Wednesday, April 26, 2006

our new rug

Harry presents his new rug. The wool is from a local Kentucky farmer, a Romney/mixed breed wool, made into roving by Stonehedge Fiber Mills in Michigan. It's crocheted with a humogous crochet hook handmade by Turn of the Century . Despite the large size of the hook (mine looks like the light colored Ash one, second from the bottom) it fit in my hand very nicely and made the work a pleasure. The rubber backing I painted on the bottom really does keep it from sliding, and this rug feels incredible under your bare feet!

In other news, I solved my iPod problem myself! Recently I got a new fancy laser printer. It attaches to the computer via USB port. I unplugged the printer, and all of a sudden, the PC finally recognized my iPod. I think maybe the fancy dancy printer was sucking all the juice out, so it was hard to get another device to work at the same time. That's my theory. It worked. Hurray! I have two audiobooks and a lot of music ready for my trip to D.C. Now I just need to get the knitting projects ready and I know the trip will be easier.

This rug really did get complete approval in our household. I'll leave you with Sally's big smile:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

iPod stole rug

First, I should describe a study I read once. It listed various countries and how those people dealt with computer problems. A high percentage of Italians apparently just stomped on their computers. That's right, hit, punched or otherwise destroyed their CPUs. (OK, I don't remember exactly how they destroyed them, but you've got the point.) I know how those Italians feel.

I have a PC. It works well. I got an iPod in January for my birthday. My kind husband said, gee, you're trapped in your office listening to books on CD while you knit up samples and designs for work. Wouldn't it be great if you had an iPod? So, he not only bought me an iPod nano (just right for a book or two and some tunes) and he got it engraved. It says:
Joanne Seiff's iPod
Love Jeff Harry & Sally
That's one great hubby. For a few months I was happy. I walked around downtown looking just like all the college kids. I was plugged in. Then...I started having software problems. The iTunes wouldn't recognize the iPod. I couldn't get the thing to upload new books. I was without my beloved knitting Podcasts. I managed to fix it one time. It worked. I felt reassured. I uploaded 17 CD's worth of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince into iTunes. I was so excited. Then, it wouldn't work. I tried everything. I have been through the whole darn Apple support website. Finally, I got ahold of a computer place in town that helps with iPods. The guy said--send it back, it's brand new, this shouldn't happen. I did that. I got it back-no replacement. Apparently it meets Apple's specifications for acceptable performance, usability and/or functionality. Now the thing is completely dead. On Monday, I'm going back to the computer store to ask for help.

I've wasted 3 days on this. (full days, in which I could not really focus on other work, because I was constantly restarting the computer in hopes I would have found the "cure.") This was a present from my spouse. It must work. Dang it. The best part was when it said, repeatedly, that the computer "can't mount iPod." Whoa, that gave me images I didn't appreciate.

On to positive things. This is my stole.

It's knit out of lovely mohair boucle from here. I really loved knitting this because it was straight garter stitch. That's right. Soothed my brain-dead, software deranged soul, it did. Here's a bigger image of the thing:

It's probably about 55 inches long and well, pretty wide. Don't know how wide exactly... I made up the pattern. I knit it on size 7mm (10 and three/fourths) and size 17 needles. It went very fast and looks like a slightly curly spider's web. I'm going to wear it to my brother's wedding next weekend. I didn't block it--it did not seem necessary.

In the world of big needled projects, I have also finished my crocheted roving rug. I decided I was done because it got too hot to work on it anymore. (the roving is sure warm on your lap while crocheting.) I found some neat rubberized backing stuff that can be painted on to keep it from slipping. Here's what the backside looks like after its first coat.

I promise, I'll show you a photo of what the right side looks like, as soon as this stuff dries... this is a roundish oval shape, probably 4 and a half feet long at its longest diameter. Maybe bigger. I wanted a bigger rug, but like I said, it just got too hot in the living room to keep crocheting! I probably used up 3-4 lbs of wool on this, but I'm not sorry. I think it will be a great addition to the living room...and it didn't cost much, and it's washable. That's a good thing with two dogs.

I'll spare you the image, but I've reseeded the backyard with grass seed and then covered it with a bale of straw. Furry Harry now wears a lovely straw coiffure whenever he spends time in the yard. That's all right, it's certainly cut down on the mud inside--it's just straw now. adds a lovely aroma when he brings it indoors. Hah. I just need the grass to grow!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thank you for commiserating!

Oh, thank you, all you kind blog commenters. You made me feel so much better. In fact, I feel downright good that I was so grown up about this weird incident. We've brainstormed a bit and will get some hay or straw or whatever to help the new grass seed grow in our dirt yard. We've also discussed buying some neat kind of tree or bush or whatever to start filling in that unslightly space where the greenery was. Some of it was just broken, and will grow back.

I'm especially glad to say that my little bleeding heart did not get crushed and is sitting happily in its dappled shade, waiting until its time to bloom. This is a picture of a really gorgeous bleeding heart, someday mine will be like that! (barring unforeseen events with
tree service companies, of course.)
Passover is over tonight and I'm really looking forward to eating pizza as my celebratory 'bread' dinner...we're going out with friends. In other miscellany, I'm working a lovely lacy garter stitch black mohair boucle stole, made out of yarn bought at Cushendale Woollen Mills in Graig-na-managh, Co. Kilkenny, Ireland. This is the place that produces the Black Water Abbey Yarns, too. I'll post photos of the stole when it is done. I've also acquired an enormous amount of yarn for me, enough for 5 pairs of summer cotton socks, and ribbon-like yarn for two summer vests. All this said, I've only been knitting for perhaps an hour a night. I've been devilishly busy with work these days...this earning money thing, acch, it takes a lot of time, even when you enjoy what you do!

Faylene is right, however, this is no excuse for not visiting everyone's blogs and posting up everyone's blogs on my own, and keeping up with everyone else's news. If I haven't posted your blog here and you regularly read mine, please let me know so I can fix that. I've been a bit flakey in figuring out all that. Go ahead, give me a little push...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


When we left town on Wednesday, we went to my parents' house for the first two nights of Passover. We had quality time seeing friends and family and came home about 3 on Friday afternoon. After driving the 70 miles from the Nashville airport, we went straight to the vet's office to pick up our dog guys Harry and Sally, who had to boarded there while we were away. This is all the preamble...we get home. I am ready to let the dogs off their leashes into the backyard when my husband says..wait. Look at this:

Now, I should say, we have two young bird dogs, they tear up the grass. There was a drought last year, so we didn't have great grass to begin with--and, I'm married to a biologist and I'm an "organic everything" freak so we weren't about to put turf down or chemicals into the ground. My husband spread grass seed before we left home. It didn't look like this. Then we saw the fence.

Since I've already mentioned the dogs about a billion times, you know we wouldn't have a holey fence that allowed for easy escapes. It was old, but it was definitely intact when we left home. We got closer.

Dang, we said. I think I actually had my mouth wide open. First, we tried to go talk to the neighbor in that white house. She wasn't home, and I was getting upset. It looked, we thought, like someone, a tree service? had taken down a tree in her yard by bringing heavy equipment into our yard. They tore up the grass something fierce. They cut back some of our bushes and trees. The fence was shot. Harry and Sally just wanted to run around in their yard, but we couldn't let them.

I called the police. While I waited for the police to come (backyard trespassing and fence destruction isn't an emergency, it took 45 minutes) I dawdled in the front yard with two very hyper dogs on leashes. I got to talking to two neighbors. One told me there had been a tree service in my yard (didn't I give permission?) early Friday morning. The other named the tree service. They had the chipper right up in front of the house.

The police officer was young and kind. He asked about the neighbor and explained the only one really liable was the tree service, they could be charged with criminal mischief and trespassing, but that was it. On his way to chat with the neighbor (conveniently not home) we saw a tree service truck go by. The police man had a little phone conversation with the owner of the tree service and left us his card. We were stuck with the mess. We waited and hoped the tree service guys would show up.

By 7 pm, I had Shabbat dinner on the dining room table. That's when the tree service folks came back, children and wives in tow, to fix things up. It was getting dark. The neighbor magically appeared at her back door, but we couldn't talk to her then...and she still thought everything was ok! The fence was patched, poorly, and the owner gave my husband some money to replace the ruined bird feeder and so that he could finish up fixing the fence in the morning. We tried to finish our dinner after they left, but sometimes, well, dinner tastes like dirt when you're upset.

On Saturday morning, I finally spoke to the neighbor, she's an older widow. She told me that she'd called the tree service guys on Thursday and they came on Friday. We were away so she couldn't ask permission. (WHAT??) I nearly said that. I said, gee, I work from home and I'm always there. We were away for two days. You didn't even leave a note. The tree service guys told us that they thought she'd asked our permission, they seemed pretty shocked too. She said it was an old fence and that my husband had done a bad job fixing it; the screws came through her side and were dangerous. I said I was sorry, but we hadn't wanted to trespass on her property to check that, but if we'd known, we would have fixed it. She said, "the tree service people came back, didn't they? They fixed everything anyway." I said, "Yeah, after we called the police." She looked marginally chastened then. I explained our side of things and she offered a grudging apology.

My incredibly generous husband went over to her house later with his tools, to ask her if he could fix any of the pointy bits that were left on her side. She said, "oh, no, the tree service guys fixed that. As far as I'm concerned, everything is resolved now."

In truth, everything that could be resolved quickly was...except for feeling like we were invaded. I now understand why people get so angry about trespassing. I look out on that bare dirt yard every day from my office window. It'll be a long time before it grows in. The greenery that hid our house from that neighbor's is gone now. What I can't get over, what irks me most, is that our neighbor waited until we were out of town to do this, and she didn't ask our permission. If we'd been home, we could have protected our yard from this level of destruction. It's almost like we're getting punished for going away to have a nice holiday with family. That's what it feels like, even if it wasn't anyone's intention.

It's especially bad because this is the time of year when I love to sit in my backyard, in the private sunny cool greenness, and spin and knit. Parts of the yard are still beautiful though, especially at night.

It's hard sometimes to forgive someone else their trespasses, isn't it?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

undercover royalty

I should start out by saying I'm generally a restrained sort in terms of wardrobe. Yes, I like some big earrings but I'm not very flamboyant. (OK, in Bowling Green, Kentucky, I look artsy, but no one would notice in a city!) However, I have a soft spot for whimsical hats, so when I was asked to design a crown, I got a little excited. It is all shiny and glittery, because of the shell buttons I used, and it is oddly reminiscent of the Burger King crowns I loved to wear when I was little...but in a natural fiber sort of way. However, since
even royalty likes to go undercover sometimes, you can unbutton the crown points and there is a nice hat underneath. (Btw, I'm only showing my own image so often here because I can't find anyone else to model. Harry and Sally's ears get in the way.) So, here's the crown, available, in advance of the deadline, to those who want to knit up a little whimsy and become knitting royalty. You can purchase the knitting pattern HERE.

Now, you may remember about my little office chair incident a few posts back. In case you were worried, I've healed up just fine and Sally stopped laughing eventually. Well, I've gotten a freelance job or two and felt flush the other day, just when we happened to be walking by a few great pieces of funky re-upholstered furniture that were at a sidewalk sale. This is a hobby for the guy who does the upholstery, and he recovered an office chair with lovely brocaded flowers. Since I'm really undercover royalty, (Hah!) here is the new $36 throne. I love it. It makes me smile whenever I go into my office.

Friday, April 07, 2006

busy busy

I've been so busy that I kept saying, I'll just wait for one more photo, one more thing...before blogging again. Shame on me, so much has been going on I can barely keep up. First, things are growing and it's exciting. This here is a flat of cukes and canteloupes, but we've got herbs and tomatoes and even eggplant and peppers all making beautiful little seedlings. I'm excited about my garden this year!

OK, turn your head to the side, I can't figure out how to rotate this thing! Yup, those are the little plant darlings. Oops.

I'm also getting ready for Passover. That entails a lot of cleaning, a flight to visit family on the East Coast for the first two seder nights, and ...a couple of work details. The joy of working for yourself is that when you want to talk about, and work on, things related to your religious tradition, there is no one to censor you or get upset at you. Hurray! (I used to have such a hard time explaining why I had to take one day off to prepare things for Passover...even when I was having a seder for 12 (2 nights in a row. Now, thank goodness, I don't have to explain myself to a boss.) So, I've come up with a new, improved kipah pattern that is available on my website, since the Interweave Knits pattern is in a magazine that is out of print. That could also be called yamulkah (that's Yiddish, kippah's in Hebrew.) The English version would be skullcap, I guess. Here's a photo--hop over to my website if you want to make your own! Passover preparations also include things like cleaning the house and getting rid of all the flour, yeast, bread, etc. It's a lot of work and changing of dishes. This is

work anywhere, but in Kentucky, it requires some extra effort to find what you need to observe the holiday. According to a recent NY Times article, there are over 5,000 Kosher for Passover products available. In Bowling Green, KY? Hah. Try one store in town, which now stocks some of the basic things like, uhh, matzah. Want anything else? Drive to Nashville 70 miles away. Ask your family to buy it for you. Do without. So, I wrote a Letter from Kentucky about Passover. It's in the April 7th hard copy issue of the NYC Jewish Week -the link to the article is here. I'm trying to educate all those lucky big city Jews about what's it's like to live here as a Jew...this is pretty edited down from what I submitted, but that's ok. This is a series--there will be some upcoming letters on things like church and state issues, etc.

Now, lest you think that this is all I am doing, here are some other things of note:
I have an essay coming out in the May 2006 issue of Belle Armoire about button collecting. I'm finishing up a design for the July issue of Magknits. I've just submitted a sexy little camisole design to Knit Picks for the summer time, and I'm hoping to sign a contract soon to work on an article for another big knitting magazine! I'm a busy gyrrl! Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the Raleigh News and Observer newspaper is running a feature on crowns for Mother's Day. I've designed this:
for the N& O crowd. This is a knitting pattern for a whimsical crown hat with removable yellow crown points (note the buttons) for when the Queen wants to go undercover! This is going to be available on my website soon, I promise. I've also snagged another freelance job locally, doing some work with the Western Kentucky University dept. of Curriculum & Instruction. It's all about promoting education and educational research--something I really believe in, as a former inner-city teacher. I'm looking forward to that, too.

Spring time is hard work for dogs--all those squirrels, garter snakes and bugs to catch and holes to dig-- so I'll leave you with one last image of my guys, Harry and Sally, hard at work. Yup, this is what we do all day around here. This is what it looks like, working from home. We bark a lot. We chase things. We dig holes. Best of all--We sleep.