Monthly Archives: October 2007

Pollyanna Issues a Pay It Forward Challenge! (all Jane-style)


Lyda here. Sometime this weekend, we reached 10,000 hits on our blog. I’m incredibly excited by this. I feel like we won a major award.

I want to thank the Fiber Academy…

So, in honor of our amazing readers, and with gratitude to each of you – and with special shout out to Jane – I present this Pay It Forward Challenge.

Introduction and Stuff Like That There: 

This Pay It Forward comes from this post on Jane’s blog, which came from Rachel. I apologize, I don’t have a link for Rachel’s blog. Jane or Rachel, if you give it to me, I’ll update this. You will notice that so far I am the only commenter on Jane’s post. You will also notice I gave her some hints for my PIF. Shy and retiring, ya’ll know me…

The other day, Jane commented that she got the stuff for my PIF, and I had no idea what she was talking about. She had to remind me that PIF = Pay It Forward. Dur!

The Meat of the Challenge:

Ha, I said “meat!” Yes, I am 12. 

So here’s how this Pay It Forward Challenge works:

1) I will send a handmade item to the first 5 people who leave a comment on this post.

2) You can leave hints in your comment about colors, themes, and the project you’d like. But the handmade item will be a surprise although I will listen to your desperate pleas, bwahahaha.

3) Once you comment, I will email you to get your mailing address.

4) You agree to continue the Pay It Forward Challenge on your blog. You post an entry and send the first 5 commenters a PIF item of your own creation.

5) You will receive something from me within 365 days. Okay – I missed the original October 31, 2008 deadline so I’m extending my deadline to get the stuff to ya’ll to March 31, 2008 and that means that two more folks can get in on the action. Debbie, you’re in, baby!

Disclaimers and Clarifications and Other Small Print My Lawyer Made Me Include:

1) “My lawyer” being defined as Anna-Liza.

2) And “made me” being defined as “my best friend is trying to keep me from overextending myself and going completely Loony Tunes.”

2a) “Loony Tunes” being where they put me in a padded room, sans sewing machine, sans pointy sticks.

2a(i) As opposed to my current state of outpatient insanity  robust mental health.

2b) And then ya’ll would never get your swag.

3) The handmade item will be a quilted item, stitched by machine and quilted either by machine or hand.

3a) Because I’m a much more experienced quilter than knitter.

3b) And my fabric stash is much bigger than my yarn stash.

3b(i) Which is non-existent.

3c) And because ya’ll don’t want me to knit you anything in my newbie knittingness.

3c(i) Not even a scarf, since the mysterious “rectangle” seems to be a difficult shape for me to achieve.

3d) Really you don’t. I’m just saying, is all.

4) The handmade item will be a fairly small project.

4a) Like a small bag. A Yule stocking. A needle case. A potholder. 

4b) Something that size.

4c) I am not going to be making you a quilt for your bed, ya’ll.

4c(i) For one thing, you could freeze to death waiting.

4c(ii) Just ask the Resident Sith Master how long it took me to finish his quilt- and he’s my flesh and blood!

4c(ii)(1) Started for his March birthday, completed the next Yule.

4c(ii)(1)(a) Or maybe it was the Yule after that.

4c(ii)(1)(b) But I digress…

4c(iii) Notice how I am still making “baby quilts” for Anna-Liza’s sons.

4c(iii)(1) With the fabric I bought when the 3-year-old was born, ya’ll.

4c(iii)(2) That’s right. Three. Years. Best. Friend. 

4c(iii)(2)(a) So ashamed.

5) The PIF items will be made by Pollyanna of the West Coast – Lyda – and not by Pollyanna of the Rocky Mountains (Anna-Liza).

5a) Who really is a separate person, and not my alter-ego.

5a(i) I should be so lucky.

5a(i)(1) Ya’ll haven’t seen her husband.

5a(i)(2) Or her yarn stash.

5a(i)(2)(a) I was going to write just “Or her stash” but it sounded dirty…

5a(i)(2)(b) Or illegal.

5a(i)(2)(c) She is right now wondering why that stopped me.

5a(i)(2)(d) So am I.

6) Anna-Liza is completely innocent  not obligated by this Pay It Forward Challenge in any way unless she wants to get in on this train wreck  the action…

6a) Sorry, I just couldn’t leave “completely innocent.”

6a(i) I kept falling out of my chair laughing.

7) I will start on the Pay It Forward Challenge items real quick.

7a) Just as soon as I finish the Prince Quilts.

7a(i) Three. Years. Best. Friend.

7a(ii) So. Ashamed.

7b) And the “Chuck Norris Bites Frost” scarf.

7b(i) Now 40% complete. I love this yarn!

7c) And finish the “Global Warming” scarf.

7c(i) Just need to block it.

7c(ii) And add fringe.

7c(ii)(1) This weekend! she says optimistically.

7d) And possibly start on a scarf for Gorgeous-and-Available Engineer brother…

8.) But ya’ll will be right at the top of my list.

8a) Really.

8b) Anything to avoid working on the Twisted Sister Scarf.

8b(i) Stupid Twisty Ribbon yarn!

8b(ii) No More “Twisted Sister!”

8b(ii)(1) But I digress…

Pollyanna and More Weirdness of Halloween, Movie Edition

Lyda here. As promised, here’s this week’s edition of

The Weirdness of Humans: Halloween Movie Edition

Cue the creepy music…  Bwahahaha… Etc.

If you like gory-scary movies for Halloween, you can find plenty of stuff. Personally, I’m more into the classics and the comedies. (I relied heavily on Wikipedia for the links, sorry about that. See, there was this thing called “work”… Really scary, kids!)

1) Here’s a history of horror films. I saw the 1922 silent film, “Nosferatu” in college (theater major, ya’ll know) and it scared the bejesus out of me. And I didn’t even know I had bejesus in me! It is worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it, but it’s definitely not for kids. This is not a seductive vampire, and I promise it will really creep you out.

2) Of course, the black and white films are classics: “Dracula”, “the Mummy”, “Frankenstein”, and “The Invisible Man.” (There are links for them all in the history article above.) But my favorite is…

3) “The Wolf Man” (1941). I first saw it at a slumber party. My first slumber party, my first horror movie. (I was in 5th grade.) The slumber party was a a classmate’s ranch, and she had a large dog who barked all night. Or maybe it was her big brother and his friends trying to scare us. I was terrified.

This movie is compelling, with the fog and the gypsy woman and, most of all, because of Lon Chaney Jr.’s portrayal of the Wolf Man as a decent and tortured man trapped in a nightmare. Unlike Bela Lugosi’s Dracula, who enjoys preying on the innocent, Lon Chaney Jr’s Wolf Man is a tragic victim. This is still my favorite of the black and white horror classics.

4) The classic “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” (1948) is both really funny and a bit scary. Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi reprise their classic roles (as the Wolfman and Dracula respectively), with a brief and funny cameo by Vincent Price as the Invisible Man. The special effects, especially when Dracula transforms into a bat and back to a man, are still good. This is one of my favorite horror movies, and one of my favorite movies made by this team.

Fun fact: The Frankenstein Monster is played by Glenn Strange, who broke his foot during the production. So Lon Chaney Jr. filled in as the Monster during the chase scene in the laboratory. He had of course played the Monster before. (Boris Karloff declined to play the Monster for this film. Spoilsport.)

5) Apparently Boris Karloff reconsidered after the success of the team’s first comedy/horror movies. He did “Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff” (1949) with them. Fun fact: This film was banned in Denmark because of the scene with the corpses playing cards. Did the Danes object to the corpses or the card-playing? He also did “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1953).

There is also “Abbott and Costello Meet the Invisible Man” (1951), and “Hold that Ghost” (1941) with gangsters and ghosts, and “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy” (1955) which was the team’s last of 26 films for Universal.

6) There is the 1931 “Frankenstein.” And then there is “Young Frankenstein” (1974), Mel Brook’s affectionate tribute. Mel even reused much of the 1931 movie’s laboratory equipment. The actors are awesome: Gene Wilder, Teri Garr, Marty Feldmen, Peter Boyle as the monster, Cloris Leachman, and one perfect scene with Gene Hackman as The Blind Man. And Madeleine Kahn! The dialogue is utterly quotable. My brothers used to do entire scenes from the movie to amuse us. Rated among the 100 funniest movies of all time on a host of different lists. A perfect movie.

7) And of course, we have to include “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975), the cult classic of all cult classics. Or at least one of the first to have such a huge and heavily-costumed following. This one, of course, is not for the kids.

8.) If you are looking for innovative, clever, and really funny Halloween fare, you could do a lot worse than the Simpsons. The annual Halloween episodes are sharp parodies of the genre that is horror. (Okay, these are not movies, but they parody movies, and they are too funny to miss.)

9) Check out this post for more zombie and Halloween movies and stuff, and this post for more Halloween Weirdness including a couple of movies, and this post for a story about a Halloween party I once had.

Apparently I’m obsessed with Halloween.

10) And zombies. And this year, I’m the scariest creature of them all: the Perimenopause Zombie. Run for your lives, kids!


Pollyanna and What’s in a Name?

Lyda here.

First, I want to let you all know that my Ravelry name is “PollyannaWest.” [Edited to the correct name – Marin told me that when I registered I accidently left out the “Y” in Pollyanna. Oops! But then Marin told me how to fix it. Thanks, Marin!] Please be my friend. I was tempted to use “Darth Pollyanna” but I thought that might be a bit obscure. Besides, we all know that I’m not the Sith in my house.

I’m working on the weekly Random Weirdness post, which will be about Halloween. I know, you are stunned. A Halloween post on Halloween. How unusual. How innovative. How creative. I will try to post it either tonight or tomorrow.

My son the Resident Sith Master and I have a school conference tonight. So of course, I could hardly sleep (not because of the conference, because of my boring, I-refuse-to-dwell-on-it, my-body-hates-perimenopause stuff). I need to have black eyes and be unable to put together a coherent sentence at the meeting, apparently.

Summary: I am not a Sith, but I think my body might be…

Meanwhile, back at the stash: (yes, I used this phrase yesterday, and I’ll probably use it tomorrow…)

Work continued last night on the scarf for second son “Chuck Norris”, not to be confused with the real Chuck Norris. Last night I began the second color, which is a purplish red. It looks great next to the black. This is my first project with two different color yarns, and I’m inordinately pleased with how good it looks. “Simple pleasures are the best…”

Maybe I’ll call this scarf the “Chuck Norris Bites Frost” Scarf, based on a “Chuck Norris fact” that is one of the top 10 favorites of the man himself:

“Chuck Norris doesn’t get frostbite. Chuck Norris bites frost.”

Or I could call it the “Good Guys Wear Black” scarf, since that is the name of one of his early movies.

Or I could call it the “Lone Wolf” scarf, after his movie, “Lone Wolf McQuade” (1983), in which he said: “My kind of trouble doesn’t take vacations.” Love the quote, not so much naming it the “Lone Wolf scarf”. Second son is really not the lone wolf kind of guy, which is a good thing.

I think I like “Chuck Norris Bites Frost” as a name best.

The Resident Sith Master does not understand why I have to name the scarf. I told him, every project must have a name, in the grand tradition of the Heathers Scarf. (Hi Marin, still stalking you!)

He thinks I’m crazy.

He may be right.


Pollyanna just wants to have fun (this post 100% politics-free)

Lyda here. Friday’s post was pretty heavy-duty serious, not to mention way too long. No politics today, I promise.*

Check this out – DrawMo 2007. You draw one drawing each day of November. Fun! You can do it with the group online, or on your own. C’mon, we can do it together!

Even – especially! – if you don’t think of yourself as an artist, you can just lock up your Inner Critic for a few minutes and put something on the page each day. Doodles, cartoons, or freeform squiggles are fine. You do not have to show your drawings to anyone, ever. No one will grade you. There will not be a pop quiz.**

A pad of art paper can be worth the price, and you can often find it on sale. But cheap paper has the advantage of being, well, cheap. Disposable. You can rip it up and start over, you can play, you don’t feel pressured to Create Great Art.

Meanwhile, back at the stash…

I worked a lot on the scarf for second son “Chuck Norris” this weekend. I’m loving knitting with this huge soft yarn (Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick yarn  – as mentioned in this post). Very easy, very soft, fast results.

I’m knitting the scarf lengthwise, so I cast on 30 stitches and then put down the needles and measured. I’m getting about 25 stitches to a foot, and I want the scarf to be at least 6 feet long, so I cast on 150 stitches. That was a lot of yarn on my size 13 (with 36″ cord) circulars. It was too bunchy on the needles and I didn’t like working like that. So I tinked some and ended up with 100 stitches on the needles. My plan is to make the scarf in two equal sections which I will then join. In theory this will make the scarf 8 feet long. “Chuck Norris” is tall and getting taller, and now lives where they get that white cold stuff in piles on the ground. I think ya’ll call that ‘snow’. Yes, I am trying to make him a walking blanket he can wear around his neck. Yes, this may have something to do with being an overprotective second mom.

So far, I’ve knit a whole skein of black, and tonight I will start with the Claret colorway (which is a purplish red). We’ll see how the scarf looks with fairly thick vertical stripes of each color, since that’s how I started. No matter how it looks, it will certainly be warm!

It’s going to be hard to go back to the Twisted Sister scarf and the evil twisty ribbon yarn after this.

* See? No politics. Yarn! Art! Fun!

** See? Not even a pop quiz!

Pollyanna of the Rockies Has a “Quiet” Weekend

Hey folks, Anna-Liza here.

Just a quick post to let you know I’m still around and still knitting. Life’s been getting in the way of blogging lately. Isn’t it annoying when that happens? Work, sick kids, parent-teacher conferences, work, sick self, work, finally getting my own copy of Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair (by our beloved Laurie), knitting, occasionally sleeping; you know, the usual drill, but more concentrated.

And this weekend, the kidlets are visiting their grandparents. Yep, all weekend. So Darlin’ K and I have the house all to ourselves … all alone … just the two of us …

So, you know? I can’t seem to focus on putting together an entertaining (or even informative) blog post. I’ll just have to leave you in Lyda’s more-than-capable hands while I … take care of a few things.

Don’t worry, I’ll be back.


Pollyanna gets annoyed

Lyda here. Here’s the Annoying Stuff, which grew from what was going to be a minor mention in the last post to this post of epic proportions. Really, it’s kind of the blog version of “War and Peace.” Ya’ll might want to grab a frosty beverage. Or some wine.

But enough digression, on to the main event. Anna-Liza here–I’ll be chiming in here and there–the green is me!

Here’s an article that says that feminists have more fun in their relationships, and probably better sex. What “probably”? Oh yeah! Join the revolution! The study is cool. But the article annoys me. 

Toward the end, it says, ”Men with feminist partners may enjoy the extra breadwinner to share the economic burden of maintaining a household.”

The sentence just gets my goat, and a whole flock of sheep besides. There is just so much objectionable in this one statement that I have to take it to pieces to discuss it.

First, a woman doesn’t have to be a “feminist partner” to work. Are women choosing whether or not to work based on their feminism rather than any other factors in their lives?

If we conducted a random poll of commuters, or of people in any given workplace, and asked, “Why do you work outside the home?” – I’m guessing most of them would not list their political convictions as the first reason. Second, either, unless they’re employed by a political party or something.

Most women work for the same reason that most men work: they need the money.

Second, I object to ”the extra breadwinner.” I find that phrase distinctly offensive.

In what percentage of households is the woman’s income “extra”? Let’s do an informal poll, shall we? How many adults do you know whose income is “extra”?

There has never been a moment in my adult life when my income was “extra. There was never a moment when my mother’s income was “extra,” either.

Please Note: I’m not against working for extra income – oh the yarn one could buy! And I’m not against not working outside the house. I’m only saying that most people work as an economic necessity. I’m not saying that economics don’t play a part in politics, and vice versa. But you’re smart, you already figured that part out. 

Third, a man does not have to be a feminist to “enjoy” having a woman “share the economic burden of maintaining a household.” I can tell you that from personal experience. Come on over, we’ll knit, we’ll drink, we’ll talk.

And even more pernicious, sneaking behind that offensive sentence is a whiff of the suggestion that men are somehow giving women permission to work.

“My, aren’t you cute all dressed up for work and pretending you have a mind of your own? Come on over here, you independent girl you. [Crushes delicate woman to his manly chest. Interlude deleted to keep us all from being ill.] Well, okay, honey, if it makes you happy, you can work outside the house. [Pats the little woman on the head.] As long as you make less than me, of course. And realize that your job is just a hobby while my job is important. And as long as I decide how the money you make is spent. And as long as you are willing to give it up at a moment’s notice if I change my mind. And of course, as long as you keep doing all the household chores and all the childcare.”

Hello, who actually thinks we live like this?? And am I the only one imagining stabbing both people in my imagined scenario with my pointy sticks? Equality in pointy-stick stabbing. [Anna-Liza, is it me, or does that guy in that scenario remind me of someone?] [No, he reminds me of several someones. Let’s try not to think about it.]

I should probably mention, right about here, that the number of two-parent households in which the wife earns the higher salary is growing, and the number of two-parent households in which the father is a “stay-at-home dad” is growing, too.

Fourth, a woman who is not working outside the house is still sharing “the economic burden of maintaining a household.” That’s probably the bit that pisses me off the most.

The truth is that most women throughout most of history in most of the world have worked, and most women in most of the world work now. Often at brutally hard labor, often in shockingly dangerous conditions, often for little pay or for no pay at all – and often without adequate recourse to address the injustices. (Here’s an overview of recent women’s labor history.) Hey, I am not minimizing men’s work or labor hardships, but that’s another rant. 

It’s the “working for little or no pay” that skews the statistics. We’ll come back to this.

The whole concept of women throughout history lounging around living off the sweat of a man’s brow is nonsense. In easy conditions, women and men are right there with the lounging around. In difficult conditions, everyone works.

Women lounging around eating grapes while the men slave away – while perhaps a lifestyle to dream about in one’s idle moments – actually happens very seldom. Even Cleopatra had a day job.

But somehow, the lie persists. The lie is that The Working Woman is a new and minor social phenomenon, sort of like the hoola-hoop fad. The lie is that in the United States, an average family looks like the family in “Father Knows Best” or “Leave It to Beaver.”

Today, the married-with-kids family in the U.S., according to this report, ”typically is a household with few children, with both parents working, and with mothers producing their children at ever older ages.“ The same report states: “By the end of the century, only one in five married couples had just a single male breadwinner working outside the home.”

There are many families that are not even the “man-and-woman-married-with-kids” kind. Shocking, isn’t it?

Hello, sloppy journalist, welcome to real life. Barbara Billingsley is not coming over to bake you cookies and clean your room..

In 1950 in the U.S., about one in three women worked outside the home.(that’s straight from the Labor Department – check out the chart.) “In 1975, one-half of all women in the U.S. with children under 18 worked outside the home.” “Women constituted more than 45 percent of employed persons in the United States in 1989.” “In 2000, some 77 percent of women between 25 and 54 were in the workforce.”

And this still isn’t the whole story.

The labor statistics only include work on the books (the employer reports the payroll to the government). People have always worked for cash paid under the table. And some people barter services and products. This work does not show up in labor statistics. A lot of this work is done by women. And then, of course, there is slavery–sexual and otherwise. Most of the enslaved of the world are women and children. Don’t think that’s not part of the economy, and don’t think it doesn’t happen in this country.

Lyda edited to  add: Good point! Thank you for adding that.

The labor statistics also include as “not working outside the home” people who are students, unable to work, retired, independently wealthy, etc. The statistics count everyone “16 and up”. I don’t know if they even adjust for the numbers of people in prison and hospitals.

Fifth, there is yet another insidious assumption in the article: that women who do not “work outside the home” – and their partners – can not be feminists. That’s it, hand me my pointy sticks!

There are many reasons that women do not “work outside the home.” Including –yes, say it with me –economic reasons. Sometimes the woman would be so poorly paid that the family that would lose money if she went to work and they had to pay for the services she provides while at home.Sometimes a woman wants to work outside of the house but cannot find a job. Been there, done that, got the layoff slip.

Many of these women are working in the home. Caring for children, caring for other family members, running a home business, and working at a family business like a farm or a store or a restaurant is working. The person doing this work is contributing a great deal economically to the family unit. Yes, I’m a heretic.

But it doesn’t show in the “working women” statistics.

I like this report’s suggestion: “The most important public response to maternal employment is that which would insure freedom of choice among many roles.” Wouldn’t it be nice to “insure freedom of choice among many roles” for everyone? I know, I’m a dreamer too.


There is a sleazy nastiness to the “woman who works outside the house” versus “woman who stays at home” concept. It creeps into unconscious judgments about us and them. It oozes slime. Thank you, my dear, for bringing this up. Especially since most of the women I know who are mothers have done both, including the two of us. “Divide and conquer” works even better when the division makes it impossible to ever be “good enough”.

It hints that a woman who works outside the home is not feminine, not attractive. There is an undercurrent of “You are a bad mother because you aren’t with your children” or “You are a horrible person because you don’t want children.” It whispers, “You are selfish to want a work you care about” and ”Your man is going to leave you for a real woman.”

It hints that a woman who does not work outside the home is too soft, too dependent. There is an undercurrent for mothers of “You are teaching your children to be dependent on you” and sometimes “Aren’t your children a little old to need their mommy?” It whispers, ”You are selfish to stay home” and “You are a leech; he’s going to leave you for a real woman.”

It also has very nasty messages for men. “Wow, your woman works; guess you aren’t man enough to support her.” or “Geez, your wife stays home, you aren’t man enough to get an independent woman.” And for all the men, “You are whipped.” Yes, that kind of whipped.

It oozes around and creates tension and hostility. Slimy messages for all! Nasty name-calling!

We all need this shit like we need infestations of moths in our yarn stashes.

In conclusion (Finally! How I do go on!)

Going to work does not make you or your partner a feminist. Or keep you from being one.

Staying home does not keep you or your partner from being a feminist. Or make you one.

“I have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.”

– Rebecca West, 1913 (only seven years before U.S. women got the vote) (Get the t-shirt.)


Pollyanna West Coast gets to join the cool kids!

Lyda here.

I’ve got some important stuff, and some fun stuff, and some trivial stuff, and some annoying stuff, for ya’ll today. Okay, the annoying stuff is a whole other post, which I’m working on.

Which do you want first?

Ha! Never mind. I can’t wait to tell you the Important Stuff!

I GOT MY INVITATION TO RAVELRY!!! I’ll be one of the cool kids now!!

Well, you knew the important stuff had to be about fibery goodness, right?

Before I go over there and register and wander about (I’ll let you know what my name is over there), I’ll share the other stuff. But quick-like.

The Trivial Stuff: Last night, I got out my new circular needles for the scarf for second son, “Chuck Norris.” I straightened the loop connecting the needles. You will laugh that I had to ask Anna-Liza (again!) how to do this when we talked this weekend.

So, for any newbie knitters out there who are too embarassed to ask: I put the circular needles into very hot water for a bit, until the nylon got all soft and cooperative. Then I put a towel down on the counter, stretched the needles and cord out straight, and weighed the nylon cord down with books. I left it like that for several hours, and viola, cord that is in one gentle curve instead of several tight loops. I don’t know that it takes hours, but I was at college night with my son – wonder if the recruiters knew that they were talking to a Sith master! One school had a dragon as a mascot, which of course influenced me in their direction. But I digress…

Anna-Liza says she does this each time she uses her circulars, because when not in use she keeps them coiled up. Some people store their circulars flat so the nylon doesn’t get all curly between projects.

Maybe this isn’t so trivial. It is about knitting, after all…

Anyway, on to The Fun Stuff:

Wouldn’t this be a great knitting bag for KIP?


The tote says (in case you can’t see it), in lovely raspberry cursive writing: “This is what a Feminist looks like.” (That link will lead you to where to buy; they have t-shirts too!)

I love the idea of busting both the knitter and feminist stereotypes by using this bag for knitting. Two! Two! Two stereotypes in one!