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Tuesday, January 4, 2005

My Way: Chicago (ChicKnits Style)
What might happen if you come to my kinda town...

The holidays might bring some...
They might bring you JOY!
For a long weekend past, I've was graced with a few and
now that they're gone, it's dull indeed.

Friday night was New Year's Eve. In the ChicKnits Household, that can mean one of two things: low key housebound rockin' around the Christmas tree or Pure Riotous Living. Eve 2005 was both: starting with a Bobby Darin (oh - he's Mr. Smooth alright) video concert (Mack Is Back!) and then a mad dash to the Lakefront to watch the spectacular Fireworks Display the City of Chicago puts on over Lake Michigan.

Since my visitors were from Tiny Towns, I felt compelled to show them the Chicago Way. Now, this can be anything from Quick Draw Parallel Parking to leaving an ironing board in the street in front of your house to protect your shoveled-out parking spot. (Seriously, *Markers* are a whole sightseeing trip in itself - you would not believe what people use to *mark their spots* - but no snow this weekend cracked that fun.) There are thousands of things the Chicago Urban Dweller does that could tickle and amaze and/or terrify you all at ONCE!

My Way consisted of racing down to the Lakefront at about 11:45pm (it's 3 miles from my house) and parking right on the Highway in a prime position directly in line with the barge out in Monroe Harbor that would fire off the Works! Ah - my guests were stunned and amazed that *I* would do this but were even more astounded when suddenly we were surrounded by hundreds more, and here is where I got to utter the ultimate, "Hey, it's the Chicago Way!"

Thousands will park for the time it takes to watch the INCREDIBLY EXCITING and big budget Duo-Barge SHootOff of heart stopping BOOMing Showers of twinkling light that arc over the Lake and richocet off the high-rises. Boom diddaBOOm Boom BOOM!!! didda boom... (repeat chorus 'til end...)

By the first didda, everyone has left their cars and are now standing on the pavement with their champagne and cheers fill the air raining kisseyFace Galore and even the lone cop guarding the nearby exit shakes his head with PURE JOY!

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Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Most of the time, when I'm making a quick project, I expect it to be QUICK.
Like, grab the D*&%#! needles,
cast-on with given yarn and

Sometimes this happens and a few hours later, VOILA! Painless project (spelled S-C-A-R-F) wraps neck in almost instant GLORY!

Today was not that day.

I've spent the morning casting on and knitting the same few rows over and over.

My luscious gifted Baby Alpaca Grande was misbehaving. It's ball band says the gauge is 3 sts per inch using #10.5 needles.

Not for me, it isn't! So I went up to #11 needles and got about 3" done and just hated the slightly loose way it was working up. This yarn is SOOO soft and drapey that it needs a little stitch discipline to, I believe, enhance it's durability.


I suddenly rememebered I had, of all things, lurking in the forest of Circular Needles that live in the studio, a #10.75 - 24" circular bamboo. WHOOT! Now, if you look at a regular USA distributed Bates needle gauge, there is not a 10.75 size. I accidently acquired it when I thought I was purchasing a #10.5 needle at my LYS.

from left to right:

#10.5 = 6.5 mm

#10.75 = 7 mm

#11 = 8 mm

WOW! The 10.5 is a whole 1.5 mm less than the #11. It appears as needles sizes enter the HUMuNGO range that the needle diameters jump larger too. But the 10.75 is a smooth 1 mm different than the #11. And, that TINY .5 millimeter makes a BIG difference! Now my scarf is going to do what it's told! Who's the BOSS!~

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Thursday, January 6, 2005

Last night it snowed about 10 inches.

This is a motorcycle parked in front of my house.

Not one, but TWO BLUE VWs covered with Snow across the street.

It is still snowing...

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Friday, January 7, 2004


Sometime ago, I received this needle sizer as a bonus
for subscribing to VOGUE magazine.

On close inspection, I see that this version has some of the missing mm sizes that are absent from the Bates Knit Chek sizer.

Looking back, I realize that initially I used this when I was making socks and switching between needles. Some smaller size USA marked circular needles from different companies are not the same - what is marked as a #1 Addi and a #1 Inox are not identical when measured in milimeters (hey, milimeters - one L or 2?).

Addi is 2.5 and the Inox is 2.25. AND believe it or NOT that actually makes a world of difference in my stitch tension.


Check out the diameters...

So, in the World of Sock Knitting, that tiny gauge can be tweaked by using needles from other brands.

Here's another good source for all needles: JKL Needles.

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Monday, January 10, 2005

  Monday Morning Mirth  


If you happen to be Downtown Chicago in the next few weeks, grab yer needles and go knit a spell under the auspices of


Now on display:
Thru February 20, 2005
Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue Galleries
78 E. Washington Street
Free Admission

"...Arizona-based artist Mark Newport uses superhero imagery and handcrafts, such as knitting and embroidery, to explore ideas of self-protection and protection of others as well as different facets of masculine identity and activity. On view are Newport's hand-knit, life-size superhero suits, along with his elaborate samplers, where he embroiders directly onto comic book covers."

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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

stop me before I zip again, and again, and...

This weekend, driven by an Insane House Elf, I have started to honor my New Year's Resolutions. ON the Playlist with a Bullet: Organize and Structure the Studio Workshop.

Here you'll find my stash, worktables, knitting machine, supplies, tools, etc. Some are already in a eye-pleasing form because they are in a public area and I've recently had discriminating house guests. Others are in a flux of disorder and chaos because? Well, just because...

In my burrowing and winnowing, I found some sweaters I've made that were not being worn because they were either needing some work or some alterations.

NUMBER ONE: the Heather Cardigan from Fall/Winter 2002-2003 (click on the little picture for details and a nice picture).

I love this sweater! I do not wear this sweater! WHY? I put the buttonholes too far into the button band and it did not lay gracefully. It annoyed me. It cried out for a zipper!

And THUS: zip1.jpg

Heather has lost the buttons and gained a fab two-way zipper. I used the original yarn to sew the buttonholes shut and because I was crafty and put the holes in the purl valley of a 1x1 ribbed vertical band (my favorite HERE), they disappeared like magic... The original yarn was very *grabby* and hairy so it blended well with its neighbors.

I have to admit, lately, for all of my work clothes, I prefer zippers or large snaps.

They stay shut better, lay flatter and are, IMHO, easier to apply than BUTTONS!

Since once is not enough in the ChicKnits Workshop, and the House Elf was beating my brain in with a bat, I continued to

And THUS: zip2.jpg

This simple fringed pullover was knit as my Christmas outfit in November of 2001? I don't even remember it was so long ago... I hardly wore it because, silly me, it was out of a chunky wool and a PULLOVER! Eeehgads, no temperature control. Now several of my knitting buddies and I have come to the conclusion that women prefer cardigans and men prefer pullovers. WHY? Temperature control! Women have the extra insulation of BOOBULAS on the Chestage and need to Regulate with mo' better frequency. Men can get by with a placket opening at the neck and call it a day.

Not so MWAH! This sweater required remedial Steeking! And Steek I DID! This yarn was not as fuzzy as some so I carefully blanket stitched the facing down after I machine basted two rows of stitches on either side of a center mark on the front of the sweater. SAY THAT FAST! Lucy Neatby shows how here and I will show more in another installment as well...

And THUS: zip3.jpg

Here is the edge of the zipper, basted into the sweater ready to be sewn by machine. Why am I showing you this? Because I craftily preserved the Fringe on this sweater! The Fringed Angled Bottom is what is the Best Thing about this sweater and I removed the center fringes before I steeked, then replaced them after I knit on the front bands...


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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Zippety Doodah, the fun continues...

Last year, at the end of the winter season I picked up a chunky wool hand knit funnel-neck shell from Banana Republic. It was in my favorite colors! It was wild and variegated. It was $9.99!~

The Super Plan was to turn it into a Cardigan. That's right, add sleeves, a zipper and a new improved Crew Neck. Here's what it looked like to begin with:

I've opened the neck seams to get ready to frog the funnel down to the primary neck edge. I'll use the yarn I harvest to finish off the bottom of the cardi with a few rows of ribbing.

Next comes the FUN part - STEEKING! This is where, after you mark the center of the piece, sew a couple of rows of stitches vertically down the *Ladders* between stitches or through the vertical center of stitches themselves. I used regular sewing thread and a machine to do this. After you've secured the center front, you CUT the piece open and VOILA - cardi galore!

here's the shell after stitching and cutting...

WHOOT! This is almost as fun as felting! In the same naughty way, you are doing something On Purpose that you usually avoid, in this case, actually using a sharp instrument to CUT the yarn!

hey, now it's a vest~

And NOW the FUN ramps up even more! One of ChicKnits Top Ten New Year's Resolutions of 2005 is the edict to Wear More Color! Back away from the Black - get back On Track with some Bright, Cheerful, MODERN TONES!

How about a little BLUE?
blue.jpg the Shell Notes HERE

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Friday, January 14, 2005

the last, gasp, sleeve of Shazam...

Over here @ChicKnits Workshop, we're celebrating TGIF like never before! NOT only is it the end of a harsh winter work week, it's also an Honorary Hump Day, as in over it...

I have 28 rows to go on the sleeve cap of the last Shazam sleeve. It's getting smaller and smaller and I am hating it less and less. Why was there more than a perfunctionary sneer on my lips as I knitted this beauty? A few days ago, I thought I found an error in my increasing towards the bottom of the sleeve itself so I ripped out 70 ROWS of cabling to fix it. As I put the stitches back on the needles to continue, and steam was coming out my ears at this point, I realized THERE WAS NO MISTAKE...

The Sleeve had Tricked Me.

It never wanted to be finished to begin with. Rather, it wanted, Sisyphus-like to just be knitted over and over and over again.

Well, I was having none of that, and because I'm so READY TO BE DONE with this project, I had to just stand up and show it Who's the BOSS.

The Surprise Collar awaits...

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Monday, January 17, 2004

  Monday Morning Mirth  

Chicago has become the premiere Dress Rehearsal for Broadway Shows before they hit the ground running in New York...

It's a thankless job, but somebody's gotta do it and right now the whole City is enthralled by SPAMALOT, an Eric Idle, of Monty Python fame, creation. An All Star Cast, directed by Tony and Academy Award-winner Mike Nichols, includes David Hyde Pierce, Tim Curry and Hank Azaria, who work the boards with their fratured tale of knights and chivalry.

Thus, I bring you these to try out on your friends, foes and maybe that person stepping all over you on the BUS!


To construct a Shakespearean insult, combine one word from each of the three columns below, and preface it with 'Thou':

Column 1 .|. Column 2 .|. Column 3

artless .|. base-court .|. apple-john
beslubbering .|. beef-witted .|. barnacle
bootless .|. beetle-headed .|. bladder
churlish .|. boil-brained .|. boar-pig
clouted .|. clay-brained .|. bum-bailey
craven .|. common-kissing .|. canker-blossom
dankish .|. dizzy-eyed .|. coxcomb
droning .|. doghearted .|. codpiece
fobbing .|. elf-skinned .|. flap-dragon
gleeking .|. flap-mouthed .|. foot-licker
goatish .|. fly-bitten .|. fustilarian
impertinent .|. fool-born .|. gudgeon
jarring .|. guts-griping .|. harpy
loggerheaded .|. half-faced .|. hedge-pig
mammering .|. hedge-born .|. hugger-mugger
mewling .|. idle-headed .|. lewdster
pribbling .|. ill-nurtured .|. maggot-pie
puking .|. knotty-pated .|. malt-worm
puny .|. milk-livered .|. mammet
qualling .|. motley-minded .|. measle
rank .|. onion-eyed .|. minnow
reeky .|. plume-plucked .|. miscreant
roguish .|. pottle-deep .|. moldwarp
ruttish .|. pox-marked .|. mumble-news
surly .|. rump-fed .|. puttock
tottering .|. shard-borne .|. pumpion
unmuzzled .|. sheep-biting .|. ratsbane
venomed .|. swag-bellied .|. skainsmate
villainous .|. tardy-gaited .|. strumpet
weedy .|. unchin-snouted .|. whey-face
yeasty .|. weather-bitten .|. Wagtail

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Tuesday, January 18, 2004

meet my little NeoRetro Friend

Now that the single digit weather has driven me indoors and face first into this computer screen, I've had time to roust around my web site.

MISSING: whatever happened to Tweedy Bird?

I finished this jacket a while ago (ahem, end of October) and just never got around to taking it's portrait. Afer wrestling with photos while it was in progress, I realized that DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY just ain't all it's cracked up to be. And, I wasn't going to pull out ye olde film camera.


(Insert maniacal laughter here...) THAT would be so extraordinary, that even though Retro is trending all over the fashion pages, the thought of going back to the evil old days of film processing made me just stall and then dive for cover. But I think it would've made a better picture - digital has a very hard time capturing TWEED!

Still not the clearest shot on the planet, but you get the idea.

Loops Galore! Braid! A really great fiT! Even my family thought it was cool! I wore it to the Cathedral on Sunday after New Year's with a fitted black skirt and knee high black boots. The guy at the parking garage gave me the *special* cheap rate to park my car even though it wasn't time. I told him I'd pray for him...

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Thursday, January 20, 2005


The problem with reading historical novels in the middle of a dreary winter, is that the mind so thoroughly takes on the imagination of the author.

You are what you eat mentally, so to speak.

Fill your head with sonnets and you might start spouting poetry. Immerse yourself in a Tudor Romance Novel and all of a sudden you want to DANCE and wear JEWELS and glance coyly at the Bus Driver when you give him your fare...

I've been reading "the Other Boleyn Girl" by Philippa Gregory, which is a historical novel about Mary, the sister of Anne Boleyn, first beheaded wife of Henry VIII. Now, why an unfettered independent female like myself would be totally engrossed in this period of time is a mystery to me. I'll just say I enjoy history but hate slogging through actual history books. Reading this one (and "the Queen's Fool" also by Gregory) has been an enjoyable glimpse into the Tudor Court with all of its excess and folly.

And boy oh boy do I need FOLLY! It is cold and grey and seems like a season without end at this time. I know, I know, it's WINTER, just what did I expect?!

HENCE, the Royal Blue you see on the table above. It is destined, pre-arranged to be married before it's a year old, joined in dowered bliss to the Revamped Shell from last week.

COLOR, like a last minute reprieve from the King when one's head is already on the chopping block will save me! Will I be sent to a Nunnery for my folly? NAY, it will be back on the Bus for me and this brilliant hue, spreading joy like sunlit SKY along the way...

Hey, has anyone seen the BBC MiniSeries (directed by another Philippa, Lowthorpe, that is) of this book in the UK? Is it coming to America?

Richard Vine writes: "Mary's story is bound up with Anne's, giving us a fresh perspective on the Tudor court: a woman, who, even though she's given the king the male heir he so desperately wants (albeit an illegitimate one), is marginalised after he's bored with her, and forced to become her own sister's chaperone and handmaiden. Though it doesn't have the epic sweep of A History Of Britain, or indeed The Six Wives Of Henry VIII, the focus on the day-to-day machinations of court life is just as illuminating. In the margins of history, The Other Boleyn Girl is a story that allows the greater picture to breathe."

HOT from the Photoshop Presses: The Tudor Queens and others had Badges and Mottos for banners and such. Spy my new personal logo and motto (a wise (wo)man can rule the stars) at upper right. This is supposedly the family motto of my Irish Kin......

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Friday, January 21, 2005

baby.jpgbaby talk

There's a baby boom goin' on over here in Chic World! Lots and lots of my friends and family are having babies. Usually, I'm too lame to get a knitted item together but when my friend L had her handsome boy a couple of weeks ago, I just had to go a little crazy.

"The Baby Owner's Manual": this tome is actually written by an MD, but in a very tongue-in-cheek way that is hilarious. AND, it has really rockin' fine graphic design throughout. The new Mommy is a creative and will dig that, along with the fun hints... I hope. :)

Scrappy DOO: in the middle right corner of the picture above you see a little 6" stuffed toy. He is a knitted Scrappy Doo, the nephew of my fave, Scooby Doo. I have some washable wool (the only one I really like, Filatura 501) to make a pal for the new baby boy! I hope I can unhook my selfish heart for the few minutes it will take to wrap it and actually manage to give it away when it's finished. I LOVE THIS TOY! The UK pattern is from the time of the first incarnation of the SDoo cartoons and is out-of-print. I found it on eBay a couple of years ago.

I've seen lots of knitted toy success online (remember the ZooAlong?) and darnit, I hope I make those tiny legs right!

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ChicKnits New Threads Weekend Edition


presenting the fabulous Angela wearing her Ribby Cardi!

check out the

Gallery Ribby

for more details about the construction
of this beautiful garment.


...Want to be in Gallery Ribby? Send me a picture of your Ribby with knitting details to be included in the gallery...

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ChicKnits New Threads Weekend Edition


Julie, sleek & sophisticated, wearing her versatile, neutral Ribby!
Freshly classic...

check out the

Gallery Ribby

for more details about the construction
of this beautiful garment.

The Ribby Cardi Pattern comes with directions for a roll collar, a standard collar and a mock turtle.
Julie's Ribby has a standard collar...

...Want to be in Gallery Ribby? Send me a picture of your Ribby with knitting details to be included in the gallery...

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Monday, January 24, 2005

  Monday Morning Mirth  

baby, it's cold outside...

come back inside where it's HOT...

...more fun

fly me

the oracle

what the ----

What the ---- II

lest we forget...

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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

just CableMe

Ah, history ignored is doomed to be repeated...

Last year, loosely around this time, (February 18th, 2004), I had a bout with Startitis. Now this was nothing like the flu I picked up a couple of weeks ago that had my innards strangled and made a keening wail pass my lips, but it was insidious all the same.

For the new knitters, (hi there, lil buddies !) STARTITIS is where you continually buy yarn and start a project, but never finish it. Piece(s) might accumulate all over your house, until you have a S*load of half-finished who-knows everywhere.

It appears that my Startitis is/might be tied to the WEATHER! After a weekend of 2 feet of snow and wounded ego (even after I shoveled out the 3 car garage that goes with me and my building mates condos, I couldn't get my car, my JEEP, for chrisakes, out of the alley) I soothed my evil soul with a new - - - SLEEVE!~

This sleeve probably doesn't win any startitis prizes, because it joins a finished Back. That Back has been lanquishing in the UFO Vault since last year, where it was discarded in favor of another Startitis Flame: the Fern sweater, and I believe, GIGI, which I actually finished.


I am already 2/3's done with the sleeve and OH how I love this wool. It is from Montana Targhee Sheep and is organically processed.

From In Sheep's Clothing pg 45: "the breed was a cross of Rambouillet rams and Corriedale x Lincoln/Rambouillet ewes (me - how's that for animal husbandry!!!) -- for high-quality apparel wool -- extraordinary loft and elasticity -- good shape retention and crease resistance."

I am in love - it is so different from other wool (read Magpie Aran Tweed) that I've been using that it just caresses my hands as it passes through my fingers...


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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

New Threads Wednesday


While it snowed snowed snowed this weekend,
I finished finished finished!

Just in time for Round Two of the January BlizWorks, I can get down to business in my new cardi worn with my black down vest. It actually hasn't been too cold here - anything around 30 is my friend...

I am on a fringed collar binge - I couldn't resist straight fringes on the cabled collar.

Here's a CU of the pattern stitches - my favorite was the traveling ZigZag - no wagering if this MIGHT end up on another cardi :)

What Would I do Differently? I would probably add a little more shaping at the waist - I tried to do this with wide ribbing but given the STIFF nature of this yarn, it needed a little more oomph. (Makes great fringe though.)

This was the hardest color/texture to photograph - can't wait for some great NATURAL light to take a REAL picture of this. I'll probably be waiting until SUMMER and sweatin' it to get it...

...the Shazam Notebook is HERE

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Friday, January 28, 2005


Looking for the perfect project to knit while talking on the phone? Look no further than a COWL!

Back on the needles is the luscious Baby Alpaca Grande - this color (1830) needs to be around my neck ASAP. I ripped out the other scarf I was attempting with this because suddenly (!) this version just made sense. The alpaca is so soft and drapey, it was beggin' to go huggin' on around my face. NICE!

I was chatting it up last night on the phone and just went round and round and round on this cowl and am about 2/3rds done...

GAUGE: 3.5sts/4.5rows per inch. Using #10.5 needles, cast-on 80 stitches. Join. Purl one round. Knit one round. Purl one round. K in rounds until piece measures 8". Purl one round. Knit one round. Purl one round. Bind-off all sts.

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ChicKnits New Threads Weekend Edition


Ultra CHIC! And pretty in PINK, the lovely Lisa debuts her beautiful pink Ribby...

check out the

Gallery Ribby

for more details about the construction
of this beautiful garment.

Not ready for a date with a ZIPPER? Do what Lisa did and take your finished Ribby to your local seamstress and have them sew the zipper in for you...

Many drycleaners offer alterations - this would do the trick~!

For more ideas as user friendly and fabulous as this one, visit the Ribby Cardi Knitalong HERE.

...Want to be in Gallery Ribby? Send me a picture of your Ribby with knitting details to be included in the gallery...

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Monday, January 31, 2005

  Monday Morning Mirth  

-- more fun from the Washington Post Style Invitational (archive)...

ACCORDIONATED (ah kor' de on ay tid)
adj. Being able to drive and refold a road map at the same time.

AQUADEXTROUS (ak wa deks' trus)
adj. Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.

AQUALIBRIUM (ak wa lib' re um)
n. The point where the stream of drinking fountain water is at its perfect height, thus relieving the drinker from (a) having to suck the nozzle, or (b) squirting himself in the eye (or, ear).

BURGACIDE (burg' uh side)
n. When a hamburger can't take any more torture and hurls itself through the grill into the coals.

BUZZACKS (buz' aks)
n. People in phone marts who walk around picking up display phones and listening for dial tones even when they know the phones are not connected.

CARPERPETUATION (kar' pur pet u a shun)
n. The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string or a piece of lint at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.

DIMP (dimp)
n. A person who insults you in a cheap department store by asking, "Do you work here?"

DISCONFECT (dis kon fekt')
v. To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, somehow assuming this will `remove' all the germs.

ECNALUBMA (ek na lub' ma)
n. A rescue vehicle which can only be seen in the rearview mirror.

EIFFELITES (eye' ful eyetz)
n. Gangly people sitting in front of you at the movies who, no matter what direction you lean in, follow suit.

ELBONICS (el bon' iks)
n. The actions of two people maneuvering for one armrest in a movie theater.

ELECELLERATION (el a cel er ay' shun)
n. The mistaken notion that the more you press an elevator button the faster it will arrive.

FRUST (frust)
n. The small line of debris that refuses to be swept onto the dust pan and keeps backing a person across the room until he finally decides to give up and sweep it under the rug.

LACTOMANGULATION (lak' to man gyu lay' shun)
n. Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk container so badly that one has to resort to the `illegal' side.

NEONPHANCY (ne on' fan see)
n. A fluorescent light bulb struggling to come to life.

PEPPIER (pehp ee ay')
n. The waiter at a fancy restaurant whose sole purpose seems to be walking around asking diners if they want ground pepper.

PETROPHOBIC (pet ro fob' ik)
adj. One who is embarrassed to undress in front of a household pet.

PHONESIA (fo nee' zhuh) n.
The affliction of dialing a phone number and forgetting whom you were calling just as they answer.

PUPKUS (pup' kus)
n. The moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.

TELECRASTINATION (tel e kras tin ay' shun)
n. The act of always letting the phone ring at least twice before you pick it up, even when you're only six inches away.

THERMOSTATRICS (ther mo stat' rix)
n. Similar to 'elecelleration' above, the mistaken notion that if you set the thermostat to 95 degrees the room will warm up to a comfortable 70 degrees faster.

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