Previous month:
October 2006
Next month:
December 2006

November 2006


In light of the family holiday, I have a rather wholesome selection for you.

Did you spot him? I really can't help myself.

Obligatory knitting content: Well, it's a holiday at the homestead with people I am happy to only see 3 times a year, so some serious knitting is going to happen. I'm thinking I should bring Kiri and pretend that the pattern is really complicated so I don't get dragged into any inane discussions. Ungrateful? Well, if you'd been there for the last 30 years you would understand. But to all of you who understand and don't judge or who are just plain nice people - Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Yarn Content

OK, here you go - actual yarn and knitting content. But don't think that's the last you've seen of YamaPi!

Dscn3973Here's what I couldn't leave Philly/NYC without: 3 balls of Koigu from Loop for the Multidirectional Scarf, Trekking from Rosie's Yarn Cellar for some future male-oriented socks, 3 balls of Misty Alpaca Lace for Hidcote (purchased at The Point), and one skein of Manos for ... I don't know. I saw it at Purl and I loved it so there.

Dscn3975Here's the week's worth of knitting. I started the scarf on the plane and the shawl in the hotel room. Both were behaving, but I didn't have much time for either. I continued the scarf in the airport, but as we all should know by now, drinking and knitting don't mix.

Dscn3979The diamond on the top left is wonky. It will have to be ripped out, and I don't have hopes for finding a spot where I'll know where I am, so it may have to go bye-bye. I would like it a little wider anyway, so it's not all bad.

Now you've had your fix. I'm going to Google Video to get mine. Sigh. YamaPi.

A Brief Respite

Even though I had sent several e-mails to people in NJ asking if there would be any problems with the schedule that I had devised, they failed to mention to me that Friday was a holiday and that it would be extremely difficult to move around in the prisons. So we made Thursday a marathon day and finished the last 7 facilities, which left Friday free.

And it would seem that Karma was taking a holiday as well, from kicking my arse, and I was blessed with 7 glorious hours in Manhattan. We're talking beautiful autumn day, nothing to do until I had to be at the airport for my 7pm flight - the makings for the ultimate yarn crawl.

First stop: Central Park. I'd always promised myself that the first thing I would see in NYC would be the Alice in Wonderland statue. Natives call it the Marguerita, which is fine by me when they're giving me directions. I'd like to say, loudly and affirmatively, that all of the people that I spoke with in Manhattan, without exception, were extremely warm and kind. Not a grumpy one in the bunch. New Yorkers are nice. Anyway, I got off the NJ train in Penn station (with the theme song from "Working Girl" in my head) and took the C train to 86th street on Central Park West and walked across the park.


I don't know why this was the first thing I'd always wanted to see. I'm sure there are those who could give great arguments for other landmarks, but this was mine. And there it was, just a few steps from the boat pond, basked in early Autumn morning light. Another item crossed off the life list. I should mention, too, that I don't usually like dogs, but I love New York dogs. They walk unleashed along with their masters, well behaved and cute and urban and perfect.

I then walked down 5th, across the bottom of the park, then wandered in a downtown direction toward some yarn shop addresses that I had. Columbus Circle ... 7th Ave ... 34th Street ... hey! This is the way the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade goes! And, duh, there it was across the street. Macy's!


This may have been a bigger deal if we hadn't just gotten Macy's in St. Louis, but the fact that they were decorating for the parade made up for it. It was exciting, none the less.

Then I took the A train to ... I dunno - 2 stops. And this C train, A train, F train stuff? Thrilling. All I know of New York comes from movies and books and innumerable seasons of "Law and Order", so to actually see and do stuff I've been hearing about for almost 40 years, stuff that would be so simple and everyday to New Yorkers, was really, really cool to me.


By this time it's still too early for the yarn stores to be open, so I stopped for breakfast at the Sullivan Diner. I had the best pancakes ever - no lie. Banana Blueberry pancakes. So. Very. Good. And great staff too, who couldn't believe that someone would come to Manhattan for only 7 hours. They don't know how lucky they have it.

I headed for Chinatown in search of a cheap souvenir totebag to carry my stuff on the plane. I didn't find a cheap bag, but I was offered a lot of stuff from people on the street, most of which I couldn't understand. I got the "dvd? dvd? you want dvd?" but the rest remains a mystery. I did find a small market section, though, which if you've seen my travel pictures from my last two vacations, you know I have a penchant for.


I love markets. I can't say exactly why, but they give me a sense of participating in humanity when I'm in them. I was disappointed that the signs were all in English, when in London's Chinatown they'd been in Chinese. I was only on the edge of the neighborhood, though. Next time I'll wander in deeper.

It was finally time for the yarn portion of the day!


First was The Point, made famous to me by Cara's blog. No Thumper sighting, but I got to meet Rebecca, the manager, who had given me directions on how to get there from Penn Station. Then I went to Purl, a brief walk away, but they weren't open yet so I stopped at Once Upon A Tart for coffee and a scone. This scone, pumpkin and cranberry, was so moist it bordered on muffinhood. I sat at a table outside sipping coffee and reading page 6 of the post, which, it turns out, was on page 14. (I only know about page 6 from "Working Girl" and "Sex and the City". Silly what info we pick up and hold on to, isn't it?)

I explored Purl for a few, then headed uptown. I could have taken the train, but I didn't want to miss anything so I walked it instead. I'm glad I did, too, or I would have missed this:


Chess players in Washington Square Park. Doesn't mean anything to you? Have you seen "Searching for Bobby Fischer"? Well, they're really there.

Next was Strand Books, where I did find a great totebag, and a used copy of a book that I've been looking for on a cart for a $1. On a nearby corner was some sidewalk art - an unexpected bonus.


The yarn crawl continued with Knit NY, which I've heard about through Jon's blog. The staff there was a little odd. The girl asked if I was looking for anything and I said no, that I was on a yarn crawl, and she looked at me oddly and said that I didn't have to crawl, that I could see better if I stood. Odd girl. Anyway, they were priced a little high, so I moved on toward Koreatown.


What's in Koreatown, you ask? HABU! Yes! HABU! But, I must say, it wasn't what I thought it would be. The stuff on the floor, I think, is leftovers from Stitches East. In the back there's a little hallway where a skein of everything they sell is hanging, and then they wind what you want. I couldn't find the bamboo that I had coveted at Stitches Midwest, so I didn't get anything. Can you believe it? If you had told me that I wouldn't buy anything at Habu, I would have scoffed, but I just wasn't inspired by anything in particular. I did leave with a better frame of reference for when I order online someday.

Sadly, by now it was time to get on the train to go back to NJ to pick up my car and head for the airport. And on the train is when it all started to fall apart again. The airline called to say that my flight had been cancelled and that I was leaving on a later flight but not from Newark, from LaGuardia. I got to drive through Friday night rush hour traffic in New York (31 miles in 2 1/2 hours), praying desperately that there wouldn't be any more tolls because I was down to my last $5 in cash. And the airport TSA was not impressed by my expired drivers license and ticket purchased just hours before, but the department of corrections ID saved me from a strip search. Well, maybe not, but it helped. They thought I was a corrections office and I let them. I headed for a bar where a very nice bartender, Manny, gave me one last drink before he closed up. I don't even like Sam Adams but I loved that beer. Then my new flight was 1 1/2 late in departing, and totally full, but finally we arrived and my parents were there and listened to me talk about everything that had gone wrong and took my home and carried my big suitcase up the stairs. I was home.

I slept for 14 straight hours.

Today Was Worse

Hard to believe, isn't it? That today could be worse? Well, when you're out of town, due to fly home in a couple days, and are working at places where you have to present a government-issued photo id to walk in the door, losing your drivers license can really, really, REALLY suck. I have no idea where it is. We've searched the car. I tore my room apart. It's not here. Fortunately I have a DOC id from another state that got me into the facilities today, so I could still do what I have to. A friend with keys is going into my desk at home and finding my old license and fedex-ing it to me. That way I can come home without driving this big gas guzzler all the way back to St. Louis. I can't afford $40 a tank!

On a positive note, Kiri has decided to play nice.


I Couldn't Make This Up If I Tried

I had such a lovely day. And if you don't hear the sarcasm dripping from that statement, read it again. Now? Good. See this? Dscn3937Yes, that is a cheesecake, still in the grocery store package, with a fork. I am eating this cheesecake, whole, with this fork. I might eat the entire thing. It's been that kind of day. And it's going to be a very long post, so you might want to get yourself a cheesecake too.

Yesterday was fine. Yesterday was grand. I packed, I remembered all my errands, I watched "Memoirs of a Geisha" five times. Five. I have japanophile issues. Anyway, I was fully prepared to get up at 2:30 in the morning, get ready, eat some breakfast, throw the last few things in my suitcase that was laying on the living room floor ready to be stuffed and zipped up. I went to bed thinking of cherry blossoms and fan dancing and eyes like rain, wishing only that Maggie would stop her meowing outside my bedroom door.

I heard the doorbell. It was 4 am. My parents were there to pick me up. I was still in bed. SH*%^&&$T! I flew out of bed, through the kitchen, dining room, living room and down the stairs to let my dad in. I brushed my teeth, got dressed, threw my toothbrush in the suitcase, all the while saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I also said the F word in front of my dad, for which I said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." Anyway, I'm in a frenzy and I'm sure I was making a ton of noise which my downstairs neighbors had to endure. I zip up the suitcase and it's leaning over to one side. Hrm. It's MISSING A WHEEL. When the F did that happen? Did I bring it home from Peru that way? I don't know, and I don't have time to cram everything into another suitcase, not that I own one large enough anyway. I'll just have to deal with it.

So my dad, who is totally calm, says, "Where are the kitties?" Uh.... where are they? I had left my bedroom door open, so I'm shaking the little can of treats all over my room, looking under the bed, etc., upset that they may be in there because they aren't allowed in there and if I can't get them out it means they have free reign with my jewelry, breakable knickknacks and stuff that is in my room where they can't get for a reason. I'm calling and calling and beginning to freak out because I trained them when they were small to come when I call them (in case of fires and such - it was in the kitten book) and they ALWAYS come and now they are NOT coming. I mentally write off all of my precious belongings in my room and put my coat on to leave. Then I see a white paw sticking out from under the couch. They were both under there! They haven't hid under the couch since they were tiny. I think it was the combination of the doorbell (which sounds like a horn on a fire engine when it approaches an intersection - no, really) and me running the length of the apartment in 2 seconds flat. So, kitties accounted for and bedroom door thankfully closed, we left. And now I'm wondering if Maggie's special abilities also include knowing when I've set my alarm to PM instead of AM, because she was making quite a fuss last night. How does she know???

I'm putting my makeup on in the dark in the backseat of the car while my mother is handing me these two pound travel guides she picked up from AAA and Daddy gets me to the airport on time. I shove the travel guides and my makeup bag into the suitcase and realize I forgot the lock. Did you know curbside checkin is $2 a bag now? Well, it is. Anyway, I'm going through security and the TSA guy asks me if I have any liquids or gels in my purse. No. How about LIP GLOSS? He says it just like that, like "I can see you just put it on so you must have it with you, you stupid female traveler." They did x-ray my purse twice - guess it was the combination of blackberry, digital camera and ipod all in the same pocket.
Between the time I checked my bag to when I got to the gate he'd told me, the gate had changed, so I got to walk back up the terminal. Thankfully Starbucks opens at 5 so I could get a bottle of water, where I proceeded to leave my wallet. A very nice man who was behind me in line brought it to me. That would have been beyond disastrous.

So, I've finally got a chance to catch my breath, and I get out my knitting project for the trip - the Dainty Bess scarf from the Elizabeth I scarf patterns from Knitpicks. I'm using a ball of Lost Lake. I read the instructions: Cast on 51 with any elastic cast on. Hrmmm. I can't remember if the knitted or cable cast on is the elastic one, so I reach into my purse for my cell phone to google it and ... it isn't there. I search. I'm sure I look like a fool, or at least someone who obviously lost something. So I pick up everything and find a pay phone a couple of gates away and call my parents. Daddy finds my cell phone in the car. Which reminds me that I had also left the charger at my apartment. So I give mom the info to fedex it to me and get back to my gate.

The flight itself was fine - in fact we got in 1/2 hour early. Early on in the flight the one steward (this was a tiny plane) leaned over my seat while I was working on the scarf and said, "I never understood that." "How to do it or why we do it?" I asked. "I never understood why I can't bring the tiny screwdriver to fix my glasses and you can bring those." "Because it keeps us calm and happy," I suggest. "Is that needlepoint?" he asks. "No, knitting." "What's the one with the hook?" "That's crochet." "Oh, crochet. Yeah, you could do some real damage with one of those. You could stab someone and twist it around and pull stuff out with one of those." I honestly don't remember what I replied to that. Dscn3933The scarf was kicking my arse, as you can see. That would be 8 rows of border and 8 rows of pattern. From a 1 1/2 hour flight. Not pretty.

So, I get my suitcase at the baggage claim (you thought it would be missing, didn't you?) and stood on the curb where a sign said that the rental car shuttles stop. The Hertz guy was more than happy to inform me, however, that you have to flag them down and I was lucky that he stopped because he thought I might be looking at him. Thanks so much. I get the car (which costs more than my hotel room for the week!) and walk toward space 908. OF COURSE spot 908 is at the VERY END of the row, farthest from the office, so off I go, dragging my one-wheeled suitcase, briefcase, purse, still un-touched bottle of water, etc. and when I get there (I really wish I'd taken a picture of this for you) the car is blocked in on all four sides. So I walk, lugging limping luggage, all the way back to the office, where a guy sprints out to get the car. The car pulls up, he loads everything in for me, and off I go. Now, part of why this car costs so ungodly much is because I reserved one with the navigation system (which costs $10/day extra.) What I didn't know is that the driver isn't allowed to use the "never lost" while the car is in motion. So, I'm pulling out of the lot into a strange city and mass of highways and bridges and exits (and the shortest merge lanes I have ever seen) and my navigation system will tell me nothing except for where I am. I follow the signs for Independence Hall and actually find it. I drive for 20 more minutes and find cheap parking at a meter. Praise be.

I walk the 5 or so blocks and get directions from a very cute National Parks guy (they're all cute) to the Independence Visitor Center where I can get a timed ticket. I go down there, get my ticket, and within, no lie, 2 minutes of looking around in that museum their fire alarms go off and they evacuate the building. So I cross the street to the Liberty Bell, go through another security check, and explore the little museum. There's not a lot to it. It's a bell. It's cracked. It has the same security procedures as an airport. Except you can have lip gloss.

By this point I'm starving and my ticket says 11:00 and my blackberry says 9:15, so I go back to where I parked my car to a little diner for breakfast. I eat, feed more quarters into my meter, and cross the street to see Carpenter's Hall. Dscn3866When I was a kid I thought I'd just die if my father dragged me through one more historic building. But I've been infected evidently, because I really love them. I love the hardware, the rippled glass, and I am a total sucker for weathervanes.


I wander, stroll, amble, the 3 blocks or so to Independence Hall where I endure yet another security check (and the toughest of the three - I had to take off my sweater for this one) and get in line. The park ranger is asking for everyone with 11:40 tickets to come to the front. I go to the front and show her my 11:00 ticket. She says I've missed my tour. Huh? It's a quarter to 11:00 according to the blackberry - the blackberry that doesn't magically change the time when you enter a different time zone. GAAAH! She got me into the next tour anyway, and I finally got to see the room where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed. Dscn3886 It's pretty cool, especially if you've seen "1776" about 20 times.

From here I wandered down to Ben Franklin's gravesite. It's a beautiful little cemetery if you like them, which I do.


See the pennies on Frankin's grave? Cool.

From there it was a short walk to Betsy Ross's house.


See the pennies on Betsy's grave? .... ??? Huh?

OK, that was enough americana for a day. Off to the yarn stores! A trip of a few blocks took me 1/2 an hour and cost $3. How? Well, see, that's another thing about this "never lost." Sometimes it has a little trouble finding the satellites. I kinda knew what direction to head in, so before it kicked in I started off, and ended up on a street that turns into an on-ramp for a highway that ends up at a bridge that goes to New Jersey. Yes, say it with me: On a trip to New Jersey I accidentally drove to New Jersey. Trying to get back to Philly sounded like me laughing alternated with cursing and the "never lost" saying, "Please return to the highlighted route. Please return to the highlighted route." (If you're really tired and really fed up you can sing "follow the highlighted route" to the tune of "follow the yellow brick road" and spend your time in a toll booth line coming up with more lyrics.) I was hoping to avoid the toll, but it had to be paid, and $3 got me back into Pennsylvania. If I hadn't been heading for yarn I might have just stayed in NJ and gone straight to the hotel - but at this point it's only 1:00 in the afternoon. When I travel I have to see all I can, so I couldn't stop yet.


Both stores were lovely and had stuff that I can't get at home. I didn't buy much, just a couple things. The guy at Loop was yummy, but was he yummy enough for me to blush so much? My face felt so hot. Even after sitting while he wound my Koigu my face still felt flushed. Yep, I'm probably getting sick. Great. Something is definitely up, because I pulled out the entrelac scarf to work on (I admit it, I'm proud of it and was hoping someone would notice it - and they did!) and I'm sitting there, fingertips pressed to my lips, looking from the scarf to the pattern to the scarf to the pattern and come to the horrifying realization that I DON'T REMEMBER HOW to do it anymore. Something is wacky because where I think I am in the pattern just doesn't work. I blame the fever.

Dscn3927One place I wanted to go that I found in Mom's guidebook was a Japanese House and Garden, and this is when the navigation system is essential. I never could have followed a map and driven in that traffic. I got there and ... it was locked. I read the sign. It says they should be open until 5. It's only 3:15. (Really, it is. I fixed the blackberry by this point.) I read the sign again. It says they're open May to October 31st. I missed it by 5 days. I walked around the outside of the fence, gazed at the pretty leaves and listened to the fountain I couldn't see, looked at the house I couldn't enter and the perfect evening light for the pictures I couldn't take. And decided to go to the hotel. I'd had enough. I got in, fired up the "never lost" and it led me to:

Dscn3931I guess the "never lost" doesn't know that they close that exit when the garden is closed.

Turns out my hotel is only 18 miles or so away, and I get there pretty quickly. I check in without problems and ask the clerk which entrance is closest to my room and he tells me the one at the far end. So I park down there, drag the suitcase and its entourage behind me and realize, as I'm walking in, that the elevator is NOT close to this entrance and proceed to drag all my stuff up the stairs and down the hall to where, it turns out, my room is only 3 doors from the elevator.

So, now do you see why I'm binge-ing? I had some yummy chinese food from a grocery store food bar, have a gallon of orange juice in the fridge, Anthony Bordain is on TV, there's lots of cheesecake left, and it's not even 8:00 yet. Things are looking up. Except for that part where the woman I'm supposed to be meeting at 7 am at a prison 1 1/2 hours away hasn't indicated to me in any way that she's going to actually BE THERE. I may need more cheesecake.

(I apologize for the lack of links and the pictures that may not be formatted correctly. I really need to watch Anthony and eat fats and carbs now.)

(And the whole moving between past and present and some omniscient tense? That's why this knit blogger isn't getting a book deal.)

One Row Forward, Two Rows Back

Kiri_1Kiri is kicking my arse. Yeah, that's another bad RZR picture, but it doesn't matter because it's all been frogged and shoved back in its project bag for a good long time-out. After the first 6 rows or so, every time I finished a row I'd count the stitches and they were fine. Then I'd do the purl back row, still fine. Then I'd do the next pattern row and I had the wrong number of stitches. So I'd tink it back. Still the wrong number, so I'd tink back the purl row. Then I found what was wrong, usually an extra or missing YO, then I'd go again. And everything would be fine until I started the NEXT row, and we'd do our little mohair dance to the tune of some seriously dark muttering. I got through 8 rows in 2 hours. These are teeny tiny 20 - 40 stitch rows. These are bad, bad rows. So I frogged it and now it better be contemplating if it wants to grow up to be a very pretty shawl or if it would rather stay sealed in a plastic bag until I die and it ends up at Goodwill. I think the idea of squeaky 1970's yarns made from petroleum products sharing its shelf might be enough to get it to behave. (It turned its nose up at Knitpicks yarn already, and that's natural fibers. Rowan KSH is so stuck up.) I'm seriously considering stringing through a lifeline EVERY row. OK, maybe every other row. But I've got a whole thing of pink embroidery floss getting to know it in the bag. I hope they'll be friends.

On the travel front, this Spinster is going to brave the NJ transit system and visit NYC on Thursday night to check out Purl and The Point. Rebecca at The Point was very sweet and sent me directions. How can I not buy something now? I'm secretly hoping for a Thumper sighting. Famous bloggers, NYC, and 16 prisons all in one trip? Be still my heart.

Can't Wear Khaki

No pics, but be assured that the Cabled Coat now has two sleeves and is awaiting blocking. After that, the hood gets knitted on, then that gets blocked. Then the ribbing/button band and then... sewing it together. THEN it will be done. I might block it this weekend, but I'm only home on Saturday, so we'll have to see.

I have an ungodly early flight on Sunday to New Jersey. It's a work trip, but the early flight gives me a day in Philadelphia, where I plan to see Loop, Rosie's Yarn Cellar, Independence Hall, and maybe an archeology museum at one of the campuses if I can find out where exactly it is. You notice, I'm sure, that I listed yarn stores first. If you, by chance, live in New Jersey and can recommend any stores in Trenton, Newark, or really anywhere near a prison, please let me know. Yes, near prisons. I get to visit every single prison in the state of New Jersey next week. All 16 or so of them. Why? I'm making sure that there are computers, network jacks and outlets where they should be for a software package my company is rolling out. Silly? Oh, yeah. This whole trip is on the sayso of a couple of developers who were there and think that everything might not be as it should. But they didn't actually WRITE IT DOWN or anything, so they're sending me, a woman with both a B.A and a B.S., to make sure there are electrical outlets where they want them. Even I think I'm a little overqualified for this gig, but heck, I'm getting airmiles. So, my days will be pretty packed with walking through riot gates and scribbling on my clip board and driving and paying tolls and such, but if you know of any can't miss stores, preferably with evening hours, let me know.

After checking out what yarn stores are in the vicinity, the next logical step in planning a business trip is to decide what knitting projects to pack. The baby sweater isn't coming because none of the remaining stages sound fun while traveling, so I get to bring something else. This week I've been working feverishly on Clapotis II, but I don't think I'll have it finished in time to wear, and it's too big to bring. Sooooo, what else to do but start something new! I'm going to start Kiri this week, ensuring that I can get it started and into the pattern without confusion, and I'll take that along with the Red Scarf just in case I do run into trouble. I've wanted to do Kiri for a long time. I got the yarn from Knitorious after their big move, the last three balls in the bronzey color of KSH, and it's been calling to me like you wouldn't believe. Well, YOU would.

So, I'll try to post some pics before Sunday, but no promises. Friday I'm checking out the local Weavers Guild Sale which I've never been to. Doing anything with Anna and Robyn is fun, so this should be a blast. Saturday will be spent shopping for clothes that are not khakis, which is most of my work wardrobe and also what the inmates wear, so new work clothes are necessary. Dammit. But hey, now you can say you know someone who had to shop for new clothes because she didn't want to get shot leaving a prison. And you thought your friends were dull.