Monday, December 31, 2007


Hi. We're back from the cornfields. Actually, not much of the cornfields left anymore. More like edge-of-strip-mall-land. In fact, I was able to observe the complete lifecycle of the American suburban strip mall: from larvae to adult to dried out empty husk.

We took the train up to Chicago on Christmas eve.

Why yes, we saw the bean.

What they don't tell you is that the curving on the middle inside makes these really neat infinite reflection patterns.

Even the lions at the Art Institute were dressed up for the holidays.

By the way, Christmas Eve (especially if it's particularly cold) is an excellent day to visit the Chicago Art Institute. It's not as crowded as usual and there's little to no wait time to see the exhibits. (On one other memorable Christmas Eve there were maybe 2 dozen people in the whole building. K says he has NEVER seen the garage look so empty. We parked next to the stairs.)

There was this nifty Indonesian textile exhibit that we got to see. Lots of fabulous and intricate ikats (both warp and weft!), batik, and embroidery, among other things. I was sad that they'd archived the big Chagall windows during their renovation, though. I would've liked another look at those.

We saw what will ever be fixed in my mind as the Blues Brothers Hut-Hut building.

And that Picasso.

It wasn't super-fantastic cold (like the day before. mmm, 17 F and windchill to 0. Something to make me appreciate my mild Pacific Northwest winters), but it was 25 F chilly. Still, both of us had had a little too much sedentary time and pizza lately so we walked all over downtown. Here's the Chicago river (yeah, the one they dye green on St. Patrick's day):

I don't really have much in the way of other pictures but it was a lovely restful Christmas and I was able to dump all my guilt and worry by the wayside for a week. I got a lot of knitting done too, including finishing off the Sport sweater. No, not in time for Christmas, but in time to give it to NY niece. Who is, as always, unbearably cute. She's a good kid.

Hap-hap-happy new year everyone! We're cooking jumbalaya, drinking Gluhwein, and baking New Year's bread (a new tradition, brought about by necessity after we forgot the 2-3 hour final rise AFTER the initial rise): you make it in the old year and eat it in the new year. I wish you all a wonderful new year, may it be better than the last.

Friday, December 21, 2007

blog on the road

Thank you all so much for your kind words. I'm feeling a lot better, at least in part because I've run out of time to do stuff for xmess and because I'm now several thousand miles away, visiting the in-laws. It's difficult to clean the shower from here, so I'm free from shower guilt for the moment.

I did manage to get the packages off, personal triumph there. Still working the xmess cards though. They are likely to be new years cards instead.

Gotta go, heading back into signal-less cornfields. Very happy holidays to you all!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I don't know what's up lately but it feels like just one touch will break me into a million dull-edged pieces. I am keeping up with the gym, mostly, and then in the shower my head is full of angry rants. Where are those endorphins when you need them?

I like December, usually. What with Christmas and birthday and new years it's kind of a big ol' party for the whole month. I really like the holiday pageantry (ain't that a $10 word) because I don't get a whole lot of pageantry in daily life and I like to see things shake up a bit. And more red everywhere, and shiny lights. But I can hardly drag myself along this year, it's a all a bunch of thhbbbt, too much bother.

I can't seem to keep a straight and coherent thought in my head. No, I haven't finished buying Christmas gifts. I'm embarrassed at how much gimme gimme want want I feel this year. I feel guilty that I only managed to make a couple pair of mittens for the Oklahoma project.
It's mid-December and nothing is done. Mostly I'm just tired and fat and full of doubt about everything. I'm starting to resemble J. Alfred.

Ain't even got no pretty pictures. I wish it would snow. I wish I could hibernate for 3 months. I wish I could magically come up with the perfect gift for my mother-in-law (or heck, make it my father-in-law.) The parents ask for my xmess list, but what do I really want?
1. to feel like more than a lump
2. to have 40 pounds magically disappear from my body. Although not all from one location, please. Or you can gift me with a faster metabolism. I'm not picky.
3. a pair of pants that actually fits - you know, in both the waist and hips and thighs. It's probably too much to ask for them to look good, too. It's been years since anything flattered me. I got so mad last time I ordered some pants I sent back a whole diatribe inscribed on the L.L.Bean return form.
4. world peace. This should be #1. There's a bunch of other world problems you could also fix while you're at it.
5. 3 extra hours a day. Some might favor the "extra day each week" but I find spreading out the time allows for greater laziness.

oh damn, I just need to get out of my head. I'm all focused on me me me.

Isn't this the most awesome picture ever? My niece on a sugar high:

Other niece's xmess pic:

There's another one on the way. Is this not the most freaky clear ultrasound you have every seen? I am a little freaked at the little bones.

Oh yes, in a few months we'll be a triple niece household.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Still here, not treading water

We did get lots and lots of rain, but the wind hit the coast and most stopped there. It was a little blustery on Sunday and Monday, but not unusually so. Fortunately metro Portland didn't really get hit very hard. We didn't even lose power. We live up a couple hundred feet from the nearest water, out of the flood plain, so there was no worries there.

The coast, however, is in bad shape. They had gusts up to 126 mph, and many, many trees are down and rivers are flooded.

Now it's warm and even sunny today. They call this weather pattern the Pineapple Express because it's a storm formation that comes straight up from Hawaii, bring warm air and lots of moisture. The warmth melts some of the snow in the mountains, making the flooding worse.

It doesn't feel like December at all, not when it's 50 degrees F outside and the high was around 60ish. Oh well, the weather report assures me we'll be back to highs in the 40s by Thursday. (The freakiest thing to me, because I grew up in the desert, is the difference between high and low. High 44, low 37? That's only 7 degrees (F!) of temperature differences. Very different than the 40-degree swings you could get in Albuquerque).

Sorry, blah blah blah interesting weather blah blah.

Friday, November 30, 2007

One Skein Food Drive

I was so affected when I read this New York Times article today about how the U.S. food banks are depleted, down to their emergency supplies, that I'm going to try to do something. I'm not very good at these do-something things, but here goes.

The food banks been hit by a triple whammy this year:

1) farmers are doing well and selling most of their crops, so there is less leftover for emergency food supply.
2) a lot of grocery stores have been tightening up their inventory systems, so they don't have as much excess product, which they used to donate. And if they do have excess or past-seasonal goods, they're selling more of it to discount stores instead of donating it.
3) there is more need than ever this year.

If you have a moment and the means, please consider donating to your local food bank. They could really use your help. The Oregon Food Bank can buy 5 pounds of food for just $1.

So this is my meme. Created by MEMEME. Call it the One Skein Food Drive or Knitters against Hunger or whatever you like. Please consider donating the price of purchase of one skein of yarn to your local food bank. Or donate some non-perishable food items - the OFB has a list of most-wanted foods if you'd like some examples.

Or, if you are unable to donate (for any reason. I am not in a finger-pointin' business), please PASS THE MEME ALONG. Blog posts, comments, mailing lists, groups, word of mouth, whatever, we're all-opportunity communications here.

And because everything is more fun when it involves yarn, if you do any of the above - donate and/or pass on the meme, leave me a comment here and say "I participated" or something to that effect (Ed: fixed the spelling. Thank you Pacalaga!). You don't need to say what you did. I'll drop your name in the hat and give out some yarny gifts at the end of December. How about, I'll collect names through 11:59 pm PST December 31st, 2007.

I'm not going to keep tally of how much anyone donated or what they did. Just one chance for each name, ok? (I admit this is partially motivated by laziness. Ha. She said "motivated by laziness.") But this is FOOD we're talking about, a basic need, so please be generous if you can. I'd like to think that Knitters (and Crocheters and whomever) Don't Let People Go Hungry.

Ed to add: I am too US-centric. There are food banks and community food drives all around the world. Hopefully they're not as bad off as the ones in the States, but they could probably still use your help.


It's supposed to snow tomorrow.

I will believe THAT when I see it.

And following that, there's supposed to be a big mother of a windstorm (leftover hurricane) and lots and lots and lots of rain right following. It's kind of cool to see the cloud formation on the satellite map, the cloud stretches all the way from Hawaii up to Alaska:

I am making mittens for the Soaring Eagles project. I am late to the party on this one, but I finally got around to visiting that blog site and I was seized with a feeling that I really really need to do this. A big thank you to kmkat and her excellent post which reminded me. So now I am scouring the stash for anything machine wash & dryable and working myself up, worried that the superwash wool I'm using won't handle machine dry very well. Mmmph. I think there's some wool-ease stashed somewhere, and a lone sad skein of Plymouth dreambaby.
Will Toasty Toes felt (it's supposed to be superwash)? I hope not but I'll make a swatch to test just in case.

I'm all for using the appropriate yarn in the appropriate conditions, but acrylic really doesn't insulate as well as wool so I'm at least trying for a blend. Oklahoma can get pretty cold in the winter. But I also don't want someone thoroughly disappointed because their mittens shrank with the first wash and dry.

It feels like I'm giving myself a little gift (not going to call it a Christmas present, as it is STILL NOT DECEMBER and I'd like to bask in my post-Thanksgiving glow for a little bit longer, thank you). It's a gift of time-off from everything on the I Must Do list, time I will instead spend working mittens.

They sure are pretty fast. I've got one done almost already (an adult Small, even). The thumb gusset is way less hard than I thought it would be.

If it does snow tomorrow, it'll go nicely with the mitten-knitting.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Knots Socks, the Sequel

I finished these a while ago but I've been lazy about getting pictures.

I think I mentioned before that my first attempt at the Knots Socks were a little bit baggy. I like a socks that stays put. So here is another variation on the knotted ribbing:

Knots Socks 2!

Pattern: my own. Ribbing incorporating the cross stitch rib from BW #1. Cuff-down.

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL in colorway...66 ? mostly dark blues and purples but with greens, lighter blues, lighter purples, and reds thrown in. I used about 7/8 of a ball - more left over than I would have thought, but I guess that 6 stitches per row makes all the difference.

Needles: 2 mm/US 0 double-pointed bamboo, 5 sticks.

Gauge: about 8-8.5 st/inch. I'll have to go back and check row gauge.

This is probably the picture closest to the actual color - most of these pictures were taken in very autumny-yellow sunlight.
I don't like this colorway quite as much as the one for Knots Socks 1. These colors don't blend and meld as well as the other colorway's did. But Trekking XXL is always fun to work with.

This time I did a 2x1 K/P ribbing, and a special ribbing along the top. I like having the border between the real pattern and the edge. Plus, it makes it easier to add a little calf shaping at the top and then decrease at the edge of the cuff for the rest of the sock. I am still loving those twist stitches. I did a better job this time of balancing out the stitches that go on the top of the foot and the ones used for the heel then then bottom.

I kept meticulous notes this time, instead of just random scribbles on whatever happened to be handy, so the first is actually fairly identical to the 2nd.

The cast-on is my favorite of this year: the Twisted German cast-on. So stretchy! So pretty from both sides!

I am very pleased by how well these fit. I think I've finally hit my Trekking magic number (at least for ribbing): 66 stitches for the body. That seems pretty small for Trekking, doesn't it? But these guys STAY UP and STAY PUT in the shoe.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can't stop knitting, clowns will eat me

I thought I'd cast on a new sock, for some less-bulky commuter knitting.

Who knew what horror was lurking in that happy rainbow skein of Opal?

I worked 3+ stripes before I realized what I had on my hands.
(cue screeching violin horror):


And the most dire thing? I Can't. Stop. Knitting. Them. Damn you, clown socks! I've got a huge queue of backed up knitting and I yet I am obsessed with 2x2 ribbing, just to get through this accursed skein. I'm on the train this morning, chanting under my breath, "Come on, come on, gotta make it to the orange stripe. Just a little bit more. Faster faster faster faster." All I can hope for is some sweet release soon, as I've only got one skein of this (although the other Opal I have? I'm kinda worried about that now. It's looking like big bruisers, lurking in the corner of the stash, waiting to spring some more Ill-Considered Sock Yarn Color Choices on me).

(random obObservation: I see Blogger has finally gotten around to supporting Safari for basic WYSIWIG text editing, and the images, as they appear in the upload box, now don't always appear as the can't-load-this-image icon. Gosh, it looks like I could even use their tools to insert some video now instead of whipping up the HTML myself. WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE?)
(I know, I should not be so rude and bitchy, since Safari is some teency tiny amount of the browser market (3-5% or so). Thanks Blogger, I appreciate the love.)

Friday, November 16, 2007


A few days ago it was street leaf-cleaning day here.
They have these bulldozer-type things (but faster, and with hockey-nets in front of them) that push all the leaves on the streets into big piles at each intersection. Then the mystery leaf eater comes and consumes them all (I'm always at work when this happens, dang)

This was actually one of the smaller piles
It looks kinda like the leaves ate a car.

We highly suggest you stop for this leaf pile (ha ha, I slay myself)

On the other hand, this camellia down the way says: "screw this Autumn thing, I'm gonna bloom NOW."

Meanwhile today it's raining that medium, steady winter rain, the kind that makes it clear that it's sticking around for the long haul. It's been inside-of-a-ping-pong-ball dim all day here. The grass, though, the grass is LOVING this weather. Bah, stupid grass.

I've got a bad case of the yarn shakes lately and so I think I will be doing some stash sniffing this weekend. Also hopefully some dyeing (looks like that kind of weekend). I've got some new sock yarn I want to try out and a backup of stuff-to-be-dyed. I also am seriously needing to scratch my organizational itch. It's not obsession or compulsion, I just... like to organize stuff.

When I had a sticker collection when I was a kid back in the early 80s, I would organize EVERYTHING over and over again, agonizing over the cross-category items (does that oily belong with the unicorn stickers or the oilies?). I love categorization. I am kicking myself for not getting in on Ravelry earlier (Hi! I'm bigalice there too!) 'cuz I love entering obscure little details, and most of the popular stuff has already been entered now. I enjoy alphabetizing. I got this little thrill when I discovered a yarn in my stash that hadn't yet been entered on Ravelry. This little fixation extends to yarn too, a bit. I actually find pleasure in unraveling a tangled skein and putting it back to rights. Yeah, I know, I Am Weird.

Perhaps I should have gone into stamp collection vs. fabric and yarn. Also, the compulsion part is when I start obsessing about "must fill out my collection." *That's* just stupid. But I'll admit to dreaming about buying one skein of every kind of yarn my yarn shop has, just to swatch it up and see how it behaves. And then publish the results in an organized, annotated, easily searchable format, of course.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


This one's for Michelle.

I picked up stitches for the right sleeve on Sport on Sunday. It was a PITA and took me awhile. I had to use a crochet hook. Yeah, I went with picking up the stitches instead of making the sleeve separately and backstitching it on. It seems pretty firm so far, so all my fears of stretchy sleeve joins may be unfounded.

I picked up and knit 85 stitches - 15 more than the pattern directs. I have no idea what's up with that. The armhole is exactly the length stated in the pattern (17 cm). My row gauge seems right on or very close to the one in the pattern. The sleeveholes look way too big to me.

I'm knitting the sleeves in the round, but using two circs seems to push me into Death Grip Mode and along with the cotton, it does a number on my wrists. I had to quit after about an inch when things started twinging. I am TRYING TO RELAX but I'm not being very effective at it. It's now my new commuter knitting, since 20 minutes 2 times a day doesn't cause any wrist pain. I get maybe an inch done a day.

Also, since I am dancing to the beat of my own salsa band when it comes to this sleeve, I'm decreasing at a faster rate than instructed, trying to work off those extra 15 stitches.

Current status: uncertain but plowing on ahead anyway. Someone find me a brick wall so I can ram my head into it to knock it down.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday is Too Exciting for Me

  • met new knitters! They seem pretty cool.
  • new sock yarn from BMFA!
  • some of it cotton (ruh-roh)
  • realized every skein I bought is almost exactly same colors.
  • sunny day (totally unexpected)
  • K the love monkey is sick with a fever. :(
  • I feel fine (for now). I'll start sucking down the Cold-Eez at the first sign I might be getting it.
  • Thanksgiving moved to Seattle this year (Tarewyn, you still want to lean how to do socks? I'll be within driving distance around T-giving time.)
  • Frances the cat looks very comfortable and very asleep in the chair across from me. She's doing that all-her-paws-in-a-big-heap thing.
  • I talked to my brother tonight and this week he purchased the item I was intending to give him as a Christmas gift. ARGGH
  • Fortunately I have something else in mind.
  • And I kept the receipt.
  • However, I am so truly idea-less when it come to the in-laws. Oh I am screwed.
  • Scheduled an blood donation with the vampires for next weekend. Kristen's latest post reminded me that I was due
  • I just re-learned that "obliquely" means: "not straightforward" or even "devious" according to Merriam-Webster online

Sorry, sleepy, past time for bed. There will damn well be toddler sweater knitting tomorrow.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Argggh, Tired

I had a good workout this morning, I was feeling all dull & sleepy when I got to the gym and there's nothing like a treadmill for dully & sleepy. Funny how all I need is an 8% grade at about 3.6 miles per hour to tire me out. OK, not so funny, more like pitiful. Anyway, my new gym book + music kept me nicely distracted for the 40 minutes and my calves decided to behave today instead of cramping up. But now I just feel so tired. It was a chore just walking that mile to work, picking my feet off the ground instead of scuffing them along. I'm such a wuss. No way would I survive a zombie apocalypse.

Nothing's happening, I'm still chickening out from starting the sleeves on the toddler sweater. I don't even have a pair of socks on the needles. I've been taking lace as my commuter knitting. Evidently I'd rather just pet, squeeze, and sniff yarn rather than doing anything with it. I'm glad it's the weekend soon. I predict much lazing about.

Today is the first day it's rained (drizzled, really) for a couple weeks now. Mostly it's been doing this fog-in-the-morning, clear up in the evening, sometimes with big puffy clouds near sunset.

Hi, I am a big puffball, snagged on a building.

I'm reading The Cloudspotter's Guide so I now know that today's low-drizzly-clouds-almost-fog is stratus nebulosus, verging on translucidus. It's really an interesting book - a light read (yes, even with all that Latin) and well illustrated. I had some trepidation at first (I'm vetting it for a Christmas present for my Dad, and it seemed too flippant and artsy maybe for him (or me)) but now I'm engrossed. I'm pretty sure we had some nice cirrocumulus yesterday at sunset. I like knowing the names of things and why they happen.

Other good books I read/am reading:

Company by Max Barry. Bwahahahaha, laugh-out-loud funny. I like this the same way I like Office Space (actually in a similar way too - I liked the 1st half better than the 2nd half of both). It's about life in Hell at the king of dysfunctional corporations. The toss-off lines are the best part of the whole thing:
Elizabeth is smart, ruthless, and emotionally damaged; that is, she is a sales representative. If Elizabeth's brain was a person, it would have scars, tattoos, and be missing one eye. If you saw it coming, you would cross the street.
My favorite book this summer.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. A close, close second. I'm no good at reviews. This book just grabbed me and I could. not. put. it. down. Compelling and sad and funny and depressing and inspiring all at the same time. The poor book has unfortunately been consigned to the ghetto of Young Adult Literature (ugh. Mini rant: will someone please kill off this designation? 'Young Adults' are either a) not reading at all, or b) reading adult books and are insulted at the 'young adult' label. Although maybe this has changed since I was a teen.) This is a novel, and a good one, and I feel like not marketing it as a novel for adults is a great disservice to this wonderful book.

The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham. The premise sounds hokey but it's pretty entertaining (and sad. And frustrating, by the end of the book I wanted to slap her...actually, most of them, for being so casually and unintentionally cruel to one other).

Territory, by Emma Bull. Let me say this up front: I am so not into westerns. But I'm enjoying this so far (only about halfway through). Give me a good plot and compelling characters and I'm yours.

Still drizzling. Still Friday. Still have a pile o' mail in the inbox to answer (please forgive me). Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yarn... barbarian?

He looks kind of cold, doesn't he? Someone give that boy a wool sweater.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pizza Luv

Fair warning: I'm gonna wax rhapsodic about food. Food and I, we get along pretty well. There isn't much I don't like (liver, brussells sprouts, excessively sour, and savory & sweet at the same time are about it, besides my little food prejudices (don't have to do with taste. Just prejudice)). I work up in Food Cart land, not far from the University, so I can get my saag chana fix just about any time (sweet, sweet saag. LOVE YOU).

Anyway. Just to set up the scene. Portland, I lurve you too because there's a lot of people around who cook REALLY WELL and don't even charge a limb for each meal. One of the newer ones is Dové Vivi, a fairly new pizza place.

K the love monkey grew up in Pizza Town (south of Chicago) and so has Definite Prejudices about pizza. He knows what a really good deep dish tastes like. But even he likes this place (and we ordered the corn pizza last time. Corn! On pizza! I was struck dumb when he agreed with me. Actually, we got a half-n-half Corn & Potato-Pancetta). Don't get me wrong, I love a great spinach, mushroom, and sausage stuffed pizza. But I think this place is fan-frickin'-tastic.

This pizza is SO GOOD. It's like the jazz of pizza. They take the central motif of deep-dish pizza and riff on it. There's this amazing cornmeal crust, crunchy yet bready at the same time. It's deep dish, with perfectly melted cheese and prepared ingredients on top (actually, I think they might also have a vegan pizza. Not sure about that). Frequently they'll throw rosemary in the crust. And the toppings: smoked mozzarella, fontina, the above-mentioned corn, potatoes, and pancetta, tomatoes, marinated mushrooms and onions, perfect pepperoni. Oh man. I think I fell in love with them with the corn pizza though. Corn & balsamic-vinegar-marinated onions. It just all goes together into one perfect pizza whole, when a slice is more than the sum of its toppings.

Sorry, no yarn, today. I just felt a bit like an ode to some of my favorite food ever.


Thank you all for your Halloween candy tales, may all your Halloween candy dreams come true! Heh, I see most all kids had a Halloween Candy Strategem. Me, no way could I ever make it 'til Easter, though.

(I'm a little weird and light-headed today, does it show?)

Mr. Random Number Generator picked lucky #13 (I swear, it is random), kmkat. Congratulations! And thanks again everyone, I'm sorry about the delay in posting the contest winner. There's been this kind of haze in my head since Saturday (I swear I am fine. Just loopy)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Random Friday

  1. It's sunny today. 7th day in a row. I'm kind of in shock.

  2. I'm going to a quilting retreat this weekend but I have not been quilting for a while now. I did make my neice a smock/apron. Does that count? Sigh. I have no earthly idea what I'm going to take with me. Hopefully they will not mock me too much.

  3. K brought up getting a kitten last night. We've talked about it before but never acted. He thinks Frances is sedentary and lonely. She has been more insistent about sitting on us and asking for playtime lately (she has a really limited number of things she likes to play with. Namely, the plastic tops off of milk-jugs, with which she plays a kind of personal hockey; string (no comment); and "da bird", a bunch of spinning feathers at the end of a string attached to a pole. The latter 2 require one of us to play along).

    While she isn't an exclusively indoor cat, she rarely ventures farther than the backyard and during the winter hardly goes out at all. We have no cat door so she's inside all day.

    When we first adopted her (ha, more like she adopted us), I was working from home every day and could take breaks to go play with her. She could also jump up on my lap, as long as she didn't mind me typing over the top of her.

    Did I mention that she's EXTREMELY territorial? She hisses at any other cat that enters her yard. As much as I would prefer adopting an older shelter cat, there is no way she'd get along. We thought maybe we'd get a kitten so 1) she wasn't so threatened by it, and 2) they could entertain each other.

    But I'm very worried, because I'm not sure she'd go for it. She seems very territorial about US. We are HER PEOPLE. I'm not sure she'd take well to any division of our attention.

    A few years when it first came up I did a bunch of googling and all the stories I found seemed completely binary. Either it worked brilliantly and the two cats ended up getting along marvelously (after the inevitable first few spats), or it failed badly and the cats were trying to rip each others' throats out, even months later.

    Also there was at least a couple stories about how a cat that used to be an Only Cat sort of faded into the background and wasn't as friendly or affectionate as before. As much as I complain about her sleeping on top of me all the time, I really like it. Frances is very sweet and I'd feel awful to disrupt that. I guess that's basically selfishness.

    Could any of you multi-cat people weigh in with any ideas? I'm feeling kind of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't right now.

  4. Halloween was very bad for my eating habits. I'm hoping I will remember how crappy the sugar overdose made me feel whenever I waver about going to the gym.

  5. I'm really looking forward to the Daylight Savings switch this weekend, because it'll be easier to wake up for gym time when it's not so dark. I know that light'll disappear again soon enough but I grasp at whatever straws I can. It's all about me me ME

  6. I sucked it up and backstitched my first shoulder seam Halloween night. It actually turned out pretty good, I think (although I redid the 2nd shoulder about 4 times before getting it how I wanted). I don't know why I wimped out on this for so long.

    I am still undecided about what to do with the arms. I think the pattern is krak-laden though, my row gauge is spot-on, and there's no way the sleeve as written would fit this armhole without some ugly stretching. Current favorite is to knit the sleeves in the round, top-down, in the ribbing pattern and casting on the number of stitches *I* think is correct. Then I'll backstitch the sleeves on (it definitely does make a much firmer seam). If I do them top-down, I can try out my modified stitch-count much sooner than working the whole thing bottom up.

    I've got to finish this, it's already November. NY neice grows bigger every day!

  7. Michelle came over for some kettle dyeing a couple weekends ago. We were aiming for a slightly variegated rust, but I am evidently not so good at the rust (I was in charge of color mixing). I seem to be best at the Various Shades of Blood colorings.

    Try #1:

    Try #2:

    It was hard to get images of the different reds, so the top one isn't quite so deep and the bottom one isn't quite so vivid. Also, I am too lazy to get out Photoshop or anything and adjust the colors.

    Each is about 1300 yards of laceweight merino. It's lovely stuff, but I am not looking forward to balling it up. Even more fun: I think it's too thin to risk using a ball winder.

    I also overdyed one of K's sweaters (which was an unfortunate REALLY! BRIGHT! RED! We're talking full Christmas cherry red, here) with plain old black. That worked beautifully, it's now a deep black cherry color. It looks black in some lights and reddish in others, and he WEARS IT NOW. yay! Note to self: a little bit of black (1/2 tsp) goes a long, long way.

  8. I really really really need to get my hair trimmed. My split ends have split ends.

  9. I have no idea what to cook for dinner tonight.

  10. What, you thought there should be a 10?

Alien puppet says: Beware the blood!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Yeah, that would be me. Because, uh, I was lame last night and didn't bake anything (I did invent some kind of pasta dish for dinner. It was very underwhelming. You know, what I really want is a cooking class that teaches me about the basic properties of certain foods and spices and common food preparation mechanisms. Like how to make a cream sauce, or with which foods does thyme go well. Then you can riff off of that and make up your own stuff. My little improvisations rarely turn out well. I feel far too tied to recipes).

ANYWAY. By the time said sad pasta was finished it was 9:30 pm and I was tired and I didn't have the ingredients or the cool googly eyes or anything. I forgot I didn't even have the sour cream required for the banana-cocoa loaf. I need to get better at this preparation thing.

Halloween, while it might partially be about toddlers in cute bug suits (the most adorable little furry chicken came by yesterday during the office trick-or-treat. So. Cute.), is heavy on the food emphasis. And in general, SUGAR.
K and I were reminiscing last night about how when we were kids we both used to lay out and organize all our Halloween candy from favorite to meh, so we could figure out just what to greedily consume first.

So let's make this a CONTEST. Woot woot!
Leave a comment telling me your favorite kind of Halloween candy and/or your least favorite. I've got some Opal self-striping sock yarn burning a hole in my pocket. From all the people who leave comments I'll ask Mr. Random Number Generator to pick one. I'll keep taking names until Saturday midnight, Pacific time, ok?

Happy Halloween and watch out for those kitty litter cakes (mmmmmm yum!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Creep out the Coworkers

So my place of employment is having their annual Halloween party tomorrow, and this year they're being cheap breaking with tradition and having a potluck (they'll provide some 'appetizers'. You know how these food contests can go) There's a prize for the scariest food.

I was thinking of doing this chocolate banana bread that I have never tried, but it's not very scary, just probably brown. Maybe I should get more ambitious. You all have any good ideas?

From some quick googling, my favorites:

Crawly Cakes from NotMartha. These are awesome but maybe more work than I am willing to do.

These Hairy Daddy Longlegs cupcakes are similar but look like less work (and don't involve twinkies, always a plus).

I think these are my favorite so far: Monster Toes. Awesome! But, cocktail sausages? Ewwww. Also, the vegetarians will be unhappy.

These vampire cupcakes that K mentioned to me were what got me started. Might be a winner.

Other Halloween food awesomeness:
Man, I feel so uncreative. Tentacles out of Laffy Taffy, now THAT is the mother of invention.

Monday, October 29, 2007


All today, just one thought on my mind:


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Goddess of Domesticity called and she'd like her canning jars back

It's been kind of a down and out, nothing happening week (except last weekend! But I don't have pictures yet), so I thought I'd show you some glamour shots of what I did a couple weeks ago:

Canned my own frickin' peaches, baby!

I know, I know. It's not much of an achievement. Still, I feel like some kind of domestic superhero. Super power: Preserving My Own Food. Oh yeah.

Here's my setup. Why yes, that's a gas stove next to the refrigerator. Nice arrangement, eh? Crack monkeys designed my kitchen.

I didn't do very many because this was kind of an experiment. I get all teary and buy too many peaches (or raspberries, or blueberries, etc.) at the end of the season, because it's a long 320 days until the next peaches arrive. There was no way I was going to be able to eat all those peaches before they went bad, so I thought I'd try this. You can see that I sort of sucked at filling the jars at first but I got better by the end. The peaches in the beginning jars are defying gravity, they've got so many bubbles in them.

It was really easy, just a bit awkward. I've canned jam before but this was my first foray into fruit. I feel slightly embarrassed because my grandmother & mother have canned food for years and years, and I shouldn't be feeling this ego boost over 4 measly bottles.

But they all sealed! And mmm will they taste good in January.

Friday, October 19, 2007

One side will make you grow shorter, and one side will make you grow taller

I went to see Crazy Aunt Purl last night (and traffic didn't even suck. Quel miracle!). She was great, I really enjoyed her reading and the questions and meeting her in person. She's terrifically funny and I wish I could be even half so engaging. It's inspiring to see her so triumphant and vibrant after all the crap of the last few years (I admit to having read CAP for a while now. She was one of the first blogs I ever started following). Anyway, all kinds of warm squishiness (in a good way).

Adrienne, I love you, because you said I 'needed a tiara day' and YES THAT IS IT EXACTLY. Emotionally I feel like I've been stuck in a hole, a nasty one with quicksand at the bottom that is slowly sucking me down, and honestly I haven't been dealing well. It may well be time for some pharmaceuticals. But then K did something extraordinarily wonderful for me this morning and I feel about a million times better. YES! And it's Friday and There Is Going to Be Some Dyeing this weekend. And pie. oh yes.

Meanwhile, in a crude segue to something completely unrelated:

I spied these on the way to work yesterday. How did I not see these before? They came out of nowhere!

How awesome are these, bright orange mushrooms! They're just growing in the dirt by the side of the road. And they're enormous!

I must be a weirdo, when funky 70s orange toadstools make me happy.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

cat on a...roof

It was an anger morning, you know the ones where you wake up resentful? Even my favorite cereal did not dissolve the irritation, and I REALLY DID NOT WANT TO EXERCISE this morning. I have to though, it's like a job, the calorie bills don't pay themselves, gotta bring home the paycheck. So I was angry at the elliptical trainer and the water bottle and I pushed myself harder than usual. Did I mention it was dark and cold and wet this morning as well? BAH.

But then I got embarassed and mad at myself (angry at being angry. How do I manage that?) So screw it, today I am a ROCK STAR.
Today I will rock the rest of my outstanding work tasks. And tonight I'm going to see Crazy Aunt Purl out at the Beaverton Powells (ugh) (I say ugh because it's going to be a pain and a half to get there. Really bad traffic that direction at rush hour). And maybe she will say porn! a lot, inappropriately, and we will all laugh.

Anyway. Gotta get back to rockin'. I leave you with:

What's that on the garage roof?

Look closer:

It's Big Fluffy, the neighborhood bully cat.

Big Fluffy likes to creep into our house and eat Frances' food and sneak into the basement and hang out there. Big Fluffy howls at all the other neighborhood cats, but he's really just a big softy. And he is ENORMOUS and has ENORMOUS HAIR. Did I also mention he's polydactyl, as well?

Big Fluffy, king of all he surveys.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Embracing the Autumn

Random post with random pictures. My brain is full up with weekend. It was a good one (mostly).

I was all set to post a bunch this weekend and then a friggin' miracle happened and there was SUNSHINE and WARMTH this weekend. After a couple weeks of rain, cold, blah, the weather did some kind of weekend wonder and turned all lovely, and I freely admit I wasn't much interested in sitting inside with the computer.
The purple coneflower is holding its own, still.

One of the local plant nurseries has an apple festival every year, so we always go hit that up for some of my favorite pie apples, Mutsu apples. I discovered them 3 years ago the first time we went to the apple festival.

They're OK to eat, but they make the most fantastic pie ever. (Of course, that's to my taste: I'm not a huge fan of tart-tart-tart apple pies. I like a sweet-tart mix. Your Mileage May Vary. The Mutsus have got this ethereal spiciness to them and they stay firm after cooking. Winner!) The nursery brings in about 40-50 different apple varieties, plus pears and asian pears, and lets you try a little sample of each. They also have most of the varieties for sale for 79 cents/pound. This is kind of my own official beginning of eating-apples season (I've been eating pears for a couple weeks now, my very favorite variety of all time: Cascade. They are probably the ugliest pears ever, all bulgy and lumpy, but they're SO TASTY. And they don't go all soft and mealy like Bartletts do sometimes. YUM).
The Japanese maples are gorgeous this time of year.

So we are PREPARED for apple pie now. I also scored some unfiltered apple cider (maybe more on this later. It means a lot to me personally). Although tonight we had onion soup and I didn't feel up to an additional apple pie, so maybe tomorrow on the pie. The soup worked out pretty well (1st time on this particular recipe). It involves a crapload of onions (seriously, they filled a huge bowl once they were chopped), cooked for an hour until they are goo, then cooked some more with broth.

As for gorgeous, so are the Silvervein Creeper vines (or it might be Boston Ivy, I'm no good at telling the difference. I just know it turns bright crimson about now). I wish I could get that true red color in a picture.

Anyway. This is the MITYN (more information than you needed) part of the post: I had kind of an unexpected incident with my eye today. First, my eyes are not that great. They kind of have minds of their own when they come to focus distance (I'm nearsighted), and they keep getting worse, almost every year. But I do actually treasure my eyesight and when some weird thing happens with my eye and I call the 24-hour nurse line and they sound very, uh, WORRIED about it all and tell me to hit up the urgent care center, I got a bit nervous. Worse than nervous, I had a little breakdown.

Thank goodness for K, he was wonderful and drove me to urgent care, where I proceeded to wait an hour while my symptoms abated. I spent maybe 3 minutes with the doctor after all that time, which distilled to: wait and see. Sigh. I'm actually more relieved than put out, because when WEIRD THINGS HAPPEN WITH YOUR EYE I get very... nervous. But dammit I want my 2 hours of sunny Sunday back. This evening has been a long long stint of no-focus time, as the 24-hour nurse line recommended I take out my contacts (an excellent idea) and I am lame and have yet to update my backup glasses to my latest prescription, and so they give me headaches. That's OK, you can still cook onion soup without being able to make out details. It's amazing how the human eye, even though vague blurry outlines of things, can still detect movement.

I DID get another repeat on the Arabesque stole done, in that hour of waiting-for-ugent-care. Thank goodness I could still knit even though my hands were shaking. But I didn't work on what I really need to work on, which is Sport, from Rowan Pipsqueaks.

This is the pretty pattern picture for Sport, plus the yarn I'm using. Spanish Red, that's the name of that color of cotton. Mmmm, red.
Sport, from Rowan Pipsqueaks by Kim Hargreaves.

I decided by fiat that knitting front & back separately on a ribbed piece wasn't something I was interested in, so I just knit it in the round from the bottom up, dividing front and back when I hit the armholes.

I had some confusion around the back neckline but I figured that out and now it matches the front nicely. And... I am at a dilemma point.

The number of stitches at the top of the sleeve, as written, isn't going to be big enough for the armhole. I did knit it exactly to spec, but I guess my row gauge must be off, because it's not going to be big enough. Or at least I don't think that it's going to be, based on my stitch gauge (spot on the pattern) and the number of stitches expected.

The Zulu Cape Daisies have been pretty spectacular and long lasting this year. I'm definitely growing these from seed again next year.

I'm considering whether I should knit the arm separately, or should I pick up the stitches and knit down from the armhole. It's a square set in sleeve, so not really all that hard to match. Maybe the pattern MEANS you to stretch the sleeve, so purposefully called for fewer stitches at the top of the arm. The yarn is a DK-weight cotton, so I'm worried that if I pick up the stitches, I will get a droopy arm. Also, this is for a 2-year-old, who could maybe use the extra firmness of a backstitch-stitched-sleeve.

Do you have any comments? Recommendations? I have got to finish this soon, it's already cotton-sweater weather. Any suggestions would be vastly appreciated. Meanwhile the lace scarf in my head keeps bubbling around.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Hey look, is that YARN over there!?

Jamieson's Shetland Heather in color 239 - 'Purple Heather'

Soft and squishy and gorgeous, and it'll probably itch like nobody's business. It's a lovely wine-colored heather, with green and orange and bright purple bits in it. Sorry, the cellphone takes crappy pictures. It is crying out (CRYING!) to be something cabled. There's only 2 balls, so probly a cabled hat. Mmmm, cables.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Irritated and envious

Two particular emotions that show me off as mean, nitpicking, niggling, and pathetic. But maybe I'll just call it Truth-In-Words Tuesday. So now you are forewarned, this post will be about nasty mean little things.

  1. I really love seeing the pictures at Yarnstorm. I think she's a gorgeous photographer and I enjoy her color sense. However, the nasty irritated part of me thinks, how the CRAP does she manage to bake all those cakes and cookies and yet remain thin and svelte? The logical part of my head answers, maybe she exercises for hours every day. Maybe she won the genetic lottery. Maybe both. Logic does not stop me from being envious. I haven't baked cookies in years. Do you KNOW what fat and sugar does to me?

    I am so tired of guilt over every bit of chocolate.

  2. morning shows. I'm really truly sorry and don't mean any insult to you if you like these, but they are like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I cannot stand the fatuous, smug hosts imparting "news". I have to always remember to bring the ipod to the gym with me on weekdays, so I can drown them out.

  3. This morning I forgot the ipod. Someone was watching. They were giving tips on losing weight (they love tips. Lots of tips). Commercial break came and they cut straight to a commercial for Denny's.

  4. They were also interviewing someone who had been on the reality tv show "The Biggest Loser." I find the name of that show offensive, and I refused to join a particular gym because they were running a promotion based on that show. (Ha ha, biggest "loser", we all know what that means. Turn all the fat losers into winners.)

    She'd lost 70 pounds. I wanted to cheer out loud.

  5. K is back again from a short trip. This one is a good thing and makes me happy.

  6. We have to get the stupid ceilings tested for asbestos.

  7. I am putting this off. The abatement will be costly and disruptive, if required.

  8. I REALLY should not be putting this off.

  9. it's holding up a slew of other things I want to do, including
    a) ripping up the nasty old carpet
    b) cleaning the floors
    c) rearranging the furniture
    d) buying a Dawn Clock (I have no where to put it right now. The bed is shoved up against the wall). I have a real mean time trying to get up in darkness. I thought maybe this would help. It's kind of pricey for a "maybe", but the regular alarm clock has never done it for me.

  10. I have this pattern idea in my head but it's not coming out. It's impossible in current form given the limitations of knitted material (e.g. will not lie flat.) I need to swatch. A lot. I also need to finish some damn things.

  11. No more peaches this year. Sigh.

  12. I'm sort of unwilling to re-enter apple & banana land. Pears are o.k. I like apples and bananas but I overdosed or something last winter. 8 months of apples and bananas. bah. I guess I could mix things up with some grapes.

See? boring, pedestrian, mean and insignificant. No knitting content at all. Not even some sewing to mitigate the tedium. Grump.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Canadians out there. I'm thankful for all of you.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Monkeys: Pretty in Pink

Oh, I did have more finished things! I know you all have been waiting with BATED BREATH. Why yes, my sense of importance in the world is completely off right now. I feel GREAT today. WOOO! Have a fantastic weekend everyone!


Pattern: Monkey, by Cookie A, as published in Knitty. Worked cuff-down.

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Mediumweight in colorway Fru-Fru. 380 yards/5.5 oz, superwash merino wool (although I will probably handwash them; other people have reported that they sometimes felt up)
It was given to me by the lovely, talented, and generous Ms. Zoe (go look at her gorgeous red sweater!) Thank you Karen!!
I used almost an entire skein for my women's size 11 feet.

Needles: Lantern Moon 2.5 mm/US 1 DPNs (yo, I knit loosely, peeps)

Gauge: about 7 stitches/inch. I'll have to go measure my row gauge.

About the pattern:
Yeah I know, these are the knitting flavor of the month, but for good reason. The pattern is fun, quick, easy, and easily memorizable. The big repeat makes matching the sock lengths effortless. I'm not generally a fan of hole-ey socks (just say no to the yarnovers) but these yarnovers are unobtrusive and kinda cute.

Each repeat adds another inch or so to the height. It's easy to length or shorten the foot in smaller increments though, just start the toe a bit early and work some plain stockinette rows. The pattern is also flexible enough that you can stop at any one of 3 of the last rows and the pattern will still appear coherent.

I worked cuff-down and kept the ribbed top. I've got muscled calves and the ribbing helps keep 'em up (As an aside: I love my calves. They're big and strong and well-proportioned and as K complimented, "they're calves that show that person works out in the gym 6 days a week." Hell yeah!)

Changes to the pattern: I worked a typical slip-stitch heel (row 1: slip, (K, slip) repeat, row 2: slip, purl to end) instead of the plain stockinette the pattern uses. I need the reinforcement. I also have narrow heels (but wide feet. lovely) and the slip stitch pattern helps make that heel flap narrower.

About the yarn:
Soft, sproingy, fabulous to work with. I really like knitting with this stuff. It's very comfortable to wear as well.

I used up almost an entire skein. I had a little game of Chicken going with these socks. I've NEVER cut it so close before. I had a backup skein, so of course I made it. You want to see how much yarn I had left after I cast off?
About 4 feet.

Some people find the pooling insufferable, but I think it's kind of charming. I like how when I stand with my feet together, it looks like one sock is pooling into the next. Where could I buy a pair of socks that looked like this? NOWHERE.

About the needles:
My trusty wooden DPNs. I broke one of these trying on the too-small Pomatomuses so I subbed in a bamboo one. I just like DPNs. They were really really awkward for the first couple inches on the first sock I ever did, then they grew on me. Don't be a hater.

These were my commuter knitting for a bit. One day a woman sat next to me and expressed how much she liked the colors of the yarn and started asking sock questions. She was also a knitter but hadn't ever attempted anything circular. I gave her my usual "it looks complicated, but it's not, but it IS awkward at first" spiel.
She expressed trepidation that the stitches might fall off the needles, so I pulled out one of the DPNs out of a couple of stitches and she gasped. I demonstrated that even if I tugged at it the most they dropped was a couple rows and they were easy to pick back up and do again.

She asked me, "but doesn't the yarn get dirty, knitting it on the train like this?" I replied that I'm intending to wear these on my FEET when I'm finished, and give them a good wash anyway.

She was so excited when I had to leave that she said she was going to try a hat, knit circularly. Win! Another one pointed toward the sock-knitting fold!

Pink Monkeys in the Daylily Jungle

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


I know, I know. I don't even have a Ravelry invite sucking me away. No excuses.

I'm at the "I'm bored with this project and when will it be done?" point on the ribbed toddler jacket. People, it's just a BABY SWEATER and yet I am bored. This doesn't bode well for knitting an entire adult sweater, which (Admission time), I have never done. OK, it's in cotton. Maybe not so pleasant to knit. Maybe leaves my hands aching if I go for too long. But still.

I am done with the back and 7/8 of the fronts, with the sleeves still to go.

Meanwhile, I am a teeny bit obsessed with this yarn right now:

Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK in Scarlet (courtesy of the cell phone's camera)

Here it is, hanging out with my office mascot. Yes, I brought a skein of yarn to work with me, and occasionally pick it up and squeeeze it. I KNOW. Three days until the weekend.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately. It's one of those oh FSM I sound like a completely idiot, toads pour out of my mouth, weeks. Then I get over myself.

I just wrote this long post.
Then I realized it was even more boring than the boring-ness it described. Every weekday of the last couple weeks has been dull and routine and seemingly exactly like the one before. My commuter socks get longer. Oh the excitement!

Camels, however, are NOT boring.

That is a 6-month old camel. Cute, hunh? Show us your aquiline profile:

Michelle & I went to the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival last weekend so I could gawk at some goats. And rabbits and llamas and alpaca and sheep and a yak and YES a couple of baby camels. Their hair is softer than you might expect. I think this one does Christmas gigs if you want to rent him out.

Nice horns, baby.

Yeah, maybe not such a good idea to pet these ones.

Awww, look at those pretty brown eyes:

It was fun going with someone this year. We found we shared a predisposition for certain colors and combinations. Like natural alpaca colors and tweedy yarns. Yum. Fortunately there was no wrestling over the yarn, as she was MUCH more restrained than I.

Yeah, I bought some yarn. Handspun hand-dyes are pretty. I think I have just enough for some fingerless gloves. Mama's gonna be warm in style this year.