Archive for July, 2007

My D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Became final this week.

I feel a little weird, a little sad, a little relieved, a little scared, a little excited.  Scared about what the future may hold, and excited about what the future may hold.  A bit frightened that my fall-back position is no longer there.  I really am on my own now.  (Well, as much on my own as a woman with a loving and supportive family and great friends gets.)

Once upon a time, when I was a more active quilter than a knitter, (I know, horrors!) I checked out and re-checked out a book from the library about a quilter named Nancy Crow.  She is well-known in the quilt world and has won many prizes and awards, as well as commissions.  This book, in addition to picturing her quilts, also included photos of her studio and her own thoughts about her creative process.  I think this was what fascinated me about the book–the glimpse into a successful fiber artist’s inner workings and inspirations.  The one thing that I remember most from that book, though, is a large, hand-lettered sign that Nancy Crow had up on the wall of her studio.  It said:  FOCUS.  SET GOALS.

I’ve thought of that often and often over the years, both when thinking about the large things (What in the heck am I doing with my life?) and the smaller things (Which project should I pick up next?).  I often thought of creating my own FOCUS.  SET GOALS. sign to hang on the wall of my studio.  But I never did. 

I don’t know exactly why I never did make that sign.  Perhaps it was just laziness.  Perhaps it was something deeper than that–a lack of daring, a lack of confidence. Maybe I really didn’t feel that I deserved my focus, that I myself was worth my own time.  

On August 10, I’m closing on a small two-bedroom house here in town.  Harvey will have one bedroom; I will have the other.  There is a large, sunny room with hardwood floors where my grand piano will sit, along with my spinning wheels.  I’m planning on making my bedroom my studio space as well, with my sewing machine, my fabrics, my yarn, my fiber, my books.  And on one wall I will hang a large, hand-lettered sign that reads:


Asko not

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

I strongly believe that we do have to do something radical about our energy consumption in this country. Strongly. Believe.
I also strongly believe that I should have more done on this elephant sweater than I do, but…

I would however be the first to admit that this is easier said than done. After all, we’re not just talking about changing people’s habits, which would be hard enough, we are also talking about an entrenched infrastructure and set of broader social habits that rests on the assumption that more or less every American has access to a car.

So it isn’t just that we’ve got these gas guzzlers on the road, it’s that there is massive technological momentum (as we call it in the science studies biz) behind the automobile. And technological momentum is extremely hard to reverse.

As an individual, you cannot reverse it. You cannot. There is literally no way to live in most parts of this country without a car. It can’t be done. So at the moment driving a car everywhere doesn’t mean that you’re part of the problem, it means that you’re part of an inescapable system.

Now I’m singling out the automobile here not because there aren’t other environmental issues, but I think from the standpoint of the individual the car is, well, the thing. What I mean is, the car drives (no pun intended…heh…heh) a great deal of the rest of our overconsumption. And that drives a lot of industrial pollution and energy consumption and so forth.

Alex and I happen to live in one of the handful of places in the country where one can be “car-free,” and we happen to be in a phase of our lives where there ain’t a lot of loose cash floating around, if you know what I’m saying, so we don’t own a car.
Although I did make this lovely ribbing. I love the way the colors look together. And also the odd way that the ripples in the fabric look a little like…Voldemort’s face. Or maybe that’s just me.

When you don’t own a car, you think very carefully about what you buy. Because you and you alone are going to get to haul it back to Chez Mad Dog on the city bus. I hasten to add that this condition does not make us morally superior to anyone else.

It just means we’re strapped.

But it has led me to reflect upon the fact that there’s just a lot of stuff you can’t buy if you don’t have a car. A lot of stores you cannot frequent—including nearly all those horrific superstores like Home Depot, Costco, IKEA, etc. A lot of large stuff you cannot haul home and hoard. Interestingly, when people learn that we do not own a car, they frequently express shock and say something like, “Oh my God, how do you do it?”

Rather like they have just learned that both of us have recently lost an arm and a leg in a tragic accident and are now stumbling about on crude, newly-acquired prostheses.

It really is not anywhere near that bad. But it is a comment on the perception that having your own ride is just downright compulsory. Even in the rare instances where it is not.

Which leads me back to the problem of said automobile. Among other things, we’re going to have to deal with the car and everything that radiates outwards and backwards and forwards from the car, and that’s going to be a tough, tough thing to do. Not impossible, but very difficult. It will have to be a systematic fix too, not a matter of a few individuals here and there deciding and being able to ride bikes or take the bus.

I’m all for the bikes and the bus, by the way, but I’m speaking here of a society-wide solution that works, one that modifies the central technology we’ve got, works with the existing infrastructure, and acknowledges people’s real needs. I myself do not have a feasible plan right now, of course, but I’m working on that… I am taking suggestions. Feel free to share your ideas.

Meanwhile, we’ll all continue our nickel-and-dime environmentalism—recycling bottles, cans, jars, mixed paper; buying green cleaning products; driving a Prius. It’s not going to be the thing that solves the problem, but at least we can feel that we’re doing something.
Want to talk about overconsumption? Look what I just bought. Cherry Tree Hill Gems Merino. And this when I was actually on a successful yarn diet…

Alex and I have recently added to our nickel-and-dime environmentalism portfolio a new washer and dryer made by Asko, a Swedish company that stresses the environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient, water-saving aspects of its machines. Our landlady brought us these over the weekend, bless her heart.

Asko. As in, “Asko not what your washer can do for you, Asko what you can do for your washer!”

Because—and I don’t mean for a minute to sound ungrateful here—the Asko washer and dryer is not like your old Whirlpool. Here’s the front of the washer:

And a close-up of the “dashboard” of the dryer:
Simple in its way, yes, but would you know how to run a load of laundry without reading the manual? Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.

So a couple of nights ago, I decide to run my first load of environmentally-friendly laundry. I read the manual for the washer. I screw up the programming a couple of times. I curse and stomp. I finally program it to run a “normal” load of dark clothes. All is well, I think.

Then I read the digital timer at the right of the display. It reads, “One hour and fifty-five minutes.”

Yep, you got that right: two hours to run a “normal” load of clothes. Green is apparently a synonym for “excruciatingly slow.”

Okay, I think, next time I’ll try the “quick” cycle. It will probably only be an hour and a half.

I dutifully come back two hours later. I read the manual for the non-intuitive dryer. I screw up the programming a couple of times. I curse loudly and impugn the name of the Swedes and their mothers and grandmothers. I cry out in anguish, “Whirlpool, why hast thou forsaken me?” Then I finally manage to program it for a “normal” drying cycle.

This time I’m less surprised when the digital timer reads one hour and twenty minutes.

I am however weeping with frustration and otherwise going to pieces quietly in the corner of the basement.

When I informed Alex that a “green” load of laundry takes three hours and twenty minutes to complete, he said, “I see it all now. The Asko machines are more energy efficient because you quickly figure out that it is faster to do all your laundry with a washboard and a mangle.”

And so it appears that in appliances as in other arenas we have a long way to go to make our ideals match up with our practical needs.

Until then, I’d hang onto your old Whirlpool.

1, 2, 3: Eyes on me

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

1.  Congratulations Kristy!  I think you will really enjoy that cone of pink yarn.  It softens tremendously when washed and has a wonderful drape, in addition to being really warm.  I think I can safely say that it was perfect for the Handsome Triangle shawl, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what you do with it!  Also, there’s so much yardage there that you should be able to do almost anything you want with it.  (Well, aside from making a whole-house cozy, I suppose.)

2.  I finally finished this little hemp dishcloth, which has been sitting in a basket for some weeks now. 

hemp dishcloth                                            

In this case, “finishing” simply meant weaving in the two ends.  Sometimes I am so lazy that I astound even myself.

3.  I started swatching with the Schaeffer Anne on size 0 needles.  Here’s my little tube: 

Schaeffer Anne                                                                 

I’m getting 10 stitches to the inch on size 0 needles.  A entire pair of socks at 10 stitches to the inch somewhat boggles the mind (at least mine), especially as I was considering using this yarn to make a pair of socks for a friend with very wide feet, but I am determined to persevere.

4.  I finished one of the socks for my soldier buddy.

sock for a soldier

The reason I don’t make toe-up socks very often?  You’re left with the dilemma of trying to find a nice stretchy bindoff at the top that doesn’t look sloppy.  I finally settled on the sewn bindoff for these.

5.  Someday soon I am going to get back to Rumpelstiltskin.  He is languishing for want of attention. 

Rumpelstiltskin 7-24-07

6.  One of my goals for the week?  Clean up my little knitting corner of the couch.  It is a veritable welter of swatches, socks, books, and circular needles.  Housekeeping is really not my strong suit, although I have many other wonderful attributes, as I’m sure you will all agree.  (Right?)

knitting corner

7.  Harvey refused to be photographed for this post, although he allowed me to take a picture of him with his comic book (sorry, graphic novel) in front of his face.

Harvey 7-24-07 

This really is very close to how he has appeared all summer, though–with his nose in a book.  That’s my boy!

1, 2:  Eyes on you.

The contest is decided

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Back on our blogiversary, we announced a “Guess the Guests” contest, the winner of which would receive the Amazing Pink Cone of Wonder (a.k.a. 2000+ yards of a cashmere-wool blend laceweight yarn in hot pink):
Sarah made her Handsome Triangle out of this stuff and it is…otherworldly. As its earthly curator, I have kept this cone wrapped, so its full wonder is not quite apparent in this photo.

I would have announced the winner much earlier, but I was extremely busy partying, attaching eight-point bustles, learning how to run recalcitrant new appliances (more on that later), kicking Craphound to the curb, and mastering a foolproof recipe for our preferred “adult beverage” of the summer—the fresh whiskey sour.

What? Why, yes, I will share my newfound wisdom. After all, even if you don’t have a landlord like Craphound, you undoubtedly have some insufferable peckerwood in your life who makes your day seem long and your need for a whiskey sour very great.

Here’s what you do to make about four cocktails:
Combine 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice;
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice;
1 cup of simple syrup (made by combining 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water and heating over low to medium heat until the sugar dissolves);
3/4 cup Jack Daniels.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour this combo of ingredients over the ice. Shake vigorously for about half a minute. Strain the shaken cocktail into a cool glass and add a maraschino cherry (or four).

Now that everyone has a drink, we do in fact have a winner. Naturally, there must be a drum roll (what else?)…and the winner of the Amazing Pink Cone of Wonder is…


Get in touch, will ya, Kristy? And I’ll send you your prize.

Sock Fest Summer 2007

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Although I have not accomplished a thing on Rumpelstiltskin, I have been knitting, oh yes I have, and quite industriously too.

First off, I finished these socks:

striped socks 

I call these as the “California Striped Socks,” because I started them when I was in California, and it was the first sock of the pair that I was knitting on in the photos from Ellen’s CA reception in the Napa Valley. 

striped socks                                    Note how the heels and toes are reversed in color.  I did that not only to be clever and original, but also because I was worried about running out of one of the colors otherwise.

I have to say, it was amazing to me how impressed folks were with my sock-knitting.  Non-knitters seem to regard the making of one’s own socks as something almost magical.  (Either that or you get this [highly original] comment, “You know, you can buy socks three for $5 at Wal-Mart!  Yuk, yuk, yuk!”)

Second, I completed these socks just the other day:

Textiles a Mano socks 

These are made from a gorgeous hand-dyed superwash sportweight wool from Textiles a Mano, a company run by Laura Macagno-Shang, a lovely woman who lives just down the road from me in St. Joseph, MO.  She dyes all her own yarns and has recently opened a small yarn shop in St. Joe, which features (naturally) her own yarns and a few other select brands.  She also regularly visits festivals and shows with her yarns, so be sure to check out her stuff if you ever have the chance.  Certainly, if you live in my neck of the woods, the shop is worth a visit.  She has a great color sense and is always dreaming up new colorways.  In fact, she told me that she rarely repeats a colorway, so if you see something you like, you’d better buy all of it!

Textiles a Mano socks 

I knit these from a pattern in More Sensational Knitted Socks, by Charlene Schurch.  I liked the groovy little wavy lines in the pattern and thought it might look nice with the hand-dyed yarn.  And I think it does, too.

And third, I’ve started on these:

GI socks

Socks which I refer to as my “GI Socks.”  These are going to be sent to a National Guardsman in Afghanistan.  On the plane back from Boston, I sat next to a very nice young man who was on his way to Fort Riley, KS to be shipped out.  I was finishing up the striped socks and working on the Textiles a Mano socks, and he was very interested in my sock-making.  I told him that if he would give me his address, I would make him a pair of socks and send them to him, since after all it gets very cold there in the winter.  So, these are destined to be worn in Afghanistan by a man I barely know; political views notwithstanding, everyone deserves a pair of handknit wool socks in a cold climate.

A time to every purpose under heaven

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

There are times for joy and times for sorrow, times to plant and times to reap, a time to be born, a time to die, times to cast away stones and times to gather stones together.
Times to include a nice photo of your wonderful, generous father-in-law on your blog because he asked you to and he asks for so little, really.

And then there are times to hightail your sweet wazoo to the bank.

This is one of those times.

We got our deposit, with interest, back from Craphound in the form of a check. He was evidently persuaded by Alex’s not-all-that-heavily-veiled threat to haul his lying, cheapskate *ss to court and bust his miserable chops for triple damages.

Shelley also barked and growled viciously at Craphound for the entire duration of his “visit” to drop off said check, behavior that is completely out of character for her. But I think it was just her adorable, little, canine way of saying, “If my pack members leave this room, scumbag, and it’s just you and me…I’m gonna rip your throat out.”

That’s my girl!

We are now hightailing it to the bank to cash that check before Craphound gets any further larcenous ideas.

(As an aside, I would like to say that I am very impressed by my husband’s courageous poison-pen letter-writing campaign. I doubt that many of Mr. Craphound’s ill-used tenants have had the cajones to tell him exactly what they think of him and, given the power relations involved, understandably enough. Feeling powerless has a way of making you feel like you can’t do anything but go off and mutter to yourself in the corner, but I think the heartwarming and valuable lesson we have learned here is that we often have more power than we think.

Or maybe it’s just that if you look up a bunch of picky legal information, you can use it as a crowbar.

Anyway, whatever. My husband, my hero…)

Speaking of landlords, our current landlord is such an angel that she’s having a better washer and dryer installed at our house this weekend. Did we ask for this? No. The current ones are perfectly fine. She just wants to give us something better.

Did I do something really good in a previous life?

I could literally weep with gratitude. So I am making a sweater with an elephant on the front of it for her daughter. Just because I want to thank her for being so much better than called for in her role.

Right now the sweater looks like this:
A combination of Rowan’s Pure Wool DK and Debbie Bliss Rialto.

But click this link and check out the elephant design to see how cute it’s going to be: Roo Designs for Children.

I like all the designs, truth be known. I’m also very pleased with my color combination for this particular sweater:

And now, to the bank…

Mr. Craphound’s last stand

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

Now that we have escaped the gravitational pull of Planet Wedding and have bumped down again on Earth, there are some issues to be dealt with—issues that had been placed on the back burner in favor of guzzling champagne and gorging ourselves on cake…oh, halcyon days where are you now? The most pressing of these currently is the return of our substantial security deposit from our former lying, cheating, craphound landlord.

Predictably, this has not gone smoothly.
This is a photo of my reading nook at the Dream House, a space of calm and succor to me in these trying times.

After all the work we did on that place to make it liveable (six weeks of full time labor initially + ongoing maintenance of the interior and the grounds—all jobs the our landlord flatly refused to do, although they were indubitably his responsibility), after the crisis of the sixty-year-old furnace’s death in the coldest part of the winter, after a million other little insults, lies, and quotidian atrocities we endured at his hands, Mr. Craphound actually had the gall to suggest that we left the stove a little dirty (we scrubbed it until our fingers bled) and that we had stolen a carbon monoxide detector (he never installed such a detector and we are categorically not thieves).

Finally, Mr. Craphound told Alex that he would meet him at the old property at noon on Sunday to give him our deposit check. Sunday was the last day he could legally return the deposit to us according to Massachusetts Law.

Noon passed. Alex left Mr. Craphound a message.

12:30 passed. Alex left Mr. Craphound another message.

1 p.m. passed. Alex left Mr. Craphound a third message.

1:30 passed. Alex left a final message for Mr. Craphound.

2 p.m. passed. We left the house. No return call from Mr. Craphound.

By the time Craphound finally called at 3 p.m. to say that he was “running a little late,” Alex had passed some point of no return. Telling it like it is, folks, I’ve never seen Wellerstein so angry.

“When we get home,” he said, “I’m writing Craphound a letter and I’m going to make it clear that he’s on the wrong side of the law now.

I was secretly delighted to see my exquisitely diplomatic husband transmogrify into Dirty Harry before my eyes. What Craphound had to ask himself now was, “Do I feel lucky?”

While I finished this scarf—which is by the way the only knitting I’ve done since this whole wedding caper began—Alex composed his letter.
Mulberry Silk, Laines Du Nord, in color Denim. Four skeins. Pattern by Mac and Me. Lovely results due mostly to the yarn, not the knitter.

Here’s a close-up of the ruffle:
I just love a good ruffle, don’t you?

Dirty Harry’s letter to Mr. Craphound went something like this (edits have been made for brevity, but the essential text is unchanged):

Dear Lying, Cheapskake, Craphound Landlord,

I am writing to register our extreme displeasure at not being able to finish up everything with the old house this afternoon. This has dragged on now for over a month and will be well over the legal limit for when a security deposit should be returned.

You waited until almost three hours until after we were supposed to meet to try and get in touch with me, and made no real effort to apologize or to even recognize the inconvenience of this.

In the past we have had many reasons to be dissatisfied with your service as a landlord. You have never attempted to improve the property other than when major appliances malfunction, and even then you do it grudgingly and replace them with the cheapest possible alternative. You employed cheap, substandard laborers to repair the property, leaving it much worse for the wear (the bathroom wall was crudely replaced, the basement furnace never fully installed while we lived there, etc.). You acted like it was our fault the the furnace went out, when you know full well it failed because it was decades old (as both the Keyspan man and your workman bluntly told us).

We have many pictures of the place from before we moved in. It was horrifically dirty—the walls required two full washings before they could even be painted, and were covered with everything from dirt to human snot—full of junky old furniture from a previous tenant, full of problems ranging from extensive, excessive holes in the wall which required spackling to boards which had been haphazardly nailed into wall, to mirrors which had been glued to the wall and painted over at a later time. Some of the conditions were never improved: the outside weather window on one of the exterior bedroom windows was broken when we moved in (you promised you would repair it soon), and remained broken when we moved out (technically this is a sanitary code violation: 105 CMR 410:501). The yard was grown up to my waist and full of broken glass.

The broken glass, incidentally, came from bottles stacked haphazardly in decaying cardboard on the third floor back porch, and would often fall and break below until I finally took the time to clean them up last spring (something you should have done long before the third floor tenants moved out, and did not do even after they moved out; violation of 105 CMR 410.602). While the third floor tenants lived there you never did anything about the derelict truck in the driveway (another code violation). At least once you entered our premises without our permission (another code violation).

We put well over six weeks of full-time labor cleaning, painting, repairing the apartment when we moved into it. We maintained the property so well that neighbors complimented us on it (one of them even thought we owned the house, because we treated it so well), and one of the neighbors eventually offered to rent us their house.

We left the house in far better condition than when we moved into it. This is obvious to anyone who compares before-and-after pictures (of which we have many—I took many pictures when we moved in because I wanted to make sure you would not try to hold any pre-existing damage against us), and this is made evident by the fact that you were able to immediately rent it to another tenant at a higher rent. We gave the current tenant a tour of the place long before she expressed interest to you, when it still had furniture in it, and she was very impressed by the paint job and the general condition.

We have felt that in this deposit business you have tried everything in your power to extract additional money out of us. We find this to be in very bad faith, given all that we have done for you and your property.

We expect to receive our full deposit back. Do not give us any trouble with this. We are ready to be out of your hair and we are ready for you to be out of ours, and we do not want to get engaged in anything that would prolong our experience with you. (Editor’s note: Implication being, our hand is on the phone to call our attorney. Don’t make us dial that number.)

We have left the apartment much, much better than when you rented it to us, and we are sure any objective observer would see it this way as well—we have many photographs of all aspects of it before we moved in, and can provide them if you want us to refresh your memory. We are glad that a new tenant was easily found—it reflects well on the work we did, and it makes life easier for you, as we know you have had a lot of trouble renting units in that building.

I do not care anymore how you operate your properties, but I do care about my money. I wish you would act honorably about this. I am very frustrated that this has taken as long as it has, and I do not think you have been acting in good faith when in reality you owe us a lot.

Sincerely, Alex

I think we can all agree that this letter shows excellent mental health on Alex’s part. But whether Craphound will return our money or simply have us killed remains to be seen…

Tune in next time when we’ll hear Alex say, “Make my day, Craphound.”

Yarns on First

Monday, July 16th, 2007

The other yarn shop I visited while in California last month was a great little place in Napa called Yarns on First.  (Let me just admit right here, because I am a big person who is not afraid of looking stupid in public, that I had no idea that Napa is actually the name of a town in California as well as a whole valley.  Who knew?  Obviously, not me.  I realize that this probably falls into the same category as not realizing that New York is a city as well as a state, but there it is.)

In any case, Yarns on First is a very nice place, where they have their yarns arranged by color instead of brand.

Yarns on First, Napa, CA

This makes for a very pretty store, although you do have to look a little harder and ask more questions to find the yarns you want.

Yarns on First, Napa, CA

Fortunately, the folks there are extremely friendly and helpful.  Here’s Roxanna, one of the co-owners who helped me find (what else?) some lovely sock yarn to purchase.

Roxanna at Yarns on First 

I got this beautiful merino from Claudia Hand Painted Yarns, in a colorway named “John B.”

Claudia Hand Paint from Yarns on First                                                                        You can see the huge selection of colorways of this yarn there in the stacked baskets.  I had a hard time making up my mind, I’ll tell you.

And a wool/mohair blend from Schaefer Yarns called “Anne.”

sock yarn at Yarns on First                                             Snuggling up next to the Claudia Hand Paint. 

I’m really excited about this yarn, because of the mohair content, naturally.  (You all know about my love affair with mohair, right?)  Of course, the Mountain Colors yarn that I bought at Stash has some mohair content, as well, so that’s exciting too.  (You have to find these little things every day to keep you going, you know?)

Yarns on First, 1305 First Street, Napa, CA 94559 707-257-1363

And finally…

Saturday, July 14th, 2007

Sarah and I apologize for the slim pickings on this blog over the past week, but frankly, we were just bone tired. And in my case, just a tad behind on regular life activities.

The wedding and the receptions were great fun, but I have to admit that I am relieved that they are over. I still maintain that I made a rather poor bride, given my virtually nonexistent enthusiasm for wedding preparations, but when the day(s) came, everyone lied boldly and said I looked beautiful.

And that, as everyone knows, is the really important thing.

Another important thing: the contest. I will get some solid numbers for these events and announce a winner next week. Hang onto your hats!

Meanwhile, a little photo essay on the MA reception…

Pre-reception, the kitchen was very well used:
This is the obvious moment to remind everyone that Sarah made all the food and the cakes for this party. Thank you, Sarah! It was a brilliant job.

And the Knit Sisters were immortalized forever in a moment of high seriousness:
This was a serious occasion, people.

The backyard looked sublime…
For those of you who remember the old yard with its intractable Lost Patio of Atlantis, isn’t this a revelation?

…and I attempted to photograph the flowers while Shelley rolled in the grass.
All flower arrangements were courtesy of my friend Em, who made $20 worth of flowers look like a million bucks.

The lone snacker kicks the party off:
Snack early, snack often.

While some early guests circle the spread:
Who will inaugurate the feast?

Get a load of them shrimps, will ya?
Six pounds of these babies were ultimately consumed.

I made some last minute adjustments to Alex’s general appearance.
He looked pretty darn good already, but…

Family portrait with dog:
Shelley, I am pleased to report, displayed perfect dog behavior during the entire party. This outcome was greatly hoped for, but not a given.

Shelley greets an old friend from New York:
The moment of thrilling reunion!

And the divine Ms. Em, who also worked tirelessly to pull this party together and to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude, finally relaxes with a brew:
Believe me, she deserves that and more.

One younger guest cools off:
Dude. I got ice.

While another makes something special in the birdbath:
This wonderful concoction is known as a “Yucky, Yucky, Yucky, Yucky Pudding.” I have this on the ultimate authority—the chef herself, shown here in full party mufti.

Sarah shows off her masterworks:
These cakes were really, really impressive.

Here’s the cake top Sarah and Em put together:
Who knew they were also so good with flowers?

Now old pros, Alex and I cut the cake while Miss A. acted as official photographer.
It was much more fun and not nearly so nerve-wracking this time around, leading me to the conclusion that everyone should have at least two wedding receptions, if not three.

Here’s the late afternoon garden scene.
A few of the guests mill about.

Someone brought an extra guest:
In case anyone asks, I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world.

Finally, I would like to give special thanks (in some cases again) to Sarah for all the delectable food, to Emily and Tope for working so tirelessly as sous chefs, to my parents for hosting this party, to Alex’s father for taking all these pictures, and to Alex for exceptional house cleaning services and party errand-running.

It was a lovely time, thanks to all of you.


Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

While in California, I (naturellement) visited the available yarn shops.  My first LYS stop was Stash, in Berkeley, which I visited while Ellen was getting her hair done and her veil superglued attached to her head at the salon.

Stash in Berkeley

It’s a very cool little shop, full of many temptations for the yarn-a-holic.  The lighting is nice, the floors are wood, and the people are friendly.

Here’s Barb and Rebecca, who of course got the full story of the wedding and a free mini-tour of the blog, and acted pleased and gracious about it!  Now that’s class! 

Barb and Rebecca at Stash in Berkeley

They had this lovely intarsia sweater hanging from one of the shelves, and I just couldn’t resist taking a picture of it, although I myself won’t touch intarsia with a ten-foot pole.  But I am well able to admire the proper execution of it by others.  And the inside of this sweater was as beautifully finished as the outside.

Stash in Berkeley 

I decided that I would only buy sock yarn from the yarn shops I visited while in California, and my first purchase of such (from Stash, naturally) was this Mountain Colors Bearfoot.

Mountain Colors Bearfoot from Stash

These ladies were so nice–they let me pull out all the colorways and poke around in them to my heart’s content.  I finally settled on this dark purple solid and a handpaint colorway called “Eureka.”  I have in mind to work one of the tessellated or mosaic patterns from Charlene Schurch’s sock books with these two skeins.

See, it’s OK to buy more sock yarn while on vacation (no matter how much you have at home) because it only takes two skeins, at most, and you can always squeeze a couple more small skeins of sock yarn into your luggage.  Also, it provides you with a memento of your trip that keeps on giving–both while you knit them and when you wear them.  When they put Ellen and me in the home in adjoining rooms, I’ll still be able to look at my Mountain Colors socks and remember my trip to California and her lovely wedding. 

Sarah:  “Oh, I remember when I bought this yarn!  It was when we all went to California for your wedding!  Now, was Mother still alive back then?  I don’t think so.”

Ellen:  “Oh, she was too, Sarah!  Don’t you remember that jacket she had on with the rhinestone roses?”

Sarah:  “I don’t remember any such jacket.  You’re making that up!”

Ellen:  “I am not!  Why, she told me that you went with her when she bought that jacket!  In fact, you were the one you wanted her to buy it, she said.”

Sarah:  “Well, I don’t remember that.  I think you’re lying.  You always did stretch the truth.”

Ellen:  “I’ve never told a lie in my life!  And besides, you know that Mother lived for thirty years after my wedding.  I don’t know why you’d even think she wasn’t there that day.  You just can’t remember anything any more.”

You see what we have to look forward to?  Our golden years.

Stash, 1820 Solano Ave., Suite B-2, Berkeley, CA 94707 510-558-9276