock completion rate has been silenced. I'm sure that everyone out there has a favorite, but, golly gosh, this is the needle for me!!!!! And if I found a pair of size 1's on Ebay last night for five bucks...well so much the better, wouldn't you say?

And speaking of "hands," sometimes they're for helping. Our blog buddy Noolie is asking for some support in helping out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Light The Night. Go visit her and then skip over to the donation site if you can. It's a great cause.

And there might even be a prize in it for ya if you follow the directions!


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Icing On The Cake, So To Speak.

Persephone, the largely ineffective home-security cat, is truly the sweetest of beings. She is a rescued feline, having been found in a trailer along with 29 or so other cats. Someone, somewhere did seem to make an effort to care for her as she had been spayed. But it also seems that she suffered a significant blow to the head at some point as well. Despite, (or perhaps because of), this her only desire in this world is to be loved, held, snuggled and petted. She will tolerate pretty much anything save foot touching and having her tummy exposed.

Given her history, it is something of a mystery to me why she is so darned fussy about the litter box. Me 'n Desdemona are not what you would call great housekeepers. We both have a remarkable tolerance for messiness-within-reason. The box is a priority, but we don't lose our minds over it.

Not so with my youngest child.

I honestly hadn't planned on spending the better part of my day yesterday fooling with a little postcard layout and attempting to make four simple changes that required a doctorate in computer science to achieve. By the time I made it back to hearth and home, I was a bit frazzled and out of sorts...I guess a certain box 'o poo slipped my mind.

I suppose it shouldn't have come as a total surprise when, during the horrifying turn of events on Project Runway, I noted a certain level of Kitty Distress. Desdemona was racing back and forth between the "box zone" and the couch in a gleeful effort to attract my attention to something. Persephone was hanging her head and refusing to meet my eye.

I took a moment to steel my nerves for what I suspected lay ahead. Desdemona developed the ability to grin in full defiance of the fact that felines lack the necessary muscle structure to do so and Persephone made haste to the box in a futile bid to hide the evidence.

I rounded the corner to find her frantically rearranging six grains of litter that had escaped the box over her "floor deposit," looking for all the world like The Sheep circa 1972 trying to disguise the green beans she'd neglected to eat at dinner. It was sort of hard to be mad...

A fitting end to the day, I must say.

Today has been pretty quiet. I opted to stay away from the office for fear that I might be on the receiving end of more "helpful" suggestions with regard to the layout of the postcard from hell. All calls are being screened, lemme tellya! But I wasn't avoiding the postman! No, sirree!! Lookee what The Sheep scored through a recent de-stashing:

And it was free!!! Free, I tells ya! I did pay the postage, and a bit extra for the handling, but I figure ten bucks is a small price to pay for scads of flaxy goodness. I've been wanting to try prepared flax for a while now and this seemed like a good opportunity. If all goes well, I plan to go all Mason/Dixon on this stuff. And if all goes badly...well, it's not like a fortune was spent here.
And we also have coverage for one hoof:

One foot, blue foot, where's the two foot?

Well, it's underway. This is a pretty quick-knit, down 'n dirty sock pattern so I might actually manage to have an FO to add to the list before the end of summer break. I hate to jinx it so we'll just plan on having it done for Thanksgiving or something.

I've learned my lesson this week with regard to things that have been labeled, "simple."


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Revisions Received.

Scene: The empty office of the Graphic Designer at the large and well-stocked main branch of The Almighty Agency. The phone rings. Voice mail picks up:

Hello, you have reached the offices of Susie Sunshine, Graphic Designer up here in Nirvana. I can't take your call right now as we are all having our weekly office pedicures. You know how it is; you're one minute late and you have to drink your beverage from a plain old glass instead of the cool coconut shell. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you just as soon as my toes dry and we've finished our festive conga-line dancing.


Um, yeah...hi. This is The Sheep down at the small and poorly equipped southern Maine branch. I just wanted to call and say, "thanks ever so much" for the revisions you sent for the mailing literature that I recently designed. Golly, it sure was swell of you to take a look at it and make all those helpful suggestions. Oddly enough, many of them were things that I, myself, thought might look dandy. But since I have to do this on an older machine...and in "Word"...'cause, you know, we don't have a graphic design program, and, um,....I kind of really don't know what I'm doing... Anyway, it's been about three hours now and I'm really thinking that I'm starting to get a handle on this. Oh, wait, can you hold on a minute?

sound of the phone clattering to the desktop and the muffled voice of The Sheep in the background

What the????? Where did the text go? No, no, no!!!!! Oh, wait, maybe if I just....oh you I've lost the graphic!!!!!

OK, I'm back. I really just wanted to compliment you on your decision to have us do this down here rather than just do it yourself with your specially designed program and degree in computer science and all. It is so much more of a "learning experience" this way and your thoughtfulness in this regard is just...well, it's something. No need to call back, really. I'm pretty sure that in the next thirty minutes or so there will be nothing left of me save a cartoon cutout of my form in the window glass and a stain on the pavement below. But you have a great day, now and enjoy that pedicure!


It's been a long day. I'm pretty sure that I've been able to rework the postcard thingie that the head office wanted in the style that will make them all happy. These "minor" revisions took up most of the afternoon and I then stayed on a bit later to process with one of the visit supervisors who had been mediating a particularly gut-wrenching discussion between a mother and daughter regarding custody. She was a little's part of the job, but we all get a bit teary-eyed after these things.

I did make some headway on my sock during the morning and anticipate finishing it up tomorrow. Then I get to do the whole thing over again in order that I might have a pair. But that's OK. Because I know how to knit a sock. Pieces of it don't just randomly go away and hide in cyberspace just to taunt me.

Unless you drop a stitch...


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Designs By Le Sheep.

You need to be aware of a few things in order to fully appreciate the absurdity. I'll do my most bestest to clarify.

First, the agency that provides my second paycheck and fills in those spare moments of my life is quite small. We are the single satellite orbiting a larger entity which provides multiple services in the northern region of the state. They are a "presence." They have hordes of staff, including a person who does the techie stuff and designed our website. They provide free in-house massage therapy services to their hard-working employees. There are multiple working coffee makers. Birds sing, flowers sway rhythmically in the breezes and scantily clad cabana boys deliver tropical drinks promptly at 3:15 each day.

Our branch shares space with another agency. We are comprised of exactly five staff members and have no clerical or technical people whatsoever. Sometimes the coffeemaker works.

With the recent loss of the state contracts for Supervised Visitation, we have been working with the main offices to try and expand our client base through the development of new services. One of our parenting specialists, who happens to also be a very talented photographer, volunteered to work on a postcard that could be used as a mailing to various agencies and attorneys in the area. However, she found herself recently inundated with senior photo requests and was unable to follow through. That resulted in a phone call to The Sheep and a request to make this mailing happen.

Once, a long time ago, I "fixed" the computers by turning them off and turning them back on. I have been considered the "tech. person" ever since. As I am paid by the hour and it takes me a ridiculous amount of time to work through the messes created by my colleagues on our ancient computer systems, I have yet to disabuse them of this notion. I just cash the check.

The other thing you might need to know is that I am sometimes accused of being a wee bit self-deprecating. Poor CamMad's mom has had to restrain herself on numerous occasions from just smacking me upside my Sheepie head and screaming, "Oh for crying out loud, just take credit, willya??!!" She's good that way.

This is not one of those times. I'm telling you, in all seriousness here, this is a sad commentary on the state of affairs in the social services field.

I rushed into the office a couple of weeks ago to try and rescue this postcard mess. It was due to the main offices in 24 hours and there was a great deal of garment rending and teeth gnashing going on when I arrived. Here's what I did:

I lifted jpgs from the main website of various inspirational photos showing wide-eyed children and smiling families.

I pasted them into a Word document.

I chose a cool looking font.

I typed up what we do.

I saved and printed.

That's it.

I got the email today. The main office has sent some minor revisions and will then adopt this postcard as the entire agency's mailing. Posters are being printed in order that this masterpiece can be appreciated in the larger view. There is talk of The Sheep being carried aloft through the streets while the populace sings anthems in praise of her very existence.


Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm all for taking credit. And I'm gonna. But the question remains: why is it that the office held together by paperclips and spit was responsible for creating this mailing? And for that matter, how is it that a self-proclaimed non-tech. person was the only one who could figure out how to create this fine piece of literature?

It's a mystery.

Knitting content will follow after I spend some quality time bonking my head against the wall.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Sheep And Those Who Tend Them.

It is, perhaps, somewhat obvious even to the casual reader that The Sheep don't get out much. She's happy to graze in her own little meadow and watch the rest of the world go by. But even a complacent critter needs to wander afield every now and again. Fortunately, there are those out there who seek to watch over such critters as myself.

The Head Mom over at the CamMad household called this morning to invite me over to visit with my favorite nieces-by-proxy and partake of Head Dad's culinary fare. (Love CamMad's mom to death, but the pater is the chef in that house, lemme tellya) I'll be heading over next week for CandyLand and somersaults. At least until bedtime...then we may even talk of adult type stuff! This is the stuff of Sheepie dreams!

No sooner was that call completed, than a certain favorite stylist called to invite her favorite client to lunch. As a good time was had the last time she and I headed out, I was quick to say, "okey-dokey!" It should be noted here that I am beginning to see a pattern in these invites. They generally seem to come right after an appointment. I strongly suspect that my beloved stylist doesn't trust The Sheep to maintain the upkeep on her tresses and wants to do a visual check just to be on the safe side. There was no comment on my stylin' ability so I'm going to take that as a good sign.

We met up at an amazing little Thai restaurant for all sorts of yummy things in curry and peanut sauce. Oddly enough, I never order anything even resembling pizza when I eat out. And yet, when home, that is all I seem able to consume. Most strange... Amy insisted that the lion's share of the food end up on my little plate. Being as she is a very tiny Chinese Grandmother, I complied. If I have learned nothing in my forty-one years on this planet it is that you do not argue with tiny Chinese Grandmothers. Ever. You will lose. Badly. I ate what I was told to eat and that included my veggies. (I also bought the purse and hat she told me to buy...seriously, this woman is a force of nature!) It was a great way to pass an afternoon.

But the bestest of the best part of the day was waiting in my mailbox when I arrived home. I recently won a comment contest sponsored by the charming proprietress of The Weaving Inn. This win happened to coincide with two rather significant events: the beginning of my love affair with "good" sock yarn and the demise of my rack and pinion thingies in my truck. Needless to say, I was thrilled to be a winner! April, upon learning of my newfound love and the distress caused by my vehicular tragedy, upped the ante a little bit. She not only sent me a skein of sock yarn for my win, but actually put together a sort of "welcome to the club" kit including two skeins of gorgeous yarn, size 2 dpns, cards, a magnet, patterns and a post card which assures me the company of inflatable farm animals in the event that sock knitting does not prove to be distraction enough. I am overwhelmed!!!

Glowy eyed attack cat is awake and on duty! Beware...
All in all, This Sheep is feelin' the love today!!! Tonight I shall savor the lingering taste of mango curry on my palate while wearing my new hat and fondling sock yarns. There will be humming and reading aloud from patterns. There will be measuring of feet.
And, now we all understand why The Sheep spends so much time away from the public...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Taking The Long Step...

It won't be easy, but The Sheep will now descend from her self-made pedestal and rejoin the rest of the world in more reality-based pursuits. Thank you for indulging my little bout of self- congratulatory blogging with regard to the happy results of my Finn Spinnin'. (Careful there, Sheepie. Wouldn't want to break a hoof pattin' yerself on the back so darn hard!) After spending two days in auto-filled angst and dropping close to a thousand dollars in repairs, I felt that I was due for a day of celebration. It was fun.

Today, though, I needed to make a little shift in focus. The good folks at MasterCard, who seemed giddy at the prospect of funding Thursday's little adventure in rack 'n pinion repair, will probably want to see some of that money back someday. I decided that it might not be a bad idea to head into the office and get to work on that database project to which I committed myself a month ago. Actually, the current task is to burn eight million floppies onto CD. These are random bits of data, letters, phone logs and the like which must be forever immortalized in digital form and lack any semblance of organization. I thoughtfully purchased some rewritable CDs on my way to the office.

Of course, I neglected to remember that the computer at work is, shall we say, "vintage." And I strongly suspect that three of the six hamsters that run the wheels which power this behemoth have long since expired. The CDs were not going to work. Thankfully, I located some that were more compatible. After two hours of work with the world's most cumbersome burning software, I left and rewarded myself with a take-out lunch from Panera. I'd earned it.

On the homefront, I have another pressing matter to which I must attend. There was a little...well, um...tantrum the other day. I'm not proud of it nor of the sock ripping that followed. It's best to not discuss it as it would probably just sully my good name across these here internets for all time. Sock #2 is well underway:

Less ribbing...probably for the best.
Everything is fine now and we are past the childish desire to destroy that which does not bend to our will. I have a good feeling about this one.
Persephone, the scary attack cat, remains on duty in the event that anyone out there still harbors thoughts of yarn pillaging. She was only mildly put out by the suggestions of commenters that she could be bribed by treats or catnip mice. I tried to point out that a cat can't really take offense to that which is probably true, but she was overdue for her nap break and not really inclined to listen.

But she will guard her mommy's lap with her life, I'm sure of it!


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fair Warning:

Only those with remarkable restraint and self-control need read further. There will be those who, upon seeing what I am about to show, will want to come to my house and take it by whatever means necessary. I envision ninja knitters spinning size 17 circulars like nunchuks. There may be MI5 types repelling from my ceiling on the thinnest threads of laceweight seeking to remove this item by more sophisticated methods. The Fair Isle knitters, always the more sophisticated of the bunch, will approach me on the street, slap my Sheepie face with a hand knit mitten and challenge me to a duel with double points at dawn. And to all-comers, I say this:

I will fight you. To the death, if need be.

You have been warned. If you feel you have the strength of character to resist the urge to try and make this your own, please feast your eyes:

And, if that doesn't do it for ya:

The first skein of the Ewenique Fiber Finn is off the winder, blocked, skeined and under the watchful eye of the kitty guards against possible theft-by-jealous-knitters. This worked up to about a sport weight 2 ply (bordering on DK) and was spun worsted. It is, in real-life, even more stunning than the photos.

We here at Casa De Sheepie take our security very seriously. You can't really tell from the angle of this picture, but the attack cat shown is actually coiled and ready to spring into action at a moments notice.



Friday, August 11, 2006

Of Racks And Pinions...

Shortly after posting yesterday, I received a phone call from my mechanic stating that my truck was ready any time I wanted to straggle in and pick 'er up. This came as a pleasant surprise as the original estimate was that I would be back on four wheel sometime this morning. The Sheep rejoiced.

And that was the last piece of good news I heard.

Perhaps a recap of events would be helpful:

On July 26, I strode jauntily into the garage-type-place for my appointed oil change. I had also requested, when making the appointment, that the fellers take a look-see and see if they couldn't figure out what that god-awful noise that the truck was making might be.

At the counter, I reviewed my needs. With my limited vocal range, I even reproduced the offending noise for the amused gentleman. The word, "steering" left my lips. (I recall this because I was somewhat unsure of how well my efforts to sound "car savvy" were going over)

The oil change was completed and I was informed that my brakes and rotors needed work. In hindsight, I now realize that the words, "and that is why the car is making that noise" were never actually uttered.

I assumed.

Don't ever do that.

Yesterday, I brought the truck in for it's inspection and the required brake work. They had no record of my appointment. It was later discovered that it had been accidentally cancelled. This was not an auspicious start to my morning...

An hour later, the vehicle that had been described as being in "excellent shape" at the appointment on the 26th was discovered to have a leak in the rack and something hideous going on with the pinions. I don't know what all that stuff is...but I did note that it had something to do with the steering. The steering. Which I had suggested might be the issue in the first place. The estimate was now $700.00 to repair this damage and the brakey stuff.

I left the garage as Mr. Mechanic man (who, for the record here, was disarmingly cute) was ordering my new rack.

I walked home a distance just under 1.5 miles.

Late that same afternoon, I got the call saying that I was now the proud owner of a bouncing baby Ford Escape with a shiny new rack 'n rotors.

I walked just under 1.5 miles back to the garage. (I have a blister)

I was presented with a bill for $960.85.


I pointed out that this was somewhat above the estimate and that a phone call might have been appreciated. I was told that the labor had raised the final cost (the truck was ready almost twelve hours earlier than originally planned), that an inspection had been done (and that somehow raised the bill by two hundred dollars or so?) and that there were many things involved in such a delicate operation.

I was hot. I was tired. I had a blister. The mechanic guy was disarmingly cute. I paid my bill.

I drove to the pharmacy and immediately retrieved my prescription...better to take it late than to actually commit any of the crimes I was contemplating.

The long and the short of this saga is that the truck now has a more impressive rack than does The Sheep. That's not sayin' much, but it illustrates the point.

Today, I went grocery shopping:

Yes, that would be the bill underneath the self-medicating supplies.
While it was delightful to be driving a vehicle that does not howl like the Hounds of Hell when turning, I am not convinced that this pleasure was quite worth an amount that is closer to the thousands place than the hundreds.
I will be in a credit/sugar coma for quite some time, I fear.
But, there is good news!!! I might have something very purty to show you tomorrow.

But for now, this Sheep is going to go sit in her truck, eat chocolate and think of all the things that one might purchase for $960.85 USD.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Simple??? Not so much...

It was a simple plan, really. Take the truck in for the required brake work, head over to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription I dropped off yesterday then go enjoy the rest of my day. Sure, it would be tough hanging out at the garage for two hours and then handing over two hundred or so dollars for the privilege, but it would be worth it to put an end to that horrible whining noise!!!! (the truck, not the sheep)

You know what they say about "the best laid plans" and all...

Now, I'm no car expert. In fact, I lack the knowledge to even begin to speak coherently with the mechanics on duty. I have been known, upon being asked what type of oil I would like, to put on a thoughtful face, stroke my chin for a moment and respond sagely, "Olive." You'd think they'd find this funnier. But they don't.

My best hope, really, is to pull the good bra from the back of the drawer, put on a snug t-shirt and hope for the best. This does not always work.

After the first hour in the waiting area, I was joined by a mother and preteen daughter. Obviously, this was not how Miss Preteen wanted to spend her day because I was treated to her rendition of "see how I can take single syllable words and drawn them out into three or four syllables" for a good fifteen minutes before I opted to go take a little walk. Those of you who have yet to bear witness to the syllable trick will simply need to imagine words like "no" and "what" and "so" spake in the haughtiest of tones and elongated to ensure that all and sundry were aware that her mother is clearly the stupidest woman on the face of the planet for requesting that she cease kicking the chairs or wandering off amongst the tire displays.

Upon returning from my little "time out" I was greeted by a somber looking mechanic who suggested that I might like to sit down. I recognized the look on his face. I've seen it before. It is the look that says, "your fun-filled summer is over because we will now be collecting the last of your monies." It also is the look that says, "you will be walking home today."

It seems that I know more about cars than I thought. I actually did question their initial diagnosis based on my belief that a car should not scream in protest when asked to make a left. But I was assured that my vehicle, and I quote here, was "in excellent shape."

Sadly, my thoughts on the matter will not count towards payment of the final bill. It seems that my rack and pinions are neither racking nor pinioning. The original $200.00 estimate swelled instantly to $700.00 in the mere blink of an eye.

And, yes, I walked home.

I had been planning on taking a med. break soon anyway. I just hadn't planned on taking it today. Once I made it home, I was tuckered out and didn't feel like trekking the extra mile or so to the pharmacy. Thus, there has been little accomplished today save for screwing up the heel- turning on the sock, fending off headaches and chasing metaphorical butterflies. Without the Concerta, I'm not exactly what you'd call productive. I think about doing alot of was I saying????

Meanwhile, let's do a little translation here just so everybody will understand the magnitude of this little vehicular investment: cost of fixing truck= approx. 35 balls of Socks That Rock. (give or take a ball or two)

See what I'm saying here?


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

More On Flocking...And Flappage.

As I mentioned yesterday, the Sheep family luncheon was not well-attended. Among the missing were some of the more witty members of the group. It slowed the conversation somewhat, I must say. I can recall gatherings past where you had to carefully time your beverage consumption to avoid spraying liquid on your seat partners. Once, when a waitress commented on the size of the group and how wonderful it must be to have such quality time with family, Cousin D. quipped (in his inimitable Yankee drawl), "ayuh, it's where we look for dates."

Seriously...How do you compete with that? We were a mere group of five and cousin D. was not amongst us. I had to work with what I had:

Sheepish Annie: So, Dad, when do you and Mom head out on vacation?

Daddy Sheep: Tomorrow, bright and early. Your mother has already re-packed my suitcase.

SA: Re-packed?

DS: Yes. She has taken all my socks, underwear and handkerchiefs and packaged them together like single servings in Ziploc baggies. Apparently, I am a "rummager." She doesn't like the rummaging. She seems to think that she can cut down on the rummaging if I have my socks, handkerchiefs and underwear already grouped and sealed in plastic.

SA: (grinning broadly and raising her voice in order that Mommy Sheep's slightly aged ears will pick this up) Prepackaged, you say? Are they labeled as know, with your name, the "wear-by date," and a phone number in case you are missing?

DS: Shh!!!!!!

Mommy Sheep: What a wonderful idea!

DS: Dammit.

SA: Hee-hee!

You do what you can with the material available. It can be a challenge.

Meanwhile back at Sock Central, we have reached flap stage. I do not care for starting the heel flap. But I like it more than picking up stitches for the gusset so I'm not in full whine mode just yet.

The stitch-counter, chocolate and Cosmo hidden under the pattern are there "just in case."
My newfound love of fine sock yarn continues and seems to grow with each day. I have found myself perusing various websites and gazing at the sock yarns with misty eyes. At one point, I heard a faint "mewling" sound and looked about for a kitty in distress. As they were looking back at me with similar expressions of alarm I can only assume that the whimper was mine own. So pretty, so full of socky goodness...
God, I need that pay raise that comes with the start of a new contract year!!!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Gathering Of The Flock.

I've been told that I'm witty. Casting aside false modesty, I will say that, upon occasion, I have been known to toss out a few treasures worthy of a chuckle. Sometimes I crack myself up. I've been told that is not a good sign...

I come by it honestly. I am a member in good standing of quite the hilarious clan. (some folks by choice, others are funny in their clueless wanderings.) Either way, we have our share of witlings. Put me together with my brother and we can have you in a state of "rotflmao" in mere minutes. Good times...

So you can imagine the joy with which I look forward to family gatherings of any type. Today was "family lunch" day. My mother's side of this rag-tag group, many of whom have reached retirement age and were needing something to do with their days besides watch infomercials and knock over liquor stores to fund their Ben Gay habits, launched this tradition several years ago. They generally congregate on Thursdays at the closest Applebees for catchin' up and chowin' down. In the summers, when some of the younger folk are available, this group can easily consist of up to twenty bleating sheep all vying for the lion's share of the attention. As I said before: Good times...

I scampered to the grocery store bright and early to stock up on more bottled water where a lady mistakenly assumed that shoving her cart up my tuchus would move the line along more quickly. I next hit the local craft store where a gentleman attempted the same strategy with a baby carriage complete with infant. Sadly, neither of these enterprising individuals was able to move things along any more quickly. In fact, from my perspective, this actually seemed to make our respective wait times longer...

Upon arrival at the restaurant, we all realized that there was something of a problem. Our group was only 5 strong!!! The lesson learned here is that when an event typically takes place on a Thursday, changing it to a Tuesday might result in some confusion. As my parents are leaving tomorrow on vacation it will be up to me to stake out the AppleBees on Thursday to see which family members show up for the regularly scheduled festivities.

I've promised to take a picture and use it as this year's Christmas card.

Ah well...lunch was yummy and funded by the Mommy Sheep so I still call it a good outing. And The Sheep is now watered and has new circs upon which to knit her socks. The water part worked out ok...the needles are another story.

(note: this is the part of the post where The Samurai Knitter will leave off reading and go find a door frame or table upon which to beat her head repeatedly because The Sheep does not listen!!!) The addis I was using were just too short to knit with comfortably so I found a slightly longer pair upon which to work my little sockie. Being as this was a craft store, all that was available were Susan Bates. In my defense, I really like the double points!!! But now I am am the proud owner of two 16" (too short) circular needles which are only slightly longer than the addis and which have the most snaggiest, catchiest, not smoothiest joins ever created in the history of needles. I'm thinking of using them as funky earrings.

Did I mention that the lunch was good? Yeah...I'll just keep thinking about that.


Monday, August 07, 2006

Mea Culpa

I've been knitting socks for a while now. It took me some time to catch the fever, but once I did, I found it to be quite the enjoyable little pastime. Practical, useful, artsy...and I fit in with all the "cool" knitters.

But I never really got all that excited about sock yarn. I tended towards the less costly version of the medium, dontcha know. I just couldn't seem to reconcile the twenty plus dollars with the fact that the yarn would spend it's days inside my shoes and under my cuffs. I never begrudged those who spent the dollars...but I wouldn't do it. If asked, I would have said that my frugal ways were my own and that others were perfectly within their rights to knit as they saw fit. I was quite the Ghandi of knitters...accepting of all and only asking for my rights as a sensible stitcher. Deep down, though, I suspect I may have harbored a wee bit of the "smug." "Look at those poor fools, spending their cash all willy-nilly on the same item I get for half what they are paying...hee hee!!!"

A few months back, I was the lucky winner of a skein of handpainted in a comment contest. Shortly thereafter, while in the grip of a 105 degree fever, I purchased some Koigu from a fellow blogger who was destashing. These have sat idle since their arrival in my home. They're pretty 'n all...but how much better can they really be?

I am now several inches into my new sock and all I have to say is this:

Oh. I see. My bad...

I stand before you a humbled Sheep. I wholeheartedly, unabashedly and with the deepest of sincerity withdraw any and all misanthropy towards the wicked nice sock yarn. I get it. I really do. It is better. It is worth every penny one might spend on it. It is permissible to sell certain valuables like jewelry or one's children in order that it be obtained. Assaults on other knitters who might stand in your way of purchasing it are forgivable.
It is just better.
Sadly, this realization comes at summer's end and just before The Sheep's salary goes through a three week "readjustment period." (this happens every few years to those of us who work a ten month lose a pay period to even up the disbursement.) Now where am I going to find the cash to fund this new sock yarn obsession?
The cats are looking mighty nervous right now...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sheep Have Needs Too!

I am a Sheep with cravings these days. For example, for the past week I've been sportin' a cake obsession of epic proportions. Thinkin' of cake, talkin' of cake, sometimes actually experiencing phantom cake tastes and smells. CAKE!!!!!

Fortunately, my local grocery store (that'd be lgs) has some deep and mystical understanding of the whimsical cravings of local Sheep. They sell cute little 4" cakes in the bakery department complete with sprinkles and the obligatory blue accent frosting atop the white butter cream. And let's face it: blue is the superior frosting. But you can't eat it in public. Try it...then look at your teeth. This is just a little tip from The Sheep to you.

I'd show you a picture of the cute little cake...but I ate it. I didn't even take it off the cute little cardboard cake round. It is naught but a lovely cakey memory. Craving satisfied and I can move on with the other gastronomic aspects of my life.

I've also been jonesin' for an FO. I've been somewhat disappointed in my track record this summer with regard to getting things off the needles and onto the sidebar. I've got it all in perspective; there has been no gnashing of teeth, rending of garments and recitations of soulful poetry. I just thought I'd get more done. However, one of my more endearing qualities (unless you are expecting something from me in a timely fashion) is my fascination with a great many things. My head is easily turned. I get to experience quite a bit that way...I just don't get to finish alot of stuff.

Despite this, the Boogie Vest has made it to the finish line! In all honesty, it really isn't quite what I was looking for in a vest. I do like it and will wear it. But I'm not loving the neckline as a vest. I would love it as a lighter weight tank for spring or summer and might attempt it again in a cotton.

The Sheep strikes a pose...and manages to fold in the armhole in the process. It looks like my vest was attacked by a shark!!!! Blocking, please.
For all my nasty comments about the color of this vest, it actually works with much of my wardrobe. I guess I have more of an affinity for puke green than I thought. Hmmm.... Anyhoo, the yarn for this was Woolease Chunky which I like for it's washability and lesser expensive nature. I think, given my lack of total love for this vest, I might have been disappointed had I used a more costly yarn. All things considered though, I'm a "vest girl" and will wear them regardless of the fiber involved most of the time. This one will see the light of day more than once.
Because I must have a plethora of projects going at any given time, I decided to ignore the hat, muff and possible shawl dangling hopefully from a variety of needles in a variety of locations around my home and cast on for a pair of socks. I won a skein of Mama E's hand-dyed a few months ago and was planning to use it to test out the two circular needles method. Sadly, the Addis that I had on hand were of the short, dinky, can't-get-a-good-grip-on variety and I was sooooo not feelin' the love for that endeavor. I swapped back to the dpns and am happily working on the cuff. These are a pretty generic pair of socks given that the yarn is quite bold for me. I rarely wear striped or patterned socks so I figured the plain knit would make up for the flashy color choice.
And thus The Sheep was able to satisfy many a craving today: An FO, a new project and cake all in one fell swoop! Not bad, if I do say so myself.
Now I must go wash my workout clothes for tomorrow. Sometimes you have to pay for your cravings.
50 extra crunches are not going to be as satisfying, I fear.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

It Takes So Little To Make Me Happy!

I generally try to make my now-daily trips to the store fairly early in the morning. Thus, I can avoid the crush of folks attempting to make their daily pilgrimages to wherever it is that they like to hang out. I sorta overslept this morning, though and got a bit of a late start. This is how I managed to get caught in the gridlock that is the "Weekend Beach Migration."

Did I despair? Was I moved to rage? Did I contemplate ramming my vehicle repeatedly into the rear bumper of the car ahead of me until it moved forward through the sheer momentum created by my assault?

I did not.

This trip felt "doable." There was the nice man who let me make the right hand turn from my street into traffic. (OK, I suspect he was actually trying to help out the cute girl in the Jeep who had made some serious miscalculations with regard to the amount of space it might take to do a u-turn, but I'm going to just stick with assuming that it was the milk of human kindness at work here and not a booty call sort of thing.) The temperatures were mild and there was a general absence of driving stupidity. It was all working.

And to top it all off, I received a notice from the insurance company denying my claim for the last visit with Dr. DeSade, DMD. I owe $105.00.

Why did this cause such joy and lightening of The Sheep's bitter old heart? This is a bill for crying out loud!!! Well, lemme tellya: this is the smallest bill I've had in month's from my least favorite dentist. I've paid off his boat and slip gives me great joy to know that this time around I'm merely providing what, I'm sure to him, represents the equivalent of change in the couch cushions.

Like I doesn't take much to give me the giggles.

Work on the Tidus Tote continues. (Taste Is Dependent Upon Skills) The trim has been stitched into place and the Beads of Distraction are now being strategically placed in order that the public might focus on something besides the errors.

You can't really see the beads here. Perhaps I need to add some glitter...

Once I come up with a plan to disguise the grievous errors made on the facing inside the bag I can call it done. This will be a happy day filled with laughter, dancing and the consumption of Mountain Dew and ice cream.

Yeah, yeah...the Mountain Dew and ice cream are actually sort of a regular event. I'm a celebrant.

What can I say?


Friday, August 04, 2006

Free-Association Friday.

Note: Due to on-going issues with her internet service provider The Sheep is not going to post photos tonight. The resulting frustration and angst from attempting this could lead to a "situation." We don't want that. The media is busy enough what with the heat wave and the Middle East 'n all. Thank you for your patience. We hope to have this matter resolved in a timely fashion.

The Sheep has had something of an epiphany today. Well, truth be told, there were several. Some of these pearls of inner wisdom included:

All sewing needles, prior to leaving the factory, must be chanted over and imbued with evil vibrations courtesy of a dark wizard as part of the final review process. Thus, they have the ability to draw blood with minimal handling.

"Straight" and "even" are relative terms and mean different things to different people. I, for example, see a straight line as being anything from 90 to 57 degrees on the average protractor.

Chocolate is better when combined with nuts or caramel.

Any chocolate is "good" chocolate during the sewing process.

These were great epiphanies and all. True gems if ever I heard one. But the best one was this:

When you are creating something by hand, you need to learn to love it not just in spite of it's flaws, but because of them.

Let's face it. If I really wanted something that was "perfect" I could go out and purchase it pre-made and mass produced. What I need in my life is something with ripples 'n wrinkles, odd angles 'n dangling threads. This is permission!!!! Permission to use trim with wild abandon. Taste and restraint can be thrown out the window. Once you've got imperfection on your hands, you might as well just start adding distractions.

This, my ten loyal readers, is what we call, "Looking On The Bright Side."

I spent much of today hand-stitching the trim over the Rage Induced Top Stitching and have successfully hidden much of my meandering handiwork. Next up: beads!!!! This will distract the eye from the cock-eyed application of the trim. Following that, I will need to come up with some sort of patching on the lining to create a visual diversion and fool the viewer into thinking that I did not apply the inner facing upside down. It's all doable. I'm sure of it.

I just need to feel the love.


Thursday, August 03, 2006


I promise to be delicate and tasteful, here. But if you happen to be one of those people whose very core of security and sense of well-being is rooted in preserving the belief that the female body does naught but fill out a pair of jeans and provide a means for holding in the spleen then this may not be the post for you.

I'll understand. I don't like to "dwell" either. But sometimes A Sheep needs to provide a framework for her behaviors.

I have been, shall we say, "off-cycle" for some time now. For a variety of reasons, (weight loss, "monkey pox" induced fever and, yes, age) I have been sans period since early June. The body is trying, God bless her. But it's just not working like the well-oiled machine that it use to be. The result has been what amounts to a perpetual "pms state" for quite some time.

To this we add a pinch of baby spiders, a liberal dash of hornets, a dram of insomnia, bake at a 110 degree heat index and we now have a Sheep that wants to eat ice cream non-stop and commit random acts of violence for no apparent reason.

It's not pretty.

I had hoped that, with the cooler temps today, I might be feeling a bit more light-hearted. (I didn't.) I was, however, optimistic enough that I pulled out the new tote I was sewing up. It really did seem like a good idea at the time. (It wasn't) Long story made short: the tote is finished save for the fact that I now must straggle out in order that I might purchase some distracting trim to cover what can best be described as "rage induced top stitching."

For those of you unfamiliar with this technique it involves forcing the fabric through the machine whilst gritting your teeth and muttering foul things. The resulting stitchery meanders around the bag haphazardly looking for all the world like it was sewn by a happy, drunken clown.

We live. We learn. We return to happier pastimes. We do this quickly.

The Muff Along project is progressing, but has been set aside due to the hand strain which results from forcing too much yarn around on too small needles. I actually really like the muff, though. I think it will be just the thing for winter playground duty:

Yarn specs. to follow in a later post. If I remember to do it, anyway...
Following the tote debacle, I decided to treat myself and put on a fresh bobbin of Finn. Remember back when I swore I was going to fill all the bobbins before I gave myself the pleasure of plying?

Nope. Can't wait. Don't care. Wanna see what it looks like plied!!!!

For tonight, the plan is to spend some time with the Boogie Vest. I'm all for an easy knit right now given my delicate emotional condition and all. In between rows, I plan on consuming mass quantities of ice cream directly from the carton.

I like to think that I'm saving a life. The world is safer with an over hormonified Sheep behind closed doors with her wool and dairy products.