Monday, January 25, 2010

Some July in January

I was flipping through pictures last night.
red nicotiana, purple potato vine, white petunias

Did I ever mention about my window roses? They normally get pretty tall but these grew right up to the bedroom window last summer.

If I had any maiden tendencies I could've plucked one. Maybe sung a little, watched the birds alight on my fingertips.

I don't care for the fighting

MIL will toss something off along the lines of "Oh, FIL is [non-complimentary attribute]; he always [action that's mildly stupid or negligent]"

Then FIL will look sullen and a little angry and sometimes he will say back that she does [negligent thing] too.

Then she'll get very defensive and say that he is "always throwing things back at her" and he will try to remind her she said this somewhat derogatory thing in the first place and she will keep acting wounded and angry that he would insult her.

Yeah, and back around again.

I've gotten very adroit at shifting topics of conversation. Although when FIL starts complaining about DUI laws I have to leave the room.

Also: the great American West, full of all that space and tumbleweeds and douglas fir and cows and mountains: not as cheap as you might have hoped, especially if you want:
a view
lots of square feet
neighbors not too close by
air conditioning
a 3-car garage
big backyard
big frontyard
and not too far out from the urban center

not to mention 2 of these.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Before and After

My friend Michelle got a wheel this year. She is my partner in crime at the fiber festivals, and this year at Oregon Flock & Fiber she was heavily on the lookout for fiber to play with. I've been toying with trying out some fiber dyeing, but I'm not a spinner and so thus far resisted, despite the tactile pleasure of touching all that wool. Well, I resisted until we were wandering around and she asked if I could dye some of her favorite fiber into colors she was looking for (see Michelle, I blame this all on you).

Despite my care, I seem to felt the damn stuff regularly. It's gotten better as I try and isolate the variables that cause problems, but it's still not gone. It's all been kettle dyed up to now, but I'm going to try some direct application soon, since that seems perhaps less likely to felt. I just need to get the laundry room ship-shape so I can put down a drop-cloth. One thing that's nice about the kettle dyeing is it's really not much of a mess, at least compared to squirting dye around on a table.

Anyway, the before-and-after examples of the fiber I've been giving to her and what she produces are amazing. It's one of the reason I started, I'm fascinated with the way the colors combine. Long color runs are much easier to predict how they'll look once spun up, which makes me all the more obsessed with murky, spotty, mixed-up stuff. Fortunately Michelle is putting up with some of my weird color choices.

natural-brown BFL:

natural cream-brown mix BFL:

natural cream 20/80 silk-merino blend:

natural cream 20/80 silk-merino blend:

A view of part of the roving:

Isn't that last one interesting? None of the orange survived - it's all dusky blues and pale reds and pinks, except for the occasional flash of something. Here's a closeup:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There's actually been some knitting going on

I know, SHOCKING, isn't it?

My nieces all live in snowier climes than I and I got a little plan to make them hat and mittens set (scarves would be nice, but this was October, and I was trying to be realistic). I wanted them to be warm, wool, superwash, and I was feeling in a cable-ey mood. Here's the first set, for the 3.5-year-old:

It's out of Louet light worsted in, I think, "Burgundy". This yarn's very nice to work with. Kind of expensive for a workhorse superwash (I admit, there was a sale), but I ripped out the top of the hat a few times, trying to figure out what to do, and it took the ripping like a champ. It feels very nice; it's got a good bounce to it and it's not superslick like some superwash wool. Let's show off the cables in all their relief-ey glory:

And can I just say that mittens for young children are just the fastest thing ever? It took way more time trying to figure out the design at the top than to just knit the thing.

Here's the set for the almost 2-year-old:

Also Louet light worsted, in a dark purple. The light's all off for that picture. This is probably the closest in color:

The hats are my own design -- the big one was something like 16-17" unstretched and 20-21" stretched. My only model was my coworker's (admittedly small) 8-year-old daughter, and the hat fit her perfectly, so I figured it'd work ok for my large-for-her-age niece.

The red mittens are based off the mitten pattern in Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, for the stitch counts and when to branch off the thumb and what height to make it. The cable and the top closure are mine and differ from the pattern. The purple are almost identical, just minus a few stitches around the hand and thumb, and a little less vertical height. I used 1 skein and a little extra for the red set (I made my coworker's daughter another hat with the rest, since she'd really liked the hat and had been such a good model). The purple set was took than a skein.

I whipped out the red set right away, except I dinked around with the crown decreases for a month and then started running of time and ploughed through the purple mittens and hat. I got stuck again on the crown of the purple hat and sort of made something up I'm not entirely pleased with, but I was out of time and had to send the Christmas package.

A little funky:

Needles: US 4 bamboo DPNs for the ribbing at the bottom (both hats and mittens), and then US 5 Addis using magic loop for the rest. Oh, I think I went back to the DPNs for the thumbs; I find it a pain to magic loop on only a few stitches. Take into account that I wanted a thick but not inflexible fabric and I am a really loose knitter.

My brother reports they fit the girls well (he could be lying, but I tried to encourage him to send them back if they don't fit), so, success!


My employment is, professionally, to break things. To find the problems and errors in other people's work. This tends to foster a deep cynicism that can bleed over into non-professional life.

It's kind of like Terry Pratchett's description of witches who turn into cacklers (scroll down to the paragraph on 'cackling'). You start out looking for the cracks and dark places in everything, and well, of course you find them. They are everywhere, the way things are broken.

Part of the enjoyment of the job is getting that little thrill when you find an error. But it can get so all you want to do is find the problems, and not get any joy of actually seeing them fixed. The real goal IS to get things fixed, not to find the problems in the first place (which is just part of the process). This morning I noticed I was more disappointed at a fix than finding a further problem, which I figure is my job's equivalent of cackling. So I need to back off and reevaluate my headspace (see also: yesterday's post + Haiti + I have friends in both La Canada and Sierra Madre who aren't likely to evacuate by choice). I mean, I yelled at the man who DIDN'T PRESS THE BUTTON TO CROSS THE STREET, causing me to have to wait another cycle because mister was too high and mighty to press the pedestrian (in more ways than one) button. (look, the light doesn't change in that direction unless you press the button. PRESS THE DAMN BUTTON YOU IDIOT) January will be over soon. This is not that bad.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


K the Love Monkey's parents are coming to visit today. They're retired now, and found cheap tickets. It's stressing me out.

I feel I need to qualify this with the statement that really, I got pretty lucky on the in-law front, as they are nice people and I have none of the horrible mean nasty in-law stories that many people have. They just have some habits that annoy me and at the moment I'd rather hide under the covers rather than interact much with my fellow man, except for certain specific fellow (wo)men and men

1. cleaning

I am an OK housekeeper. I might edge into competent occasionally, but most of the time the floors aren't pristine. I have hair. Quite a lot of it. So does the Love Monkey (well, not nearly so much), and we both shed; nevermind the cat. I don't always feel like washing the dishes every night, but they rarely last more than a day or two. I've been making special effort lately to put away what I take out, and the general clutter has kind of gone down, but things like the ballots to next week's election end up on the kitchen table.

Now the bathrooms are scrubbed, there's nothing (visibly) growing in the shower, the floors & chairs are vacuumed, stuff is put away, floors are swept. Gee, it doesn't sound like much but it sure seemed to take awhile.

2. Suggestions. Advice. You should.

My FIL loves to tell us all about what we ought to be doing and me, feeling petulant, will actively resist doing any of it, even if some of it I had intended to do anyway and it'd probably be a good idea. Think teenager mentality.

3. Divergent interests

I don't really watch a lot of tv. They don't read books.

I freqeuently feel personal responsibility for everyone's good time, and should someone seem to be bored there is this lurking guilt for their lack of enjoyment. I realize this is mostly, maybe entirely unreasonable but I've spent many long years developing a finely tuned ability to feel guilty at the mere drop of the pin. Unfortunately there aren't any celebrity endorsements available for accomplished guiltists.

Anyway, my give-a-damn-o-meter is particularly low this year, and so I did not clean as much as I might have in the past. There MIGHT BE DUST on the shelves (gasp!). All the bedding is clean, OK? I am not going to feel responsible for their good time.

They're looking for someplace to move to. They've previously professed a strong interest in a desert location with lots of lights, flash, and money being parted from its original owner, if you know what I mean. Not my scene, but it's not me that's retiring there. Recently they visited in December when the west had some unusually cold weather and decided that LV is too cold. Too. cold. I'll let that sink in a little. They're from the midwest.

Now they're looking here and I really don't get that at all because winter here doesn't qualify even remotely as warm, compared to the desert southwest. Finally I found out why -- they're now considering another desert location in the US, one known for its retirees, endless stripmalls, and 120 degree fires-of-hell summers. And -- they're thinking of getting 2 places, one here and one there. This is pissing me off.

1. because people with 2 houses unless one is some cabin shack kind of annoy me. Let's be fair, it's at least partly envy; but really, you need *2*? houses.

2. because FIL is adamant about living someplace where they WON'T TAX HIS PENSION. I'm sure this somehow involves a scheme to try to convince everyone that a Washington residence is his full-time residence to get out of the taxes, even though they wouldn't be here more than 3-4 months of the year. Glad you've got a pension to worry about.

3. because I figure we'll be expected to be the house caretakers the rest of the year

There's also a little current of resentment underlying this as FIL took some early retirement dealy years ago, and my parents, who are *10+ years older* just retired this year, because they didn't feel they could before now. Hi WWW, hope you enjoyed this therapy session!

I keep glancing out the window and wanting it to rain, a LOT. I want it to be overcast and grey and mid-winter depressing. I want to hide in a corner and knit a lot and only come out to dye some fiber.

Enh, whatever, it's only for a week. I need to chill. Work has been full of lots of detail work and (bad) drama lately and the Love Monkey has been working overtime and Saturdays for probably 3 months now and the forseeable future and I just do. not. want. to. deal. I will try to lay back and just let it flow over me, try to drop the guilt and resentment. Life is good, I'm still employed (quel miracle!) and so is the Love Monkey, and I've got a pile of yarn. Good stuff.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Kitty TV

A couple weeks ago we put up a kitty TV in front of one of the windows where Frances likes to survey her domain. It's in regular use by a few chickadees, and I've seen a house finch, juncos, and some small sparrows too.

Guess who else has found it?
Probably the same grey squirrels that have dug up my pots and eaten my tulip bulbs. grrrrr

And last week the squirrels managed to knock it to the ground and GNAW IT APART in places, and we had to throw it away. I am seriously considering getting one of these.

Happy new year!