The DNA Along begins today, so I intend to fit a good bit of knitting in, in spite of my anxiety about finishing the anniversary quilt in time for the anniversary.

I cannot read books while I quilt, so I have been making do with magazines. The Wall Street Journal wrote recently about domestic magazines. Now that Martha Stewart Living is distancing itself from Martha and just calling itself Living, The Journal thinks its star may be on the wane. #1 daughter thought the same. The Journal sees Real Simple as a top contender for the most popular new shelter mag. I enjoy Real Simple, but the truth is that they have a gimmick. They present everything as a problem and a solution. Some of the things they choose may be actual problems, but many of them are problems only by the wildest stretch of the imagination. This make solving them very easy. Did you know that you don’t have to peel apples? That you can cut your pizza with your kitchen shears? That your hand-eye coordination is at its peak in the late afternoon, making that the ideal time to do housework?  None of these issues has ever made it to my list of problems. And yet, there are the solutions, even before it seems like a problem. How reassuring! And, I think, reading through a magazine’s worth of non-problems with solutions makes life seem more manageable. This may be the appeal of Real Simple.

Where I live, Southern Living is the doyenne of shelter mags. We ask each other,”Have you tried that catfish recipe in the new Southern Living?,”  safe in our assumption that everyone takes it and uses it. When #1 daughter moved up North, I thought she might switch over to whatever is the northern equivalent, but she decided to stick with Southern Living, and I think she made the right decision. Martha’s Living probably comes a close second. I have always liked it because she has clever ideas for using ordinary things to make something special. Not that I believe that my pipe-cleaner stars will look like the ones made by artists and photographed by more artists, but I enjoyed making her tiny paper parasols for summer drinks, and they looked right nice, too. I also read Natural Home, but I know that it has no hope of becoming the next MS Living.

People complain that Martha’s magazine is unrealistic, but one could say that about most magazines. The Wall Street Journal itself has an Alice-in-Wonderland quality to it. As the number of the poor in American rises and the gap between rich and poor widens, local and state taxes rise to make up for the federal irresponsibility and gasoline prices go through the roof, the Journal continues to run editorials explaining that Americans are only unhappy with the economy because we do not truly understand economics. They also think that having health insurance only encourages people to overspend on health care. I find these attitudes cute, except for the sad fact that the people who hold them are the ones in power.

But I digress. And since I have already done so, let me tell you about my further adventures in felting. You may recall that I have not been wildly successful with it so far.

Felting knit expert Beverly Galeskas says that to improve felting skills, one should make a lot of practice pieces, so I made myself a felted mug rug with my Brown Sheep scraps. I put in a bit of batting and a tablespoon of my Computer Companion potpourri (an aromatherapy blend from Marie Browning — it is supposed to keep one both calm and alert). The idea is that setting a hot mug of tea or coffee on it will cause the scent to waft upward, while also preventing the ruin of the finish on your desk. I’m going to see how it works before making them for Christmas gifts.

I have learned from making this misshapen piece. I have learned that seams sewn up before felting will pull in and become rounded during felting. And that trying to sew up boiled wool with yarn and a darning needle is not practical. Also that even a little batting makes the rug mug extremely poofy — like a pillow, not a rug — while one tablespoon of potpourri is not enough to get any wafting going. It is a nice color, and feels very cozy, and I will enjoy it, but it is certainly a good thing that I experimented before making a lot of them. I’ll use it for a while before deciding, but I think I will make the others in the round, doing all seaming after felting, and use more potpourri and no batting.