February 28, 2014

Yarn Porn, continued


It turns out that I have fewer truly lascivious yarn photos than I hoped;  it’s the fault of the frelling light.  Outdoor light is fine.  Frelling frelling frelling fluorescent light is never fine and while my brain- and finger-numbingly over-specified camera probably has a fluorescent light setting it takes about twenty seconds every time you want to reset anything due to the profligate nature of both the available menus and the items on the menus, and the menus of each individual item, all of them shrouded in impenetrable and unguessable icons which you need to be at home reading the CD on your computer to decipher because of course the paper instructions that you might keep in your knapsack are a feeble pamphlet with a lot of white space that tells you how to insert the battery and turn the thing on and then suggests you read the CD.*  So there you are at a fabulous yarn show scowling at the lighting, which is a diabolical, and unpredictable, mixture of fluorescent and outdoor and even if I could find the Nasty Glaring Indoor Light button on my camera it wouldn’t be the right answer either.  So, for example, although I took photos of all of these, I can’t show you the amazing knitted layer cake complete with (knitted) candles—knitted lit knitted candles—that a local knitting society had made for their own 35th anniversary.  Nor can I show you the astonishing crochet blankets the Natural Dye Studio** had hanging on their walls, or Tilly Flop Designs’*** silly greeting cards or Injabulo’s† gorgeous buttons.  Or a number more knitted shawls††, speaking of shawls.

But we’ll do what we can.

Get.  Me.  Out.  Of.  This.  Thing.

Get. Me. Out. Of. This. Thing.

This is not a good photo, and the original photo probably wasn’t all that great before they blew it up, framed it and put glass over it.  But it’s totally worthwhile because the look on this dog’s face is priceless.††† 






I had promised Fiona to fondle every skein of pink, purple or pink-purple yarn I saw.  I was quite a while at this booth.

I love Eden Cottage yarn.  I can't afford it, but I love it.

I love Eden Cottage yarn. I can’t afford it, but I love it.

They’re one of the many little indie producers out there.  But not only is their yarn seriously smoosh-worthy but they’re nice.

I think you need to be a laird or a laird's wife or husband to get away with this.

I think you need to be a laird or a laird’s wife or husband to get away with this.

I actually looked at the pattern—being GOH at Boskone might do as a laird-substitute—and fell on the floor laughing.  Um.  No.

SPARKLY yaaaaaaaaaarn

SPARKLY yaaaaaaaaaarn


Definitely GOH garb.  Sigh.

Definitely GOH garb. Sigh.



Wild yarn.  Golly.

Wild yarn. Golly.




There.  You don’t feel cheated or short-changed do you?

* * *

* You might think that there might be a short cut menu for the stuff that ORDINARY people use and adjust the most often, but clearly this camera was not made for ordinary people.

** http://www.thenaturaldyestudio.com/  Hint:  they sell the patterns.  I already knew I have to learn to crochet some time because there are a lot of crochet roses out there.  But I may have to crochet a blanket.

*** http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/tillyflopdesigns  Keep Calm and Finish It for Next Christmas.  There was also one at the show I don’t see on her Etsy page, which goes, more or less:  I told you I’d have it done for your birthday, but I didn’t tell you which birthday


†† http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/stars-in-the-sky for example.  None of these photos BEGINS to do it justice.  And I have about as much chance of knitting it as I do the Unnamed Item with Roses from the first Yarn Porn instalment.  A girl can drool.

††† I am reminded of Sarahallegra’s Calantha in her bunny ears.  Oh, this is http://www.redhoundfordogs.com/  Clearly they are a good place by the high percentage of sighthounds.

. . . I’m leaving you to look up any more web sites.  I think the labels on the rest of the photos are legible.  Anything you’re dying for that doesn’t have a visible label, post to the forum, I can probably figure it out.


We interrupt (again) . . .



SUNLIGHT!*  WE HAD SUNLIGHT TODAY!!**  I admit there have been random sightings lately, including this weekend, but today it was SUNNY when I crawled out of bed, it was SUNNY when I let Pav out in the little back courtyard to relieve any overnight build-up of pressure***, it was SUNNY when I ran outdoors with my camera because of course it would rain later, it was SUNNY when I hurtled first one and then the other shift and it was SUNNY when I went out yea verily a third time to buy a newspaper.  I admit it did start raining just as I’d got my gardening kit on and had my hand on the kitchen door to go outside . . . but I went anyway.  I just spent longer in the greenhouse (muttering) than I’d planned.


Double primroses.  They look like tiny roses.  Sue me.

Double primroses. They look like tiny roses. Sue me.


PINK tiny double (prim)roses.

PINK tiny double (prim)roses.


I adore hellebores and they do really well in this area.  I could have had a hellebore-only post.

I adore hellebores and they do really well in this area. I could have had a hellebore-only post.


P1060063 crop

Have I mentioned how much WordPress hates me?  Even with Blogmom’s templates to take the risk out I STILL can’t hang photos.  Okay, late breaking caption:  This particular clump of double whites are trying to take over the universe.  Go for it.  —And I have no idea where the italic came from.

This goofy abutilon has been flowering ALL WINTER.  It shouldn't.  But it is.  I've just given it a very good spring feed.

This goofy abutilon has been flowering ALL WINTER. It shouldn’t. But it is. I’ve just given it a very good spring feed.


Single maroon-purple hellebore.  They're all beautiful.

Single fawn-maroon-purple hellebore. They’re all beautiful.


P1060196 crop

Speckly hellebore. ::Happy sigh::

 And WHY did THIS caption become DETACHED from its photo??  No, no, don’t tell me, I’m not strong enough, it’s been a long winter.

First camellia.  Jingle Bells, as usual.  Terrific camellia, healthy, prolific and trouble free however badly I treat her.  Pity about the flowers. . . .

First camellia. Jingle Bells, as usual. Terrific camellia, healthy, prolific and trouble free however badly I treat her. Pity about the flowers. . . .



How to have a REALLY bad hair day.  Spend a few hours in the garden.  Especially if it's a garden full of evil roses and low-hanging apple tree branches.

How to have a REALLY bad hair day. Spend a few hours in the garden. Especially if it’s a garden full of evil roses and low-hanging apple tree branches.

* * *

* Crocuses will only open in sunlight.  So if you think you’re hallucinating . . . check your crocuses.

** I was so demented with joy and daylight that I moved a bumblebee by PICKING HER UP IN MY FINGERS.  I’ve seen one or two recently and am glad they haven’t all drowned.  But this one was snuggled up between the kitchen doorframe and the sill and the hellpack would get her if I didn’t tread on her and I was thinking that she was probably liking the warmth of the house so without thinking at all I picked her up and put her behind the plant pots on the kitchen window shelf.  It didn’t occur to me what I was doing till she started buzzing.  EEEEEP.  I may have put her down somewhat hastily.  But she was slow and sleepy with winter and it’s easy to be STUPID because bumblebees are, you know, fuzzy and cute.

*** She is now old enough to have the control to decide not to relieve pressure till she goes on her first hurtle later.  Yaay.  I don’t know if this is the tiny size of the space available or what;  the hellhounds stopped using the back garden too, except when things were very bad, although it took them longer, being boys, about two years.  But this is the first time I’ve had dogs with a small enclosed garden and don’t know if this is common behaviour or not.  But it’s very nice not to have a patio latrine that needs disinfecting, especially with spring and summer and sitting-outdoors thoughts in prospect.  Not that I’m very good at sitting outdoors but the thought counts for something.

Yarn Porn, Part One



No, no, said Nina, I’ve only just got here myself; I misread the bus   schedule and. . . .     TO BE CONTINUED.

A certain renowned author and GOH at 2015 Boskone is getting entirely too fond of cliffhangers!

Snork.  It wasn’t meant to be a cliffhanger.  It was ‘okay, that’s 1000 words, I can get at least a second post out of all the photos, YAAAAAAAY.’  No, I found my way out of the car park without happening across more than one or two bottomless ravines and/or person-eating tigers . . . and having stood at a total loss on the pavement outside the exit for about thirty seconds while the traffic swirled by* the very first passing pedestrian I applied to pointed over his shoulder and said, your Ancient Building—and your yarn show—is that way.

And it was.  And Nina was waiting in the entrance.**  And we spent the next three hours in a daze of colour, texture and naked desire.***

The Welcome Pigeon.  And it doesn't eat your seedlings or crap on your windscreen.

The Welcome Pigeon. And it doesn’t eat your seedlings or crap on your windscreen.



SOME DAY I am going to buy one of those amazingly long skeins of laceweight and knit a shawl on big needles so it's all, you know, lacy, without having to learn a frelling lace pattern.  But not today.

SOME DAY I am going to buy one of those amazingly long skeins of laceweight and knit a shawl on big needles so it’s all, you know, lacy, without having to learn a frelling lace pattern. But not today.

And it won’t be nearly as droolworthy as any of these.  But it’ll be a shawl.




TO BE CONTINUED.  Again.  Hey, it worked last time. . . . †

* * *

* And I’m sure I saw that stricken look of No!  Not Sainsbury’s again! on several of the drivers’ faces

** Having had a slightly fascinating time watching all the painstakingly handmade knitwear marching through the doorway.  This reminds me more than a trifle of costuming at cons.  The majority of it is pretty fabulous and you think if all that love, care, creativity and skill could be more widely applied we’d have the world’s problems sorted instanter.  Unfortunately there tend to be governments and special-interest groups in the way.

And then there’s a little of it that, ahem, isn’t fabulous.  At least not on this planet.   There were a few items in this category at the yarn show.

*** Well, I did.  Nina is made of sterner stuff, although she admitted she began to feel a trifle overwhelmed.  But she came for a project and she found a project, and she bought a pattern and took advice about suitable yarn and bought that AND THAT’S ALL SHE BOUGHT.  Gaaaaaaah.  I bought an ENTIRELY UNSUITABLE VERY LARGE BOOK OF PATTERNS for the extremely pathetic reason that I fell wildly, hopelessly in love with one of the knitted-up samples.  I have about as much chance of knitting the freller^ for myself as I do of riding dressage in the next Olympics—in fact I have a better chance at the Olympics—but maybe I can turn the book into a coffee table.  It’s big enough.^^

Now most of this is just my embarrassing lack of self-control.  But it’s also because the stall-holders were nice.  I could imagine ringing them up and saying WHAT DO I DO NOW?  I can even imagine them answering.^^^  Most of the stall-holders made a point of saying that they were happy to take phone calls and offer advice, and pressed their business cards on you, and most of these are small independents producing their own yarn and/or their own patterns.   Although there were a few franchises there, they were friendly too.  Knitting seems to be a pretty welcoming world.

However there was one stall where I would certainly have bought one and probably two patterns, both of which were really interesting and looked more clever than complicated . . . but a little complicated.  And I looked at the proprietors and thought, well, no, I can’t imagine ringing these people up and asking for advice.#  So I didn’t buy the patterns.  Sigh.  Not like I don’t have 467,912 patterns already.

^ No I’m not telling you what it is.  It’s an item of clothing and it has roses on it.

^^ Speaking of large books full of gorgeous patterns I have no hope of knitting:  http://americanmuseum.org/2013/09/the-colourful-world-of-kaffe-fassett-22-march-to-2-november-2014/

I even have a Kaffe Fassett book from another, similar occasion of tragic longing.  It’s an art book, okay?  Never mind those pattern instructions in the back.

^^^ The likelihood of my being able to follow their instructions however. . . .

# Nina, by the way, in her calm, clear, rational manner, had the same reaction to them that I did.  So it’s not just me being the raging loony faction.  She also liked the patterns.  Maybe I’ll buy one on line and ask Fiona to help me.

†  I’ve also just spent fifteen minutes frelling arguing with this laptop, which may be moving toward retirement^, about posting that last photo, which it insisted was Fully Occupied Having Illicit Relations with Another Programme.  IT FRELLING ISN’T YOU FRELLING FRELLING.  I don’t want to do that any more tonight and I have no idea what it might have in mind for my next attempt at loading a photo.  The yarn porn is obviously disturbing its moral and professional values.

^ I can’t AFFORD a new computer!  I need to BUY MORE YARN!!


Behind the headlines it was an exciting weekend


So there’s this major yarn and stuff to do with it, stuff to do it with and accessories like buttons and ribbons show that is not so far from here I can’t toy with the idea of going to it . . . especially if Fiona was driving.

But this is now the second year that Fiona has declined to go on the flimsy grounds that she had to WORK that weekend.*  And I was feeling obstinate and cantankerous.  And I happened to mention that there was going to be a fabulous yarn show with lots of STUFF to Nina, who said, oh, that sounds like fun.  I’ll come.

Now Nina, once you bash past her British self-deprecation, is good at kind of a lot of stuff;  she plays the violin, she cooks, she gardens, she sews, she embroiders, she does long-distance bicycling, and her end of the charity she works for runs very well.  But I didn’t know she knitted.

I used to, she said.  But a friend has started me crocheting, and I’ve been thinking about picking up knitting again.  What I need is a project to inspire me.

So we arranged to meet at the venue, which is one of these Ancient Buildings Repurposed, and half the experience is about going the wrong way through the wrong end of the wrong aggregation of corridors and small crooked well-raftered rooms, and seeing the proud civic collection of sealing-wax stamps and the sepia photos of Prince Edward at the opening of the new railroad in 1887, but failing to find what you were looking for. 

Which was a lot like my experience of getting there at all.

There was actual sunlight [sic] that morning [sic] and I set off in a hopeful and positive manner/deeply guilty that I wasn’t staying home and working in the garden**, and about the first third of the way is pretty familiar and the last two-thirds used to be pretty familiar before age, decrepitude and ME set in.  I had my Google map print-out taped to the dashboard and just before the stoplight where I was going to have to turn off the modern roads, built for fast-moving fossil-fuel-propelled vehicles, and into the frelling medieval frelling maze . . . they changed the road layout.  AAAAAAAAAUGH.***

So I made one of those hasty decisions, the way you do at fifty miles an hour with lorries the size of WWII blockhouses bearing down on you, and shot off toward the centre of town a lot sooner than I meant to and I was now in the wrong end of town† without a clue how to get to the right end.  Whimper.

I think I saw the small town-centre Sainsburys six times as the one-way system kept chewing me up and spitting me out and I kept stubbornly turning around and coming back for more pinballing, ka-chung, ka-chung!  There was ONE sign for the dratblasted yarn show with one of those ambiguous directional arrows that could have meant anything including finding a flagpole to climb and looking around from the top of it;  and one overhead banner stretched from one side of the (narrow medieval) street to the other proclaiming the existence of the yarn show but failing to say anything about where to find it.  Some of the surrounding melee was, in fact, on my Google map, but Google does not feel the need to include any street names but the ones immediately relevant to your journey.  Haven’t these people ever driven anywhere?††  Have they no sense of the clue, the hint, the landmark, the burning need for the adjacent street sign?†††

By the time I got to a car park somewhere near the centre of town, feeling that if I couldn’t find the yarn show I could at least go to Sainsburys and bury my sorrows in chocolate, which said car park would actually let me in rather than telling me that the apparent gate-like aperture with a clear view of parked cars beyond it was nothing of the kind and I had to enter by another gate-like aperture that a car could not, in fact, approach on account of the cemented-in bollards in the way . . . the car park was full of cars driven by people who had sacrificed virgin black goats to the appropriate gods earlier in the day.

But—!  There was a brief lapse in the forces of anarchy and bedlam!  THERE WAS A PARKING SPACE!!!!  I hurtled into it, had only just bought my ticket and displayed it prominently on the dashboard‡ and was beginning to worry about where, exactly, Ancient Building Repurposed was in relation to Car Park that Will Let Cars In, when Pooka started barking at me‡‡.  I knew it was Nina:  I was thirty-five minutes late.  I’m sorry, I said . . . No, no, said Nina, I’ve only just got here myself;  I misread the bus schedule and. . . .


* * *

* She says she’s blocking out that weekend in her diary for next year NOW.^

^ Like all you Americans—at least all you east coast Americans, and there’d better be a few schlepping in from at least the Midwest and the southeast or I’ll feel underappreciated—are blocking out 13-15 February for Boskone next year.  There will be a certain irony if Fiona has to go alone next year because I’m in Boston.

** The hellpack would also have preferred this latter option

*** I didn’t even have Fiona’s satnav to abuse.

† I would start seeing sepia photos of Prince Edward at any moment

†† No they were born with a silver computer in their mouths and the only time they venture outside is to go jogging, well wired up to their iPods and wearing dark glasses, or to pick up Chinese food/pizza when the delivery Vespa is broken.

††† Or the not so adjacent.  At one point I found myself passing the hospital, which meant that I had gone from the wrong end of town to the right end of town but hadn’t noticed, and instead barrelled on through and out the other side and was now approaching . . . Wales.

‡ Ever had your Pay and Display ticket blow off the dash in the backdraft (presumably) of you closing the car door and be found several hours later in the footwell upon your return?  I have.  I am very happy to say that the Parking Enforcement Officer didn’t come to my end of the garage that day.  Either that, or PEOs are specially trained to see through the dark of footwells to the honestly obtained ticket that may be lying there.

‡‡ Er.  New Blog Reader Alert:  my iPhone’s name is Pooka, and her default ring tone is a barking dog.



Tra la la la la la la . . .

I’m going to be Guest of Honor at Boskone next year.

Boskone, I hear some of you saying?  I think it’s one of the oldest and most regularly annual of the (American) SF&F conventions* but I’m afraid I don’t pay any more attention to the fan-run end of the book world than I do to the professional publisher end** so I could be wrong.  But it was my first big SF&F con, back when BEAUTY was new, and I was living next door in Boston.  I attended sporadically for some years before I got kind of burnt out about the public-author thing generally*** but I’ve retained a soft spot for Boskone.

I had an email from next year’s chairperson about a fortnight ago inviting me to be next year’s GOH and I thought BOSKONE?  I WOULD LOVE TO BE GUEST OF HONOR AT BOSKONE . . . and have since been in agonies not so much of indecision but of trying to figure out what the frell I could do about the hellpack if I said yes.†  Pav isn’t a problem;  given the basic facts of bull terriers she’s, you know, normal.  The hellhounds, now. . . .

But a friend dropped round for a cup of tea this afternoon and in the process of trying to force said hellhounds to eat their lunch I found myself moaning to her about the situation.  She, having extracted the salient facts that (a) YES I WOULD LIKE TO BE GOH AT BOSKONE NEXT YEAR and (b) no I haven’t been anywhere in the last seven years because I have these bizarrely-constituted hellhounds†† . . . said, FOR PITY’S SAKE SAY YES.  GO.  GO.  You’ve got a year:  we’ll figure something out.†††

So I said yes.  ::Beams::

I asked the chair to let me know when they announced it so I could time it to go up more or less simultaneously on this blog.  That was about seven hours ago and she answered by return electron that they were going to be putting it up on NESFA’s web site by the end of the day and I could go ahead as soon as I liked.  I don’t think it’s up yet—although as I say Google does not love me—I’ll add a link when it does.

BUT HERE’S YOUR OPPORTUNITY.  SEE AND HEAR MCKINLEY LIVE IN PERSON.  Although you want to remember that I’ll be sixty-two by next February, so don’t expect much:  I’m old, wizened and EVEN CRANKIER THAN YOU REALIZE.  But I’ll be there.  Smiling in a dangerous manner.


* * *

* Here’s Wiki’s stub about it:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boskone  The New England Science Fiction Association has a web site but it’s kind of full of this year’s Boskone at the moment, which is only just over and also, I am stupid, and Google doesn’t love me.

** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall

*** That sound you hear is Merrilee banging her head against a wall harder

† I’ve spent a fair portion of the last fortnight making phone calls toward this end.

†† Remember that in my life this isn’t as appalling as it sounds.  I like staying home and hurtling and ringing bells and planting rose-bushes and so on.  But it would be nice to go back to America SOME TIME and not be a foreigner the minute I open my mouth^, and while day to day I don’t think about it, and year to year the idea of author touring is about as appealing as going into battle in your nightgown^^ . . . the invitation from Boskone made me fall over the edge immediately.

^ Except that I will be because while my accent hasn’t drifted east much my usage sure has

^^ Now I wonder why that image occurs to me

††† Peter said exactly the same thing, only faster.  And his kids will keep an eye on him in my absence.

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