Friday, May 26, 2006

Stop! The Socks You Save May Be Your Own....

In honor of Memorial Day, I am hereby going to make a salute to my departed father, who was a veteran of the United States Army and a 20-year career diplomat with the United States Foreign Service, by showing a picture of my mother's handmade Texan Star Flag Quilt. (Mumsy always called him "Big Daddy".) And as my father always told me: "Sugarplum, Texas is God's Country."

Anyhoo, I'm very glad for the holiday weekend because I'm bone-tired or, as my mother says, "TARD". Frazzled, worn-out, dead-tired, beat down.....none of those words suffice for the week I've had. I bet I've seen and tended to every sick person in the tri-county region. And their brothers. And their sisters. And their uncles. And to top it all off...

All the animals are mad at me.

All of them, I tell you, all of them! Even Mrs. Priddle's weeny-dog, Scooter, is mad at me. Little Taffy the calf is mad at me, too. And for God's sakes, now the Lisks' SHEEP are pissed off.

And what I want to know is: WHAT DID I DO?

I am innocent, I tell you. I haven't done a dad-gum thing to the animals and yet every animal I came into contact this week has been rude or downright confrontational. (And I'm not even going to THINK ABOUT the Incident at the Rickenbocker Ranch--I'm trying to bury that little episode into my subconscious....) (But the Rickenbocker bull was a perfect example.)

The sheep are mad at me. They're mad at me because I'm using acrylic yarn on the sweater-coat. Sigh.... like I told you, in a small town everybody knows everything about you. So somehow the sheep found out. And the reason I know is because when I innocently drove up to the Lisk Farm today, every durn sheep in their side pen suddenly woke up out of their afternoon nap and started bleating their heads off.

I thought maybe it was just because an arriving vehicle had disturbed their mid-day siesta underneath a shade tree. But no, it was me, alright -- because the minute I climbed down out of the Jeep, they all jumped up and ran over to the fence, looked me right in the eyeballs, and proceeded to begin a complete cacaphony chorus of loud angry bleatings. The NERVE of those stupid sheep, I thought. Afterall, it's a FREE COUNTRY. They were so noisy that all the other animals on the farm started in, too. Even some roosters, two paint ponies, a nanny goat, and the family dog joined in with their own brou-ha-ha.

(Now THAT really hurt--I've always been on good terms with that dog.) But the sheep had started the whole thing. I stood there in amazement, wondering if the sheep had taken leave of their senses. I mean, these are lazy sheep. Very lazy. They rarely leave the shade tree once the temperature gets to the 70's. And it was HOT today. It was at least 98 or 100 degrees in the shade. It was so hot that I saw the neighbor dog chasing a cat and they were both walking. And I was burning up myself and in no mood for the stupid sheep's antics. So I hollered at the sheep: "What in the hell is the MATTER with you? If it's about the sweater-coat, just remember that I can use any damn yarn I feel like using, including acrylic, and don't you forget it." But they kept on with their bleatings, with the ponies now stomping in the dirt, the nanny goat running in circles, the dog barking, and me arguing with everybody, until Farmer Lisk came out the screen door and hollered "What in the Sam Hill is going on out here?" So I shut up and they all stopped their noise and we all returned, sullenly, to our previous activities. Sheesh, stupid touchy sheep, I thought to myself. In fact, they're starting to get as uppity as the paint ponies.

I get plenty of "tsk- tsk's" from fellow knitters for using acrylic yarn, too. And it's not like I use acrylic all the time. Hell, I use every kind of yarn there is under the sun. Wool, alpaca, silk, you name it--but yes, sometimes I use acrylic. It's getting to where when I go to my 12-Step Meetings I have to add "...and I use acrylic yarn" when I announce my name. (I've learned to accept the hushed, horrified silence that greets my announcement.) So I am going to have to take a stand here about my use of acrylic yarn on the sweater-coat. Listen, I like expensive, beautiful, soft wool yarn just like the next knitter. (As a matter of fact, I'm saving some beautiful, handpainted Urugayan merino wool for an entrelac project after the sweater-coat.) But sometimes a project just requires a good, basic, acrylic yarn--something like Red Heart, my Walmart salvation.

For one thing, I just can't afford to use expensive wool yarn on every single project, nor would I want to. And I'm in the boondocks here--if I want to use anything but Walmart's Red Heart, I've got to order it from afar and pay shipping. And, like I said--there are many projects that are suited only to a yarn such as Red Heart. I think that Red Heart is an unsung hero. Just like all the redneck and cowboy guys around here are called "good ole boys", I think that Red Heart is a "good ole yarn". And you know, there are some very important points to make about Red Heart yarn. I will list them here and give a good ole Memorial Day salute to Red Heart yarn: Why Red Heart Yarn is A Good Ole Yarn: 1. It's CHEAP. Hey, you can't go wrong with the price. Let's say you're knitting along and you make a huge goof on a cuff and you don't feel like tinking back. Or you're unwinding a skein and you find a horrendous knot in the middle of the skein and you can't stand the thought of having to sit there for hours to untangle it. Well you don't have to tediously tink back...and you don't have to sit there and gnash your teeth while unknotting the knot....simply throw the offending mess away and start with new yarn! Heck, I've thrown entire sleeves out before and just started over with another skein. Red Heart's so cheap that it doesn't hurt a bit to sacrifice some.

2. It won't felt!

Hey, I live in Texas--we have rainstorms here that would rival Sri Lankan Monsoons. If I were wearing a sweater-coat made out of wool during one of those storms (while dodging chickens and cow-pies)--well you can imagine the consequences.

3. It comes in every color of the rainbow and then some. Solid colors, varigated colors, Christmas colors with glitter colors... it's great. For example, I like to knit worsted weight Red Heart into hearty, sturdy "House Socks" for the winter. I purposely make them as hideously mis-matched as I can just because I can! And I make them knee high for warmth and coziness. "House Boot Socks" is a more apt name for them. My friends clamor for me to make them pairs for their own--they like to use them to sleep in. These House Boots keep your toes and legs toasty all winter long-- and you can even use them to hang over the fireplace on Christmas Eve--because they're so long that you're bound to get more stocking-stuffer gifts than anybody else.

Unfortunately, I wear my House Boots so much that they end up looking like this:

Hideous, aren't they? (And true to my habits, the fair isle patterns don't match.) But I do such things on purpose. Remember I told you that my rebellious motto is: Show me two colors that don't match and I'll knit them right next to each other. The above particular pair of House Boots have definitely seen better days--as you can see, I've worn a huge hole in the heel of one and am about to on the other one. Think I ought to darn them? Well that brings me to another great point about Red Heart yarn: I made these socks 2 years ago and if I go to Walmart today to get matching yarn to darn them with--IT'S STILL IN STOCK!! Yee-hah! I don't need no stinking dye lots! Walmart's dye lots all look the same! What a beautiful system!

(Okay, back to the reasons Red Heart is a Good Ole Yarn)....

4. Red Heart yarn is virtually EVERYWHERE that there is Walmart. On the road at a motel and wished you'd brought a knitting project and don't know where there's a yarn shop? Got Walmart? Flying to Tupelo and forgot your knitting? Got Walmart? Realize you're going to have to wait at the mechanic's while you get new tires and you're wondering what you're going to do while you wait? Got Walmart? In fact, Walmart is a double boon for getting your car worked on and needing some yarn---because if you're getting new tires or something at the Walmart Tire/Auto Center, they'll tell you to go shop while you're waiting. They'll send you through a hidden side door with a shopping cart and a nice little wave, and you'll find yourself near the fabrics & crafts--and the YARN. You can shop your head off and they'll call you on your cell phone when your vehicle is ready. And for some reason they always know just when to call--right after I've loaded my cart with 18 skeins of Red Heart for my next gift afghan project. I usually end up at the Tire Center check-out register paying for Red Heart yarn along with some Armor-All, my new tires, and a car-cup holder. This became a disaster one time when I rolled my shopping cart out to my newly-tire-bedecked Jeep in the parking lot, which happens to be a very slanted and unevenly paved parking lot. Now, I have my Walmart Parking Lot Driver's Certificate and it IS up-to-date, mind you. I happen to be an expert at navigating the treacherous conditions in Walmart's surrounding parking lots. I can circle those parking lanes with the best of them, all while talking on the cell phone, avoiding running down innocent elderly pedestrians, swerving around top-heavy shopping carts loaded with plasma TV's, missing by inches children selling cookies, and even stopping reluctantly to allow tattooed teenagers with IPod earphones glued to their ears stroll by as if they hadn't a care in the world--and all while STILL getting the closest parking space to whichever door I'm aiming for (usually the one closest to the Eyeglasses Center and the Customer RestRooms). I can swoop into a free parking place front-ways, back-ways, or side-ways depending on the wind speed, the slant of the sun in other drivers' eyes, or whether it's lunch break at the Walmart police sub-station. So it wasn't my fault that day in the Walmart Tire/Auto Center that I let go of the cart to get my car-keys and to my horror the cart started rolling away from me towards a brand new Lexus..... as it picked up speed (with lawsuit visions dancing in my head) I ran after that cart like a madwoman yelling: "Runaway Cart! Runaway Cart!"

The Walmart PO-leece man, who'd just gotten off his lunch break, came running out there thinking there was a crime being committed. He managed to grab the cart just before it collided with the Lexus, preventing disaster. "I oughta give you a ticket for reckless driving!" he yelled. "Oh calm down, Earle," the Walmart Tire/Auto Center manager retorted. "That durn Lexus is illegally parked. Everybody KNOWS that new Lexuses have to park 600 yards away from the main parking lot if they don't want to get themselves scratched. That's on page 56 of the New Owner Lexus Manual, I've seen it myself."

Oh yes...back to the reasons Red Heart is a Good Ole Yarn:

5. And last but not least, it doesn't stain and you can throw it in the washer.

I spill stuff on me every day while driving--because the roads to the ranches and farms are bumpy and perilous. (Okay, and sometimes I have been known to not pay very good attention to my driving & eating while driving pass the town's fire station.... because I'm looking at.... uh....the firemen standing around outside the station....and I can't help that some of those guys are just downright gorgeous, like the guy on the TV show "Rescue Me", and I have a secret fantasy that my Jeep would burst into flames right when I drive by so that they would have to come and rescue ME and.....) Oh..sorry. Uh yes, I spill stuff on myself while driving. I usually arrive at my destinations looking like a toddler's high-chair placemat....

So anyhoo, there you have it. It was definitely a rough week. I saw my last patient, Ms. Rickenbocker at the Rickenbocker Ranch, and then drove homewards, dying of starvation, but promising myself that I would NOT cook. I was too tired to cook. And I was still feeling somewhat irritated at Mr. Rickenbocker because of his flimsy excuse about the Incident at The Rickenbocker Ranch the other day, where his bull almost killed me.

"The reason those cows got out," he stated defiantly, "was because that stupid neighbor Hereford taught my cows how to get out. She comes from the Bustering Ranch and gets into our land somewhere down by the water hole. She walks right through the cat-tails, big as you please, like she owns the place."

"She taught your cows how to escape by the water hole?" I asked incredulously.

"Yes," he continued heatedly. "Not only that, but that dad-blasted cow comes from a ranch that has chicken houses-- and those communist chickens give her ideers. She's always trying to get my cows to unionize. But I got news for them. They think the chickens have it bad with the Chicken Plant over in the valley? Well I'll tell you WHAT-- the first time I hear even a WHISPER about unionizing is the day I truck them all to the Oscar Meyer Balogney Plant in Houston!" But I didn't argue with him. I know how neighbor animals can be. I once had a neighbor cat who would sit outside our window daily and taunt my cat till he flung himself into the glass and knocked himself silly. Anyway, after ending my work week, I was TARD. DANG TARD. Since I didn't want to cook I decided to stop at McDonalds and grab me a Happy Meal so that I could give the toy to my buddy Amber's daughter, Chloe. Upon arriving at McDonalds I was exasperated to find that when I pulled into the drive-thru lane I found myself behind two people on horseback. For crying out loud, I thought. Horses don't belong in the McDonald's drive thru! Around here, McDonalds provides a tie-up post for just such riders. But do they use it? Nooooooooo. So I waited patiently. Finally they got their hamburgers and galloped away. But not before each horse paused in a lovely syncronized motion to lift their tails and deposit two giant Horse-Pies directly in my path. I told you all the animals were mad at me. Ah well, such is life. But I have plans for relaxing thise weekend.....I plan on continuing my work on the sweater-coat. The ACRYLIC sweater-coat, dammit. I finished the third version of the collar and am happy with it. So now I can concentrate on the sleeves. Here's a pic of the collar:

Happy Memorial Day, everybody-- and I mean everybody from every country.

Here in Texas we're old-fashioned and we still call it "Decoration Day". We go to the graveyards and place flowers and flags to decorate our fallen soldiers' graves.

I feel like this is a pretty universal holiday and so I'm also wishing a Happy Memorial Day to anybody from any other country who has lost their own loved ones to the armed forces. My heartfelt prayers are with you -- and may there come a day for all of us when there are no more wars....

* * * * * * "I am his Highness' dog at Kew;

Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?"

(Engraved on His Highness' Dog Collar, given to His Highness by Alexander Pope)

* * * * * *

(Note--Iput the pattern for Worsted Weight Socks, which can be used for "Hideous House Boot Socks", "Hunting Socks", or "Soldier Socks", on my web site to save space on the blog---see links section.)


Kat said...

I just love your posts! Oh, and your knitting looks good, too. ;-)

I am another one of those who will use an APPROPRIATE yarn--whether it be Red Heart or angora. You go, girl!

Brewgal said...

I admit it. I still use Red Heart on occasion. Like you said, you don't have to worry about matching dye lots.

Loved your story about the horses in the drive thru!

Unknown said...

You are so entertaining...keep it coming. Your work is awesome too...obviously done by a master knitter.
Synthetics rule the washing machine and Texas. Hookem Horns!

Lizardknits said...

You are a hoot! Keep it comin'!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the ww socks pattern .. EXACTLY what I was searching for!
And sweetie .. you live in TEXAS. That's OIL country. Red Heart is acrylic .. it's MADE from oil. You are merely supporting your local industry!
Warm hugs and thanks again

Dorothy said...

Thank you! I needed a laugh, and you provided it for me. And that great pattern is a bonus :)

and the McDonalds lets horses go through?? We can't do that here

Bianca said...

LOL! I truely believe I was born in the wrong country. In the US you seem to have so many different kinds and colours of yarn that I am plain jealous! hehehe...:-)

What is wrong with acrylic, by the way? It usually knits up fast, and that is also fun. The sheep should be happy that we don't always appeal on their woolen coat :-)

Mz Mar said...

I'm sorry you had a bad week but I must say I certainly enjoyed reading about it!!
Your sweater coat is going to be stunning!!!
I've got to check out that sock pattern!

Anonymous said...

Reb, /re: your house socks, did you mend them, toss them or give them a Christian burial?

And Maggie must not be from God's Country or she would have pronounced it "Ol Bidness".

Lisa said...

Being a nurse and knitter, I just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed your blog. I am also on-call sometimes and found that portion very amusing (the things you get woken up for) knit on...Lisa

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