I thought I’d ordered a swift and nostepinne. But two days went by and there was no reply to my email. Whimper. Here you are trying to support local/indie talent and not order from frelling amazon and THEY DON’T ANSWER.
They answered. Today. There was a spam bin involved. WELL OF COURSE THERE WAS A SPAM BIN INVOLVED. THIS IS WHAT SPAM BINS DO, IS EAT GOOD MAIL AND LET THE TOXIC GARBAGE THROUGH.*
I now have a swift and nostepinne coming. But the indie talent are still a business, drat them, and they’re not sending them out till MONDAY. Monday is three days away. And then it still has to get here.
I spent a good deal of the afternoon in the garden again, working off Lack of Swift.*** There’s a rather unfortunate Spending Time in the Garden Syndrome however. You’re not a big bedding plant person—you’ve already let the labour-intensive thing get out of control by having too many roses, you don’t need bedding plants too—you’re a mental case of course, gardeners are, but you have no illusions about ‘tidy’ or ‘design’. Stuff goes in where there’s room† and the weeds are really healthy because the one thing you are usually pretty good about is feeding. So you look at the labyrinthine wilderness out there and you think, all I really need is a few good days.
The garden at the cottage is tiny. All I need is a few not-freezing, not-raining afternoons—!
Wrong. The more you do the more you see. And the more you see the more you DESPAIR. Having got most of the urgent stuff potted up or potted on††, the most hostile of the roses tied ferociously back††† and (semi) pruned as necessary, I was reduced to WEEDING today. I actually like weeding‡ but when the forest of ground elder closes over your head and the enchanters’ nightshade twines up your ankles and pulls you down—and enchanters’ nightshade grows fast enough to do this, if you stay somewhere too long, levering up wild poppies or creeping buttercup or those black-leaved pansies that look so cute and innocent and have long almost-invisible roots reaching to China or possibly Mars—AAAAAAAUGH. I’d rather be winding hanks of yarn.
What’s the weather this weekend? I should probably hoover the floor indoors before my friend arrives on Monday. Just don’t let me notice how much else I should be doing. . . .
* * *
* Griselda is in Pago Pago and all her money has been stolen and would I please transfer the entire contents of my bank account to the Evil Scam Holding Syndicate so she can get a glass of water?^ But . . . but . . . I had a cup of tea with her yesterday afternoon and she didn’t say anything about Pago Pago. There must be some mistake. . . .
^ Which is about what the entire contents of my bank account would be worth. Tourist traps are expensive.
** NOW. NOW. I WANT THEM NOW. —You know I’m expecting a mere eight-months’-old puppy to calm down and stop being a manic git. Clearly we were made for each other.^
^ Hellhounds open one eye. Possibly one eye each. Does whatever this thing is run? Can we chase it? —I think a swift on end given a push downhill might canter a bit.
*** Stop laughing. Hmmph.
† And sometimes when there isn’t. That’s where the tiered effect comes in handy.
†† Although it’s been a bad season for mail-order errors. The usual response of big on-line gardening sites is ‘keep it and we’ll send you the right one.’ Or ones. I didn’t actually want four hundred and twelve osteospermums or nine hundred and sixty apple blossom geraniums, some of which actually are apple blossom geraniums, and which are all going like thunder and will need somewhere to put their roots down soon. I was poised to send the sellers photos of their errors as evidence but they must have a certain percentage of goofs built into the system. Do they keep track of who protests? Do they put tick marks against your name? Or merely fry in oil the staff responsible for the blip that caused Hampshire to be carpeted in non-apple-blossom geraniums?
And of course, like every other year, I am waiting breathlessly to see how many of my dahlia cuttings grow up to be what I ordered. I go on ordering them because they’re so much cheaper than tubers—and the awful truth is that I rarely have a cutting failure, while my tubers rather too often decide that the accommodations don’t suit them, they were looking for something a little more up market, with designer chocolate on the pillow and free wifi. But cuttings are wildly unreliable in their own fabulous way. Up to about a quarter of the frellers are anything but what you ordered. It does make you wonder, speaking of staff, what the staff are, you know, smoking.
††† That faint unfriendly humming noise you hear, like a nest of wasps in a bad mood, is the sound of various whippy-stemmed roses with known violent tendencies gnawing through their restraints.^
^ I am still sad I didn’t get around to buying the ‘some days it’s not worth gnawing through the restraints’ t shirt before they inexplicably cut it. There are still cheap knock offs available—and one of these days when it’s not worth gnawing through the restraints I will probably buy one—but this one was a QUALITY t shirt.
‡ There’s a quote out there somewhere that I am failing to google into confirmation, that says something like ‘No one is a gardener who doesn’t like weeding’ which is just a specific-object version of one of the quotes on the blog’s quote thingy: ‘The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.’ Yep. You don’t like rewriting, don’t be a writer. Anthony Trollope may have got away with turning in his beautiful copperplate handwritten first drafts to his publisher, but you and I won’t. Aside from the beautiful copperplate part.
The very last thing I do every night is put Pav out for a final pee*. When this happens EVEN LATER THAN USUAL because, say, I’ve been reading something and HAD TO KNOW HOW IT ENDED**, it may no longer be awfully dark outdoors by the time we get out there for this ritual moment. Hey, it’s barely a month to the longest day, it gets light really really REALLY early, okay? So it was like twilight out there this morning, and I was standing there in my nightgown ready to fend the little varmint*** off the rose bushes and my peripheral vision was caught by movement where no movement should be. . . .
There was a big fat mouse lowering the bird-seed level in the feeder by a rate of knots. ARRRRRRRGH.†
This is my fabulous squirrel proof bird feeder, you know? The one with the integral cage that only little birds can get through. Little birds and the occasional frelling mouse—who was soon going to be too frelling bulgy to get out again. I picked up a stake that didn’t happen to be propping anything important and gave the feeder a move-or-die whack. Mouse leaped out into the shadows—Geronimoooooooooo!—and disappeared.††
The real ratbag about this is that I’ve pretty much decided that the birds don’t like this feeder. I have lots of birds in the garden, and the suet block in the other feeder is eaten down pretty reliably. Er. By birds: I see them doing it. This one—nope. I assume they don’t like the cage.
So today, which was a lovely day†††, I spent a good bit of in the garden. ‡ And one of the things I did was tie the clematis and the rose-bush that are the likeliest mouse-access-providing culprits away from the seed feeder.
* * *
* Hellhounds scorn such wimpery. Pav is extremely continent^ but she’s also always delighted to be allowed to burst out of her crate and attack something. If the price for this indulgence is that she stop attacking things^^ long enough to have a pee, she will do that with reasonable grace.
^ Barring the standard canine disasters. My latest trial is that she’s decided that sheep crap is a delicacy. ARRRRRRRRGH. Even if I hold her upside down and shake, the stuff is kind of friable, you know? It doesn’t all hold together neatly and pop out in a nice cohesive lump.
^^ Dirty laundry, nightgown hems+, feet, towels hanging on the Aga rail, etc. If she’s desperate, dog toys.
+ She has, relatively recently, discovered the joys of rocket-launching her solid little furry self upward inside the circle of hem of the nightgown you’re wearing YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
** I’ll tell you all about it. Some day.
*** With the little glistening varminty eyes
† Speaking of ARRRRRRRRGH. ARRRRRRRRRGH.
†† Pav was sure she’d missed something. I’m glad to say the mouse leaped into the shadows on the far side of the little courtyard fence. I don’t like mice, but I didn’t in the least want my hellterror catching one.^ Or diving through a rose-bush to try.
^ Either she’d eat it—and its unknown but guaranteed undesirable parasites—or she’d just mangle it a little. They scream, you know. Like bunnies. Bunnies scream. Dog owners need to know how to kill things. Whimper.
††† After we got down to a NEAR FROST last night. One of my pathetic and ridiculous excuses for staying up reading was so that I could keep an eye on the frelling thermometer. The temperature had turned around and was going up again by the time I turned the light off. I get to do this again tonight. Or not, of course.
‡ Have I told you I have two lots of American visitors coming next week? I have maybe half a dozen overnight-staying, pond-crossing visitors in an average year . . . and I have THREE of them NEXT WEEK? WHAT? One of them is an old friend, and if the house(s) is a tip and the garden(s) is a jungle, eh, she’s seen it all before. The other one—and her husband—I’m a little afraid of. Sigh. But nothing is going to turn me into a magnificent housekeeper, a sublime gardener and a superlative hostess in the next ten days, so we’ll just have to muddle along somehow.
I HAVE JUST FRELLING ORDERED A FRELLING [YARN] SWIFT AND A FRELLING FRELLING NOSTEPINNE. Two days ago I didn’t know what a nostepinne was. I think I’ve seen the word somewhere and assumed I was too young/old and that ignorance might not be bliss but was probably better for the blood pressure and the too easily over-stimulated fantasy-writer’s imagination.* And then I brought up the yarn bowl question on Twitter the other night and someone else started talking about her nostepinne and I’m like whoa, are you sure you want to discuss this in public? **
Diane in MN
Does anyone out there have any useful guidelines for when you cut your losses and frog again and when you soldier on
A glance around my house would reveal that I can tolerate a lot of imperfection in some areas, but I HATE visible mistakes in my knitting and will rip (or tink, if I catch any soon enough) back to get rid of them. More than once, if necessary and if the yarn will take it, if I like the project.
I don’t think I’m a perfectionist about anything any more***. Spending a lot of time and effort at something you’re essentially pretty awful at—let’s say bell ringing—will do that to a person.† But I agree about actual errors. Part One of this particular project has only one really gruesome error which I think would disappear when I got to the seaming-up stage, supposing I got that far—and I left it in because I had NO idea what I had done and therefore no idea how to undo it. But especially on something that is, for me, relatively small-gauge, which is to say 4 mm needles [US size 6], and a non-stretchy yarn, which is this cotton-bamboo stuff I’ve made several baby bibs in and I like it but it’s not very forgiving, the—ahem!—slight variability of my stitch-making starts to show up over time and distance. I ripped out my first couple of bibs once each, but they ended up not too embarrassing.†† This New Secret Project is bigger and . . . well. So I’ve got to the end of Part One and put the wretched thing on a stitch holder—it’s getting so that every time I order yarn††† I automatically order another pair or packet of stitch holders‡—rolled it up and put it aside. I’ll think about it later.
Which leaves me with only ::urglemmph:: other unfinished projects and therefore of course I need to start something NEW!!!!
Which is going to be Manos del Doohickey—I’ve left the tag back at the cottage‡‡—and it’s mostly silk with some wool so it’s NOT VERY STRETCHY again, uh-oh‡‡‡, but I want to make myself a LARGE SQUARE (SOMEWHAT) WOOLLY SCARF. Because I’m tired of how difficult it is to find Large Square Wool Scarves. And the reason this is the particular New Project that leaped to mind—despite the small-gauge-unstretchy thing—is because it will be ACRES AND ACRES OF MINDLESS GARTER STITCH YAAAAAAAAAY. I’m always amused at these high-falutin’ knitters on Ravelry going on about how this or that pattern is too boring because there’s too much garter/stockinette/ribbing. I LOVE GARTER/STOCKINETTE/RIBBING. I tend to knit to calm down. I don’t want to have to think! I don’t want to have to memorize a frelling pattern! I don’t want to figure out why my sleeve-shaping decreases look like tiny stairs rather than a nice smooth line like in the frelling photos! I just want to keep looping the yarn around the needles!!!
But first I need to wind these wretched hanks into something I can use. . . .
* * *
* I don’t want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I nostepinne in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.
Not all of Monty Python is totally deathless and mesmerising, in my cranky^ opinion, but I would have trampled a few grandmothers to have written that particular piece of dialogue. Although some of my attitude problem may be due to having a few issues with Monty Python. For some reason. I mean, it could have been Sir Rupert. For example.
Minstrel: [singing] Brave Sir Robin ran away…
Sir Robin: *No!*
Minstrel: [singing] bravely ran away away…
Sir Robin: *I didn’t!*
Minstrel: [singing] When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.
Sir Robin: *I never did!*
Minstrel: [singing] Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about, and valiantly, he chickened out.
Sir Robin: *Oh, you liars!*
Minstrel: [singing] Bravely taking to his feet, he beat a very brave retreat. A brave retreat by brave Sir Robin.
^ And easily grossed out. Just by the way.
*** Although I still want my socks to match what I’m wearing, even if nobody but me is going to see them. Or nobody but me, Peter and the hellcritters none of whom care. I care.
† Circumstances are not helpful. Last Wednesday due to the very mixed assortment of ringers who turned up for practise I rang ONCE. ONCE. I got a lot of knitting done. Speaking of knitting. On Sunday afternoon there were eight of us. Which meant we all had to ring all of the time. Which since most of us were the weak end was a trifle challenging for the ringing master and I was somewhat drily amused to note that I was being relied on to hold it together in a way that I would not have been if he’d had any choice. You know I would get to holding-it-together better sooner if I got more practise time in. Sigh.
†† And I finally asked one of the recipients if the thing, you know, WORKED? Because babies keep getting born, in the alarmingly incessant way of babies, and bibs are something I can, apparently, do. Yes, he said. It’s very chewable, and it goes through the washing machine fine.
††† Not that this would be often or anything
‡ And another frelling tape measure. What do I DO with tape measures?!? Is there a Tape Measure Planet like there is an Odd Sock Planet?
‡‡ Oh please. What is Google, chopped liver?
‡‡‡ McKinley, not that we expect you to be relentlessly intelligent or anything, but the two most outstanding unfinished projects^—which is to say well enough started to count as ‘unfinished’, which are First Cardi and First Pullover, are NICE REASONABLY LARGE GAUGE STRETCHY FORGIVING WOOL, you meatloaf, why don’t you go FINISH ONE OF THEM?^^
^ Plus legwarmers. I think I’m on my fifth pair. You know this weather may be my fault. It’s the middle of May, WE MAY HAVE AN OVERNIGHT FROST LATER THIS WEEK+, and I’m knitting legwarmers.
+ And I am not going to dig up my petunias/begonias/gladiolas/dahlias/osteospermums, so I hope they FRELLING COPE. Maybe I could lay some legwarmers over them.
^^ And the current not-given-up-on-yet Secret Project is also mostly wool.
Somebody tell me why a bull terrier counts as a mastiff type? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mastiff_Type_Breeds *
Is this the Funny Face category or something? Although I was interested that part of the description is that while these dogs have been put to a variety of purposes, they are most often used for guarding because they generally have a strong guarding instinct. Pav is a surprisingly good guard dog, not something I was expecting.** The hellhounds are hopeless guard dogs.*** And on the one hand you think, if it came to that, how seriously is anyone going to take something about fourteen inches high at the shoulder and weighing not quite thirty pounds? And on the other hand you look at that bull terrier head, even the small, streamlined version, so clearly built for biting, and, having bitten, holding on, and possibly you think . . . uh. I quite like my shins in their current configuration, and having feet on the ends of my ankles. Maybe I’ll go burgle someone else.
Meanwhile: there is a small earnest explosion in response to All Suspicious Noises,† which, if it happens in her crate, is all very well, but if she’s in your lap at the time it can be a trifle disconcerting. She means it too: most of the time there’s a twinkle in that sweet, evil little eye††, especially when she’s having a go at the slippers you foolishly left in the middle of the floor or the shopping bag you’re trying to carry in your non-lead-holding hand††† but she is all business when she’s Responding to a Threat, and if I tell her to shut up too soon she will remain on alert, giving me a brief pitying look because I am not taking her professional assessment seriously enough.‡ I write fantasy so I may be imagining some of this‡‡, but it sure seems to me that the best way to get her to shut up is to appear to be listening intently to whatever it is she’s hearing, and then relax. Oh, she says. Well, if you say so. And she stands down.‡‡‡ Of course if it’s some legitimate disruption, like, say, the delivery man bringing my latest consignment of on-sale yarn,§ or Raphael the archangel come to sort out the latest 4,715 little peculiarities across my range of demon-possessed technology§§, there is an interesting metamorphosis from Red alert! Red Alert! Woop woop woop woop woof! to, Hey! There’s something going on! The hellhounds are having FUN and I’m NOT! Let me OUT OF HERE!§§§
* * *
* But when I tried to click on an outside link I got this:
You don’t have permission to access /m/articles/view/Molosser-and-Rare-Breeds-List-Part-1 on this server.
Additionally, a 403 Forbidden error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
Cheez. What is this, the secret Homeland Security site about the creation of a new breed of anti-terrorist dogs which can leap tall buildings with a single bound and when stressed put out a pheromone that neutralises all explosive material in a 30-foot radius? The FBI has had worse ideas.
** I will now receive a cross email from Olivia saying that she told me. Well, she may well have done, but she hasn’t hit menopause yet and doesn’t know about Menopause Brain.
*** Is it a friend? Is it fun? Can we chase it? . . . Never mind, we’re asleep.
† Some of them inaudible to the third-rate human ear. I will not demean my noble, responsible watchcritter by suspecting that some of them may be imaginary.
†† Southdowner sent me a quote from someone on her bullie list: ‘Flipping through the BTCA Record for 2012. How can you resist a breed praised by judges for “a wonderfully evil expression” and “stunning varminty eyes”?! Somehow I don’t think Labradors or beagles are prized for rottenness…’
††† It has fascinated me for over five decades the way dogs figure out some of what pisses you off but not all. Pav knows perfectly well I’ll come down on her if she bites her lead, for example, or if she runs off with one of those slippers—indeed she runs off with a slipper looking over her shoulder with a wonderfully evil expression in her stunning varminty eyes and she doesn’t just run, she bounds, which is ‘nanny nanny boo boo’ in dog language. But she will not get it about the dirty laundry. When I take a slipper away from her she’s all heh heh heh heh heh. When I take my knickers or my socks away from her she’s all sad and disappointed and it takes her a good two seconds to recover her spirits and find something else to destroy.
‡ The hellhounds may half-open an eye at this point and murmur, You sort her out, Pav, we’re holding the floor down. We need to conserve our strength toward resisting our next meal.^
^ Snarl. —hellgoddess
‡‡ Also I am critter soppy.
‡‡‡ I am not imagining it that she lets me take stuff away from her however. I can put up with a lot of torn knickers and scalloped slippers for the fact that she doesn’t gulp down whatever it is in the two-thirds of a very long second it takes me to reach her end of the long extending lead. In fact chances are she’s just standing there looking resigned. She let me take what proved to be most of half a sandwich away from her today. How amazing is that?^
^ She’s not a bull terrier. She just looks like one. As I keep saying.
§ This is my favourite delivery man. Not only does he actually LEAVE STUFF BEHIND THE GATE THE WAY I ASK DELIVERYPERSONS TO DO^ but he has a dog that rides around in the van with him.
^ Has anyone ever seen a female deliveryperson? Female postpersons are totally common, but I’ve never seen a woman deliveryperson. It can’t just be brute strength; some of the blokes look like they have trouble lifting a medium-sized yarn shipment.
§§ It’s been a long day.
§§§ ‘Here’ may include my long wiry tower-bell-ringing-toned spider-monkey arms clamping her to my chest.
A fortnight or so ago a New Friend sidled up to me at St Margaret’s and said that she’d bought a ticket for a charity concert—so she wouldn’t chicken out of going at the last minute, I know that one, on the day you’re too comfortable on the sofa with hellhounds or similar—but she wondered if she could bamboozle me into buying a ticket and coming too? It was a worthy cause and we could hang out. We’ve made half-hearted attempts to hang out previously but they’ve never come off because we never nail one down by saying THIS place and THIS time and putting it in the diary, you know? Modern life. Who has time for spontaneity?*
So despite a qualm or two about the concert itself I said yes. You can put up with a lot in congenial company. And she and I were finally getting somewhere, you know?
And then last week at St Margaret’s when I told her I’d got one of the few remaining tickets** she looked all doleful and woebegone and said she hadn’t rung me because it hadn’t been confirmed yet but for Inarguable Personal Reasons it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to go after all. . . .
Oh. Feh. So I’m now stuck with a ticket to a concert I was only looking forward to because I was going to see her.
But I had the frelling reservation and, at this point, a close personal relationship with the venue’s box office, who had hired a uniformed guard with two Alsatians and a Darth Vader clone to protect my investment till I arrived IN PERSON and offered my palm print as proof I was the correct individual to cede the ticket to, so I’d better go. I went.
Fortunately I took my knitting.
IT WAS UNBELIEVABLY DIRE. UNBELIEVABLY. DIRE. The concert. It was. AAAAAAAAUGH. Words fail. Words need to fail or I will be banned from WordPress for the rest of my life.*** The one minor stroke of good fortune was that I’d arrived early enough it was worth getting my knitting out immediately so it was already on my lap when these jokers got up on stage and started prancing about doing whatever the frell they thought they were doing ARRRRRRRRRRRGH. After the first . . . incident . . . I firmly picked my knitting up again and got QUITE A FEW ROWS done by the time it was over. I swear I would have run away screaming† if I hadn’t had my knitting. . . .
Which leads me to the next thing. I’ve been torturing myself, and some harmless hanks of yarn, trying to make another gift. Me and my frelling Secret Projects. GIVE IT UP, MCKINLEY. I’ve already frogged this one once. This second time it looks a lot better than it did the first time but it’s still what you might call . . . clearly hand made. Does anyone out there have any useful guidelines for when you cut your losses and frog again and when you soldier on on the grounds that your friend will appreciate the effort you’ve gone to even if SHE BURIES THE FINAL OBJECT IN THE BACK GARDEN IN CASE IT’S CONTAGIOUS?
Siiiiiiiigh. . . .
I also got distracted on Etsy the Evil†† from my (relatively) honest quest for a needle roll††† into yarn bowls. And I made the perilous decision to ask Twitter if any of the twitterverse’s knitters use yarn bowls. Am I just being flimflammed by a pretty face? Hand-thrown pottery bowls are very pretty. Or do they help with what I have dubbed the invisible-kitten problem with your wodge of working yarn? In the rush of helpful answers—including plastic bags, yarn cozies [sic], and teapots—I suddenly had a FABULOUS IDEA.
Was this totally sitting on a shelf waiting to be a yarn bowl through the long years of no longer being required for blanc-mange or what? Stay tuned.
* * *
* Hey, I finished the day’s stint early/it’s raining and I don’t feel like gardening/if I hear my neighbour’s extra-loud telephone bell go one more time^ I shall run mad with an axe, want to grab a cup of tea somewhere? No, sorry, I can’t, I’m working a double shift today/it’s raining so I’m sorting out the garage^^/I have to sort out the garage because I need to hide a body fast.^^^
^ They need fewer friends
^^ No friend of mine would ever use that excuse
^^^ Ah. Okay. Need help?+
+ I found a drowned mouse in a bucket today. Ewwwwwwww. I have no truck with the ‘mice are cute’ brigade and am perfectly happy to trap the suckers, using the fastest, lethalest traps available, but drowning in a bucket is a slow, crummy way to die and made me sad.
** And my email, possessed by demons as it is, failed to accept the confirmatory email from the venue so I’m all AM I GOING OR NOT. WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO HERE, CONSULT AN ASTROLOGER?
*** Banned—? From WordPress? Um . . . actually . . .
† Most of the people who preach at St Margaret’s I like and find not merely worth listening to but interesting. But there is one . . . I have been trying to decide if it is worth establishing a habit of knitting during the sermons so that the next time this joker stands up I won’t have to gnaw my knuckles till they bleed so as not to run away screaming.^
^ I realise that a Supreme Being needs a sense of humour, but I feel perhaps we might review some of said humour’s minor manifestations? People who have been at this Christian thing a long time keep telling me that God likes engaging with his mortal children on their level. Okay. So let’s discuss the practical jokes.
†† You know I have been complaining about the mess and confusion of Etsy’s so-called search function and have finally realised . . . it’s all a careful plan to entice you in deeper and deeper.
††† The design I like best is only in a bunch of dumb fabrics. ARRRRRGH. Also I object to spending more than £11,872.33 (most of this is the overseas shipping cost from America) for a needle roll. So this is still an open question.