Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Things I never planned to do in 2009.

Well, that was fun. Lets see, I started and finished a major piece of Starmore colorwork in a month, had surgery, lost 50 pounds, saw my first hockey game thanks to Happy Goth and her husband, and that's just the highlights. When I wrote my ideas of what I'd do in 2009, I don't think I'd really thought beyond taking a year long break from travelling back and forth to New Orleans to visit. I never in my wildest dreams thought that life would pan out the way it ultimately did.

Things I lost other than weight in 2009: Bellringing, fear of anaesthesia, 4 hamsters, 2 cats, 2 chickens, some more emotional baggage which was residue from a traumatic trip to London all the way back in 2000. My mind is a given, of course. Oh, yeah, and lots of my hair.

Things I gained. Hmmm. This is very ephemeral and personal in a way. But mostly, I gained a true and deep appreciation for my home, and for being there, an appreciation for the resilience of the human body, a deeper and richer faith and, most importantly for this blog, lots of mad knitting skillz.

I did not mention my husband, because I have always appreciated and been thankful for him. Only this year have I stopped saying I don't deserve him, because I finally really understand that I don't. But I still have him. So now I'm just thankful for him, without any of the other baggage, which is far nicer.

When I started this blog I had several goals. One was to document my knitting progress. Another was to become an active part of the online community of knitters. Another was to hear myself talk. That's just honesty.

Well, Ravelry lets me manage my projects far better than a blog, and I spend most of my online time there now (or on Facebook, but that's another story and also is where all of my social worlds collide) and the blog is of less and less use to me. So in 2010 don't look for me here with any regularity at all. My hope is to do more actual knitting and less online stuff, and although I might post, don't go counting on it. It is also my hope that when I hear myself talk in the future, it will be in actual, not virtual, space, and in dialogue with others, not just self centered rants.

I need to get out more often. Now that I'm lighter and it is easier to move I need to be in the back yard, or walking, or biking, or anything but moving (as I have been) mostly from the couch to the computer and back. Since I have some energy back, I need to use it in lots of different ways, so I don't lose it. Again.

2010 may make a big liar out of me, in which case this blog will flourish. But unless it does, you'd best catch me on Ravelry. I do thank everyone who has read this over the years, you have all been great and I will still be reading many of your blogs. And I wish you all the very best, and a very Merry Christmas, because that is how I roll.

Peace on earth. And peace out.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


So, obsession. Figuring that I may as well be honest with my own blog, we're going to talk about what I'm obsessed with right now. Starting with the double knitting. (Crappy pics courtesy of my serious lack of photography skillz).

I have managed to add a few more inches since these pics were taken, but they are going to have to come back out. Certain mistakes in double knitting are not fixed simply by dropping back and laddering back up. Oh, well, lesson learned.

The next lesson I learned was that going from dk right to 1x1 ribbing is dangerous. The two maneuvers are just too similar, and I had to reknit a bunch of times. You just want to keep skipping your purls. Since October is known as Socktober, I had to cast on a sock. (Yeah, we're not going to talk about all the socks already cast on, or halfway finished.) So here is my next obsession, arch shaping:

This is my first Socktober sock, cast on October 1. Since I began knitting socks I have been on a quest to have a perfect sock pattern. Seems to me, if I'm knitting my own, I ought to be able to engineer a pattern to fit my foot perfectly. One of the big problems I have with the socks I have knit so far is that none hugged my foot enough to keep me from feeling like the sock was slipping around in my shoe. I thought arch shaping might be the next thing to work on, so I grabbed a ball of Opal in Harry and Ron and set about exploring sock architecture.

Well, the jury is still out on this sock. The pattern is here, and yes, it is a Ravelry link. This sock feels really strange to me when I put it on, but put a shoe over it and walk around and it is perfect. Without shoes, just going sockfooted, it pulls funny over the instep. Ok, you say, so wear shoes, wasn't that the point? Ah, but I am looking for a perfect sock, and since I spend most of my time at home in socks without shoes, this one won't do. I'm knitting the other one today, so I'll finish the pair, but I'll be moving on to other sock architectures and continuing my search.

Next obsession? Not knitting at all.

I am totally obsessed with cooking over fires, open or contained in a fireplace. Hopefully I'll be getting a chance to use it soon. Damn thing is heavy (duh) and topheavy. Bringing it home in the car was almost an adventure. Had to put it upside down on the floor of the car to keep it from rolling around. And 20+ pounds of cast iron rolling around the interior of the car while you're trying to drive and keep your car interior from being damaged? Too much adventure for me.

Then there's the latest instant obsession. You know what those are. You stumble across something you have never heard of before and for some reason you become completely consumed with it. I am like that with Mooncakes. Since this morning. Really instant, I know. I might be over it by this afternoon for all I know, but for now I can't stop googling for pics and info. I rather doubt I'll be over this one too soon, though. It combines too many things I already have an interest in. The moon. Cake. Asian design. Asian cake. Wooden molds. Lotus designs. Collectability. Accessability. Fall. Fall festivals. Obscure stuff I didn't even know existed before 45 minutes ago. The ability to mesh this is with my ma'amoul molds and scandinavian molds and decorate my kitchen with it. Because my kitchen is so big and there's so much wall space in there to decorate. Yeah.

And I'm obsessed with painting my kitchen heliotrope. Don't ask. I can't explain.

In sad news, the hamsters are passing, one by one. According to the vet they have exposure to a slow growing disease from birth and they are either immune to it or they will eventually succumb. We lost Genghis first, then Hai Shan, now Kublai is going downhill fast. These are all the hams that got that skin problem early on. The other two, who never got the skin stuff, are fine. They are still together and have shown no signs of anything at all. I can't help feel that there's a connection here.

Anyway, not to leave on such a sad note, The chickens are very fluffy and are laying every day. The lotuses are going dormant and the fish are beginning to slow down. Leaves haven't started turning yet, but I have high hopes for plenty of good fall color. Spring cherry blossoms and summer lotuses aside, fall is my favorite season. I love everything about the whole season, not just one or two flowers or holidays. Maybe it's memories of playing in leaf piles, or all the food-centric holidays, maybe it's the memories of birthday parties or the relief from the oppressive summer heat in New Orleans, but Fall always seems to lift something off my shoulders and make me feel lighter and happier.

And cool weather makes good painting days. Now, where can I get good heliotrope paint?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fresh From Estonia

Really! Smell the freshness!

I'm ready for winter. Bring it on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Warning: This Post May Not Make Much Sense.

I'm only warning you because right now I'm in the middle of making up time at work. See, even though pharmacists are salaried, they keep track of hours missed, so basically we are only salaried when it is to the company's advantage. I really can't complain, though, because I'm making up time from my surgery back in June, it's just that I'm tired and prone to rambling and blithering. So if I stop making sense at some point, you know where that is coming from.

Anyway, DragonCon. We were in the parade and were surprised how well the chariot held up.

We had a great time being in the parade and saw Nell and Haley in the crowd. At the end of the line we were greeted by the Seed and Feed Marching Abominable, and I couldn't help dancing. The rest of the day we wandered around, taking in all the wonderful costumes, and being stopped for photos of John. I had changed out of my dress for comfort's sake, and was happily staying out of the frame all day.

Meanwhile, the backyard is taking off:

Mushrooms magically appeared overnight, spectacularly sprinkled throughout the back yard. These are pretty big, and I just love them.

In knitting news, I have lost my mind. I am double knitting. Do not ask me why I suddenly got hit with this particular bug in the midst of pulling all these makeup shifts at work. My relaxation activity now officially hurts my brain. But I am catching on.

Details coming soon. For now I'm heading back to work. Have a great day!

Friday, September 04, 2009

And We're Up and Running

That is all.

It's here. Color. Brought to you by black and white.

Eve will have Bollywood soon. We did it for her, you know. Not because we wanted a big honking tv or anything. And Happy Goth needed to see Paheli. The things I do for my friends.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chicken Check and New Wheels in the Driveway

As you may know, not long before Ophelia passed on to that great free range in the sky, Pearl and Snowflake joined our odd little family. They are two Plymouth Rock pullets, and they were pretty traumatized by the whole human interaction thing, having been pen raised. They are beginning to warm up to us, though, and a few days ago left pullethood behind.

One of these was laid neatly in the center of the nestbox, the other outside in the run. They are tiny, as are all pullet eggs, but they will grow into laying regular sized eggs soon enough. I felt the occasion should be marked as the rite of passage that it is, but I did not know what would be best. There are no little pamphlets entitled "Today You Are a Hen", celebrating henhood and giving basic instructions on the changes your little chicken body is undergoing. There are no rituals, no bok mitzvah ceremonies, nothing like it. I checked. So, as their deity, I wished them long and happy laying lives, and that will have to do. Today there was another tiny egg in the run (not in the box where it is supposed to be, grumble, grumble). So now we have to try and figure out which chicken is thinking like Felix Unger and which one is our Oscar Madison, and try to get across the idea that that pile of straw is there for a reason. We'll just see how well that goes.

Now for a surprise. About a week ago my husband and I took a little staycation, which was really wonderful. While we were buzzing around town, we decided to take a Smart Car out for a test drive, just to see what they were like. They are cute and amazingly roomy on the inside, but don't have much pickup, possibly due to the engine which is about the size of a large tackle box. Still, the mileage was great, the price wasn't bad and the whole thing seems marginally safer than a scooter, which was another getting around town cheap option we had been bandying about.

Still, for all the good points, and the cuteness, let's not forget the cuteness, the Smart Car was rejected in favor of an alternative fuel vehicle which we greatly prefer:

Now, if at first you are skeptical, let me point out that this type of vehicle has been the choice of emperors and military leaders for hundreds of years, and won races for just as long before being supplanted by new fangled modes of transport which, face it, just aren't nearly as stylish.

And it's plenty roomy, just look!

That will hold one fully decked out hero in all his armor with room to spare! And horsepower? How many can you harness up to it? And the thing basically runs on chicken feed.

This chariot has been living in my basement for the past 15 years. It was a gift to my husband when he was King of Meridies, the SCA kingdom we live in. He is dusting it off and spiffing it up for the Dragon Con parade, which is the Saturday of Labor Day weekend downtown. While he will be appearing in Roman splendiferousness, I will be walking alongside in my own splendiferousness. We will get pictures, do not fret.

It is funny what happens around this time of year. Even though this summer, and particularly, this August have been unusually temperate, the body knows where it is in the year, and you find the urge to grab wool and make something flees you somewhere in the middle of June like the proverbial bat out of hell. Nevertheless, in late August, often in zillion degree heat and record breaking humidity, the body knows fall is coming, the summer lace project gets tossed in a heap and your instinct impells you toward the pile of shetland wool you created in June in a fit of heat induced catharsis. ZOMG! Winter is coming! Every fiber of your being screams at you to cast on! cast on! cast on! If you don't, YOU COULD FREEZE TO DEATH THIS YEAR! All reason flies out the window until somehow you forget you live in a centrally heated house in Georgia. So I did what any self respecting knitter who is the boss of her knitting would have done under these conditions.

I cast on like 9 things.

And you know what? I don't care! I have UFOs from 5 years ago I could work on, but why? I have new shiny stuff to play with. I don't knit out of necessity, although it is my one truly useful hobby. So that's just a bonus that I get stuff out of knitting that is useful. If need be, I can buy socks cheap at Wal Mart. Some UFOs need to age, like wine, to reach their full potential anyway, at least I'm convinced this is so. New yarn needs to be bought, aging in a shop doesn't marinate it quite like mingling in your stash at home does. So here are a few of the new hotnesses:

Dubbelmössa in unspun Icelandic wool from Schoolhouse Press. Just one example of the high quality project you can achieve through careful stash marinade.

The rather excitingly named "Wimple No 3". Sounds like a piece of art, no? You won't be catching me without some kind of headgear this year, apparently. A Fiddlesticks pattern from the Needle Arts Book Shop.

Not last and certainly not least, my newest obsession is twofold. One fold of it is the Glitten. Just go and see. Yes, it is a Ravelry link, but there is no more waiting list to get on, although I think everyone who wants to be there is by now. The other fold is the semi solid line that Dream in Color is producing. All the colorjoy of Malabrigo in a smooshy high twist yarn for your cabling pleasure. Two? days ago I cast on in Classy colorway Absolute Magenta. What do you think?

Sorry about the crappy pics, but I am entirely too excited to operate a point and shoot camera correctly right now. They're Sleestak Gloves, people!

Um, you DO remember Sleestaks, don't you? It's all too awesome for me, I may need to go have a lie down now.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well, I am back in action for sure now. During this summer I have had the opportunity to step back and take a look at the direction my life has been heading and do a little thinking on it. So far, what I think is this: I'm going in too many directions all at once.

Now this is actually the usual state of my life, so it is hardly a big shock or anything that I feel I need to fix right away. Except that I really want to, because I think it will make me happier. So here it is, and I'm pretty happy with what I've hammered out.

First, the knitting stays. Period. That was actually on the table for a minute or two, simply because somewhere between casting on a ton of big projects and now I have lost 35 pounds. This is great, and it is about half what I ultimately need to lose, but it means I have lots of stuff on the needles (and even finished *gulp*) that needs ripping and restarting. That alone nearly did me in when I realized the extent of the possible destruction needed. Or the gifting. That's not decided yet, but since the knitting keeps me from stabbing people, I thought it would be a good thing to continue.

The SCA stays. But on my terms. Really, it has to stay, because my husband enjoys it so much (and I enjoy it, too, sometimes...) but I will hopefully enjoy it more now, thereby making us both happier. First thing I did was change my persona from the 14th c Welsh thing I haven't really been doing to late Roman Empire, and changed my name to start. The rest, it will come, but not at the expense of my inner peace, so the time frame will be very relaxed. This will also prevent me going all stabby. And this is good, right?

The glass stays. I truly enjoy hot and cold glass, and with a newly discovered resource for classes and supplies, and a new configuration for my torch, as well as a whole new world opening up for me with borosilicate and blowing techniques, glass is a keeper.

The bellringing may be going. Not that I don't love it, I do. But I'm spread too thin. Maybe if I had found it at another time in my life, but right now I have only so much time to allocate and some of it needs to be rest. And I realized that I was a lot less exhausted before I started ringing because I wasn't running somewhere every evening to do something somewhere else and I need that down time back.

Spinning is going for now. I am far more in love with the idea of spinning than the reality of it. The end.

The blog is staying. But it will change a bit. It will begin including glass and SCA as well as anything else I want, because I don't intend to have a separate blog for everything. Plus, I now use Ravelry for much of what I had originally intended to use this blog for in the first place, asit is much smarter and better organized than ever I could be on my own, and that only leaves ranting for the blog. Even I would like it to be more than that.

The knitting machine is staying. I still get shivers thinking about all the stuff I can do with it when I have the time, so it can stay, albeit in semi hibernation, until I have that time.

Mean people are going. I used to try to be civil and polite to everyone, especially those who were not so to me (and that mostly out of sheer bloodymindedness). All bets are off now. I don't have time for it. If people are rotten to me or my friends, to hell with them. And since I am lucky to be friends with the best people in the world, I win.

BTW, lack of inclusion in the above links does not signify anything more than I ran out of words I wanted to link to.

So there. I'm about halfway through the weight loss and halfway through my life reclamation project. It must be time for Skycoaster!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Terrible Twos

I have heard that the phenomenon know as the "terrible twos" is a function of mental development exceeding language acquisition in children when they hit roughly the age of two, and the frustration created by this disparity.

As a knitter, I am totally there.

I have ideas in my head that I can draw on paper, but I have no idea how to knit them. I am really frustrated by my lack of comprehension of stitch and fabric manipulation. As I have knit many of my previous projects I have come across techniques which are clever and should be useful in making my ideas a reality. However, I have no clue as to how to choose the right technique for what I want, or how to apply it to my ideas.

As I have returned to sitting, I have returned to knitting. And I have realized something about my knitting. I excel at shapeless garments. Socks fascinate me, but their three dimensional nature is not beyond me only because of the glut of really well written patterns. Otherwise, we are back to great success with shawls and scarves.

Knitting is at once two and three dimensional, and I am lost to try to reconcile that in my brain. I am currently knitting a pattern for a little top that I had hoped would help clarify a few things for me, but I find myself struggling every step on the way to understand the pattern as written with no hope of learning enough about it to modify it or take away anything useful I could turn into design knowledge. Part of the reason is that the pattern is written with an enormous assumption that I know what I'm doing in the first place.

In the turn of the last century lots of patterns were written making these same assumptions. I have seen so many patterns that read like this: Using the chart, cast on as many stitches as needed for the border and knit 3 repeats, then continue with the sweater in the usual way. The assumption is that we all know how to knit sweaters, and in the time in which the pattern was written, it may have been a pretty safe assumption to make. But in our day and age, we depend on more experienced knitters to work out all the missing details and write them up in a form we will understand. This is why I buy Nancy Bush's version of the patterns instead of knitting directly from Weldon's Practical Needlework and its ilk. But I'm getting tired of knitting other peoples' designs. And my brain is not Nancy Bush's, and I'm cranky about it.

So I think I have at least identified why I am tending to knit a bit, then storm around my house throwing needles and yarn across the room, only to cast on something else I hope will help and, ultimately, throwing that in an ever growing pile of WIP dissatisfaction.

That pretty much wraps up the tale of my summer knitting.

Before I go I really want to thank everyone who send me good wishes for my surgery. After a few minor setbacks I am well on the road to full recovery, at least physically. All your comments really cheered me up when I needed cheering, and for that I will be forever grateful.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chicken Tragedy, Butt Surgery and Other Tasteful Subjects

Ah, so here I am updating after long last. It has been one hell of a ride, folks. Where to start? Well, let's just dive right in, shall we?

First, not long after I posted about the pullets, my hub and I awoke to an empty cage. Door wide open, no signs of struggle or carnage, but no pullets anywhere to be found. We still don't know whether it was vandalism, animals or not fastening the door well enough the night before, but them chicks is gone. When I'm up to it, I'll be getting at least one more hen, probably closer to equal size with Ophelia so they can go in together from the start. One thing for sure, the Eglu is secure.

Second, there's the whole "when I'm up to it" thing. Well over a month ago I started having trouble with the tailbone area hurting like hell. Eventually it was obvious I needed to seek medical help, so off to the doctor I went. That's when I learned a new term. Pilonidal Tract, to be exact. Um, don't do any google image searches if you don't have a serious amount of intestinal fortitude. Ok, now that I know you are all going off to look at gross pictures, I'll give you a minute.

Fun, eh? And surgery was the only way to deal with this for me. And yes, it isn't butt surgery, strictly speaking (thank God!) but it's close enough, let me tell you. So last Thursday I had surgery and I'm actually doing better than I thought I might. Sitting, and therefore driving are still out of the question, but I can stand like a champion.

The biggest improvement I had hoped for was in my general health and energy levels. You see, for years I had weird problems with my immune system, and had often so little energy that even though I personally don't hold with the whole Chronic Fatigue thing (no hatemail, please) at the same time I was starting to think I had it. Which was a tough little conundrum for yours truly. And there was no explanation for why my body reacted as it did to stressors and illnesses, but it was acting like I was immune compromised and would throw off all sorts of other crazy reactions. Now we think that I had a low level infection in my PT for years, and my body was constantly trying to fight off something it couldn't get to, leading to my immune system conking out and all the fatigue.

I have to say that aside from issues with the incision itself (just the usual post surgical stuff) I feel better constitutionally than I've felt in a looooooooooong time. I'm not hoping for a miracle or anything, but even if I stay where I am now, after this heals completely I'm way ahead of where I was. And I really expect to get better. So we shall see.

Yesterday was the first day I knit in a long while. I'm currently working on a pair of Embossed Leaves (rav) socks in the Bugga! Blue Orchard Bee colorway, which got put way on hold when I started feeling really bad with the abcess. I haven't even updated my Ravelry page yet, but I'm just taking things one at a time. Right now I am blogging from our secondary computer which I can stand at, but none of my pictures are on this computer so I will have to post pics later.

Anyway, I just wanted to pop in and give you all a little status report. Ophelia is hanging in there, still laying eggs for us, the postman is still delivering yarn, and I'm getting better every day. Hang in there, I should be fully operational shortly, then I'll have lotus pictures to share as well.

You may all post butt jokes in the comments now.