Tuesday, July 31, 2007



Jumper. Whatever.

In typical fashion, now that I've joined on the arm, I'm starting to think the body is too short. And since this is ribbing, I can't just pull out the cast-on and knit downward, I'd have to knit extra length and graft it on to the bottom. Which I've done in the past, and hated. I've got a bad feeling I'll wind up doing it again.

But for now I'm going to go work on Pinwheel. I want that stupid lace edge finished.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Baby, and the sleeve. And maybe the cat.

The Baby is maturing rapidly, kind of like a fine wine or a good wheel of cheese. We can see differences every day now, usually different words she has learned. Yesterday, she found an old sun hat I had tossed into her toy basket, handed it to the husbeast, and said quite clearly, "Hat." I assume that she caught the word the day before when we'd put her own hat on her, outside, but you never know. The cat might have taught her. So far, she knows one color (blue), and one number (two). She uses them for everything. I am so amazed that she recognizes numbers (she will put her finger on any number in a book or on the ruler I use when I knit, and say 'two!') that I don't bother correcting her. I just agree, right, it's a number. Good for you.

In the jumble of about twenty often-useless words she knows ('wow' and 'cool'), she's also picked up "book". I gave her a new one the other day, and she carried it with her all afternoon, telling everyone "Book!" and paging through it over and over, even when we were changing her diaper.

As the husbeast put it, "Definitely your kid."

-... -

The sleeve continues. I'm quite enjoying a round (or ninety) of nearly mindless knitting.

You can see where the cuff bells out a bit; I wanted something graceful without worrying too much about what I'd drag the sleeve through. I think I got the right balance of length and practicality. Unfortunately the cast-on is all weird and ruffly, so as usual I'm going to pick it out and put in a different edge.

I've decided to go back to my original plan for the year, which was to keep two sweaters going at all times; one an original and one from a pattern (or adapted from a pattern). That way I can produce some new patterns without completely losing my mind. It also covers the Christmas knitting; I'm doing one original (I think) and one adaptation. Maybe. Probably. Unless I change my mind. Which never happens, right?

-... -

With the Baby more mobile and vocal than ever before, the cat has, to put it lightly, freaked out. And guess who her security blanket is? Of course. Me. The one she bites. (Some day I'd LOVE an explanation of cat psychology; I suspect it has a lot to do with feeling superior and abusing those that love you most.)

Most days are spent with her face mashed against my foot, desperately trying to ignore the Baby while she sleeps. Nights are spent with free run of the house, flinging kitty litter all over the floor and scratching the shit out of her scratching post and killing giant cockroaches that she leaves in the middle of the kitchen for me to find, while half awake, the next morning (often by stepping on them barefoot). It's the first time since I adopted Sekhmet that she's been noctournal. Normally she sleeps at night with me, and spends the days awake, running through the house.

Poor kitty. I wish I could nap like that.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Military acronyms.

There's nothing to blog here (I'm still sick and I'm still knitting a sleeve) and everyone had such fun with FNG, that I thought I'd list some more. This is, of course, the unofficial version. None of that legitimate CINCPACFLEET stuff here. (That stands for Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet.)

FUBAR is the most common, standing for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition

SNAFU is related, Situation Normal, All Fucked Up, as is

JANFU, Joint Army-Navy Fuck Up

FNG, Fucking New Guy

TLAR, pronounced tea-lar - last syllable rhymes with bar, That Looks About Right (handy in knitting) related to

SWAG, Scientific Wild-Ass Guess

REMF, Rear Eschelon Mother Fucker

BOHICA, Bend Over, Here It Comes Again

DILLIGAF, Do I Look Like I Give A Fuck

The husbeast and I can't think of any more. But I probably will as soon as I hit 'publish'. TLAR really will come in handy for all us knitters. And there aren't even any swear words in it.

Sekhmet, you fucker.

That's me, sitting on the edge of my office chair while the cat refuses to move.

Oh, sure, you can say it's my fault for not moving her, but you don't know this cat.

Friday, July 27, 2007

That damn husbeast.

The husbeast has known I'm under the weather, and so when he ran out for bread tonight, he picked up ice cream, too. This is a new Ben&Jerry's flavor, Creme Brulee. It's very good, but very rich and very sweet. I've been avoiding fat and sugar since I started working out, and it's to the point that lots of sweets make me kind of gaggy. Which doesn't mean I'll quit eating it; I'll just eat it in smaller doses. It's possible I may become the only person in the world to get four servings out of one carton of ice cream, like the container says I should.

He got me a candy bar, too. Chocolate with hazel nuts. My favorite.

-... -

Yet again, I have given up on finishing Innsvinget. I put the sleeve on a holder and cast on for the sleeve of Tut Tut today.

That's what I've got so far. I'm doing bell sleeves, but they're not REALLY dramatic, just a bit of drape from the wrist. As you can see I've already got a good bit done; it'd be nice to finish up one of these sweaters so I can start on the Christmas knitting.

The doily is finished, and the silly gift is all done except for some I-cord. I love the idea of I-cord, and the structure and appearance of it. The only thing that sucks is the actual knitting. So as usual I'm putting it off. Imagine, me, putting something off. Shocking.

-... -

Tomorrow is another trip to the gym (to burn off the Creme Brulee trying to stick to my ass), and then a pool party with some of the husbeast's co-workers. We got the Baby a life jacket. We'll take the camera. I might put on a bathing suit.

Should be interesting.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Baby in a drum.

It's a little plastic kid's drum with a top that comes off to store other musical instruments. She's turned it into a space helmet.

Damn hand. Again.

Apparently crocheting at a small gauge and knitting a stuffed toy sort of thing at a tight gauge agravates my hand injury to no end. So things are going VERY slowly around here. Yesterday was spent pretty much not knitting, and today is about the same. I'm thinking of working on Innsvinget, though. The wool yarn and the small gauge and light weight are a good combination for NOT bothering my fingers.

Or I might spend the afternoon playing computer games.

I've still got this stupid sinus infection, though of course The Baby has shaken her cold. She always recovers instantly, as soon as I catch whatever germ she has. Other than the occasional cough, usually after a nap, she's back to her usual self. Today she has emptied a milk crate that was full of toys, and has been climbing in and out of it for hours.

Whine, whine, whine. (Me, not the Baby.)

An appointment has been made with the FNG for August second. (FNG is a Navy anacronym for "Fucking New Guy", though in this case it's more accurately FND, fucking new doctor. Yes, FNG is used in regular conversations. "We've gotta train the FNG before we get any more time off.")

Where was I?

Right. No drugs. I'm down to cutting them in half, because I seriously doubt they'll give me another narcotics refill over the phone. Last time it took two weeks and going to sit in the office and refusing to leave. I'd rather be in pain than deal with that stress, but that means... I'm in pain.

The fun never ends.

Computer games, or Innsvinget. Hmmm.

My child just pulled the top off a drum and put it on her head. I'll see if I can get a photo.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fun food facts.

Well. There's nothing to blog about here. Unless you want to hear about the lousy weather and my sinuses. Still working on the gift knitting and binding off the doily. So I thought I'd flip through the book I'm reading ("Food in History") for something interesting. You eat. You ought to find the subject vaguely interesting, I'm thinking.

--As you probably know, the ancient Romans (as in, Romans living in Rome) suffered from lead poisoning due to their use of lead water pipes. Their nutty behavior is well documented, but it's less known that lead poisoning also causes a metallic taste in the mouth. It's thought that a lot of the crazy, super-spiced foods of the Romans was due to that metallic taste, and trying to get rid of it.

--The Chinese royal kitchens in the second century BCE had 2,271 people working there. 128 everyday chefs, 128 entertainment chefs, 94 ice men, 62 pickle and sauce chefs, and 62 salt men, among others.

--As far back as 1300 BCE (and I'll bet as far back as the idea of trading for food goes), there were clever ways to rip each other off, including padding truffles with dirt and roasts with extra fat (sometimes off an entirely different animal). They also would stuff internal organs with anything they had, to make them look more appetizing; it wasn't uncommon to get a kidney home and find out it was stuffed full of rags. (And you thought the butcher cheated when he laid the bacon fat-side down in the package.)

--Almost no one in recorded history has been able to put together a fully balanced diet based entirely on things grown in a five mile radius. Even in the copper and bronze ages, grains and beans and other foods were often imported or exported over very long distances. Egypt supplied most of the grain that kept Rome running; the colonies did the same for England during the British Empire.

--As late as 1897 CE, using knives and forks was forbidden in the British Navy; real men eat with their fingers.

--Potatos, native to South America, were actually introduced to North America from EUROPE. The Spaniards took potatos to Europe, and after years of growing them there, Colonial settlers to N America brought them along when they went to North America.

--Guacamole is pretty much exactly the same as it was when the Aztecs ate it five hundred years ago.

--The clam bake is thought to have come from the Polynesian tradition of cooking luau food in a pit oven, but no one can explain how it came to be a major party food/cooking method in New England at such an early date. Personally I think it was invented in New England independently.

Is that enough odd food information for one day? Probably. Now I want some guacamole.

EDITED TO FIX: The date on the British Navy bit. Thanks to Lynne for pointing it out. (Who knew one letter could make such a difference? Other than knitters, I mean?)

Still want some guacamole.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Almost there.

That's the first scallop (of sixteen, total) that I've bound off. The Damn Doily is finished!! Whee!! I almost met my goal of finishing it in a week (I started it a week ago yesterday, on a Monday), which for me is pretty good, considering what irrational, stupid goals I usually set for myself.

Right now I can't finish the bindoff because the Baby's on a tear, and I can't count crochet chains while yelling "QUIT BEATING ON THE CAT!" So that's waiting for nap time, or after bed time tonight. While I'm in the mood, I'm casting on for a quickie gift for a friend of mine that I SHOULD finish up today. It's just a small, silly thing, but no photos until after the person gets the gift.

After that, I'm not sure. Something I FEEL like knitting, to celebrate that I now have no deadlines until Christmas! Well, except for the Knitty deadline, but that's for an article... and my friend's kid is due November 15, so if I FEEL like it, I may knit something for that. But I think you'll all agree, cranking out a quick baby gift isn't on par with producing an adult-sized sweater that has to be stitch-perfect for the state fair. I'm thinking a Baby Surprise Jacket, that's always a fun, quick, entertaining knit. (Plus the recipient is a member of a family of knitters, and I love watching people's minds get blown by the BSJ.) And I already have most of the yarn in the house! So it's almost like using up stash!

As you can see, I've got my knitting mojo back.

None too soon, 'cause the Baby and I are both sick (sinus crap) and she wants to do nothing but doze on the floor in front of the TV while cartoons run. Maybe I'm a bad mother, but I'm doing it because it's easier than dealing with the whining. (It's educational cartoons, not a total loss. Or so I tell myself while blowing green snot out my nose.)

Nothing like a summer sinus infection to make you huddle down and knit something.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oh, the excitement.

I'm up to round 73 on the doily; about 12 more to go. I'm having a good time picking what to work on next - a few quickie gifts, then back to the Pinwheel Jacket and Tut Tut. (When I'm working on sweaters I like to have two to choose from, for when I get frustrated or bored.) I'd show a photo but it looks just like yesterday's, only slightly larger.

-... -

Yesterday, while I was doing my reading marathon, I figured I could read in the front yard as well as in the house, so we set up the baby pool and plopped The Baby in it for most of the late afternoon. She figured out how to dunk her head in the water.

So the Baby had fun and I got to read and it was all good. Except we both got chewed up by mosquitos and I have a fire ant bite between my toes.

That's it at my house for the weekend. Knitting and baby pools.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Just so you know...

Reading a 750 page book in twelve hours is likely to cause migranes.



A sudden, brief moment of clarity.

So I was laying in bed last night, stressing over all the deadlines I have and everything I need to knit by when, and all the stuff I DON'T have time to knit - there are several new babies on the way among my friends. And I realized that, as usual, I had managed to turn a fun hobby into a seething pit of stress, and in that respect at least, I was a total moron. I started thinking about what I WANTED to knit, and you know, I want to do a couple quick gifts and get back to Tut Tut and the Pinwheel, and then on to Christmas with some side trips into a new design, and I realized it was all perfectly normal, all I had to do was ditch the whole State Fair idea.

So I am.

Terribly sorry to all those who were looking forward to me driving myself insane again this year, but with a two-year-old in the house and the ongoing health problems, I just don't need it. Particularly when you consider I'm still rather pissed off about last year. I'll try to get in some rants for your entertainment... I'm sure I can find some topic that drives me insane to talk about.

Politics would work.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Anyone else get this?

I call it "Thumb Divot". It's from knitting, and any time I really work on a project, I wind up with grooves like that in my thumb and index fingers. I suppose that's common, but freaky anyway. The groove stays for hours after I quit knitting. For years I thought it was from holding a pencil, but then I started typing everything (including grocery lists at one point), and it was still there. Then I noticed it turned up when I knit. Doesn't take me long to put two and two together, nope, not me.

-... -

Speaking of knitting like a fiend, I'm on round 66 of the damn doily:

23 rounds to go. Much thumb divoting going on.

-... -

Sekhmet, that fucker, has been sleeping on my bum ankle.

It's damned painful, no matter how cute it is, which is just what I expect from the furball. Seriously, though, she's been feeling very insecure thanks to The Baby poking at her and wants nothing more but to lay on me or near me at all times. VERY fun.

-... -

The Baby has found a new method of box sitting:

I swear I did not put her in there like a turtle on its back. She climbed in and sat that way all by herself. I swear. Honest.

-... -

Aaaaand, I got yarn in the mail yesterday. This, the green and beige, is meant for my mother-in-law's Christmas sweater. Shame I won't get to it until October.

-... -

I went and got my pre-paid little ticket stub for Deathly Hallows last night. The store will be open after Midnight tonight, for anyone who wants to pick it up, but I know what will happen if I try that. I'll get home at one in the morning, and flip open the book to read the last chapter (assuming I haven't been killed in a flaming car crash on the way home, trying to read and drive at the same time), I'll go 'WOW', then flip to the beginning and start reading, then wind up staying up all the next day, and feel like shit for a week until I get myself straightened out. So I'll wait until Saturday morning, go to the gym, then pick up my book.

Being a grownup is such a bitch sometimes.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Local stuff additions.

Whenever the hub and I talk about favorite things to do when we lived other places (drink beer on the roof at Dave and Buster's, eat at the Brew Moon...) I've been trying to go through and add them to the Local Stuff listing. Then I try to give you guys a quick summary here, so you don't have to click on EVERYTHING but can pick and choose.

Here's the latest crop of stuff from all over. Today it's mostly about food. Because I'm hungry.

--The Bishop Museum is in Honolulu and is, pretty much, THE museum for Polynesian/Hawaiian cultural stuff, and natural history of the Hawaiian Islands.

--Brew Moon is a restaurant in Honolulu that's easy to get to, with free parking and an open balcony so you can eat outside. Good food, and a microbrewry, so good beer too. Get the beer sampler. There was many a night I sat there with visitors from the mainland, watching rain come down the mountains at us as the sun set off to our left, drinking beer with the wind in my hair. Sigh.

--The Cheesecake Factory is - at this point in time - a huge chain of restaurants across the USA that specializes in cheesecake. The first time I ate there, it was 1986, and it was one of the hottest family restaurants in Los Angeles. Get the double chocolate cheesecake.

--The Cleveland Museum of Natural history is just what it sounds like. There's a pretty good gem exhibit, and lots of dinos and interesting stuff dug up in local fields, like giant armored turtles the size of Volkswagons. One of the VERY few cultures to make it to the copper age in N America was on the shores of Lake Erie, so they have a lot of that stuff too (and also Hopewell culture stuff, for those of you who follow that stuff). CMNH also contains Lucy. I've been there to visit her many times. She's actually out with the regular displays unless they're doing conservation.

--Dave & Buster's is a chain of bars with restaurants and video game arcades attatched. The one in Honolulu is on three floors; Floor one, bar and restaurant. Floor two, video games. Floor three, roof bar. While playing games, the waitresses will happily bring you a beer. It's in a complex with a very good movie theater, so we used to go to the movies and then finish out our night in the roof bar with a couple beers. Very fun place to go for birthdays or whatever.

--Olde Mystic Village is in fact a modern (fairly modern, it's been there at least fifteen years) shopping center made to look like a small New England village. It's in Mystic, Connecticut, where I used to spend a lot of time. (And need to start spending time there again.) Anyway, there was a yarn shop there that had some of the only affordable wool I could find. (Patons.) I don't know if the actual yarn shop is still there, but it's a nice place.

--The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio. Make sure to check out the MTV display on the second floor. VERY cool.

I'm wondering if I should keep adding local stuff... but I've got some room left in the sidebar before I have to worry about it.

This should make nearly everyone feel better.

Thanks to my bud, Terby, I signed up to join Ravelry recently. (She pointed out that it would help me sell patterns. I was thinking I didn't have time to take photos and list all of the ten million projects and yarn balls around here. But she was right. It would help sell patterns.)

I just checked my current standing.

*You signed up on July 16, 2007
*You are #17571 on the list.
*11337 people are ahead of you in line.
*1128 people are behind you in line.
*32% of the list has been invited so far


SEVENTEEN BLOODY GODDAMN THOUSAND. That's about how many people live in my home town. I have the population of a small Ohio town ahead of me in line.

I assume that all of you out there bemoaning how long it will take you to get on Ravelry, are further up the line than I am. Remember that the next time you check.

Seventeen thousand. Can you imagine what that site's going to be like when everyone's on it? No wonder they're taking it slow. They'd crash a thousand times over if seventeen thousand people signed up tomorrow and tried to upload everything in their stash all at once.

Seventeen thousand.

Of course, if you were thinking of signing up and hadn't yet, you're now beating your head on your desk. Sorry about that. Come on over, we'll have martinis and beat our heads on my desk together.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Food, and knitting, and cats, and, you know, stuff.

When the Baby started up with her temper tantrums, several people e-mailed or left coments to warn me about food coloring and food additives (and I appreciated the heads-up on that stuff; my brother was affected by food coloring when we were kids). I took a look at her diet, and was delighted to realize that almost nothing she eats has any kind of food additive in it, and her diet's particularly low in food coloring. There was never any great drive to rid her diet of chemicals, but I knew from nutrition classes in college that in general, the more processed a food is, the less nutritious it is. So I'd been trying to avoid processed foods. I hadn't gone totally crazy about it - she still eats goldfish crackers and tater-tots and things like that - but it seems that almost by accident (okay, and a decent bit of general knowledge of food), I'd avoided all the really yucky kid's foods.

The REAL advantage to all this is, of course, that WE have also started avoiding processed foods. And last night we went to the grocery store and bought two weeks' worth of food for $150. That includes baby cookies and pork chops and bananas and store-made bread.

I suspect that after the Baby is older, and getting into goodness knows what horrifying foods at school, we'll continue this processed-food ban, because it saves so much MONEY. (And nobody NEEDS potato chips, now, do we? Get away from that cake.)

-... -

I'm up to round 39.

It should be on the circular needle by the end of the day (if I keep knitting at this rate), and after that things will speed up again. I hate 'turning corners' (changing doublepoints) when working lace.

As always, I've started dithering about what to knit for the State Fair. The scarf I mentioned Monday, or a doily with a knit-on edging. The doily would likely be faster, and of more use, after.

Still can't decide, but I've got abotu fifty more rows of THIS doily, to make up my mind.

-... -

The idea of leaving a book on my chair, to keep the cat off it, still isn't working.

-... -

I'm seriously considering pre-ordering a copy of Deathly Hallows (the last Harry Potter book, for those of you stranded on desert islands). So far I've resisted doing it, but I just got done re-reading Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince (I ripped through Half-Blood Prince in two days), and I've pieced together some really interesting clues and damn it, I want to know what happens. (Plus I still think Neville has something to do with whacking Voldemort.)

Didn't know I was a Harry Potter fan, did you? I can't resist a well-told story. Regardless.

-... -

After decades of complaining about people underestimating their kids, I fear I've fallen into that category myself. There was an incident Saturday, when I was SURE we were going to have a tantrum and I explained to The Baby what was happening, and she behaved herself. Because the little shit doesn't speak more than ten words and phrases (often useless things like 'wow' and 'I dunno' and 'cool'), I, like a dumbass, assumed she didn't understand. Which is really stupid on my part.

So, after several rounds of explanations and statements of cause and effect ('If you throw that at me, I'll take it away.'), the Baby has been behaving much better. We've still had a few tantrums and whine-fests, but they've been here at home, where we can handle them or ignore them.

Now I'm gonna go knit. Again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Well, fuck.

I just found out why I'm having trouble getting an appointment with my doctor; she's being transferred. It's the Air Force, and I really do understand that the pilots need the best doctors, and I sincerely think my doctor is great, so they've made a good choice, but DAMN IT, that leaves me with some yahoo I don't know.

This doesn't sound like a big deal, but my first appointment with the new guy is going to go something like "Hi, I quit taking the anti-depressants I was on for pain control. They made me so fat my knees are disintegrating. When I lose the weight I gained, I want to try a new kind. But in the mean time, I'm going through narcotics like candy because I'm working out - to lose the weight? - and not on any other painkillers, so give me more."

Military doctors just LOVE lines like that. Particularly from total strangers.

Nothing but good times ahead.

(The one bit of silver lining - the owner of my gym told me she can print out a listing of every time I've been there to work out since I joined. So I can prove I'm working out three or four times a week, which really DOES lend a bit of truth to the whole "Give me lots more class four drugs" request, not to mention it makes me look like I'm trying to fix my health instead of sitting and complaining about it. Well. I sit and complain too.)

Monday, July 16, 2007


It's that time of year again. You know, the time when I wake up one morning and say "Oh shit, it's the middle of July." Yup. It only means one thing.

State Fair.

Except this year it means more than one thing, because I've got that doily for a wedding gift 'due' August 11. And, oh yeah, the Winter Knitty deadline is September 15, so if I want to submit the overhauled lace article, or the Mystery Knit pattern, it's got to be done by then.

State Fair turn-in is October 3. (Well, you can turn in October 2 or 3, but what are the odds of me being done twenty-four whole hours early?)

I hate to disappoint the long-time readers, but there will be no, reapeat, NO REPEAT of the insanity that ensued around here last year. I am going to enter the lace division, and IF I get the Pinwheel Jacket done, I will enter it in the Ladies' Sweater division. If I do NOT, then I don't. I am NOTNOTNOTNOT knitting another sweater in two months like I did last year. Particularly not on size one/2.5mm needles. (For those of you who weren't around to experience that, it was August and September '06, in the archives. Enjoy.) I know some of you really enjoyed the spazzing out around here last year, but there will not be nervous breakdowns this time. Sorry. (Oh, please, who are we fooling? I never set myself rational deadlines and I always manage to freak out about something. Brace yourselves.)

Anyway. Where was I? Right. Wedding doily. I started it this morning.

I'm on round 17. This is the same pattern I knit for the State Fair last year (Coronet, from one of the lace books by Marienne Kinzel), and I've made it, all told, about eight times now. I'm going for fast and easy. While it's bigger than the last one I did (that was a wedding present for her sister, in June - both married in one summer, can you imagine? I am very sympathetic toward their mother, who has remained calm through everything). But it's two-row lace, meaning every other round is knit plain, which speeds things up immensely. I want to have this done by the start of next week.

After that, it's my lace entry for the fair:

One of the rectangular wraps from VLT, with some pattern repeats taken out to knock it back to scarf size. I'll be using the yarn that Bells sent me, dyed by Happy Spider. I'm hoping I can get it done in a month, but it's got a knit-on edge, so I won't hold my breath.

And then it's back to this:

Whether or not it's done in time for the fair turn-in, I want it done so I can actually wear it.

Sometime in all that, I might finish the Mystery Knit, and write the pattern. And re-take all the photos for the lace article.

Then again, I might not. Everybody get a comfortable seat and a cold drink, for when the screaming starts.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


While the Baby was napping this afternoon, I pulled a fast one; ran out to Toys R Us and bought a different ball, and swapped it out for the basketball. (When she woke up, she noticed it was a different ball, but decided she didn't care.) The new one is made of some Nerf-like material, with a smooth outside. And it's way, way softer. So far, so good.

Thank you, all of you who gave politely worded cautions about the idea of a basketball in the house. Not a one of you said "ARE YOU INSANE??" which was what we deserved. The husbeast had gotten away from me on the basketball idea. I hate having to be the mom.

-... -

Let's have a book review! It's been so long!

"Food in History" by Reay Tannahill.

This is a good one. On the 'If you only buy one book on this subject...' level of good. Unlike many food history books that are nothing more than overgrown time lines (wheat was domesticated here, wine was developed there, blah blah), this one contains a lot of more practical detail. Like how, in the paleolithic, GATHERING unfarmed grain with flint tools, one man could gather enough grain for a family of four to eat a pound of grain per person per day, for the entire year. In a couple weeks. THAT is useful (okay, to me anyway) or at least more interesting than the timeline approach. (And supports the theory that farming was not originally developed for the major crops like grain, but for hard-to-find medical and spice plants.)

It also has a very good handle on how food reflects societies and cultural shifts. And instead of the usual one-continent bias, this book tries to cover as many cultures as possible, even including info on central Asian nomads, which I've never seen in a food history book before. (So I've read a couple on the subject. What? It's interesting. If and when I go back for the botany degree, it's agriculture I want to specialize in.) The author's not squeamish or ethno-centric either; they just report what facts they are and offer reasonable speculation.

Anyway. If you're looking for a good read that's on a new topic (for you), you could do a lot worse than this book. Particularly since we all eat, and it should be of at least passing interest.

-... -

Today I went down to James Island to have tea with Terby and knit for a while. It was a lovely, lovely break, and I worked on Innsvinget. I really need to finish it, so I can use the needle to finish Tut Tut.

And Sci Fi is showing giant space spiders at the moment. Gotta go scream.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Meet the bane of my existence.

The BASKETBALL, not the Baby. Geez. You people.

Yes, while at the store to buy tennis shoes, the husbeast decided the Baby needed a mini basketball and bought her one. She then promptly threw a temper tantrum over it, when it was put in the shopping bag. Right there I was not well-disposed toward the whole thing.

Then this morning I got up, she brought it over to me, and dropped it on my toe.

-... -

Sekhmet fell asleep with her tongue sticking out again.

And, yes, I am enjoying my new camera, thank you for asking. Look at the definition on that closeup!

Dumbass cat.

-... -

It rained all day. Again.

And again.

-... -

The knitting goes on, and on, AND ON, with the edging. I've got, I think, eight pattern repeats done. (Of the needed forty.) I think tomorrow I may take a break from the whole thing and work on "Innsvinget". At the least, the wool will make a nice change for my fingers. And I need the needle to finish Tut Tut.

Oh. And I ordered Christmas yarn today. Not from Bendigo; Bendigo wanted THIRTY DOLLARS for shipping. I'm sorry, guys, no matter how much I love that yarn, I'm not spending half the cost of the yarn on the shipping (I wanted six balls of Rustic 8-ply for my father-in-law's sweater). Instead, I got yarn for my mother-in-law's sweater, which is a trial run for a Celtic pattern that - again - I want to sell. Eventually.

But for now, Iron Chef is on. And the bloody damned edging awaits.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'm done with the aging thing.

Though I suppose it beats the alternative.

Since I started working out, I've been having problems with my ankles. Truth be told, they were bothering me before that, due most likely to the sudden thirty-pound weight gain I had last winter. So, tonight, we went out to the outlet mall and got these:

New tennies. I did not, in fact, pick them out to look cool. I found the cheapest, lightest shoes that had a low 'collar' (the part that goes around the ankle). They were these. The fact that I've always loved the aqua/yellow color combination is just happy coincidence. (Have I ever mentioned that due to my hand problems, I really HATE lace-up shoes?)

My ankles already feel better.

Aging. Sucks.


While at the outlet mall, the baby had another throw-herself-on-the-floor-and-scream conniption fit.

I'm really unamused by that. Even if the husbeast was there to help haul her away.


As for the knitting, the lace edge goes on and on and on. And on. And on.

Last night I re-knit the same two rows four times, screwing them up over and over. Eventually this morning I straightened it out. (Or rather, I picked back past the troublesome two rows, and re-knit it all. Still no idea exactly what stitches were wrong.) As always, the lesson remains: complex knitting + drugs = bad.

So that's it at my house. Screaming babies, creaky ankles, and fucked up knitting. Gonna be a gooood weekend.

Hope yours is better.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More sidebar stuff.

Among other things, I figured out how to put a local forecast in the sidebar, so I did. I debated quite some time whether to do it in metric or imperial, and finally went with imperial. The husbeast rolled his eyes at me. He's such a goof sometimes. This is the man who has to own two sets of tools, metric and imperial. You'd think he would be in favor of settling on one system (the obvious choice being, of course, metric). But no. He's all over Farenheit.

Anyway, if you want one for your own blog, you can get one at http://www.accuweather.com/ Enjoy.

There are some more links, too. Here's a quickie roundup.

Captain Tony's Saloon is a bar in Key West where the husbeast and I can occasionally be found drinking beer. Not so much in recent years. But still. It's as close as you'll get to a non-tourist bar in Key West proper.

KPOI is the Hawaiian radio station we listened to all the time. They do streaming audio if you wanna listen too.

Kualoa Beach was my preferred beach to hang out at. (Mostly I sat in a chair, and read a book.)

Stan Hywet Hall is a mansion in Akron, Ohio, built by one of the founders of the Firestone company, back in the robber-baron-scumbag-no-IRS days (think Vanderbilts and Carnegies). The gardens and views are unbelieveable (who knew Ohio had views?), and the interior of the house has been restored to the 1900s. Very nice. (At the time it was built, the house had a larger phone system than the city of Akron.)

Zoar Village is a historic site, again in Ohio. Most people know about the Quakers and the Amish, but in reality there were many, many, many religious separtists who came to Pennsylvania and NE Ohio in the early days, looking for religious freedom. Zoar village is one of those places, founded by a small group in the 1800s. There are still people living in the houses, often descendants of the founders. Cool place.

Is anyone else doing this on their blogs? Because YOU SHOULD BE. The husbeast was looking at this list last night, and saying "Only you could come up with this list." And it's true. I'm probably the only person in the country to have lived in or visited all these places. And YOU are the only person to have lived YOUR life. So put up some links of cool places you've been, for the rest of us to look at.

Remember. Exotic is where you aren't.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More Zool the Destroyer bullshit.

The Baby threw her worst-ever public tantrum this morning and I'm done with child care at the moment. She's down for a nap, jumping in her crib and singing songs. She can just stay there and be cute. Bah.

Sekhmet has crawled up to the highest level of her kitty condo, and is refusing to come down. (Though she's standing watch over her food.) That's how much fun it is at my house; the cat's hiding.


Anyway, the lace border continues apace:

I'm still on the first ball of yarn I started, and if I get in at least another half-repeat of the edge, it's looking good that I have enough yarn.

The pattern called for, I think, ten balls of yarn. I bought twenty. Just in case. (Seriously, knit-on edges suck up yarn and always use more than you think they will. And I was planning to do one.)


The only other exciting news is, my pants are loose. You know how when you work out (okay, maybe you don't know, but it often goes this way), you do it for a month or six weeks and don't feel like anything's happening, and suddenly you wake up and feel thinner? Today's that day for me. Well, I didn't wake up feeling thinner, but when I put on my pants and realized they were loose, that was a good thing. Until now I've been toning up more than losing fat, but I hope that will change and the fat will start coming off now. Because I'm damn sick of looking at it.

At any rate, it's working.

Doesn't it really, really suck, that 'eat less and exercise more' always works?? I hate that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

More Egyptology stuff.

In case you were interested.

My interest - which actually isn't as obsessive as you would think, from reading this blog - in Egyptology has always centered around the Amarna Period (1300s, BCE, New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty). That's when the pharoah Akhenaten told the priests of all the gods of Egypt to bugger off and founded his own monotheist religion (the first one in history, that we know of), and moved his capital to Amarna and got on with business. His wife was Nefertiti, of the famous looks. His (they think) son was Tutankhamon, who, after his father died, restored the 'old religions' of Egypt, earning him the gratitude of the preist class and an unusually rich burial for Howard Carter to dig up in 1922 CE.

That's the theory, anyway. There's a whole hell of a lot we don't know.

After Akhenaten vanished from history (died of natural causes? murder? deposed? run out of town? we dunno), the priests went through and removed his name from every monument. They leveled Amarna and salted the earth. (Three thousand years later, when it was rediscovered, people still avoided living on the land.) No one knows what happened to Nefertiti. No one knows exactly who the next couple pharoahs were, in relation to Akhenaten and Tut.

A whole lot of not knowing going on. It's the mystery of the whole thing that interests me.

Anyway, in 1907 CE, a hack of an Egyptologist named Theodore Davis (as I recall) excavated a tomb in the Valley of the Kings known as KV55. There were several bodies in it, including two (one male and one female) who were almost definitely of royal status. Names had been hacked off sarcophagi and other grave goods, and no one has ever identified the bodies.

However, thanks to new CT scan technology, they recently took another good look at the male body and they think it might be Akhenaten. (Article here.)

I'm still skeptical. I've heard many cases made for the theory that the body is that of Smenkhkare, a mystery male of the royal family at that time. Because, you see, I've always maintained that when Akhenaten died, the priest class was so angry, they torched his body, thereby making sure he'd never go to their version of heaven, and would die a true death, erased from history AND the afterlife.

Mummy ID is really hit-or-miss, regardless of what some Egyptologists claim. (Good article here. Food for thought on how accurate the rest of the stuff we learn in history class is.)

Still don't know. Might not, ever. But it's interesting. This concludes today's babbling.

If anyone else finds this topic interesting, try KMT. Good stuff.

Oh yeah. This is gonna be fun.

I begin to see, now, why the crocheted edge is on the Pinwheel Jacket.

That's three pattern repeats. I need forty. Each pattern repeat is taking me about an hour to knit. Which means if I spend one forty-hour work week knitting, I can do it in five days. I'm thinking it'll take more like two weeks. If I'm lucky. At the moment, I'm doing about one and a half pattern repeats a day. That comes out to, what, thirty days to do the edge?

Well, if it's not done by October, I'm not entering it in the state fair. Screw the insane deadline-knitting like I did for last year's fair. Not happening again. Nope.

In case you're wondering what the white edge is on the knitting above, that's sort of my crystal ball. I have to graft the beginning of the edging to the end, to make a circle. This way, I can knit to just that line in the pattern, where I switched from white yarn to teal, and then see just what I have to do, to graft them together.

I hate grafting lace.

Still, it'll look good if I ever finish it.


I keep forgetting to mention. Danielle, one of my Beloved Readers (bless you every one) has been dyeing yarn and roving with food coloring, according to my article over at Knitty. (Link in the side bar.) She got inspired by some purple icing and dyed some beautiful roving that manages to avoid the Trainwreck Effect! Very impressive. And pretty. Link here.


Last night we went to a pub to hang out and play a popular trivia game (it involves the whole bar; about twenty questions over two hours, winners get 'pub money' for the next night they play trivia). I was invited by the husbeast's co-workers, to join their team. My job was to be the geography ringer. This is greatly amusing to me, because of all the topics I think I know something about, geography is not in the top ten. (I was sitting there last night, going "Ask a question about color theory. I can do that." while the guys stared at me like I was insane.) After weeks of pitiful tales from the husbeast about questions they'd missed, I gave in. (Him: "The question was, what country's crest has an emu and a kangaroo. We said New Zealand." Me: "New Zealand doesn't have kangaroos, you dumbass." Him:"See? We need you.") We took the Baby along (and a pile of crayons and paper), and had a nice time. The Baby loves getting out of the house, even to hang in a smoky pub and color on the table. She dances to the music in her high chair. I think I need to take the camera.

No pub money winnings from last night, but we did pretty good. Now I'm invited back next week. The Baby, too. (The Baby will go for the Key Lime pie.)


Now I get to go out in the middle of a heat advisory, WITH the Baby (of course), to visit the pharmacy. Oh goodie. I can't wait. You all know how I LOVE the pharmacy.

Monday, July 09, 2007


Online Dating

Apparently all I needed was a good rant and a couple "Sekhmet, you fucker." posts.


Thanks to Amy Lane for giving me the good news. hahahaha

Sekhmet, you fucker.

I've been trying to discourage her from laying in my chair... I thought "Oh, I'll leave books on the cushion, that will work."


Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Half-Graft Hem.

This is what we're doing:

A few things to think about:

It's called a half-graft hem because the raw edge stitches are worked like a graft, while it is tacked down to the body of the sweater like you're sewing a hem. For the tacking part, you'll be sewing through the yarn, so you want to use a fairly sharp needle, unlike most grafting where the duller the needle is, the better.

Like seams, you want to sew down the hem with a smooth, sturdy yarn. If you're using something strong and smooth already, like a cotton, just split the yarn in two and use it as thread. Otherwise (and in most cases), I suggest using embroidery floss. It comes in a million colors and won't shrink. It's good and strong, too.

In this tutorial, the knitting is blue, the cast-on is red, and the hemming thread is yellow. And remember, you can click on all these pictures to make them bigger; some should be pretty darn big.

All right, here's your starting point:

Notice there's a purl fold line there. And I used a provisional cast on. Any kind will do, though I prefer the long-tail method because it's fast, and if you do it in a smooth contrasting thread, it's easy to pick out again. But not too easy; unlike some provisional cast-ons, it won't unzip and leave you with ten million loose stitches. That's bad.

Take a look at whatever you're going to be hemming, and count how many stitches there are in the hem (not counting the fold line):

Then count up ABOVE the hem line, the same number of rows, and find a line of purl bumps. That is where you'll be sewing down your hem. Make sure you stay on that row, all the way across, or your hem will be wavy. (On the other hand, you do this right, and your hem will be straight as an arrow.)

Edge stitches are always funky and pulled out of whack, so I start an inch or two in from the edge, and leave myself enough tail to go back and finish it later. All you do is hem across to the edge, tie off your thread, then go back and pick up your tail of thread and hem the last inch back to the other edge and tie off your yarn there too.

Snip the cast-on yarn in one place about an inch or two in:

Pick loose two stitches, and put the needle through them as if you were grafting them in stockinette. That is to say, down through the first stitch, and up through the second.

Pull the thread through (remember to leave enough tail to hem that inch or so). Then go up to that row of purl bumps, and put the needle up through the yarn in the center of the bump. For instance, if you're using four-ply yarn, try to get two plies on each side of the needle. You don't have to get THAT nitpicky, but it helps.

Pull the yarn snug. You don't want any loose loops sticking out, but you don't want it any tighter than it has to be. Remember. This is knitting. It's supposed to stretch.

Go back down to the edge, pick loose another stitch. Now. LIKE YOU WERE GRAFTING, put the needle DOWN through the stitch you already worked in the last bit, and then UP through the new stitch.

Then go back up to the purl bump next to the last one you sewed into, and sew into it. You get the idea.

When you're done, it should look like this:

Only yours will look better, because you're not dumb enough to hem a blue sweater with bright freakin' yellow thread.

The advantage to doing this is, there's no evidence on the front of the sweater, unlike knitted-in hems. Well, there's one other huge benefit, too. It stretches. A lot.

EDITED TO ADD: This is not my technique. It's a very old-fashioned one, learned from some ancient book or other -- I forget where I found the original directions for it. I did the tutorial because I couldn't find directions for it anywhere on the web.

I in no way want to take credit for this, because I'm not sure I'm clever enough to have thought it up. Haha. All I did was take photos and write the directions.

Bah. Humshit.

First of all, my apologies to anyone who e-mailed me yesterday and got what can kindly be called minimalist replies. I've had a migraine for a couple days, and yesterday was just the final straw. I spent the day popping migraine meds and drinking high-caffiene anything, and feel almost human this morning.

I am still working on the swatch with which to demonstrate half-graft hems. I hope to have that ready to go, tutorial and all, either today or tomorrow night at the lastest. (I have to do it with the husbeast around, to take photos.)

I'm also working on charting the Great-Grandmother's edging for the Pinwheel Jacket. I've knit a pattern repeat and it seems to be all the things I need; enough but not too much difficulty, width, and looks. Unfortunately the charting has turned into a total clusterfuck. Stitch and Motif Maker will only make charts 80 stitches wide. (What the fuck is up with that?) So while I can mash the entire chart into less than 80 stitches, it's just that: mashed up. Makes no fucking sense. Well, here, you can see it yourself.

This is the mashed-togther step one chart, where I just transferred the written word to symbols and slapped it down.

THIS is the unfinished revised chart, where I'm spreading stuff out so I can tell what in hell I'm knitting.

For those of you driven insane by blank spaces on charts, this is a fine example of why they're there. See how much easier the second chart is to follow?

Anyway, I hope to finish that today and get started on the actual edge. I've got to do forty - FORTY! - repeats to go around the entire edge of the Pinwheel Jacket. I'm sure you'll all hear enraged shrieking about that in coming days.

Tut Tut is on hold until this is done. And I think I'm going to finish the Innsvinget sleeve that's on the needle I need. I'm telling myself I work better when I switch around on projects and don't get bored. Don't tell me otherwise, it'll ruin my day.

Still need to have a doily done by August 11. Ha.

I'm drugged and babbling. Can anyone tell? Nah, I didn't think so.

Everyone cruise on over to Bells' blog and comiserate with her. She's doing the Steek-Along and it looks like her sleeve isn't working. Shit, shit, SHIT.

Time for more caffeine.

Friday, July 06, 2007

This. Sucks. Ass.

Actually, as I put it to the husbeast last night, "This sucks oozing rat ass." and he looked revolted and said "Geez, could you be more descriptive?" and I said "Yes, but you probably wouldn't like it." And I figured if I grossed out a Navy guy I probably shouldn't be using it as a blog post title so I revised it a little, and where was I?

Oh, right. Suckage.

I'm still on a quest to find a knit-on edge for the Pinwheel Jacket. (In case you can't tell, the laptop in that photo is running a charting program. I gave up on the graph paper method.)

Along about, uh, Tuesday, I was happily scratching away at charting the Chinese edging (all these edges I mention are in the second Barbara Walker treasury), when I got to row twelve, maybe, and it started talking about short rows. I re-read it about five times, and yes indeed, it was true. Short rows in lace.

No. Fucking. Way.

I'm sure I could do it, but it's definitely over the line into the "Too Much Bother" territory we were all talking about when we discussed what makes a pattern difficult.

So now I'm back to the drawing board, trying to find an edging that is wide enough, and the right degree of difficulty (basically the easiest two-row lace I can find), and goes into 480 (the number of stitches on the edge of the Pinwheel) an even number of times. I've been looking at pictures and half-assedly charting and knitting swatches for three days.

Last night I gave up and created my own edging; it was a godmother's edge with some zig-zags added on to make it wide enough. And then I knit a gauge swatch (the crumple of yarn in the photo), and it looked like ass too.

Now I'm charting Great-Grandmother's Edge, in the hopes it will work. It might be TOO wide, but at the moment I'm willing to accept that. I'm hoping the name brings my luck; my great-grandmothers all sounded like women who'd approve of knitting. (Or did knit. As the case may be.)

Ass. Sucks ass.


Lately, the Baby has been doing this tantrum deal where she throws herself on the floor and does these screaming, gagging, howling fits. It's tiresome as all hell (unlike the Drama Queen imitations, which are hilarious) and gets her thrown in her crib, and she's been doing it since Monday, and I really want to start drinking heavily when she starts it. I've been calling her Zool the Destroyer.

But at the moment, she's wearing pasta on her fingers. The cuteness keeps her alive.


There was a question in the comments about my bent-wire book-holder-opener thingie that you can see on my book in the previous "Sekhmet you fucker" photo. Yes. It was made by the husbeast. I previously posted details of it, you can find them here.

I'll mention a tutorial to the husbeast, but I'm not sure he'll take me seriously.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Steeked Jacket: Finishing part one.

So you've bound off at the neck and you're almost done. Congratulations. There's not a lot left to do; graft the arm pits, put the neck/button band on, and sew down the hems. After that it's a quick wash and the jacket's done.

ARM PITS: These stitches have been on holders since you joined the body and arms of the jacket together. Just graft them, like the toe of a sock. I suggest using the 'lighter' color, and then going back through and duplicate-stitching on the dark color, to make it match the pattern. You don't HAVE to do the duplicate stitching, but if you don't, you'll have a bright stripe of background color in your arm pits.

Grafting directions here.

These are worked in garter stitch, back and forth, on stitches picked up around the opening, all in one piece. Because it's garter stitch, it curls nicely on sloped edges:

The only place your edging won't curl is at the back of the neck, where the shoulder straps and the back-neck shaping meet; those are ninety-degree corners and not curvy at all. That's okay, we'll just do decreases there and make corners.

For the sake of clarity, I'm gonna call them 'neck corners'. You should have two on your sweater, and they should be obvious, where the nice line of the front opening goes up and whacks into the back of the neck shaping.

It is a little-known fact in the knitting world (which boggles my mind, but that's another post), that stranded knitting like this is square. That is to say, the row gauge and the stitch gauge, vertical and horizontal, are the same. In practical terms, that means there're no weirdass ratios to worry about, and we can pick up one stitch for each row or column and knit off in another direction and it will look fine. Yay.

Using whatever size needle you used for the body of your sweater, pick up the stitches. Starting at the hem on the right side (as you wear the jacket), pick up one stitch for every row of knitting. I suggest following in the line between the steek stitches and the first vertical pattern line (you can click on the photo to make it bigger):

Pick up your very first stitch in the hem fold line (purl) row. When you work around to the other side, pick up the last stitch from the hem fold line on that side, too. This will avoid any weird jog between the bottom edge of the jacket, and the bottom edge of the button band. (Whenever you're doing this kind of thing, pick up your first and last stitch as close to the bottom edge as you can; I've seen some really weird jogs on edges from doing this wrong.)

When you reach the neck corner, pick up a stitch in the vertical pattern line there, and then pick up stitches across the back of the neck, one stitch per each column of stitches. Then pick up the stitch in the vertical pattern line there, and work the rest of the way down the jacket front, picking up one stitch for each row.

Turn and knit back across. Slip the first stitch of every row. On your way back across the neck, work a 'slip one, k 2 tog, psso' in each neck corner, with the stitch from the vertical pattern line the center of the decrease. (Directions here.)

Work back and forth like this for a while, decreasing at the neck corners every other row. Stripes can be done however you want. I make it up as I go along. After two or three ridges of garter stitch (you want this edging to be about 1.5 inches/3 cm wide), work some buttonholes.

I'm not much help on buttonholes; I usually bind off three or four stitches where I want them, and then on my way back across, knitting the other direction, cast on the same number of stitches. There are much fancier buttonholes to be had out there, and if you've got a favorite, by all means, work those instead. And where you put your buttons is also a matter of taste, but on a patterned jacket like this, it may be best to line them up with the pattern; you know, one button next to each swirl. Like that.

Work a few more ridges of garter stitch. Then bind off loosely. You're done.

Next up, the hems.

Does anyone want directions on how to block this thing, or can you handle it? It's really just a soak and lay flat to dry. Let me know.