Saturday, April 19, 2014

They Call Me The Plant-Killer

Hey you!  You say you're hardy, but Troops, you've been selected for hazardous duty. I'm pretty good with kids and dogs even though mine smell like they've been rolling in something dead (dogs, not kids).  But plants?  HA!  You'll be lucky to live until June.  

There!  The challenge has been issued--let's see what you're made of.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


How'd that eye-popping headline grab you?  

If you've somehow stumbled into AnnWorld, that must make you want to read on and anxiously await as the snappy thoughts just tumble from my fingertips to your eyes through the magic of electrical impulses. 

In the vein of snappy original thoughts, I ask: 

Is it a New Year and therefore a clean slate, or just another Wednesday?

Well, no choice but to wait and see.

In the meantime, here's a thing for you--
                                a knitting pattern thing--
                                          a V-E-R-Y C-O-O-L knitting pattern thing.


a hat of Olympic proportions
Admittedly, that's a bit overdone--you judge.

 This is the Team USA 2014 Sochi Winter Games earflap hat--FREE   pattern on  This hat is NOT to be confused with the 2010 Team USA hat, which is also very cool.  I only knit 4 of the 2010 hats, with the last one completed on December 27, 2012.  Maybe my plans to knit 6 of the 2014 hats before the February 7 opening ceremonies is a little ambitious?  Again, we'll wait and see.   




Bye Now

Here it is, the last day of 2013 (well, it was when I wrote this) and, very unoriginally, I'm taking stock of the last 353 days (I took a few days off).  

The year started ordinarily enough that nothing stands out until February 26th when we got the alarming news that my mother had advanced pancreatic cancer.  What followed was a whirl of appointments, procedures, and rapid weakening.  As awful as that time was, and it was awful, I was privileged to observe my mother meet her short future on earth with class and extreme patience for the rest of us who struggled to meet her needs, and ours.  An even bigger privilege was having the opportunity to observe Dad patiently and tenderly take on the role of caregiver for Mom and to watch them together.  

For 30 years, at least, Mom has had a magnet on the fridge that says:  "Life is a grindstone, whether you become worn or polished depends on what you are made of."   In the grindstone that was 2013, my parents both shone.  Thank you for that.  

Thanks too, to my many friends and those of my parents who stepped up to help should our troubles this year.  And thanks, especially, to Beth who helped in uncountable ways, up to an including delivering Mom's eulogy.  

There was other loss too, as Uncle Pete, Aunt Leoba, and Beth's father also died.  

HOWEVER, all was not doom and gloom for our clan in 2013 as Kelly and I had the unparalleled experience of traveling to Italy to visit Sister-Daughter (Sister Divine Providence, SSVM) at her convent in Tuscania.  For nearly two weeks she shepherded us around Italy.  We went from coast to coast listing to her speak Italian for us as we looked on with pride.  And in August she moved back to the US after her year in Italy.  

Alex moved back to Tulsa from Los Angeles, accepted a scholarship at the University of Tulsa in the MBA program, switched to Masters of Accounting, and received a graduate assistant position for the duration of his time at TU.  

And, I got to spend a week with Sister-Daughter at the convent in Maryland.  She went on with life there and I busied myself sewing habits for the new novices, and a surprise habit for the Mother Superior.  It was an absolute blast to be folded into her world for a time.  

There were basket conferences (two) and a weaving workshop squeezed in as well as two trips to Lawrence, Kansas for spinning and weaving supplies.  The kitchen was painted, we got a new heating and air conditioning system, and Kelly and I both got 4 new pairs of socks and 2 t-shirts each.  (HA!).

Pardon me if this post reads like a stereotypically bad Christmas letter, but I really need to put 2013 away in order to get started on 2014.

And so, 2013 ends.  Tomorrow I'll wake up with the same mess on my bedside table and the same to do list taped to my mirror but nothing will be the same because it will be a New Year.  I wish you a happy one. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oh that rascally . . . Pumpkin?


 I happened into Whole Foods sometime in mid-October and what should I see, but acres of stunning non-standard pumpkins.  There were Cinderella pumpkins, and Fairytale pumpkins (maybe they were the same), white pumpkins, and green pumpkins, but the very best ones were the Rascal Pumpkins.  I picked out the best Rascal.
The best feature of the best Rascal was the great stem and curlicue.   

 Alas, October came and went and so did Thanksgiving and Rascal Pumpkin's time as a decorative item came to an end.  And that's when my kitchen became a killing field.




I'm thankful for you Rascal Pumpkin, you looked cool and your sweet meat will be soup and bread and muffins and maybe even a pie.  I've saved a few seeds and maybe I'll grow you a cousin next year.  
 p.s.  the Rascal Pumpkin is very very tasty. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How dishtowels are born

Sometimes people say, "Oh, weaving is sooooo interesting--why don't you tell me EXACTLY how you make that?"  About an hour into my explanation the questioner tends to drift off, feign death, or engage in some other artifice to make the explaining stop.  

So for the curious I offer this pictorial essay about weaving.  

Start with an idea--here a scarf pattern found in an issue of Handwoven Magazine

read the instructions and decide to make dishtowels, not a scarf, and further decide to use cotton, not the fibers used in the scarf

Rewrite the pattern (draft) in Ann-speak to accommodate the changes
Select hopefully appropriate thread from the shelves in the workroom

Measure each of the 400+ threads to an exact length, here 6 yards
Move the threads to the loom and HOPE this doesn't happen--it does.

Wind the threads onto the back beam keeping them in order and untangled as they are here, even though it doesn't look like it. 

Thread EACH of the 400+ threads through the eye of a metal device called a heddle without crossing the threads and whilst keeping them in the correct order for the pattern

Heddles threaded--THIS is so beautiful, it brings tears to my eyes.  The nonsense you see at the left of the frame is  a correction for a couple of threads that were missed in the measuring and threading--thankfully there were only two such threads and they were next to each other.

Another shot of the lovely threaded heddles

Thread each of the 400+ threads (in order and without crossing any of them) through the slots in the reed.  This is known as sleying the reed. The reed is used to beat the weft threads into place.
Wind yet MORE thread on bobbins, insert bobbin into shuttle and  . . . WEAVE

Cut the towels off the loom and hem up the ends.  At this point they are stiff and somewhat disappointing--not at all dishtowel-ish.  They need to be washed and dried.

Here they are all washed and dried and ready to be used.  They don't look much different than the unwashed ones, but ohhhhh, they are sooo much softer.  

That's it, except it takes hours and hours to dress (thread or warp) the loom.  The weaving goes really fast unless you discover threading errors that have to be fixed or threads break

Yeah, I know Walmart sells dishtowels.  And, I was lying -- People don't really ask me to tell them how it's done, I just offer that info, but they do really glaze over and run away, can't understand why. 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Oh WoW!! Yarn

No, despite my BEST EFFORTS I did not get the vest done in time to enter it into the fair.  I knit & knit & knit all day and until after 9:30pm the night before it was due and came to the realization that, despite having spun more yarn, I was going to run out again with just inches to knit and further, the whole thing looked a bit incredibly wonky.  The wonk-i-ness might be solved by a proper soak and blocking, but there wasn't time for that and so I went to bed, slept soundly, and put the vest in time out.  It's still there . . . probably plotting to not be completed for fair time again NEXT year.  

Since it's fall now, and since that is prime knitting time, I've taken a partial inventory of my yarn stash.  Oh WoW!  I have lots and lots of onesie and twosie skeins that are fit only for small projects--while those yarns make quite a mountain, they are not the subject of an oh WoW.  The piles that evoke oh Wow-ness are those where the number of skeins of one type and color of yarn exceeds 10 and the yardage exceeds 1000 yards, or 1500 yards, or in one case 3000 yards.  These piles are the sweater-worthy piles.

The sweater-worthy oh WoW yarn might have been purchased with a particular project in mind, but more likely because it was a good price.  (or my favorite color, as most of it is green).  I have spent hours days pouring over patterns and have assigned suitable patterns to each pile. So, right now I have 3 cardigans, a vest (or two) and a shawl assigned to the oh WoW yarn.  I've documented the yarn/pattern pairings in several places so I won't get off track.   Thus, I  am FIRMLY committed to stopping the endless pattern search, going with what I've decided, and ACTUALLY knitting the stupid lovely sweaters.   (the success of this plan is not hampered in the least by the fact that for the third Christmas in a row I'm knitting on the same sweater for Sister Daughter). 

BUT, as I was writing this post I noticed a new book on the shelf:  Top Down Sweaters.  I  cannot proceed with my plan until I have ruled out making any of those sweaters with the oh WoW yarn.  

And this may be  EXACTLY why I have piles of Oh WoW yarn. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

This Time I AM Going to be MATURE

What I mean by that rash statement is this morning I decided good enough is good enough.   I am not going to make myself (and maybe Kelly) completely crazy by attempting something that, while possible, cannot reasonably be accomplished in the time allotted. I feel really good about that. 

It is Thursday.  Saturday is the turn-in time for entries into the Tulsa State Fair.  (Yeah, we know Tulsa isn't really a state).  I signed up to enter two skeins of handspun yarn and a vest knit of handspun.  I could possibly get the vest completed, but I'm going to run out of handspun.  So, to complete this task, I'll need to spin more yarn AND knit between now and Saturday.   

I've calculated the waking minutes from now (Thursday) until the turn in date (Saturday) and subtracted the time wasted in working for a living and attending things I cannot reasonably dump.  So, in a RARE flash of maturity, I have abandoned the attempt to complete the vest. The yarn CANNOT be spun and plied and washed and dried and knitted and then the vest washed and dried in the remaining time, plus I don't have a button--the vest needs a button. 

Two skeins of handspun will have to be it for my entries--I'm mostly OK with that. :(

THEN, I got to work and looked at my calendar.  AND maturity just moved to the back burner.  

I am attending a continuing education seminar tomorrow, which is pretty much 8 hours of uninterrupted knitting.  The place is well lit and the chairs aren't too awfully uncomfortable--there is LOTS of coffee and it would be perfect except the coffee cups aren't very big and they have speakers that keep blabbing about stuff.   BUT, I'm pretty sure I can get the knitting done in that amount of time.

I only need about 50 yards of 2ply yarn, so although I'm not getting home until after 7:30 pm, I might try to get that spun and washed tonight.  I gotta figure out how to get it to dry quickly, but this IS do-able. 

I'll need a cool button, but I kind of have this idea that I might make some pounded copper wire affair.  The button wouldn't necessarily need to be functional for the fair. I hope I still have the copper wire at home where I think it is. 

Yeah, I'm back in business.


My Tattoo

My Tattoo
A bike chain tattoo, that is It's chain lube ya know