Friday, October 31, 2008


After another round with my new doctor that resulted in eight migraine pills that were supposed to get me through six weeks until I could see a neurologist that I didn't need, I finally got smart and did what any sick mom should do.

Made an appointment with the Goob's pediatrician.

He's 'family practice', which means I'm not the first adult he's ever treated. And since he started off the appointment by apologizing for my treatment by the other doctor, I gather he's not too thrilled with her, either. (He had the proper doctor reaction. "Person hurt. Me fix.") Anyway, he hooked me up with enough meds to hopefully get the migraine turned back off. (Two weeks ago I could have probably turned off the migraine with three pills. Now, after two weeks out of control, I probably need to stay drugged all weekend.) Anyway. He gets it, and he did is best. If this medication doesn't work, I'm to call him Monday and we'll try something else. He gives a damn and he's trying. That's all I ask. So I'm happy. (Plus he also agreed that I don't need a neurologist; I've had these migraines since I fractured my skull when I was seven. How's that for a significant event? I did promise to go see him if the symptoms changed.)

Plus I'm drugged to the gills, and can feel the migraine backing off; the pain lessens every time the meds wear off. That's a good thing.

So to distract myself from being in pain and having to hang on to walls to walk (I can't take the Imitrex-style vasoconstrictor drugs 'cause of my high blood pressure, so instead I get the controlled substances), I finished dyeing the stewed brains from yesterday. They're actual earth tones, green and brown. Those of you used to seeing me turn out carnival colors may swoon at the shock of it.

Tonight we took the Goob out trick-or-treating in her princess dress that she got for her birthday. This is it, if you don't remember:

I didn't take a photo tonight because I had to put it on her over a long-sleeved tee shirt and sweat pants and tennis shoes so she wouldn't freeze to death. The girl across the street was also dressed as a fairy princess (in a better costume, if you ask me), and was quite put out that there was another fairy princess on the block. I overheard her telling her brother with some annoyance that the OTHER princess (the Goob) was cuter.


Oh, and the teenagers down the block at the corner were smoking some PRIMO weed when we stopped in for candy. I almost asked them to pass the bong, but reason prevailed. (Yeah, I need that on top of the other medication.) I am also cool because I let all the other kids in the 'hood know that they were passing out peanut butter cups.

I did get some knitting done in the waiting room at the pharmacy today. Geez. Talk about strange looks. You'd think I was practicing voodoo or dissecting small mammals instead of knitting something. Unfortunately I'm still way behind on my knitting thanks to all this migraine bullshit; I've been sleeping twelve hours a night, going to bed before the Goober does in the evenings. Tonight I feel almost human and am staying up long enough to have another dose of migraine medication. That should knock me out.

There is a purring cat face stuck in my arm pit.


Thursday, October 30, 2008


There has been a lack of photos around here lately, and complaints were registered, so I just wandered around the house snapping random photos of things in progress and now you get to suffer.

More carbon fiber spinning is under way:

The other night I pulled a nearly invisible thread of carbon fiber out of my eye. It was about three inches long. Lovely experience. Can't wait 'til I'm through with this crap and can spin up the looooovely wool Bells sent me from Australia instead.

Last night I dyed some wool for the shop: idea how that will spin up. Likely an overall violet color, from what I know of optical mixing. And I'm dyeing more, now:

Either that or I'm stewing brains for Halloween. You never know.

I'm still doing practice projects for the whole batik deal. I made a scarf with the universal lace code of 'yarnover, decrease one' in knitting symbols on it (exactly how the symbols read depends on what side of the scarf you're looking at; I deliberately put the symbols every which way).

And I'm in the middle of stenciling some wax onto a scarf to do some Celtic knotwork, using that Cool Whip lid I cut up a while back:

I have found that the smell of bees' wax, when it is hot enough for the batik process (it has to soak into the fibers, not cool off when applied and sit on the top) makes me want to puke up my toenails. Opening the window to allow ventilation makes the wax cool weirdly, and causes further problems. Quite a good time, let me tell you.

It is taking Google For. Ever. to load these goddamn photos. I think it's more scheduled outrage.

There is still a bug on my ceiling:

And the Goob's latest game is to slip out of bed when she's supposed to be napping, and hide behind the door so people can't find her when they come looking.

It's a miracle she hasn't wound up with a busted nose yet. So she gets yelled at and put back to bed, and the game starts all over again.

Today we've been at it for an hour and a half. Still no nap. I'm about to give up, but I don't want the little shit to think she's won. (Which she has. Little shit.)

The shawl looks the same as it did the last damn time I posted a photo, but here it is.

And my living room looks like this.

The Goober is allowed out of bed to play quietly in her room. I'm a sucker.

Bullet point post.

For the three of you wondering why I dropped off the grid for two whole days.

-Saw the doc yesterday. Same twit as before. We got into it a little bit about the thyroid, she's sending me out to an endocrinologist and basically did everything she could to get rid of me.

-One of those things was to get me a shot of Toradol - very strong anti-inflammatory - which left me pain free for the first time in months, which oddly leaves me incoherent.

-Slept 12 hours last night. Went to bed before the Goober did. Other than the continuing migraine I feel downright good today.

-Explained to the nurse yesterday about the migraine and no medication for it, so I'd been using caffeine, and so I was so caffeinated I could hear my hair growing and my blood pressure was going to be high. She laughed. A lot.

-The Goob has taken up hair-twirling as a hobby and I had to cut a huge knot out of her hair. Luckily her hair's such a curly boof, you can't tell there's a chunk missing on one side.

-There is a bug on my ceiling. It's just sitting there. I hate that.

-Uh, I'll post something coherent later today. Probably.

-There will be Goob photos.

-Oh, and I've totally blown the knitting quota the last two days. Maybe I can make it up but lately I don't care.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Snag #1.

(This is primarily for the spinners and weavers out there, but I'm sure everyone will get the joke. Except me.)

"Okay... eight warp threads per inch for scarves twelve inches wide, that's ninety-six warp threads I need. Ten yards long, so I can get three six-foot scarves out of it easily, without worrying about loom waste. That's..."

Pause to check my decimal places.

"Nine hundred and sixty yards of yarn just to warp the loom. Oh. Fuck."

Maybe I'll buy the warp. That might speed things up a little.

Where'd I put the martini shaker...

Getting organized.

A little later than I should have, but not TOO late.

Ideally I like to have the Christmas crafting done by Halloween.


It hasn't happened since the Goob was born (the year the Goob was born, the last of the Christmas presents was finished and gifted in February - my best worst), so I'm not shocked to see it hasn't happened again this year. But I did start counting days and projects and all that jazz, and here's where things stand.

I would like to get all the crafting done by December 15, which would then give me time to bake like a loon (see the last couple years' entries in December if you haven't witnessed the insanity before) and enjoy the actual trip to Ohio to visit the family. And that still gives me ten days to spaz out before things are well and truly LATE.

Things that have got to get done, as of today:
- The shawl for my mother-in-law.
- The sweater for my father-in-law.
- The three woven scarves for assorted people. (I'm thinking of this as one project.)
- The ten yards of now-ugly green fabric for my sister-in-law.
- A felted bag (this is a maybe). I give my sister-in-law a goodie bag every year, full of chocolate and bath salts and jewelry and other little goodies. It'd be nice if she could actually re-use the bag.

The stages of completion, as of today, and what the plan is:
- The shawl has about 60 rounds left to knit. I have figured out I have forty-two days until December 15, so I need to knit about a round and a half per day and no problems. I'm going to aim for two rounds a day. This is doable, and even gives me time left over to work on other stuff.
- The sweater is 1/3 done - it's seamless and I've got the body to the arm pits. I'd like to do the sleeves this week (another 1/3) and the chest/upper torso next week (last 1/3). Finishing is VERY minimal (did that on purpose), so when the knitting's done, it's DONE. This is also doable.
- The scarves are gonna be the spaz-out project 'cause I have to spin the yarn before I weave the damn things. I'm finishing up the test-spinning today and getting serious about real spinning, hopefully again today. I'll warp all three scarves at once, weave all three straight through, hem and wash. Doable, but I need to get off my ass and get to work. Now.
- The ten yards of ugly green fabric can be finished in a weekend, I just need to make up my mind what I'm doing with it. Also doable.
- The felted bag is kinda nuts, but I'm thinking I can work on it while the in-laws are visiting for Thanksgiving, and it's a small one, I could reasonably expect to knit it in a few days. So, it's possible.

Not time to panic, then. But I need to get moving. Those of you out there who enjoy watching me totally spaz out over deadlines, I fear you may get some entertainment this year.

So. HELP!! Anyone got any suggestions for something small and vaguely tasteful to batik onto that green fabric? Anyone? HELP!

This morning the Goob hauled her box across the house from one side to the other, and plopped it in front of the TV so she could sit in it and watch. Since I know you guys live for Goob photos, especially Goob-in-box photos, I snapped a shot.

She smiled like I asked, but refused to look away from the toons. Typical.

I am getting the Etsy shop organized, yet again. It's getting tricky 'cause I'm not just selling yarn any more. I've got fiber and other stuff. But I've got a Knitty article coming out December first (or so they tell me) and the only reason I wrote the damn thing was to get international advertising for the shop. Seems to me I should have something to sell, in that case. I'd like to get it re-opened early, so I could give you guys first crack at the loot. (Think Christmas presents.) Starting mid December, I'll be shipping daily for the whole gift thing. Yay. Whee. I hate the post office.

Oh, and someone just left me a love note about my Vogue Knitting review, and my rudeness about Nanette Lepore. Apparently she's a REAL fashion designer, and I must shop at KMart to not recognize the high fashion inherent in this:

...yes. Obviously, the problem must lie entirely with ME. Tell you what, chickie, when Nieman Marcus and Liberty of London and Harrod's start selling halter dresses knit with alpaca at three stitches to the inch, full of holes you can see your underwear through, you just let me know.

ETA: See above, where it says SELLING these monstrosities? Yes. Don't send me a link to a site where they're in stock. I don't care. NO ONE WOULD BUY THEM. I don't care who is stocking them.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

...and more blather.

The symbols! Remember the symbols from last week? Well, the combination of two symbols?

They're from really old European ceremonial magic, and are based on kameas, or magic squares. The ones with all the numbers? Then symbols are drawn over the numbers, to add up to certain words. This is a combination of the planetary spirits of Jupiter and the Sun. Jupiter is about plenty - joy, happiness, sometimes material wealthy and money, but more accurately, having all the stuff you need to be happy, and recognizing it, and BEING happy. The sun is about all the good in humanity - healing, kindness, generosity of spirit, the quest for wisdom. Unfortunately any web sites available on the web seem to be run by kids trying to piss off their parents and lack a whole lot of information. These have been around since at least the 1500s, when talisman magic became popular in Europe. Lots of alchemy symbols are based on these old planetary seals.

I was looking for something nice to stamp on fabric, and after sifting through hundreds of traditional symbols from cultures all over the world, I finally thought "Duh, why not stick with symbols I KNOW?" and came up with this. Mind you, I chose them as much because they look cool as because of their meaning; there are other symbols of Jupiter and the sun that don't look nearly so nice.

Yes, I've studied the occult. Technically, depending on how you look at it, I still do. If you want to e-mail me about it, that's fine. If you're going to tell me I'm going to hell, please be aware of the occult basis of your own religion before judging me by its standards. (I can go on for days about occult symbolism in organized religion. I was amazed when the DaVinci Code came out and people acted like the information in the book was NEWS.)

Otherwise. The cat is still alive. She didn't snag the shawl.

I stupidly sat down and figured out where halfway is on this shawl - by total number of stitches knit. According to my chicken scratch, halfway is at round 148. I'm on round 140. That means I AM NOT HALF WAY YET. Sure hope I've got the yarn to finish this thing. It's looking like it will take 3,500 yards to knit this thing. I have been working on it since September 18. Daily. Hours daily. I am beginning to worry.

I haven't had a sold night's sleep since last weekend when we put the Goober in her bed. Interrupted sleep triggers migraines for me. And thanks to that stupid bitch I saw for my medication refills, I don't have any migraine medication to TAKE. (I asked her if it was okay to take the migraine stuff for my nerve damage because it seems to help. All she had to do was say no. Instead she cut me off and sent me to a neurologist.) Which means taking/drinking massive amounts of caffeine, which circles back 'round to not sleeping very well and triggering migraines. This new doc is in for an earful.

I just got done watching 'The Naked Archeologist' (he's a Jewish dude who does Biblical archeology) and the half-hour show was all about tekhelet, the blue dye from snails that we covered in the purple discussion (over in the side bar). There is still some controversy over whether or not it's supposed to be purple or blue ('cause the word is the same for both in Hebrew, or at least ancient Hebrew). In my mind, the warning about not being fooled by fake tekhelet made from indigo says 'blue' pretty loudly, but these guys were off on obscure ancient texts and quoting Hebrew at each other, so I'll leave them to it. But they did show the dye process itself and the dye has to oxidize - be removed from the dye pot and exposed to air for a minute or two - which must have seemed miraculous to those who did it. Heck, it is still really cool, and I understand the chemistry involved.

At the end, the young guy doing the dyeing said something sweet about 'what color is a cup of sea? It has no color. What color is a cup of sky? There isn't color. But if you look at ALL the sea, or ALL the sky, you see that beautiful blue. It's like finding god. And that's what the blue fringes are there to remind you of.' I don't know if that's the traditional view, but I liked the way he put it, all the same.

Now I have to go knit something. I'm debating between the shawl or the sweater... should I finish up the sweater all in one blast of knitting, so I can relax and know SOMETHING is done? Or should I keep working on both as the mood strikes? Or should I just bloody well quit typing and go KNIT SOMETHING?

Sekhmet, you fucker.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Democracy, my ass.

I'm still reading world history books. (Turns out I've got quite a few around here, picked up on sale and filed. Once I started looking, I was shocked at how many there were and started reading them. Seemed the right thing to do.) The current offender residing on my night stand is "The Atlas of Past Times" by John Haywood.

All it is, is the barfing up of standard historical theory, with some maps. I don't know why I keep reading it. I should throw it out. Or light it on fire. It repeats the myth that Cleopatra killed herself, among other tall tales (every modern profiler who has ever looked at Cleopatra's life has said that there is no way she'd have killed herself, ever - some details here). He also states the Aryans (invaders of India around 1500 BCE) probably figured out iron working independently. No idea how he decided that, I've never heard it anywhere else. The Aryans were perfectly located to learn iron working from the Chinese (who invented it), and nomads can barely do metal working at all, let alone invent new methods (imagine having to tear down a forge every night and move it on horseback).

But what really pissed me off? His glorification of the ancient Greeks and how wonderfully advanced and democratic they were. (Eight pages on ancient Greece and Alexander the Great. Three pages on the entire Han Dynasty. Just a bit biased? Hmmm?) So here's the argument, made in many history books. Athens was the first democracy. We've all heard this shit so many times, almost from birth, that we don't think to question it. But here are some things to think on.
In Athens, only 'citizens' were allowed to vote and/or hold office. Do you know who the citizens were? Free men, over the age of twenty, who were born in Athens and whose parents were born in Athens. In other words, no women, no slaves, no immigrants. You call that a democracy? And what fucking democracy has slaves, anyway?? Meanwhile, Athens was in an almost constant state of war, mostly with Sparta, and was repeatedly sacked, torched, and otherwise fucked up because they didn't negotiate with anyone, they put their noses in the air and claimed to be superior. Any of this sounding at all like our modern definition of democracy? 'Cause it sure as hell sounds like bullshit to me. (Incidentally, the US isn't a democracy either. At best, it's a republic, when the system works properly. So when our politicians go off on some riff about spreading the joys of democracy around the world, I want to force-feed them a political science text book.)

THEN there's a long paean to the glories of "Greek Achievement". The entire list of said achievements were actually accomplished somewhere else first, some stolen outright by the Greeks and claimed as their own, others simply inherited. Or otherwise just don't measure up. Here are some of the highlights and my alternative thoughts.

-Sculptors and painters were unparalleled in talent. Right. No paintings from ancient Greece survive so it's impossible to say anything solid about their painting skills, though I will say from the Greek color terminology in the language, they sure as hell don't SOUND like artists. Sculpture, yeah, very realistic human form. Whoopee. Shang dynasty bronzes are far more impressive in terms of skill and are also more 'creative'. Zilch on the superiority there.

-Architecture. The Parthenon, ooh ahh. Whoopee shit. The Great Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens. Both built before the Ancient Greeks arrived on the scene. And the Indus Valley/Harappan civilization was doing far better urban planning (grid street systems, sewage, running water). Zilch on superiority there.

-They invented drama and theater. Maybe. But I doubt it. Storytelling goes back further than the human race does, I'm betting. (Betcha Neanderthals told stories around the fire at night.) And I SERIOUSLY doubt that the Greeks were the first people to think of acting out the stories they told. Zilch again.

-"Greek literature, myths, and legends continue to inspire works of art, literature, and cinema today." Yeah. Them and a lot of other people. Zilch.

-Socrates, Aristotle, Plato. Snore. Aristotle stalled science for a thousand years in Europe with his non-experimentation methods. Socrates pissed off everyone. Plato founded a school. Hardly the first or only guy to do that. So, again. The only reason these guys are considered big deals is because Western Civ has made them so. Zilch. Archimedes, anonymous Chinese guys, Indian scientists, the engineers who laid out the major cities of Mesopotamia and the Indus River Valley and Ancient Egypt all had as many or more smarts. Zilch.

-Greeks wrote the first histories. No they didn't. The Egyptians did. And possibly the Indus Valley civ, if we ever decipher their writing. And the Greek histories are horribly biased ('we're so superior') and inaccurate because they were usually written hundreds of years after the fact.

-"were advanced in mathematics and geometry, and established medicine as a scientific discipline." Yeah. As for the math and geometry, go talk to those engineers in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus Valley mentioned above. As for the medicine, it was the ancient Egyptians who founded anything like medicine in the west, and in the east, the Chinese were doing herbalism and acupuncture for at least two thousand years before the Greeks ever turned up. (See the Ebers Papyrus for an idea of Egyptian medicine - very clever folk, those Egyptians. And see the Yellow Emperor for Chinese medicine.)

-Then there's a bit about the glory of the Greek writing system/alphabet. It was phonetic. This asshole claims it was the first phonetic alphabet, but actually the Greeks stole the idea from the Phoenicians. (Phoenician, phonetic, get it?) And it also goes on to talk about how important education was to 'Greek Citizens'. Meaning no one gave a shit if the women, slaves or immigrants could read or not.

Some great civilization. I have no idea why everyone inflates it into some great foundation for western civilization. I'm happy as hell we AREN'T founded on them. It would suck.

Okay. Got that off my chest, maybe later I'll post something relevant.

PS. I think the worlds first REAL democracy was Iceland. 900 CE.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My favorite knit. And blather.

Actually, I can't narrow it down to one. I know that's totally lameass, but I've been knitting a lot longer than some of youse guys and to pick just one is too hard. But there are two that stand out.

The knit that pleased me the most, in the This Year division:

This was written in German, and in a style I'd never knit before (knit the central rectangle flat, sideways, then pick up stitches all around and knit outward). I only had to restart it once and that was because I didn't like my choice of materials, not because I screwed up the knitting. It was fun the whole time (I know, shoot me) and went smoothly and produced something really cool. So. This year's top knit in terms of ease of knit and beauty of finished product. Unfortunately I can't wear it. The Hex Jacket may win if I ever finish it.

My favorite knit in the For Me division:

The Starry Night Ruana Thingie. This was just fucking crazy from start to finish. 330+ stitches around, custom design, two gigantic steeks, twelve colors, an edging of seed stitch on 890 stitches in about five colors over twenty rows, then a cable cast-off on those same 890 stitches. Total. Insanity. Plus it's comfy and warm but not too warm, and with all the colors it's easy to match clothing for it. I have a purple shirt that I got to wear with it. (For gory details, there is a link in the sidebar under 'Projects of Infamy'.)

Now, those who have been reading a while probably remember the Blue Shimmer.

I don't hate it, but the only exceptional things about it are that it's a small gauge, I knit it in two months, and EVERYTHING went wrong. It's totally average in terms of actual skill, and I got the design out of a book. So while lovely, in my mind it probably wouldn't make my top ten list of cool knits I've done.

I've given up on the hole in my lip (unless it goes all the way through, I offically don't care) and have gone back to taking my medication, so I'm feeling a goodly bit better. Unless I eat salty foods. Doily tutorial coming up soon. Oh, and I lost a day this week to painkillers (I could have SWORN it was Thursday); yet another good reason to quit taking the damned things.

Yesterday, after my 'OMG, two months until Christmas' spaz-out, I got busy on the dyeing and turned ten yards of white cotton (I was gonna say it looks like mummy wrappings, but they were wrapped in linen):

Into ten yards of allegedly sage green cotton:

The photo doesn't show it, but now it is the same ugh green as hospital scrubs. I'm Not Happy and hope to hell the darker green perks it up and makes it look... I don't know. Not hospital scrub colored.

Here, Sekhmet says "Goddamn, that's an ugly color. I hope you plan to do something else with that. And keep the bald kitten away from me. Don't make me tell you again."

And in other news? It's raining.

That yellow and red swoop to the south is headed our way. Costal flood advisories and the whole nine yards. Yay. The fun never ends.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Just a quick note to say, the inevitable has happened here, and, well, AAAAAAAAH!

It finally clicked in my head today. Two months until Christmas.

None of the crafting is done yet. Some of it isn't even started. (Though I have put a major dent in the shopping.)

Of the three major projects - shawl, sweater, and handspun and woven scarves (three scarves, but I'm counting them as one project 'cause I'm gonna warp the loom super-long and weave all three at one whack), the first two are half done. And the sweater is on size eight needles, which means finishing the other half won't take forever - I could probably crank it out in a week, and should.

I'm still test-spinning the carbon fiber for the scarves. I haven't even begun the real spinning. I'm told the weaving will go fast once the loom is set up, and setting up a twelve-inch-wide fabric shouldn't be too time consuming. But still. Oh, and I should also do some more practice weaving before I start on the good stuff.

The knitted and felted bag hasn't been started.

The fabric I want to hand-dye for my sister-in-law to sew into whatever she wants, isn't started. Though I do have all the materials. Hmm. Perhaps I should get on that today. Like, right now. (Step one is weighing and then washing it two or three times.)

The other possible knitted and felted bag (which has always lurked at the back of my head as a possible, nothing for sure) likely isn't happening.

Beaded anything, which was also a lurking idea, is also probably not happening.

Did I mention, AAAAAAAAAH!

Bells and her friends are posting about their favorite knitted projects. I'll be doing that later, once I decide what my favorite was/is.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Comments on the comments. And blather.

Thanks, everyone, for the congratulations on not losing my mind yesterday. After I got my EMT certification, I volunteered in an emergency room for a little while before the Navy moved us to Hawaii, so I saw... a lot. (The topper was a guy who shot himself in the head, who we tried to keep alive for organ harvest... every time someone did a chest compression, blood squirt out of some hole we hadn't patched yet. We didn't save the organs. The guy was a loss from the get-go.) Apparently I'm good at emergencies - I go straight into procedures as they were drilled into me and will bitch out anyone who gets in my way or fucks them up - including family members in informal situations. Both sides of the family (mine and the husbeast's) have genetic problems that result in trouble swallowing and occasional choking on food, so I've had - probably - more than average experience with choking family members. 99% of the time when I've had to step in and do something, it's to tell OTHER family to leave the choking person alone while they cough. If an airway is only partially blocked, you can make it worse with back-pounding and Heimlich maneuvering and all that. Yesterday, by the time I realized the Goob had swallowed that damn penny, she was running around the living room, singing, so the whole 'freak out' thing seemed really redundant. (Though I did slip last night and call her a dumbass over it, as in "You're the one who swallowed the penny, dumbass.")

Nerves of steel. I has them. (Actually, I tend to totally freak in situations where I can't DO anything to fix them. Medical emergencies where I can do CPR or control bleeding, I can handle.)

Yes, we are monitoring the Goob's poo to make sure the penny comes out the other end. Sigh. The joys of motherhood.

I'm really going to do a doily knitting tutorial, I promise, but right now I'm not able to take my anti-inflammatories (major mouth sores, again) and so my hands are killing me. Soon as that whole mess straightens out, I will do some kind of tutorial. I'm also thinking of posting the 'keys' to all the lace charts I know of, for those trying to decipher German lace patterns. In one system, a square is a purl stitch, in another, it's knit one in back, in another it's a plain knit. So I'll do what I can to make it easier for all us lace-knitting lunatics. The two sets of German patterns I have right now, use two different sets of symbols. It's crazy. And they're both different from Marienne Kinzel.

I finally got my book on how to Batik properly. It didn't contain the information I wanted. (Bugger.) Anyone know if putting bees' wax over pencil or chalk marks will 'set' the marks into the fabric? Otherwise I'm gonna just experiment and hope for the best. Oh, and I'm at another "Would the Phoenicians order this from Dharma Trading?" stage. I need gel to thicken the dye with. I'm supposed to buy sodium alginate. I'm thinking corn starch and water cooked together. I'll make sure to document the insanity.

Due to the lack of anti-inflammatories, I've taken my other as-needed painkillers that make me babble. Does it show?

Last weekend, we put the Goob's crib (the baby boat, in Goober language) up in the attic, and replaced it with a 'youth bed' (the wagon, in Goober language - no idea where she gets this stuff). Yes, the stars and moon on the head board glow in the dark:

This has led to me sleeping in my office (the futon is right on the other side of that wall her bed is against) to keep an eye on her. And has led to things like last night's three AM screaming tantrum in the living room, after she got up and wanted a snack and I told her to go back to bed. She has been informed in no uncertain terms that she is not allowed out of bed in the morning until it's daylight. We'll see if it works. I'm not holding my breath.

So not only am I drugged, I'm a drugged zombie.

Oh. Computer games. Someone asked what I play. I do turn-based strategy (Civilization, Sierra's City Builder series, Galactic Empires, and at the moment a really old game called Age of Wonders which is fantasy) and the occasional round of Free Cell, Minesweeper, and other non-reflex puzzle games. Anything requiring reflexes will eventually twist me up into a near anxiety attack - all that fun nervous system stuff again. I USED to love Super Mario World and wound up giving away my NES after I busted my hand because I kept thinking 'Last time I played Super Mario and was freaked for three days must have been a fluke... I should try it again'. And of course I'd wind up freaked for three days again. The husbeast and I have discussed getting a Wii when the Goob's a little older. Should be interesting to see how bad I spaz on that. Right now my only bad-for-me game I'm playing is Lemmings, and I just can't give that damn game up. It's like an addiction. I'm so old I used to play Lemmings off a 5.5 inch floppy drive on a 286 computer. They won't be going away soon.

That should be more than enough babble for today. And yesterday, and tomorrow.

Oh. New season, Cities of the Underworld, starts at nine PM EST on History Channel this Sunday night. Geek TV. Gotta love it. (History buffs, if you don't watch it, see about getting the back episodes on download. At least the episodes about the major cities like Prague, Istanbul, Rome, and like that.) Sunday's episode is on London. I told the husbeast, and he said "Again?" (there's a previous episode about London in another season) I said "Dude, there's enough stuff under London they could do two DAYS on it, easy." he agreed.

Right. Babbling. Gonna stop now.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Well THAT was fun.

First, before I say another word, let me state the Goober is fine, to the point the little shit never knew anything was really wrong. It's me who needs a lie-down in a dark room with a martini and some Godiva. Preferably while the kid is duct-taped to a solid surface so I know where she is and what she's doing.

First thing this morning, before breakfast even, the Goob swallowed a penny. I had STUPIDLY given it to the kid to play with, thinking (stupidly) that at the age of three, she was smart enough (HA!) not to put it in her mouth. Yeah, RIGHT. I don't think I'd have ever known she swallowed it, except I saw it go down. A little hand waving, a couple coughs. I figured she'd choked on some spit or something - it was that minor - and asked if she was okay. She said yes. Then about thirty seconds later, it clicked, and I said "WHERE IS THAT PENNY YOU WERE PLAYING WITH????" and she said "It's in my mouth." and opened her mouth, and of course, the penny was not there.

So, first, thanks to EMT class, I evaluated her for choking. Since she was talking, that meant she was very likely fine. (General rule of thumb; if a person can talk, they can get enough air and their esouhagus is unobstructed enough that they'll be all right - even if their airway is clogged, they can clear it themselves with throat clearing, coughing, whatever.) I had her drink some water, she did without any complaint, and it stayed down. (If the opening to the stomach is blocked, anything that goes down, doesn't stay down long.) Yay for EMT class. I don't know how parents stay sane without it. (Well. Sort of sane.)

Then - being me - I hit the internet and googled about kids swallowing coins while she plowed through her breakfast as if nothing had happened. Again generally, if an otherwise healthy kid swallows a coin, and it gets to their stomach without them choking, it just goes on through with no trouble. Choking is the real risk, and obviously she wasn't.

The Goob was by then doing laps of the couch, waving her arms and laughing and yelling. Yet another rule of thumb from the EMT days - if the kid is wrestling you and screaming, odds are high they're fine. It's when the kids to limp and quiet you worry. Obviously the Goob was in great distress, what with the singing and all. And I thought 'Soon as I don't ask about this, the kid will wind up with copper poisoning.' (Copper can be toxic, you know. Especially in acidic environments. Like, say, your stomach. It's possible I know too much.) So I called the poison control center.

You always know it's a good day when you call the poison control center. (The Goober was by now laying on the floor, watching Dora the Explorer and playing with a box.) The conversation opened like this:
ME: Hi, my kid just swallowed a penny. Do I need to freak out?
LADY ON OTHER END: Is the child choking?
ME: No, she's singing and has eaten.
LADY: Ah. I don't think you need to freak out, then. Hang on, let me check the procedures.
Later I told the husbeast it was probably the calmest call they got all day.

Long story short, no risk of copper poisoning (though weirdly, a very low risk of nickel allergy), but the poison control center wanted me to call the pediatrician to make sure they didn't want an x-ray. I'm not a big fan of x-raying children for no good reason; it's considered kind of a bad idea, thought to possibly cause/trigger childhood lukeima and other crazy stuff. If I thought the kid was in real trouble I'd skip the pediatrician altogether and go to the ER and let them x-ray to their heart's delight. But this was about a kid who was apparently fine. One or two x-rays are unlikely to trigger ANYTHING, but then the Goob could have a cigarette and likely not trigger anything, and I'm not a fan of THAT, either. (Boy howdy, that was a run-on sentence.) Then I figured if the poison control center reported to someone and I didn't follow up, I'd wind up with CPS down on my head. (CPS = children's protective services. They're particularly rabid and wierd and arbitrary here. I prefer to avoid them.)

So I called the pediatrician. Left a message with the appointment clerk, who was very nice about the whole thing, we were both laughing and at one point I told her I wanted a perscription for the Goob - for duct tape.

He called back, I suspect thinking he was going to have to talk down the freaked-out mother from x-raying her kid, because he was clearly not in favor of it if everything else was normal. I told him that between her swallowing the penny and him calling, she'd eaten a banana, a bowl of teddy grahams, a peanut butter sandwich, two glasses of water, and done about sixty laps of the couch. She could be heard singing in the background and I added that, yes, the singing kid was the one who swallowed the penny. He kind of laughed and said it was best left alone, then, and warned about stomach cramps and fevers and that was it.

Mother of the year, right here, hoo yeah.

In an attempt to remain calm (woo sah), I have finished plying the black silk from Habu Textiles.

You can see by the second photo, this stuff is still REALLY thin. And that's triple-plied. There is no way it would have knit up right as-is, unless I pulled an Alwen and knit lace on sewing needles. (And I'm not gonna. And you can't make me.) As it is, I've got 675 yards of this stuff, and am wondering what in hell to do with it. I'm debating between lacy pullover and doily and beaded bag.

Then, yesterday, I got a lace whorl and the drive band to go with it, for my wheel. (All it is, is a gearing change that makes the yarn twist itself together faster.) With the change in gearing, there is a marked change in treadling. It's almost like... like... EXERCISE. So I'm back to the carbon fiber. I'd like to spin it laceweight so I can weave a couple-three scarves for Christmas, and I think I also want to knit myself a shawl with it. (A stealth shawl, shaped like a stealth bomber.) I've got over a pound and a half of the stuff left. I originally ordered two pounds, thinking I would knit a sweater for the husbeast with it. Then we both saw how the fiber behaved - like silk, very heavy, no memory - and dumped the idea. The husbeast now wants a hat. I can do that; I'm doing the ribbing around the head with teflon-coated wool and then the top of the hat with carbon fiber.

At the moment I'm practice-spinning the last of the FIRST half-pound bag. Three to go. Oy vey.

We have begun Christmas shopping here (mostly because the budget can't take one big shopping spree at any one time, not so much because I plan ahead per se), and today what should appear in the mail but the Christmas presents for the Goob and The Cousin (my nephew, who is three months older than she is and kind of triggered us having the Goob when we did, so she'd have a cousin near her age). We got both of them animal zoos from Fisher Price, the Little People stuff, that teaches the alphabet. If you've got a kid at Goob age on your list, and can afford it, it is AWESOME. I wanted to take it out of the box and play with it MYSELF when it got here. Details, here.

Now, I think I'm going to play computer games for the rest of the day. It's my low-cal alternative to a pound of Godiva and three martinis.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Vogue Knitting Holiday 2008.

As always, patterns are referred to by number, not page or name. Anything in quotes is from the magazine, all else is from me. Photos from the VK web site. This time I got bored and did some cost calculations. Since I'm broke and we're in a recession I began to wonder at the ridiculousness of some of these hand-knits, in terms of cost. All dollar figures are in USD.

The article section was pretty eh this time around. Lots of advertising pretending to be articles, and a massive amount of sucking up to Nicky Epstein, AGAIN, because it's her 25th year in the design biz. I like Nicky Epstein, think she's pretty clever with embellishment, but could VK PLEASE find someone else to fawn over? At least one issue a year? Please? There are plenty of other good designers out there to suck up to. Let's suck up to Debbie New for an issue. She's probably the most original knitter living at the moment. Or Cat Bordhi. That would be good, too.

Meg Swansen's article was about hats. Eh. There's a pretty good short blurb on Habu Textiles, which I was happy to see, because they're a pleasure to do business with and they could use the exposure.

And then, the patterns.

The Midas Touch is the first section, apparently a grouping of quick-knit gifts with gold as the theme attempting to tie them all together. The copy writing is so bad I refuse to repeat it here.

1. Knitted bangle bracelets. Really they're knitted COVERS for bangle bracelets - you need a wood or metal bangle in there to give it shape. Eh. Not sure how fashionable it is, but it's a cute idea and would be a fast gift. And I'm impressed at the variety of patterns offered. There are eight different covers, from stranded color to smocking to lace to cables. Points for creativity anyway.

2. Bag. Good idea, bad execution. See how the model is holding that bag? Yeah. That's because the handles are too small and stringy for the the size of the bag and if she wasn't holding it up at the bottom, it would stretch all to hell out of shape and leave the knitter wondering what the fuck happened. In fact, you can see it happening on the bag already, where the I-cord attaches near the model's boob. (And this is WITH something inside the bag to shape it - probably a box. Imagine if it were filled with the usual jumble of non-square real life stuff.) Personally, I'd take those two lobster-claw cable patterns and continue them upward and graft together at the top, to make the handles. What moron puts I-cord handles on a bag that big??

3. Clutch purse. When I looked at this photo I thought it was actually two fingerless mitts, laid one on top of the other. WHY is the band around the center sucking in the whole bag? WHY does it have to look so lame? WHY did the designer knit it out of Lion Brand God Knows What?? WHY???

4. Choker. So cutting edge, it's a hundred years old. Hundred and fifty? Wasn't it Princess Alexandra of England who made these popular? In, what, 1900? Goddamn, that's cutting edge. Good grief.

5. Wrap knit with Tilli Thomas beaded silk yarn. (Incidentally, Tilli Thomas does price-fixing and other vaguely illegal methods of price control, including blacklisting vendors who put her yarn on sale. FYI.) A quick web search and some calculator work estimates that this wrap would cost $200 to knit. Now, I don't know about you, but if I loved someone enough to spend $200 on them, I'd find the time to knit something a little more elaborate. But I suppose it's nice enough if you have money coming out your ears. OR you could knit it with Art Yarns equivalents for $375. I wonder how cold those glass beads would feel against your skin in winter. I bet pretty damn cold.

6. Fingerless gloves. The human race has been making variations on these since the last ice age, at least. See the hem on at the fingers edge, on her upper hand, there? The way it flares out? For those who know, that is screaming "KNITTED IN HEM THAT IS TOO LOOSE!!!!!" If you're going to knit these, do some measuring of the hands of your intended victim, and knock a couple-ten stitches out of that edge and add them in later. Total beginner mistake. I don't want to think what someone got paid for this pattern.

7. Eyeglass case. In Vogue Knitting. IN VOGUE KNITTING. The only way this would be cutting edge is if you stomped on it with eye glasses in it, and the lenses shattered. An eyeglass case.

8. Cabled scarves. a) cables like that look like ass on the wrong side, and a scarf should be reversible or at least not look like ass on one side, and b) who in FUCK wears two scarves over a sequined tee shirt? and c) is it me or does this model look totally vapid?

9. Cabled beret thingie. The only point of hand-knitting one of these, in my opinion, is to do funky, cool-looking cabling in the decreases on the top of the hat. Notice they don't SHOW the top/back of the hat? Yeah. And looking at the pattern, near as I can tell, it's run of the mill boring cables. There are at least ten better patterns on the internet that I can think of off hand, half of them free.

MOONLIGHT SONATA: "It's romantic lyricism on a grand scale, composed in a rhapsody of rich purples and grays." Yeah, right. Pass the bong, dumbass.

10. Beaded shawl. Nice enough, but judging from the way that thing hangs, I'm betting it weighs a ton from all the beads. I LIKE some beads on a shawl, it makes it stay where you put it and drape beautifully. But according to the pattern this one uses 1400 #10 glass beads. That may be too much of a good thing. Plus they're cold when they hit your skin.

11. Blue shrug thingie. I really wish Vogue would get over the idea of putting sweaters over evening gowns because 99% of the time it looks really fucking stupid. Like now. See how the model is holding her shoulders, with them thrown back drastically? And how fabric STILL bags up in her right arm pit? Yeah. Bad pattern writing. Plus no edging. Plus the ribbon pulling it in to look like she has a waist. Bah.

12. "Cable arpeggios, loop trills, lace glissandi - major notes in a glorious knit opus." I kind of liked this sweater until I read the copy. Now I just want to go to NY and slap the shit out of the entire VK editorial department. Anyway, this is a cool sweater, very Coco Chanel. But I'd find some boucle yarn to knit the cuffs and collar with, and leave the fur off the waist all together. WHO IN HELL needs to wrap their waist in fake fur??? The loop pattern used on the pattern as it's written is VERY hard to do evenly and snags like a bitch. You probably can't tell in the photo here, but in the magazine it looks like the 'fur' on the left collar has already been snagged once or twice. Otherwise, this is some clever pattern writing. The two major cables in the front actually get smaller as they move up the neck line, helping fit.

13. This is something I would throw on over jeans and a casual shirt to try to look dressy, not something I would wear over a BLOODY DAMNED EVENING GOWN. And what in fuck is she holding that stupid silver star for? Anyway, not the most flattering sweater ever, but not the worst either. My wrists get cold looking at it, though.

14. WILL YOU ASSHOLES QUIT PUTTING SWEATERS OVER BALL GOWNS ALREADY. There is something seriously wrong with the neck of this thing, but I hate it too much to try and figure out what. And that necklace looks like it was put together with bits that fell off a chandelier.

15. Why is this woman wearing a bath robe over her ball gown? Seriously, though, if I were knitting this I'd make those first triangles in the cuffs and hem garter stitch instead of stockinette. Less curl that way. And if you can believe it, this thing would cost $290 USD to knit in medium size. (No, that is not a typo.)

16. A marginally better attempt at a knitted coat. At least this one has a collar. Unfortunately it's knitted in nylon, so it won't do jack shit to keep you warm. And the dollar figure on this one? Well, apparently no one sells the yarn. But a conservative average price of Prism yarns by the skein gives me a guess of about $690 to knit this. Some of their yarn goes up to $130 a skein, so it could cost as much as $3,380 to knit. Isn't that cute? Want to bet Prism paid to have their yarn used? (I just threw these figures at the husbeast, who came back with the Joan Cusak line in Working Girl: "Three thousand dollars, it's not even LEATHAH!")

17. All I can think when I look at this is, "Someone's dog ate a pink lace afghan and then puked it on that poor model." Plus I bet there's something wrong with the lace shaping, from the way they've got that scarf cinched around there.

Designer section! Oh, how I always love these. This issue's featured designer (other than Nicky Epstein) is.... Nanette Lepore. (Anyone heard of her? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) Mostly, looking at these designs, I want to hunt the bitch down and slap her. I'm sure I'll get over it. Eventually.


19. Shrug. It is a rectangle with cuffs. That's not a pattern, that's a half-documented idea.

VANITY FAIR: "Off the ski slope, into the salon: The fairest of Fair Isles." Shapely, my ASS. And I'm getting really tired of the vanity fair theme, I think there's been one in every VK for the last half-dozen issues. Find a new idea already, damn it.

20. I like the idea of a fitted fair-isle. But puffy shoulders and lazily designed cuffs are probably not the way to go. Plus this is knit out of alpaca and is a heat stroke waiting to happen.

21. A sweater with nipple vents. THAT'S new. Not sure it's Vogue, but it's pretty fuckin' weird. And in case you can't tell, the model's fucked up pose is an attempt to hide the fact that the sonofabitch moron designer put RUFFLES AROUND THE WAIST. Three ruffles, from below the boobs to the top of the hips. To totally obscure the idea of you having any waist, whatsoever. A man designed this. Yeah. That's a shock.

22. I like this pattern, and if it were, say, all over the sweater like normal, it might look kind of cool. As it is, to this knitter at least, it looks like someone got lazy and ran out of time and threw on some solid color to finish it out. And there is something very, very, VERY wrong with the fit; either it's too small on the model or the dresser fucked up or SOMETHING. I'd take a very good look at the pattern before knitting it.

23. OH MY GOD I HAVE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE!!!! (Pompoms should be illegal on anything other than hats for people over age five.)

In Living Color. "Leopards may not change their spots, but Brandon Mably does. Here, the designer reimagines the intarsia animal pelt of his jungly coat in a pride's worth of palettes." Barf.

24. Yet another idea stolen from Kaffee Fasset and made to look like crap. $140 to knit it, too.

Sizzling Hot Winter Styles! "Compelling doesn't have to mean complicated. Sometimes, the simplest knits speak the loudest." Especially when they're knit in fucked up colors and look like something you got flunked for in seventh grade home ec class. You know, it IS possible to make something simple look good. Not that you'd know it from these.

25. The first sweater I ever knit, I tried on and threw away. It looked better than this. And what colorblind, brain dead moron thought it would be good to combine this with a purple halter top and leopard print tights?

26. Find me one SANE person, in the history of the world, who has gone out in public wearing a knitted maroon vest over a blue sequined dress, and I will eat my own toenails.

27. Bad, bad, BAD eighties flashback. Kind of like a reminder of all the worst the decade had to offer. Please tell me no one really wears metallic knit mini-skirts any more? Please?

28. This sweater makes the model look like a barrel. Not even the dorky pose and the dorky belt can save it. Plus there's no shaping, which means as soon as you move, the sweater will start riding up in VERY strange places. Ever been hung up by your arm pits? Bet wearing this feels just like that.

29. This issue's sweater knit with dryer lint. It might not be too bad if you knit it in a color that doesn't appear on the Vomit Palette. I like how the model's pose looks like she's desperately trying to hold it up.

30. A knitted sweatshirt with the neck too big, the sleeves too short, and the kangaroo pocket so low you can't get your hands into it without rucking the thing up to your waist. Epic fail.

Head start: "With a few hip hats and a passion for yarn and needles, Cathy Carron is giving knitwear design a fresh new spin." Inexplicably, this is at the start of the magazine. I get the head start bit, har, but then why number the damn things LAST?

31. Is it me, or does that look like a slime mold on her head? Maybe it'd look better in a different color.

32. Felted bucket hat. Nice, but about as fresh as I am.

33. This style hat goes back to the middle freaking ages. There are illustrations of peasants wearing them in ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS. This is fresh??!!??

34. This one's kind of cute, but I don't know how Vogue it is... I'd knit it for my kid. Those i-cords attach to the edge of the ribbing and are otherwise loose, up and over the hat and tied together at the top. Originality points on this one, I haven't seen anything like it before and it's wearable.

Aaaaaaand that's it for this issue. We got ripped off again.