Monday, April 30, 2007

Whining, and gloating, and tidings of great joy. With more gloating.

The whining first, just to get it out of the way. Due to family weirdness (illness, actually - no hostility or natural disasters involved), we are going on a quick trip to Ohio. Starting tomorrow. One day to drive up, one or two days there, and another day to drive home. We'll be back by Friday night. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to driving 1200 miles in two days. There are no words.

Oh, and did I mention we leave at four in the morning, to fake out The Baby and make her sleep through half the trip? That way she only thinks she's been in the car five hours and we avoid the exhausted hysterics until she collapses. (Been there. Don't wanna go there again.)

So this means, among other things, that I am missing Thursday morning at the Children's Museum, AGAIN. Sorry, guys. I'll get back there again, soon. I swear. (The Baby would be pissed if she knew -- then again, she might not; this trip means quality Grandma time for her.)

Instead of getting organized and packing stuff up today, I put my head in the sand and knit. Lo and behold, look what I did:

Two sleeves! Joined to the body! This may get done soon. (However I'm taking the Mystery Knit on the trip -- being all stressed out with hours of car riding to do, will force me to work on it.) And don't worry, all you happy steekers, I took photos to show how to join it all together. With luck I'll even post it before I leave, but Saturday for sure, when we get home.

Guess what! Bendigo Woolen Mills has joined the 21st century and finally created a web site!! Right now the exchange rate isn't on our side here in the US, but give it a while and then think about an order. Excellent wool yarn, and very economical, even with postage added on. (Look at the yardage in those balls before you complain about the price.) This wool is nice and smooth and perfect for stranded color anything. Bells sent me some of their yarn in our swap, and I'm trying to knit myself out from under this pile of stuff so I can knit up the yarn she sent. Guess what else she sent?

What is probably the only Bendigo color card in North America. Hahahaha. Oh, and Sekhmet, you fucker.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Sorry I took so long to get around to this.

Using a completely random method (I swear), I pulled a name, and that name is...


Louiz, e-mail me and we'll discuss mailing the booty.

Thanks, everyone, for participating, and again, sorry it took so long to pull a name.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Any art historian types out there??

So I've been reading up on ancient China and their art, and I've got a question. A lot of their ancient bronzes have a diagonal swirly pattern on them:

So what's the name of the pattern? Isn't there some term for it, at least made up by modern curators? It's common enough I think it should have some name. But I'm not finding it. (And yes, I'm trying to figure out how to knit it.)


While I'm puzzling over ancient China, the husbeast has decided we need to shift over to DVR (the cable box with the hard drive in it, so we can record shows and play them back). We got the new box this morning, and this is what the remote looks like.

I ought to be able to launch the fuckin' space shuttle with this thing. Makes me want to forget technology altogether and hole up somewhere with a fire and a book. And some knitting.

Lace and charts and stuff.

Thinking back, I realize I used charts AND written directions for the first couple lace projects I knit, until I got the hang of the charts. Which led me to thinking about books that have both, and I have some suggestions.

Easily the best of the books I have is "The Lacy Knitting of Mary Schiffman" by Nancy Nehring.

Everything in the book has written directions, and (I think) all but one has a chart. Projects vary from simple edgings on up to the most complicated doily I have ever seen. (The turkey doily at the back. No chart. Lace short rows. I haven't knit it. Yet.) There are also 'teaching tips' all through, and comments that point out which projects are good for learning which skills.

The other suggested books are my old favorites, the first and second books of lace knitting from Marianne Kinzel.

These books also contain written directions AND charts for all the projects. There is also a bunch of information on casting on and off, blocking, etc. Other than insane doilies (I say that as a compliment), there are some really nice, more rational projects, including a very cool lace stole in the second book that I wish I had time to knit; it's lace openwork with solid stockinette leaves. I've knit most, if not all, of the doilies in both books, and I don't recall ever finding a mistake in the charts. (I've looked at my notes, too, and I don't see any corrections.) The doily on the cover of the second book is possibly the craziest thing I've ever knit.

Anyway. Hope that's helpful for anyone wanting to figure out charts; I'm still working on some more useful information, but this is a good starting place.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Odds and ends and comments on comments.

There've been some good questions and comments the last couple days that deserve some followup.

One was a question on blocking socks and ribbing and other really stretchy things, and was there any point in it? My first thought is, I wish people would quit using the term 'block' when what they're really doing is 'wash some knitwear and lay it flat to dry'. It's not YOUR fault, it's the fault of all these books and designers. They're always going on about blocking your knitting, and really, unless you're doing lace or something else specialized, it's really an uncomplicated wash. So in other words, there's no point in blocking most things and I don't bother. Just wash and lay flat. (Remember, washing wool is like setting your hair. Not laying it out when you dry it is a lot like going to bed with your hair wet. Not. Pretty.) I'm not wild about sock blockers - those two dimensional foot-forms that people put washed socks on to dry - mostly because they put ridges in the top and bottom of the sock, and stress the fibers along thosse ridges. But to each their own. You like sock blockers, use sock blockers.

As for superwash wool and how it gets that way, well, it's usually considered 'proprietary information', meaning industrial secrets. Each wool mill has their own methods, I suspect, but they're all variations on the glue or burn. Both processes are PROBABLY done in the form of some kind of chemical bath that's part of the dye process. I'm guessing, but it's the only way I can come up with that's cost effective. Incidentally, if your superwash feels sorta stiff or crunchy, it was probably glued; if it's loose and slippery, it was probably burned. But as always there are variations on that.

Thank you all for your concern over my blood pressure; I'm back on my medication, having confirmed that a weird problem I was having IS caused by the medication. Namely, the BP meds make my asthma worse. Very freaky (though most BP medications mess with vascular tissue, and your lungs ARE vascular tissue, so now that I think about it, it's not THAT weird), but definitely confirmed. My asthma was better, and within four days of re-starting the medication, I'm up all night coughing up a lung. So I get to ask the doc for something different. Whee.

I hadn't realized that charts created such strong feelings, but I shouldn't be surprised. I think the prefrence between written out directions and charts hinges on that old right brain/left brain deal. I see it manifested in all kinds of other directional-type things - written directions vs. schematics or maps - so it stands to reason people would have the same prefrences in knitting. (In fact, once I hit on that idea, I realized that I prefer pictures/maps/schematics for EVERYTHING, not just my knitting.) I'm trying to think of a way to do a chart tutorial for left-brain people, but I'm not making much headway. (Headway. Get it? I Crack myself up.) I'll do something about reading charts soon, though.

If anyone wants to think about it and then drop me a line, let me know if you see a sort of general theme to your own directions prefrences -- do you prefer all charts (not just knitting) or all words? Anyone? I'm particularly interested in those who prefer written-out knitting directions and how they prefer other kinds of directions like how to get somewhere or how to put together something. I appreciate any and all input on this one.

I appreciate the suggestions for Knitty articles, ALWAYS, but unfortunately Knitty articles already exist on chart reading and blocking and yarn substitution. Theresa, of Techniques by Theresa, has covered them. (In fact, her tech articles are the reason I don't usually submit truly tech articles to Knitty -- no need to re-invent the wheel or step on toes.) However, I AM considering a 'charts for left-brain people' article, if I can come up with something truly helpful. Guess who gets to be my test audience?? (And just for the record, I like left-brain people. They keep the right-brain folks like me from starving while we think Great Thoughts.)

What am I reading?? THIS:

It starts in prehistory and ends at the Tang Dynasty, an era of history I'm sad to say I know very little about. (Damn Ohio public schools and their bias about western civilization.) I'm enjoying it immensely and am staggered to find amazing art from very early periods that looks NOTHING like what I think of when someone says "Chinese Art." Anyway, I want to knit ten million sweaters, kimono, and jackets based on what I'm finding in this book. It's a Barnes and Noble publication, so you can only find it at their book stores, or here.

The end is in sight for the Steeked Jacket. (Fear not, I am taking photos.) The closer I get to the end of anything, the faster I knit and the more enthusiastic I get about the project. So I may actually manage an FO for April. No swooning.

Now if you'll excuse me, my child seems to be stuck in a box. Hahaha.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More real life crap.

Today was the knit-together at the Charleston Children's Museum (every Thursday morning at nine, for free) and I was really looking forward to it. Then the baby kept me up all night whining. Then another round of suspicious chills hit and I began to wonder if we were still contaigous. After all, we'd caught the damn thing after everyone thought they were well.

So we stayed home. Boo. I was bummed.

The Mystery Knit has hit the black hole stage (the sleeves have been one inch too short for a week. A WEEK! I knit on it every night if I want to or not and NOTHING HAPPENS). My hands are bothering me so knitting lopi (the steeked jacket) isn't too wise but I do it anyway as a change of pace. And I'm trying to ignore the shawl until the other two things get done because they NEED to be done and the shawl is just goofing around. (Even though the shawl is the only thing I feel like knitting. Isn't that always the way?) I'd include photos but it all looks the same as it did the last time I took photos.

Last night I bought more books (sigh), among them a Chinese history book. If I could finish up THESE design projects, I could start on some NEW ones, inspired by all these great art and history and anthropology books I've been buying. I'm starting to face the fact that I need to get some test knitters (or sample knitters, or whatever the hell the going phrase is), but damn it, I want to knit them myself and keep the finished product. As with everything in my life, it's a dilemma. I'll probably fix it by some middle-of-the-road, moderate solution or other.

While the baby was whining and snotting around the house today, my eye fell on the pile of stickers I salvaged from all those easter egg dye packs I bought on sale. What to do seemed really obvious to me.

I'm never gonna get the stickers out of my bed. But she quit whining, so it might be worth it.

Washing wool.

You know how, with glass bakeware, you can do almost anything to it? Bake it, freeze it, broil it. Scratch the crap out of it with knives and spatulas. Clean it with oven cleaner and steel wool. It's indestructable.

Unless you drop it.

Wool's a lot like that. It's pretty darn sturdy - there's a reason our ancestors have worn it for thousands of years - so long as you avoid a few specific things. Those things are temperature shocks, agitation, and alkaline/base chemicals.

Remember. Wool is hair. You have hair on your head. Don't do anything to your sweaters that you wouldn't do in the shower (like washing it in bleach). It's a good thing to keep in mind.

First, let's take a look at our fiber:

This is a scanning electron microscope photo of a wool fiber. In fact, it's a high-quality wool fiber; most are rougher than that. See the shingle-like arrangement of the surface? Those are often called scales, and are mostly, though not entirely, how wool felts together. In heat and moisture, the shingles open up a bit and hook on other shingles, and the whole shebang turns into one giant matted up clump. (Which can be a good thing, if you want felt. Felt's useful. But it can also be horrifying.) Agitation, scrubbing, wringing, that kind of thing all pushes the wool fibers together and helps them snag on each other. So no agitating. Lay wool in a basin of water and prod it as little as possible; let soap do all the cleaning action chemically. Several rinses will remove all the dirt after that, without you having to move the fibers much. (Incidentally, superwash wools are superwash because either the scales have been burned off, or glued down, so they can't hold on to each other.)

Shocks in heat make wool fibers contract and shrink. It's not heat that does it; it's the temperature difference. I regularly boil wool while dyeing it. It's not a problem, so long as you raise the heat slowly so the fibers can adjust. On the other hand, when I'm felting on purpose, I try to get the largest temperature difference possible between the wash and rinse cycles, occasionally going so far as to put ice in the rinse water. (You can also do a slower, less extreme version of felting by putting damp wool in the dryer and letting it tumble while on a hot cycle. That tumble/damp/heat combination is IT for creating felt and shrinkage.)

And last, alkaline solutions. In practical terms that means bleach and ammonia. Wool will completely dissolve in bleach (and I assume ammonia, which is almost as strong). So no bleach. However, nearly all soaps and detergents these days are ph neutral and perfectly safe. Anything considered particularly good for skin or hair is mild (has to be) and safe to use for your woolens. A note on detergents, though; they are chemically different than soaps and work by removing or breaking down OILS. Which means it can dry out your wool and leave it like your hair after a week at the beach with no conditioner. For occasional washes, especially if something's been worn a LOT and is really dirty, detergent is okay. But I don't suggest it as an every-time sort of thing.

So how do I wash wool? Fill up the washing machine (WITHOUT the knitting in it) with room temperature water and soap. (I usually use regular old laundry soap - Tide. I've also been known to use baby shampoo, regular shampoo, dish washing detergent, anti-bacterial hand soap, Woolite, and specialized 'wool wash'. I can't tell a difference, other than smell; the fibers are always the same after.) Once the water's done running, I put the knitting in, push it under the water, and hold it there until it quits bubbling. (Wool holds a lot of air in it; when submerged the air bubbles back out.) Then I leave the knitting alone for about fifteen minutes, though up to a half an hour if it's really dirty. Then I lift (carefully) the knitting out of the water and let the water run out of it; no squeezing or wringing. I put it aside, spin out the wash water, run the washing machine full of clean water (also room temp) for the rinse, and put the sweater back in (often with a bit of prodding to make sure the fresh water's getting all through the knit; poke carefully but still no grinding or wringing). Let it soak for another maybe five or ten minutes, then just turn on the spin cycle. The washer will spin the water out of the sweater, leaving it almost dry. Then spread it out in whatever form you want it to have when dry (think of it like styling your hair as it dries - same exact idea) and leave it alone. It should be dry in an hour or less.

I've never felted anything, using this process, though the husbeast once helpfully took a blanket out of the washer and put it in the dryer for me. It's now a potholder.

This may sound like a lot of trouble, but really it's like doing a load of laundry. You pop it in and forget about it for most of the time involved. And I LOVE wool - it's toasty warm but because it breathes, you can wear at least thin layers of it in warm weather. You can't beat it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The whine report.

So, what's going on around here.

Last week I had a pretty bad fall and banged up both knees and broke a toe. After the first day or two, they didn't bother me much unless I was trying to climb around on the floor with the baby, which is, what, half the time?

Then while we were visiting the family, the baby picked up an intestinal bug AND ran herself ragged - her leg muscles were so tired from running at the beach she could barely walk for most of the weekend, so it was back to carrying her around while she whined about how she didn't feel good.

Then I got the intestinal bug. (I am in no way annoyed with the family over this -- it had been a big concern and we went anyway, knowing the risks. It wasn't some "Oh, by the way, we're all sick" thing once we got there.) The husbeast, who is trying to lose weight for a weigh-in fitness check-in thingie, found out I had an intestinal bug and stuck his tongue in my mouth and swished it around in the hopes of catching it too.

We're a class act around here. (So far, he's showing no symptoms. Fucker.)

Once the baby started walking, she started expressing opinions on everything, like where she wanted to go and how long she wanted to stay there. (The nerve! Having an opinion! Around here! No one has opinions!) So she's been hell on wheels (okay, sandals) since last Thursday. Yesterday she threw a screaming conniption fit in the post office and I pulled a tendon in my supposedly good wrist, pulling her out and sticking her in the Jeep.

Plus I've been having migraines due to my hormone cycle and just maybe possibly because I forgot to refill my blood pressure medication and went without for a week. Or two. Or, um. Four.

Then there was a meteor strike, and the space pirates attacked, and a plague hit.

Okay, maybe not the plague. And the space pirates were pretty cute.

Anyway, it's been a shit week around here, but there's nothing insurmountable, just a bunch of crap. Literally. Thanks for the good wishes, and we're all muddling through.

Substituting yarn, a few thoughts.

Rae mentioned in the comments that yarn substitution is hard for her. And I thought about it a while, and you know, that is kinda hard, in that it's an ongoing learning process, and no one ever gets it exactly right. I don't think I've ever knit a sweater in the suggested yarn (due to being a cheapskate, living in a warm climate, a desire to use up stuff I already have, and a host of other reasons), so I'll throw some thoughts out. Maybe tomorrow we'll get back to more normal blogging - it's been a week of illness (mine and the baby's), broken toes (mine), and migraines around here, so I've been a little neglectful. Bad Samurai.

Anyway. Substituting yarn.

WEIGHT/STITCH GAUGE: This one's a little more flexible than you think. Knitting something at a bigger gauge will produce a bigger sweater -- but that isn't always bad. It WILL change how the pattern knits up, but if you're prepared to deal with that, it's okay. The Yarn Police will not come for you if you deliberately knit a pattern at a different gauge. (I've been known to do it - there's a discussion of how, in my swatching article at Knitty, link in the side bar. Pay attention to my comments on the Dale of Norway sweater.)

FIBER: The easiest thing to do is swap out fiber-for-fiber. You know: if it calls for cotton, use some kind of cotton. But there really are more options than that. Think weight, in terms of how heavy it is per yard. Wool is light; when substituting, use something else light. Cotton is heavy; when substituting, use something heavy. As a general rule of thumb, you can switch around animal fibers for other animal fibers more easily than switching plant for animal or vice-versa. If you do get wild and crazy, here are the general effects: If you knit a pattern for something light (like wool) using something heavy (like cotton), it will hang much lower and stretch out of shape. If you knit a pattern for something heavy (like cotton) using something light (like wool), it will not drape like the original did and often be very short. It is possible to adjust for these differences and get a nice sweater out of the deal. But often it's more bother than it's worth.

COLOR: If it's a solid color, switch out any color you like, remembering that yarn often looks lighter in the ball than it does knit up. If using more than one color, try to identify how the original colors work - do they blend? Do they contrast? - and replicate it with your new choice. Fair Isles often use two groups of blending yarns that contrast with each other. Or one color and a group that contrasts.

VARIEGATED YARNS: Many texture patterns like lace or cables get lost in strong color shifts, though more subtle variations can work wonderfully (a yarn in shades of blue, for instance). If you're trying to keep something from pooling or zigging, think about either slip-stitch patterns, or if possible, patterns with varying numbers of stitches per row. The shifting number of stitches keeps the yarn from settling into a pattern. (For example, shawl patterns where you cast on a few stitches at the point of a V and then increase steadily as you knit will never pool on you - the number of stitches is never constant.)

And here's a quick list of the fibers I can think of offhand, and how they behave when knit up. I'm sure it's not complete.

Wool: light, warm, breatheable. It's got spring to it - if stretched it will resume it's previous shape, at least a couple times.
Alpaca and llama: a little heavier than wool. Very warm. Little stretch or spring - it will drape nicely, but don't expect it to have much give beyond what's built into the knit fabric.
Mohair: very light, very warm, very little spring. Unraveling it is like unraveling barbed wire.
Silk: heavy, no spring, EXTREMELY warm. Warmer than you think. Drapes beautifully, has no memory at all. It can be fragile, depending on the way it's spun. The smooth, reeled silk yarns I adore tend to pill. (The pilling, the cost, and the heat stroke factor is why I don't knit with it much and rarely wear the things I have knit with it. I once wore a silk shell I'd knit to a bar. By the time the night was over it had lengthened by four inches and I was sweating like a pig. Very attractive.)
Cotton: very heavy, no spring, cool, wicks moisture from the body. The usual summer knitting fiber. It can be tough on the hands when you knit with it, but it makes nice sweaters if you don't ask it to do what it can't do - like stretch. It will grow when you wear it, too.
Linen: Not as heavy as cotton, but with even less spring. Also very cool, and wicks moisture, but not as well as cotton. I think it's even better suited to summer than cotton and it's even harder on the hands. You can machine wash it to DEATH, though.
Rayon/Tencel: In knitting it behaves much like cotton. Heavy, no spring. Drapes wonderfully.
Acrylic: light, machine washable, no spring, not terribly warm. High-quality acrylic yarn isn't bad for all-season sweaters, but it's chemically smooth and can slip and slide around when knit, like silk. It's actually quite tricky to work with.

By heavy/light, I'm talking about the weight per yard - that has a lot of impact on what you use for substitution. I'd say it's the most important factor if you want your project to knit up the same way the pattern looks.

By 'spring', I'm talking about fiber memory and it's ability to hold itself up (I'd use the term 'tensile strength' if I were discussing this with the husbeast, Mr. Engineering). Some yarns are so heavy and unspringy that they can't hold themselves up - those are the sweaters that start the night with the hem at your waist, and finish the night halfway to your knees. To some degree the gauge of the yarn affects it (yarn that's just heavier - bulky weight vs. lace weight, say - is of course going to stretch more), but some fibers are just that way. By my experience, silk, cotton, and alpaca are the worst offenders, in that order.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go hug my kid. (After three days of monstrous behavior and being sick, she is back to her usual adorable self.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

What makes hard, hard?

This discussion was started over at Mason-Dixon knitting. What makes a project hard? A candidate for the hardest sweater pattern ever written was put forth - "Katherine Howard" from "Tudor Roses" by Alice Starmore. There's a list of skills needed, including sideways crap, intarsia cables, and other madness. Someone in the comments summed it up brilliantly with "What, no steeks?"

So what makes a project hard for you? Is it a matter of skills you have a like or dislike for, or a matter of experience, with things you've never tried before? Or are you like me, and don't really do 'hard' and judge things more along the lines of 'too much bother'?

Most importantly, does the 'beginner, intermediate, experienced' skill level thing on most patterns help you at all? Or would you rather have a list of skills needed to knit the sweater and make up your own mind?

(Just for the record, the only thing I find truly hard is trying to keep track of multiple charts or decreasing methods, or both, all at once. Even then it's not that hard, but it's VERY often more trouble than it's worth.)

Mostly I'm asking because of this whole design project, but I'm also curious.

Oh. And my own candidate for hardest thing ever knit: Shetland 'wedding ring' shawls. They're huge, you have to pay attention to every darn stitch with multiple charts, increases, decreases, and sideways borders going on, and they're done on tiny needles. It'd be the project from hell that never ended. I keep thinking I should knit one, on principle, to say I did it. But I always find something better to do.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Getting stuff done.

Today I was going to keep track of what I did, and then post it tomorrow for all of you who boggle over how I get things done. You know... "8:30AM: Baby wakes me up, I change her, then stare blankly at Bloglines while she eats breakfast and I desperately suck down caffeine and anti-inflammatories." But that kind of thing doesn't really communicate what's going on, because I multi-task a lot. (This is mostly due to being twitchy from pain - if I stay busy, I don't think about how my arm hurts.)

But I decided some pictures are more worthwhile than a couple paragraphs of explanation.

This is what my kitchen table looks like:

There is, just barely, enough room for the husbeast and me to eat dinner. The table is meant to serve SIX.

My kitchen looks like this:

I was going to include a few photos of the rest of the house, but it's just too depressing. It looks like a toy store threw up in here.

This weekend I dyed yarn most of the weekend, and the husbeast, being helpful, installed a rack of hooks I'd bought, so that I've got somewhere to hang these skeins while they're damp. It was full, but this morning I've wound up all but a couple skeins of coffee yearn. I can't face the coffee yarn.

We do have Cherry Sorbet laceweight:

Lace often gets lost when bright variegations of color are used, so I try to stick with - mostly - tonal variations of one color (occasionally I go bonkers, but it's a rule of thumb). This one turned out particularly well, running from a dark purply red through red-red and orangey red to an almost pink. Pretty sure I remember how to do it.

A mistake in the dye pot turned into Kiwi sock yarn:

And I did some more Tribble, this time in sock weight. I'm trying to get motivated to wind out some long skeins for self-striping yarns... over the weekend I wound out a thirty-foot skein (it should make a stripe pattern about three inches wide on a sock), but I haven't decided what colors to dye it yet, so it's hanging over the back of my office door. I'm leaning toward baby colors.

Oh, and speaking of The Baby. She's taken to lounging in her rocker, just like her old man lounges in his recliner.

I'm sure there's something genetic going on there. I'm not gonna think about it.

The Baby is supposed to be napping. I hear jumping and laughing noises coming from the nursery. Hmmmm.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More clever uses for stash.

I keep forgetting to post this....

What is this, you ask? A customized My Little Pony. A friend of mine does them. (Sadly, she is blogless. Poor dear.) See the mane and tail? It's LaLuz from Fiesta Yarns, in teal. (That's their pure, reeled silk.) I had about 1/4 of a skein left from a project that had been sitting around literally for years, and when my friend mentioned custom manes and tails (I hadn't realized she went into that kind of detail), I asked if she wanted it. She did. When she got it, she loved it so much she finished the whole thing in a weekend.

So there you go: Give it away. You'd be amazed at what can be done with yarn, besides knitting.

SLEEVE QUESTION: There seems to be some worry about what happens if your perfect sleeve length hits right between pattern repeats. I hate to ruin this for you guys, but... there is no perfect length. It will always be off by a little bit; once you put all three pieces (body and both sleeves) together, there will be other factors affecting sleeve length, including armhole depth and how tightly you knit the shoulder straps (and how wide you choose to make them). So go with whatever's closest and relax; this decision isn't the end of the sleeve length subject.

And now, I've gotta go pull myself together (and figure out where I'm going) to meet Terby. In real life! This whole unplugged thing is really interesting. Who knows? Some day I may go on vacation without my computer.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Definitely the coffee.

Remember the last batch of coffee yarn I made, when I puked all day? (Well, I remember it.) I just made another batch of it, out on the back porch with some good ventilation. I'm still horribly nauseated. So this is the last of the coffee yarn available from me. I won't be making it again.

I'll be posting new yarns all weekend, though.

Steeked jacket question!

When you arrive at the top of your sleeve, it should be whatever length you want from your ARM PIT to your wrist. I'm doing mine a bit long because I like them that way for outside jackets, which is how I will use mine. The proper length is entirely subjective - whatever you like.

HOWEVER. You have to end your sleeve on the same row you ended the body. Let me repeat that. END YOUR SLEEVES ON THE SAME ROW YOU ENDED THE BODY. All three parts have to be on the same row when we join them up. To make it easy, end on the last row of the pattern. You don't HAVE to, but it's easier that way.

Loot and cute babies.

Lately I've been shopping on Etsy, instead of selling. (I'm dying yarn this weekend, I'll get back to the other, soon.) I've had two really wonderful purchases lately. The first was some stitch markers:

These are from "Wee Ones" and she does all kinds of very adorable small animals, not just sheep. The shop owner is nice, and ships quickly, and has it together. It's a class act with really cute stitch markers.

The other thing I bought was some batik print fabric from here (for the kitchen window):

I was so in love with the fabric, I didn't even read closely when I bought it and was delighted to find, when it arrived, that it's LINEN. Lovely stuff. It'll probably outlive me. There's enough for one curtain for sure, with enough left over to MAYBE make an office curtain/valence sort of thing. All for $15. Nicely made, quick shipping, etc. Another class act.

And where was I all day yesterday? Pawley's Island, visiting with some family that was on vacation. The Baby got to play with some cousins. Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera when we went to the beach. Total baby cuteness. Here, The Baby teaches a cousin how to beat on the patio door as a drum.

The poor goober is so tired today, she's just laying on the floor watching toons. Last night she couldn't even stand - the muscles in her legs were noodles from walking around all day.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'm weird.

Not a terribly huge insight, I know, but some days I believe it more than others, and today was a "Wow, I'm really weird" day.

This morning The Baby and I trundled down to the Charleston Children's Museum for Sip and Knit. The folks at the museum (who I would nominate for canonization, were I Catholic, but I'm not) open an hour early every Thrusday and people bring their kids and knit while the museum staff rides herd on the little ones. Nice place, great staff. There were only two knitters there today other than myself, but they were both very nice and we hung out and chatted while one woman's kid went off to play in the museum and my kid stayed (we were in the art room) and colored with crayons and played with magnets on the wall while we knit. (The other lady's grandkids were busy, so by golly she came by herself.) As I was sitting there knitting, I realized that while I could probably list at least half the regulars in the Canberra, Australia StitchNBitch group, these were the first knitters I'd met in Charleston. Where I've lived for a couple YEARS.

It was one of those moments where you kind of roll your eyes and shake your head at yourself. Nod, and think, "Yup, I'm weird." and then go on.

Anyway, The Baby and I both had fun and we'll go back next week.

A combination of not wanting to leave the art room and not wanting to hold my hand hit in the parking garage, and The Baby had one of those classic screaming, flop-like-a-landed-trout temper tantrums. This was her first and I knew however I responded would set the tone for the rest of our lives, so I said firmly "You WILL hold my hand anywhere there are cars. Period. NOT NEGOTIABLE." and hitched her under my arm like a sack of laundry and hauled her off, howling. Someone passing by who caught the performance said something like "Good job, Mom" so I guess it wasn't THAT massive a scene. Anyway, once The Baby realized I wasn't participating in performance art, she kind of wiggled to be put down. I did, and she walked to the Jeep nicely after that, letting me hold her hand. Still howling, just to make sure I knew she was unhappy, but otherwise behaving. So I ignored it.

Ah, the joys of motherhood.

So we come home to the Geek House (a geek house is any house that has more computers networked than there are people living in it), and I start going through mail and blogs to read, and I've come up with a few things to share.

First up, from Netter and entitled "Let's freak the muggles again" (which sums it up nicely): CNN is doing a poll about what we all do with our free time. Knitting is one of the choices. Bop on over, fill out the survey, and make sure knitting is first so it screws with the statistics.

Secondly, a 'support our geek troops' opportunity. (While we are all quite revolted by our current government, the troops are really just victims of the administration like the rest of us and deserve some support.) The troops stationed in Iraq are trying to hold a gamer convention June 9. They want to have tournaments, but they are lacking in everything: books, dice, graph paper, prizes, you name it. Things are so desperate right now that the guys are sharing dice (for hard core gamers, that's like letting another guy sleep with your girlfriend). If you happen to have any game gear laying around you'll never use, or have anything that would make a good prize and wish to donate it, details can be found here. I know a lot of guys who have deployed, myself, and for prizes, almost anything goes. Particularly appreciated would be novels or any other reading material (other than porn; that's banned by the UN), handheld games of any kind (new or used; GameBoy cartriges in particular - if the winner doesn't have the proper equipment to play it, they can use it to barter for something they do want - but I think GameBoys are issued with combat boots these days), and drink mix. Yes, drink mix. All they have over there is water. Any change of pace from that is greatly appreciated.

I don't generally put out calls for charity donations, but this one hit a chord for me. Being something of an odd ball myself, I'm really sympathizing with gamers stationed in Iraq. Well, with anyone stationed in Iraq, but today it's the gamers.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Thinking community.

As mentioned in a previous post not too long ago, Bells nominated me for Thinking Blogger award. I get a little button in my sidebar (which I need to put there) and I get to nominate five bloggers of my own.

The husbeast and I have discussed blogging quite a lot since I started this one, and we've agreed that it tends to have a very nice self-selecting process going on that is a huge advantage. Specifically, it's the internet. Generally you find smarter-than-average people on the internet. Especially if you stay away from porn sites and MySpace (and other 'kid sites'). I know more and more people get on the internet every day, but still - there's a certain amount of knowledge involved to even set up a computer and keep it running, so again, it's sort of self-policing. Not always, but for a largely ungoverned communications system, it works pretty well.

One of the greatest things beyond the sort of mimimum-smarts-required issue, is the sudden ability for people to meet each other. Not just knitters, but hobbyists from all over the world, many who thought they were the only person practicing their obscure arts, are suddenly realizing that, hey! They have company!

The husbeast hangs out in car/truck forums. There are thousands, tailored to specific interests, and in it's own way just as complex and exciting and sociologically fascinating as the knitting blog world. He will pull me over to his computer to look at tipped-over Jeeps in Australia, or the carcass of a Blazer in Alaska. Just last night, he called me to look at a post from someone in Russia. He'd posted in Cyrillic and the husbeast wanted me to read it. (I speak very rudimentary Russian from a stint in classes at college.) Unfortunately the Russian dude was using slang and I was lost beyond the phonetics (which is often the case).

With all this in mind, I chose my five nominated blogs with a thought to something OTHER than knitting. I know, heresy, but sometimes knitters don't see the forest for the trees. We've set up a kickass on-line community, but we aren't the only ones. (Believe it or not, 'the truck guys' often meet up for trail riding, etc. Same thing without the yarn.)


What I Cooked Last Night is a food blog from Australia. It isn't ALWAYS what he ate last night, though it often is. It will stray into other things, but no matter what he writes about, it's touching, funny, evocative, and entertaining. He gives a wonderful sense of place to everything he writes about, from pruning grapefruit trees to collecting Volvos. And when he writes about food, he makes me hungry. What bigger compliment can you pay a food writer?

Also in the food category, though an entirely different kind of blog, is The Old Foodie. This blog is maintained much like a daily newspaper article. It is food history. Every day the author picks a different subject, potatos, eggs, famous dishes or chefs. I like history and I like to cook, so of course I love this blog.

Argh, Ink is the blog of Jenny Crusie, a novelist. She writes about writing, she writes about the first admendment, she writes about male-female relationships or whatever else is making her think at the moment (today it's about aging, commercials, and corporations). She used to be an English teacher so the writing is darn good from a mechanical point of view, and she's got a great sense of humor, so it's always a fun read, too. He Wrote/She Wrote is a companion blog that she keeps with her male writing partner. It's far more hilarious, though contains fewer Deep Thoughts.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is a two-headed blog kept by two damn smart women who are well educated and enjoy romance novels. They review books and do a lot of discussion about romance, relationships, and writing in general. Check them out before you turn up your nose at the idea of a romance novel blog; they are both very smart, and very self aware. And as the name implies, they're also pretty darn funny.

And for the last blog, I'm naming a knitting blog. I know it's a cliche, but I'm naming the Yarn Harlot. These days she's got such a huge readership that the community aspect that can happen in comments gets kind of lost, but Stephanie's a woman who can make you think. About anything. Her topics are varied, she's hilarious, and when she's bored she raises money for Doctors Without Borders. There've been some snarky commentary going around the internet about her these days, and to those people I say, kiss my ass. If you don't like her, don't read her, but she's a kind woman with smarts.

These aren't blogs so much as RSS feeds set up by magazines, with many entries that link to assorted articles. But if you use Bloglines or some similar thing, you can get them to cough current events into your day and it's a damn fine system for staying well-informed. I'm only listing my favorites. There are thousands out there - these days most magazines and news agencies have some kind of RSS feed, often several.

Boing Boing "A directory of wonderful things." Total geekness. They even run knitting stuff occasionally, like the Princess Leia wig, or the Space Invader socks.

National Geographic. Multiple RSS feeds AND a podcast. The weekly 'photos in the news' is fantastic, and the photography always rocks.

Scientific American. The latest science news, not just in the US. Also podcasts, and an 'ask the experts' section that is often hilarious, where people get to ask whatever questions they want and the staff answers them or finds someone else who can.

Slashdot. I think of it as computer geek news, but since I own a computer - so do we all - it contains a lot of information we should be aware of. Heavy on politics and law. And their blog post method is very subtly fun - title, then byline. They use the bylines to make jokes and editorial comments on the articles. For instance, "Six dimensional space-time theory By kdawson on let's-do-the-twistor". Don't let the title put you off - it's one paragraph giving details in words we all understand. (Instead of four dimensions, six, the new two being 'time like'.)

Wired Magazine. Electronic news, a lot of it related to copyright laws, etc. Didja know right now the National Security Agency is claiming that anyone who as ever shared files is a security risk? Yeah, right. Hope they have fun trying to keep track of everyone.

That should keep you guys thinking for a day or two.

Thanks again for the award, everyone!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How about that knitting?

Yeah. Let's talk about knitting. Remember the steeked jacket? Mine looks like this.

Oh, and also like this:

Maybe we all should get hot on this project and finish 'em? At the least, I want to finish mine and write up the rest of the directions. I feel bad that at the moment it's an unfinished project, in terms of how-to.

But first I gotta finish the Mystery Knit. I did not have to unravel the sleeves, just tinker a bit. You'll understand when you see the design. (If Amy does not accept it for Knitty I will make it available here, for free. It's kind of a practice run at pattern writing before I start selling them.) Anyway, it's coming along. It's possible it could be done in a week or so if I get myself going.

Then there's the lone aqua sock. It's sitting in the middle of my dining room table to remind me how lonely it is, every time I eat. Poor, poor sock.

Oh, and remember this?

I've been working on this again, off and on as a break when I'm tired of the Mystery. It's still not quite done, but you can see it's getting pretty long. That's an eighteen inch (uh... forty cm? thereabouts?) knitting needle it's on, for scale. I'm knitting it on slightly smaller needles than suggested so it'll be denser and smaller (and hopefully use a little less yardage). But it's still gonna stretch like a mofo when it's blocked. My toes are in there too, for scale. I have funny looking piggers.

Have I mentioned there's a family wedding at the beginning of June I should really knit lace for? That side of the family appreciates handmade gifts - one of the cousins FRAMED a doily I knit her and hung it in her dining room like art work. I also hear lots of variations of "I keep it on the table/dresser that's been in the family for five generations." So yeah, I need to knit something. At least I'll use something from The Box (the one that contains nine miles of crochet cotton).

Speaking of crochet cotton, would you knit a sweater out of it on size two needles, if it was cool enough? Or am I insane to even think it?

The husbeast is watching Deadliest Catch. I'm getting seasick just looking at the TV.

Part of the mystery solved.

Someone ELSE has recieved a torn open envelope - with the missing yarn stuffed in it! So I imagine a couple envelopes got torn open and the contents fell out, they guessed what went where (because with the return address to my house on both envelopes they're so totally incapable of calling me and asking), and sealed them back up. I'm still missing a box, though.

And I will STILL be using the other post office. Very unimpressed by the post master's response to this.

EDITED TO ADD: Now that I think about this I'm still pissed. I mailed that huge pile of stuff twelve days ago and paid first class rates for all of it so that it would arrive in THREE DAYS.

At any rate, apologies to people who've waited weeks for their yarn, and I have changed post offices. I would go to UPS or FedEx but I'd have to charge you guys more for shipping -- so we're trying the different post office first.

Attention Etsy Shoppers.

Anyone having ordered anything recently should have gotten your orders by now if you live in the US. I have found out that ONE package of yarn was opened and yarn taken out and resealed, and ANOTHER package is missing entirely. I think there's a thief at the local post office (rest assured I will be using a different one from now on). I am re-sending yarn to those two people involved. If anyone else is still waiting on a shipment in the US, please e-mail me at and we'll discuss. If you're in Europe, give it a while longer before we panic.

From now on, everything goes out with tracking numbers.

Sorry for the inconvenience and doing business on the blog, but I watned to get the word out. I'm putting this up as a shop announcement at Etsy, too.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Oh yeah...

I was so thrilled with my books I forgot to mention a few things.

First, I have the cutest child in the entire world. (Just ask me. I'll tell you.)

I'm wearing the Ugly Socks. They're warm. (We're having a nasty storm system moving through right now.)

Sekhmet has been horribly traumatized by the grab-shake-throw incident the other night. (The dark blue on the bottom? That's a silk throw I knit a while ago. It's full of cat fur.)

And the sleeves of the Mystery Knit, which I thought were done, might be JUST A LITTLE TINY BIT TOO SHORT. (They're supposed to hang down over the hands. Ha.) This is probably why I thought I had extra yarn.

Books, and epic projects, and, um, books.

I ran down to the outlet mall today, to pick up a large pot type of thing (on the cheap, this is me we're talking about) so that I can do coffee yarn on the back porch with the barbecue grill. (Never again in the house after that puke fest a few weeks ago.)

Did I mention there's a BOOK OUTLET STORE there?

On the top, two more anthropology/history books: YET ANOTHER world civ one (because the other ten just don't cover the topic), and a native/pre-Columbian Americas one. (I have recently discovered my unholy pile of books is lacking on that topic, which is disgraceful considering I LIVE THERE.) On the bottom, three books from the "World's Greatest Art" series (I love this series of books because they've got the same broad idea of what art is as I do. They include everything. Furniture, buildings, statues, textiles, and, yeah, paintings). From the left, folk art (from all over the world), Asian art, and Art Nouveau. I had no business buying the last because Art Nouveau is one of my favorite styles and I've already got half a dozen books on the subject. What in hell posessed me, you ask? Well. I've got this idea. The Epic Design Project.

"Around the World in 80 Knits."

I've been brooding on this idea for twenty years - I had it soon after discovering all the varieties of folk knitting, after I learned to knit. In a nutshell, knitted interpretations of clothing and art from all over the world. Nods to the great designers (Charles Worth, Elsa Schiaparelli), the great fashions (kimono, the suit, lava-lavas), and the great sweaters (gotta do an interpretation of a Bohus). Until the discovery of Etsy this past winter, I had no idea how to do this and sell the patterns. Now I know. The idea is to create a blog with an entry for each pattern, and a link to Etsy for 'where to buy'. I may offer some of the simpler patterns for free, or try to get them published on Knitty (there's a great sock from the Victorian Era that I think I can directly copy). This will be a massive undertaking - at eight new designs a year, it'd take me ten years. But I've wanted to do it, and thanks to the internet, I can. So why not?

Anyway, with that in mind I've been flipping through books and getting ideas and I've realized there are huge and disgraceful holes in my knowledge of history, anthropology, and clothing/fashion. I suppose I can thank my public school education for this (no one should take "Western Civ" in college, every last damn one of us should be taking WORLD CIV - we already know enough Western Civ crap from high school), but there's nothing stopping me from fixing it now. Plus I get to buy books. Never a bad thing.

Another book I picked up today was "The Kitchen User's Manual" by Alton Brown. Basically, if it has Alton's name on it and I don't own it, I buy it.

Alton previosly has won a James Beard Award for "I'm Just Here For The Food" and recently his show, Good Eats, won a Peabody Award. (!!!!)

Anyway. The book. I can see why it didn't sell well, and I think it's a damn shame. There aren't any recipes. Let me say that up front. Oh no. It's full of the information we need to make sense of recipes. There are his famous "Critter Maps", pictures of cows, pigs, lambs, and chickens, showing where the cuts come from. There's a whole section of food additives and what they do and how they work, sort of a 'when to panic' list. There's another section called something like "How to read a food label". What's the diff between 'low fat' and 'reduced fat' on your potato chip bag? The info is right here. Conversion charts galore, not just the usual Imperial/Metric, but baking dishes, oven settings all over the world, and ingredient substitutions. The whole thing is in a loose-leaf binder so you can add in information of your own and have everything in one handy place. Worth every penny of the discount price I paid, and really, I'd have paid full price for it now that I've sat down and read it through. (No, I didn't even look at it in the store. I didn't care. It was Alton Brown.)

If you like to cook, or even more if you HAVE to cook, check out Good Eats. You will love the show and learn lots and lots and lots. (Learning good.)

My child just stuck her foot in the fireplace, through or under a blanket, a wire screen, and a couple towels. (We keep the fireplace blocked most of the year to keep the heat or AC from going literally through the roof.) Now her foot is sooty. I would like to point out she CRAWLED up there. I'm telling you, she managed to get in a lot of trouble without walking.

There's more stuff to babble about, but this is pretty darn long as it is. In the next day or two I'm going to be doing some coding and will probably be adding a links section titled "Local Stuff". I will warn you now: It's not local to where I'm living RIGHT THIS MINUTE, but cool stuff from places I've lived. Y'all need to be able to mail-order milk chocolate buttercremes from Heggy's. The French mints aren't bad either. (I mentioned the web site to the husbeast and he's waxing nostalgic about the Hard Whites and 'Peanut Butter Things'. There's a little store in our home town. We grew up on Heggy's candies. Oh - the cashews are damn good, too.) I'm also going to be adding a 'what I'm reading' section with fiction and non-fiction. I don't know how long that will last, since I rip through books pretty fast and it might be too much bother to keep shifting the titles around. We'll give it a try and see.

Saturday, April 14, 2007



And the more fuss we make (we make a lot of fuss) the more she walks, and I'm so happy I could poo. Maybe the tendonitis in my 'good' wrist from lifting her will go away some time in the next year. I'm so happy.

Happy about the walking thing, anyway. However I do have a lesson for all of you:

Never take painkillers and try to cast on anything. It's not going to end well. Ever. Don't bother trying. Don't tell yourself you'll count real careful this time. JUST. DON'T. DO. IT.

For those of you who have cats, I'm having a problem with mine and I need to know what the cat response would be. (I've never lived with groups of cats, so I've never had a chance to observe them.) When the cat's been sleeping on me for a long time (four hours or more) and I move, she bites me. I know she's biting to keep me still, but I'm damn tired of being bitten. (We're not talking mean nasty stuff here. I'm sure if I had fur, it wouldn't leave a mark. Unfortunately, I DON'T have fur, and it HURTS.) So what would the cat response be? What do they do in these situations when they're sleeping all jumbled together in a pile? 'Cause I'm pretty sure my response last night (grab cat by scruff, shake vigorously, and throw), isn't quite getting the message across. It just assures we're both pissed.

And in a case of saving the best news for last (okay, the almost-best news, I'm sorry, but The Baby walking is better than just about everything, possibly even chocolate), Bells has given me the honor of naming me as a Thinking Blogger. To paraphrase, I say smart things and give people food for thought. I'm very flattered, thank you. (Bells' post about it can be read here, and the original start of the award system can be read here.) I want to say something profound about blogging and the internet and community, and I get to name my own five favorite thought-provoking blogs, but I'm going to do it another day - probably tomorrow. Profundity isn't happening tonight. But thank you very much, Bells, for making me feel like I have my act together.

Friday, April 13, 2007

When life gives you lemons...

...the cat pukes on the floor.


Something a bit happier.

Let's talk about something happier than the last post, hmmm?

The other night, fearing that we were warping The Baby by not giving her dolls to play with, the husbeast and I took her to the toy store. We wandered the aisles, seeing what The Baby was interested in. Mostly she was interested in tools, dump trucks, and crayons. The only toy she howled about not keeping was a toy truck. (It's like looking in a mirror - guess what my first vehicle was?) At one point, I found a toy of gears meshed together and offered it to her. She took it and held it to her chest the whole way through the store.

The next morning, it took her about two minutes to figure it out.

It's so popular a toy that she has already lost a gear.

In some circles there is concern that the cat took the gear and is using it to produce a mechanical detonator for a nuclear warhead. I won't worry until the smoke alarm goes missing. (Smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material in them, used to detect smoke. It's a geek joke, people, work with me here.)

Yesterday in the mail, a darling little package came: A little baby halter and head scarf from CoffeeLady. I put it on the kiddo immediately.

I'm sorry to say I couldn't get her to leave the scarf on long enough to get a photo, but it matches the halter and is just as adorable. I'll try for another photo this weekend, when the husbeast is around to assist. It was hilarious, because she hasn't been in a halter since last summer (a long time ago for a kid who is a year and a half old), and she thought it felt funny. She'd wiggle her shoulders and then pat her chest, as if to say "Nothing on the back or shoulders... but there's fabric here..." It's a little loose, but the way she grows it will definitely fit by the end of summer. THANK YOU!

Thank you, everyone, for the input on the yarn and the stitch markers. I'm keeping track of the yarn names I didn't use, for inspiration later. There are some new yarns up in the shop - mostly lace weight for summer, but some more Mermaid Tail and Purple Trainwreck, too. When I was doing the last couple batches, I divided a skein of merino/silk sock yarn and dyed it with an eye to making myself some ankle socks out of it. The skein was supposed to be divided in half.

Call me crazy, but I don't think I got the two halves the same length. I may wind up with Purple Trainwreck With Pink Toes.

And one last shot: there are now two pieces (of six) of the Mystery Knit!

I usually knit when I'm stressed. This might get done soon!

Anyone seen an orange gear?

This isn't boring. Damn it.

Regular readers around here will know, I shoot for 'boring' as a standard of living. Excitement in my life always involves nasty things (seven-thousand-mile moves, deathly illness, all that major life moment shit) and so I prefer days full of nothin'.

Unfortunately I'm not getting nothin' for the next little while.

I'm trying to figure out exactly how to tell this, because the root of the annoyance goes back FIFTEEN YEARS. I suppose the beginning is a good place.

So. Fifteen years ago, the husbeast and I were married. He was military at the time, had been in about three years, so I knew what I was getting into. After a year of watching women raise children on their own while thier husbands were out to sea, and after watching the men come home and their own chldren not recognize them, I decided we would wait until the husbeast's last assignment - at which point my reproductive system should be on it's last gasp - and we'd have a kid. His last assignment was supposed to be shore duty, so he'd be home the whole time. Then he'd retire. So the kid would have a father. This was a good plan. In retrospect I'm thinking it over and even in hindsight, I agree with the decision and think it's a good plan. I followed it. (The Baby was planned - only a couple months off the Master Plan, which is amazing given 36 year old ovaries were involved.) All went just as I wanted, the husbeast and The Baby are together, and I've been congratulating myself for having the smarts to plan this at the age of 23. Except for one tiny little thing.


Oh yes. It turns out the shore duty will be shorter than it's supposed to be, and the husbeast has to finish out his time in the Navy with two years of sea duty (being assigned to a ship or sub and going wherever it goes). In practical terms, this means we're going to move some time in the next nine months. Of course we have no idea where yet. (This was all broken to me the night before last. I'd known it was a possibility, but not that it was absolutely going to happen.)

Best case scenario, we go back to Hawaii. There is a FAINT possibility this will happen. Faint, but just possible. Even as a best case, it isn't that good - if I go back to Hawaii I'll have a hard time leaving again (I can easily imagine chaining myself to a bigass lava boulder on the N Shore). And it will be seven thousand miles from the in-laws, so The Baby will lose touch with her grandparents. Guam is also possible. Hahah.

More likely best case scenario, we get moved to Virginia or San Diego. I hate Virginia, San Diego's too far away, but Virginia's good in terms of being close to the family for support while the hubby's away.

Worst case scenario? The hubby gets posted to the George Washington (an aircraft carrier) in Japan. He goes to Japan, The Baby and I go to Ohio or Connecticut and I go to school and the Baby sees her dad for a total of maybe four months for the next two years. Considering this is exactly what I was trying to avoid when I waited until I was 37 freaking years old to have a kid, this idea pisses me off beyond words. (There is also the option of moving to Japan with him - which would mean I would be alone and raising a kid in a foreign country, because aircraft carriers are often out to sea nine months a year. We still wouldn't see him.)

So. That's what's going on around here. I'm sure you'll all get to hear more long rants on the topic, as needed. Haha.

Here, the Baby says, "This sucks!"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So, my beloved test audience...

Anyone got a name for this yarn?

It's sort of like Easter Egg Rainbow, but the color repeat is waaaaay shorter, and the colors are murkier. Plus the places where the colors meet are strange - darker, or unblended, or just strange.


And while we're at it, if you're purchasing sets of stitch markers, how many do you want? I usually use stitch markers when I'm doing Percentage System style sweaters, and so I need four - one for each underarm edge, with one of them different to mark the beginning of the round. Or just one to mark the beginning of a round.

Thoughts? Anyone?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Purple Natural Disaster

Above is 875 yards of laceweight Purple Trainwreck. (The skein is short five yards. We shall not speak of it. Ever. Fucking knots.) To say this yarn was a royal pain to process is a vast understatement. I was going to try to describe the annoyance, but I thought perhaps a photo was worth a thousand words:

That's the yarn at about... 5:30 last night. That's in my office, where I threw it in frustration after spending TWO HOURS winding it on to the niddy-noddy and finding out that it had gone onto the niddy-noddy tangled. (Mind you, this is after an hour spent winding it out to the extra-long skein BEFORE the dye process.)

Anyway, it survived. I'm not sure I did. My left hand (the one that holds the niddy-noddy) is killing me today. I'm not sure I'll ever again do a long color repeat lace weight yarn, because I don't think I can sell the stuff for enough money to make up for the time spent. (If I were to sell this skein for the usual $22, after I take out cost of supplies, I will be paid $1.50 an hour. I expect to not make big bucks at this, but a buck fifty an hour is a little ridiculous, even for an at-home artisianal business.)

While I was crunching numbers, I did some more and decided that while I do have just barely enough money for a spinning wheel, I'd be smarter to spend some of that money to join a gym and burn off all the fat I gained on this damned medication. Though I'm going to talk to my doc about getting reimbursed by the insurance company, I seriously doubt it will happen.

Adulthood and responsibility is such a bitch.

And while I'm irritated, take a look at this:

This is my little poo-head of a child in her favorite TV watching position. STANDING. She was pulling this last night and I went and shot her with the bubble gun. She giggled. I felt better. Little booger. (Yes. I know she's too close to the TV. You have any suggestions on how to keep her away from it that don't involve hanging it from the ceiling?)

Yesterday while I was dyeing yarn, I ran out of vinegar and used lemon juice instead. (It was with experimental, one-off egg dye, anyway.) The skein came out a little murky but it looks cool. It's some short-color-repeat easter egg rainbow laceweight.

Turned out all right, but I wouldn't ever use lemon juice voluntarily. Still, it's a good trick to know in a yarn-dyeing emergency.

I'm gonna go shoot the kid with the bubble gun again, now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Me? Virtuous?

Your Deadly Sins

Sloth: 60%

Wrath: 40%

Envy: 0%

Gluttony: 0%

Greed: 0%

Lust: 0%

Pride: 0%

Chance You'll Go to Hell: 14%

You will get bugs, because you're too lazy to shoo them off. And then you'll die.

That can't be right. Though sloth and wrath sounds about right...

Hm. I'm not so pissed off after all.

Last night I had a post planned that contained a list of everything I was pissed off about. It was quite a list - shifting drugs often makes me cranky, and throw in a bad day on top of it, and you have, well, me, last night.

However, this morning, after a night of sleep with no nightmares (the night before had been BAD, damned drug withdrawl) and a morning of the baby and the cat behaving, all may not be right with the world, but things aren't terribly bad.

I'll try to reconstruct the list anyway, for amusement purposes.

I know I was mad at The Baby. I'd gone out yesterday - taking her along, of course - and she had refused to be helpful in any way. Wouldn't walk, wouldn't even STAND to make it easier to put her in her car seat. Then we get home and she spends the day standing in front of the TV watching cartoons. STANDING. Now that I think of it, I still want to kill her, because she's STILL doing it. Grrr.

And another thing I'm still irritated about is people who don't know crap, holding forth on stupid subjects and refusing to do research or face facts when they're slapped down in front of them. Enough said on that subject. While I'm at the 'stupid people' point in my tirade, if someone in this shithole government isn't held responsible for something, soon, I'm going to... I don't know, but it'll be bad. I think my congressman has quit opening my e-mails again.

It's getting warm out and for the second year in a row our child can't play outside because our yard is full of fire ants and no one anywhere seems interested in doing anything about it. In Hawaii the city used to come around and blast big nests when they were reported, in an effort to keep them under control. Charleston doesn't give a shit.

Anyway, I could go on for hours. (And I'm in a GOOD mood this morning!) So let's talk about something a bit less...annoying. Like YARN!

On the right, lace-weight Cotton Candy. On the left, a whole bunch of Purple Trainwreck. Including.... laceweight PT. I'm gonna have to charge more for it, though, because it took an hour to wind it out to that longer skein, and it's gonna take another hour to put it into something shipable.

And today, it's Mermaid Tail.

Including... some lace weight mermaid tail. And in the bowl is some laceweight for experimental purposes. I'm going to try doing graduated color on the stove, without burning the house down. Here's hoping it works. (Ha. It's much more likely I'll just destroy the yarn.)

I also bought a little bit of egg dye at the Easter sales yesterday. And I resisted the urge to buy candy. Good for me. But I did buy one other thing.

A bubble gun. It blows bubbles when you pull the trigger.

Next time the cat and the baby gang up on me, I intend to shoot them.