Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What I did on my winter vacation

I didn't finish my novel. I didn't do revisions to my play due Jan. 3, I didn't work on the grant application due Jan. 2. I didn't get ready to leave for Nebraska, early as sin tomorrow morning.

Instead, today, I pulled sweat(er)-shop hours to finish... yes... THERMAL.




Ta-da! Tired girl in sweater.


I have to get important things done starting NOW, but as this blog is my witness, the sweater is done. I can move on now.

Thank you! May the new year bring decent tidings and no stains to you and your kin-nitting. (And decent tidings to the yarnless among you.)

Next post coming up: Lessons Learned in 2007. Watch for that, it's a looong list.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hand-dyed Fun

I'm breaking a blog hiatus this week with several posts. The last few weeks for me have been in that true Christmas spirit, which is to say, so busy that the enormous pile of dirty laundry actually sat up and talked to me last Thursday. "Honestly," it said, "haven't you finished your novel yet?"

Fortunately, it's the true holidays now. (i.e., I'm eating free food that somebody else makes and I'm not footing the bill for the central heating.) I survived the very definition of a north wind on my way up I-35, dodging truckers and fools alike, and I am packing in the knitting, writing, and computer time before I hop on a plane on Thursday to visit parts Nebraskan, where the fellah's folks reside. So it's blog catch-up time!



A few weeks back was the Fiber Friends Festival at Hill Country Weavers, where I sold all five skeins of hand-dyed wool that I offered for the Fest. Lookee, lookee:




the Four Seasons dye series




1) Maple Syrup on Ice: spots of Tamarindo drink mix with variegated Berry Blue. The "golden hour" photo (me rushing into the parking lot of my apartment complex at 8:15 a.m. to take pictures on a Saturday before carting my skeins to S. Austin) drained the picture a bit, but trust me, the golden spots are there.




2) Spring Sprout: Think fresh, healthy sprouts on a springtime salad. Imagine a tad more yellow, if you will!



3) Lavender Sprig: I've been in lavender fields in both Texas and France, but I've never been there when they're in bloom. I've seen pictures, though! And they look a bit like this.



4) Autumn Leaves: Overdyeing saved this skein from a life of splotchy orangeness. I wanted to hold onto it, but it wouldn't be the four seasons without autumn, now would it?







And the fifth, a skein I called Strawberry Blonde. I'm not sure what my series would have been if I'd had time to create more. Fake hair colors? Candied icing?



If, by chance, the buyers of these yarns ever see this post, send me a picture of your FOs. I would love to see what these skeins turn into!

Merry Christmas, and other pleasant winter solstice greetings, to everybody out there. Peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Reasonably Hip Errata

No, it's not the errata themselves that are Reasonably Hip. Actually, these errata are the kind that make you turn red in the face.

I was so careful on the directions for the visor, that I messed up the instructions for the part that's in... yup... garter stitch. Priceless!

I will be a big girl, and reprint that section of the directions. I'll let Magknits know. Thank you to the knitters who kindly pointed out the mistake!


Hat Body

With double pointed needles, cast on 63 sts.
Knit 1 rnd. Turn to WS.

Begin short rows:
Row 1: K35, w&t.
Row 2: K36, w&t.
Row 3: K37, w&t.
Row 4: K39, w&t.
Row 5: K41, w&t.
Row 6: K43, w&t.
Row 7: K45, w&t.
Row 8: K47, w&t.
Row 9: K49, w&t.
Row 10: K51, w&t.
Row 11: K53, w&t.
Row 12: Work in seed st for 56 sts, w&t.
Row 13: Work in seed st for 59 sts, w&t.
End of short rows. Begin working again in round over all sts.

Work in seed stitch until hat measures 6" [15 cm] from cast on.


Let me know if there are any other problems, and I'll see to them right away!

Friday, December 14, 2007

It's LIVE, baby!

The Beats Broke record label has launched. And it's awesome, baby.

Just freakin' check this out!

I especially recommend The Adventures of Kapabel and Inf. Legally download it for free: you'll love it. Even if you don't like hip hop, you'll love it. The beats and samples are ingenious, the MC is wild.

And don't forget to read up on Arts the Beatdoctor while you're there! Forget Moby: Arts will astonish you.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

FO: Montego Bay

I teach math. Not for a living; it's a part-time thing to earn a little extra cash. However, as part of one of my jobs, I do in fact teach math.*

So I know the difference between mathematics and magic.

This scarf is magic:



I know this because the pattern says you need precisely 440 yards in this gauge, no more no less, to finish this scarf out at 80 inches (6 feet 8 inches), without fringe.

From the 440 yards on the skein, I cut 120 ft. (40 yards) for the fringe before starting, rather than the recommended 200 ft. (66.6 yards). I knit the scarf. It wound up 6 feet long, with fringe. I had no yarn left.

I washed it. I left it to dry on its own without blocking, as it seemed happy doing just that, and... it grew to... you guessed it... 80 inches.

Magic!

pattern: Montego Bay Scarf, from Interweave Knits Summer 2007
yarn: Knit Picks Bare - Merino Wool Fingering Weight (100% merino wool, 440 yards; 1 skein) dyed with 2.5 packets of Black Cherry Kool-Aid, in the colorway "Candy Rose"
made for: Aimee, modeled by me
needles: size 8 circs

This was a terrifically fun pattern to knit: both interesting and repetitive. I always need a pattern like this to take on the bus or on a car ride.


*Now, the other kind of note, known by some as a footnote:

I recently had a few people caution me, some indirectly, about how much information is available about me on the internet. As a journalist, performer, and playwright, a web presence is both unavoidable and useful. However, for those concerned, let me describe the rules I have for this blog:

1. I do not use anyone's full name. I might link to their site, on which they choose to use their full name. That's their choice.

2. I do not blog about work, other than to mention the sketchiest of details (as in, "I teach math"). The exception is the work that I do for myself as an artist. That is self-promotion.

3. I don't show other people's faces, unless I'm given explicit permission.

I'm lucky enough to have come of age at a time which allowed me to make my most idiotic internet mistakes before I began my professional life. I plan to keep it that way!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Hi there, Magknits!

Note: No, you're not imagining things. I did make a mistake in the pattern. Here are the errata. Thanks to the knitters who kindly brought it to my attention!

This is a post that I am in fact writing while tap-dancing. That is because I woke up this morning to discover that my hat pattern, Reasonably Hip, has appeared on Magknits!
.

Modeled by my terrifically handsome and patient Fellah.

I'm quite delighted. All the info is right there in the pattern, but I'm happy to answer any questions.

This published pattern will greatly amuse my non-knitting friend over at Pieces, with whom I caught a ride to Dallas for Thanksgiving '06. We were caught in the infamous I-35 traffic for eight hours, during which time I frogged the original hat twice and nearly chewed through my needles in frustration. Standstill traffic plus original knitting is a rough combination.

There's another picture with him smiling, but he doesn't like it. I disagree.


My knitter's MeetUp Group met this afternoon, and the girls there were sweet enough to ooh and ahh over the second Reasonably Hip, one I made for myself. (I tried for a whole bleedin' hour today to get a good picture of myself wearing it, and I'll be darned if my big nose didn't ruin every shot. I'll keep trying.)

Someone asked if both girls and guys can wear it. The answer is yes, of course! We ladies might need to fold up the hat at the back to make it fit, but even that looks cute.

Thanks, everybody, for your interest. I had so much fun designing this project that I'll certainly be creating more!





download now

Saturday, December 1, 2007

FO alert


Another FO!

Modeled by Bobo, the lovable chimp.


Yup, it's a Jayne Cobb hat, from the late, great Firefly. My friend at Pieces requested it for her husband. And if you've never seen the show before, then rest assured, it's supposed to look big, goofy, and totally awesome (but only in the sense that it isn't).

Now, last night, my fellah comes over for dinner, and I show him the hat. "Oh, from Firefly," he says. Then his face brightens. "Hey, it's a rap hat!"

"It's a what?"

"It's totally rap. I can sell that on my website!" My fellah is launching a hip hop record label website on December 14. (Be prepared for MEGA blatant promo from me.) He's also a designer, so he's selling awesome t-shirts along with music.

"But, it's supposed to be ugly," I pointed out.

"No, it's cool. Trust me. People will buy those things. How many can you make in a month?"

So, as I survey my future Jayne Cobb hat sweatshop existence, here are the details on the BDH hat:



pattern: Jayne Cobb's Family Hat. Free online!

yarn: Elann Uros Aran (color: burnt orange; 50% wool, 50% llama; 1 ball); Elann Uros Aran (color: Mayan gold; 50% wool, 50% llama; 1 ball); Elann Sierra Aran (color: autumn maple; 80% wool, 20% alpaca; 1 ball).

made for: Marci's husband Jack

needles: size 8 circs

notes: The pattern was more of a helpful guide than a strict how-to. After all, it's an easy project with more than enough screen captures of the original from the episode "The Message" from Firefly. Plus, half the knitting world has made one of these guys.

You only need half a ball of each color to finish an oversized man's hat. I hope to make a second. Oh, and the Sierra Aran is delicious.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Save a Bookstore, Buy a Gift

To book lovers, feminists, Austin peeps, and anyone with a heart of gold:

Book Woman has run into troubled waters. The store requires $50,000 on top of normal sales by mid-December to renew its lease.

Why should you care? Book Woman is an independent bookstore. Book Woman is part of what makes Austin unique. Book Woman welcomes everybody; you can be a man and visit unscathed. In fact, you can be pretty much anything at all, and walk right on in to buy a book and enjoy some lovely conversation.

If you're in Austin, think about doing a little shopping there in the next few weeks. Don't let yet another indie Austin business succumb to the encroaching tide of franchises and strip malls.

Monday, November 26, 2007

FO, begone!

Before I make my announcement, go read the Yarn Harlot's latest post. I laughed so hard I cried.

Now, the announcement: I have finished those &*$% Goth Gloves.

As of yet, they get no pic. They are still in Blockingsville. I hope to get a decent picture of them with their new owner Superbecks, and then never look on them again.

Not to worry, Superbecks. They look just fine.

It's just... okay, Real World Friends. I know I've been forcing my knitting upon you for a little over a year now, some of it with admittedly dubious results. And I now get super-excited when somebody asks me to make them something. But I've reached a turning point.

I will never knit in black, ever again.

Sure, it looks pretty! But you try finding a mistake in the black yarn of your third cable on the left as you ride through the backroads of West Texas in a dirty 12-passenger van as your all-too-heavy aluminum #6 dpn just slides right out of the knitting, because you chose a slick and splitty cotton blend that refuses to let you put the needle back where it belongs and you therefore have to start over for the Nth time.

Okay, I suppose that's not a shared experience.

But no more black. And no more fingerless gloves with cables (those are the twisty bits, for all you Muggles). It's a fine pattern; I've just grown weary after my fourth pair.

End of ranty mope.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Count

This was a historical Thanksgiving for my family. For the first time, a non-relative joined our family feast. That's right: my fellah came up to Dallas for the long weekend and chowed down with us.

It went nicely, I think. Here's a blog-appropriate summary of our accomplishments:

6 Pounds of turkey consumed on Thanksgiving Day
5 Number of uneasy tummies the day after
1 Actual hours of work completed on the laptop I brought home with me
187 Number of words of my novel written (I know, I know...)
2.5 Inches of Thermal I managed to knit
1 Inches of Those D*** Goth Gloves I managed to knit
7 Inches of Montego knit (traffic jams on I-35 have to be good for something)
20 Number of combined hours working a Van Gogh jigsaw puzzle
0 Number of Van Gogh jigsaw puzzles completed
7 Hours spent playing Super Mario Kart on the fellah's Nintendo Wii
2 Hours wasted dealing with the interrupted downtown DART Rail service
1 Number of enjoyable holidays enjoyed by everyone there

Ta-da!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Indians are drugging my food.

It's the only explanation.

Situation: There's an Indian restaurant down the street from where I live. They have an all-you-can-eat buffet. We're talking a dang good buffet here, too -- not just some samosas and rice. They've got all number of things I don't remember the name of, so let's call it korma paneer gobi aloo curry.

There are many days when my mouth waters at the thought of korma paneer gobi aloo curry.

Complication one: My fellah can't eat Indian food without getting a sick tummy.

Complication two: All my close gal-pals who live nearby are dieting. The one who isn't lives on the other side of Austin.

Complication three: The restaurant has an endless supply of 2-for-1 buffet coupons, but I am not two people.

The result: I wait and wait and wait for some non-dieting friend with an iron tummy to come along and agree to meet me for Indian food not later but now. They are all wary.

So every once in a while, I give in and walk, no, run to the restaurant and eat three times my normal amount of korma paneer gobi aloo curry, and then polish it off with some mango lhassi.

And I am telling you, those people have put some narcotics* in their food or something, because every time I binge, I can just barely make it home before I'm in bed and asleep by 9:30 and don't know nothin' till dawn the next day.

Whatever it is... I hope they keep doing it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Turtle Lust and Montego Bay

Two weekends ago, the fellah and I enjoyed some fabulous weather and explored one of Austin's greenbelts. There was a trail that led down to a small wooden pier by Town Lake (or Lady Bird Lake, or Lake Austin, or whatever the thing is now called). We sat for a bit, watching the river.


A little head popped up from the water. A round shell followed.


"Turtle!" I exclaimed in rather adult fashion, flapping my arms and hopping around the pier. "Turtle, turtle!"


"Well," my fellah says after watching me for a bit. "That's Christmas."


A few more turtles followed, and since then, I've been obsessing just a bit over the idea of owning a pet turtle.


On Sunday, we went to an exotic pet store and asked about the turtles. They pointed me to the box turtles, which are supposed to be low-maintenance. I picked up an active one; he looked at me. He blinked. "Turtle!" I said, a bit softer this time. He blinked and smacked his lips. I was in love.


Cootchy-coo!

"Yup," said the salesman. "That one's about five years old. They typically live until they're about 50 or 55."

I put the turtle back down.

I mean, I wanted to buy a pet. I didn't want to marry one.

I chose to do a bit more research, checking out not just one but two library books about box turtles. I learn that they require heat lamps, regular soaking, UV light, and the occasional live food such as earthworms or crickets, which are themselves fed a premium diet for 24 hours.

They also explain that turtles are not very interactive. If you take very good care of your turtle, he may someday creep over and stand on your shoe when he's hungry. (I have known some adult men with similar characteristics.)

That's all fine, but with 50 years ahead of you, you should also put Mr. Turtle in your will.

Fortunately, the books say that you should buy a turtle in the spring or early summer, when it has woken up from hibernation and will better adjust to its new home. So we'll both have a chance to really consider where our relationship is heading.

And for my knitting readers... Ta-da! Montego Bay Scarf, about 16" so far, in that hand-dyed merino. In the overcast sunlight, the pink is quite pretty. The pattern is also terrifically fun -- and fast.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Waterloo sale and an Onion peel

I'm so pleased to have finished my second stash-busting skinny scarf; it looks just like the first. I have now allowed myself to cast on for the Montego Bay Scarf. (No pics yet.)

I dyed that yarn myself, and the color continues to baffle me. I had thought it was deep coral, then I cut the strands for the fringe, and it turned out the exact shade of Dubble Bubble Bubble Gum, before you chew it. Then I began knitting the scarf, and in certain light, it's a rather pretty pastel mauve. The gal who gets it will just have to tell me if she wants an overdye or not.

Saturday was both the Texas Book Festival and a 20% off sale at Waterloo Records. My fellah and I attended both. The Onion is publishing a book, and the two authors gave a little talk -- in the sanctuary of our church, of all places. I'm pretty open-minded, as is my church, but I gotta admit, amusing as it was, they were pushing it.

At Waterloo, my fellah brought me lots of CDs to listen to. At 17, I was a musical fanatic. At 28, I like music a lot, but I'm blissfully out of the loop. I don't know what's hip; I know nothing of the indie scene. I enter Waterloo Records and I go stand in the corner and stare at the wall, because I don't know where to begin.

This is a bit awkward, as my fellah is starting a record label. He does a good job of disguising his disappointment when I ask questions like, "Amy Winehouse?" But I am slowly learning how to walk again.

I purchased only one CD: Tilly and the Wall's Wild Like Children, and I like it. My favorite track is "You and I Misbehaving": playful but flirting with something darker. On almost all their songs, the band uses a tap dancer instead of a drummer. Nice beat, and it does kind of make you want to do a jig.

What music are you listening to these days?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The guy did die after 26 miles, you know...

I foolishly signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), mostly to take advantage of a motivational tool and in the slender hopes that I can finish this novel of mine pronto.

The concept of NaNoWriMo is that during the month of November one writers 50,000 words. They don't have to be good, they just have to be words.

Regardless, this still breaks down to roughly 1,666 words per night.

I recall the feeling I had at the beginning of every high school cross-country race I ever ran: "Why on earth did I sign up for this punishment?"

I have written over 800 words tonight and desperately want to go to bed. But not tonight, not the first day. I must keep running! And I must stop writing blog posts instead of running.

On another night, this blog will feature a tract on why anything becomes more desireable than writing once the subject becomes required. ("Gosh, wouldn't it be fun to scrub the toilet?")

Sunday, October 28, 2007

WIP Count, in Anticipation of...

We're nearing the end of October. there's the teeniest nip in the air here in Texas. Winter always takes me by surprise here. The summers last so long, one falls for the notion that they will never end, and life will always exist at a muggy 95 degrees or higher. But apparently, this is not so.

As I went jogging this afternoon, I even spied what I thought was an early Christmas decoration - one of those cheesy, lifelike reindeer people put up in their yards - until it walked away. The neighborhood deer are polishing off their summer meals in anticipation of a sleepy winter.

And I have some neat news.

I've been told that I have a pattern that will soon appear in Magknits! The email said either November or December; I still don't know which, so it will be a surprise for all of us.

I can't wait to show my little creation off to the world. However, I was glancing at my Ravelry projects page, and I feel a bit self-conscious about my dearth of impressive FOs.

To that end, please observe my Halloween WIP count.


1. Skinny Scarf for Yellow Turtle. It would have been done weeks ago, but I dropped the ball in a dirty puddle in my parking lot. Sooner or later I'll suck it up, finish, then wash. But it's not my first choice right now.

2. Goth Gloves, for Rebecca. A modified Fetching; my second time to make these. Thank goodness she gave me an extension; I find it hard to knit in black for long. I am seized by the desire to stare at azure skies and green grass and red tomatoes, etc.

3. Sea Foam Shawl. It will continue. In fact, it would have been perfect last night at the Joanna Newsome concert (which bleeeeeeew me away! A singing harpist, can you believe it?).


4. Thermal. The everlasting, ever-loving, muther-effing Thermal which will not be finished. Am I setting a record for slowness?

Thankee, all. Thankee. Now back to work!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm back.

Many miles to and from, and I'm finally back in Austin. Sincerest thanks to everyone who assisted with the costs of participating in the Four Corners Mission. We did many good things, and I learned so very much.



Out of respect the privacy of the individuals whom we met and with whom we worked, I will only post a few pictures here. Here is a summary of what we accomplished:


1. We replaced the flooring in the living room and kitchen of one house. A couple joists were rotted through in the kitchen, so we also had to replace those.

2. We rewired two houses so the owners could have light in the bathrooms.

3. We repainted the living room in the first house and the stairs in the parsonage.

4. We donated the remainder of our unused budgeted money to the pastor's discretionary fund, which will help people pay their utility bills in coming months; directly to two families who don't have enough to buy groceries and rely on the kindness of neighbors; and to the local day-care center.

5. Our unused groceries from the week went to the Ojo Food Pantry.


A word on stereotypes of Native Americans: While we only worked with Navajo, and only with a select group of individuals, I found that once you approach these people without expectations of nobility, alcoholism, laziness, or some inherent wisdom, then they do in fact emerge simply as people.



The people we met care for their families. They have a wicked sense of humor. They laugh a lot. They speak quietly. They are patriotic Americans (albeit with some justified suspicions of the federal government). There are discarded appliances in the yards, but that's also true in San Francisco. There is trash on the reservation, but there was more on the roadside in West Texas.


Mainstream America has many misconceptions about the many native tribes of this country. It's a shame to dismiss them as undeserving of basic respect.


And, bonus: I found lots of yarn for sale in bulk at the local trading post. All this - a whole pound of wool - for $16.99!!



Dude: if only I'd had more room in my luggage.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Westward

This blog shall remain silent for the next week and a half as I journey westward to Shiprock, New Mexico with a group of volunteers to help repair some houses on the Navajo Reservation.

I have all kinds of things to say about how crazy this is and how excited and a bit nervous I am, but I'm too sleepy right now. I've been tired since yesterday, and as luck would have it, I had a heapload of work to finish before escaping today.

Thermal (unfinished, drat!) is coming with me, as are Rebecca's gloves. She'll wear those dang things out this year if I have to bind off as she sets out to her first Halloween party.

Now may the gods of packing smile upon me tonight so I can get some sleep!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

And the writing, too.

I have recently faced a few professional setbacks. Well, "setbacks" isn't the right word, so much as "non-events." When one is an artist, a non-event indicates a lack of income. It also resembles the mouth of a very hungry black bear about three inches from your face.

In that light, I choose now to brag a little. It will cheer me up, remind me that I do in fact keep busy with something other than yarn, and perhaps attract other moths to the bug zapper.

I have been invited to become one of the Austin Chronicle's reviewers of the performing arts. I had previously felt uneasy with being a critic since I was still looking to work as an actor, but I've found that the prospect of this regular writing work has become very attractive to me. Those who look might start seeing my reviews as early as November.

I have finished draft one of a new project, currently titled the Audio Project because that's what it is at present. It might just wind up being a stellar, stooperific collaboration with the about-to-go-boom Beats Broke record label. It will blow your miiiind.

Houstonites need to get on down and check out the Alley Theatre's production of Arsenic and Old Lace. Once they've done that (or before), grab a copy of the 4,000-word study guide, by Yours Truly.

Read me again in the upcoming issue of Dramatics, where I tell all about actors and theater artists in the video game industry.

And the novel has resumed work. It got confused and had to be put to bed for a few weeks, but it's finally feeling well enough to start walking around again. The author (that is, me) is foolish enough to still dream of a Dec 31 first-draft deadline.

So you see? I am productive, creative, reliable - and very, very pretty.

More on the Crawl

I was both tired and brief in my last post, so allow me to expound.

The yarn crawl really was fun. It was also a lot of female energy for one day, but I survived intact.

The busload of ladies generally agreed that Hill Country Weavers really is the best yarn store around. They have both variety and quality, and the prices are fair. My second-favorite on the tour was San Antonio's Yarnivore, whose owners included some eco-friendly fibers like maize, soy, and my very favorite, bamboo. Everything they had was interesting and of good quality.

Below is my loot:



Everything on the left is a freebie. I know what to do with precisely none of it, particularly the two gray-blue tribbles on top.

Thermal is taking a nap, and Rebecca, if you read this far, I have started your Halloween gloves. You saucy minx: the busload of ladies eyed the beginnings of glove one and said, "Those look a little sexy!" Which I think is Boomer for "Do you like it rough?"

I shall leave the question fully unanswered.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My First Yarn Crawl

Today, my mother and I joined the first annual Hill Country Yarn Crawl, touring five LYS (little yarn stores) in one day.

It was a long day.

And I took no pictures. I just sort of forgot, y'know?

Here's what I have to say about it:

1. I freakin' love bamboo yarn.

2. I came in just under budget: around $46. This is unlike most women on that bus, who were toting packs large enough to hold three small children by the end of the day.

3. My mom's neat. We had fun chillin'.

4. There's this awesome bakery in Boerne, TX that serves a killer tomato and avocado soup. Darned if I already forgot the name. Near River Road?

5. I have to stop knitting for a while.

As to #5... Yeah, I was going hard core on Thermal (7 inches of sleeve one!) all week, and then I got to today, and I sort of want to stop for a while.

My self-imposed deadline was October 15. That's the day my volunteer team and I arrive in Shiprock, New Mexico, for a week of home repair on the Navajo Reservation. I planned to wear Thermal at night in the cool desert evenings.

Don't think that will happen. Oy!

By the way... Thanks to the people who urged perseverence with the fluffy shawl. To those who did not respond, I appreciate your tact. :)

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Is that supposed to be art?"

On Friday, at 8:24 p.m., I received an email from a talented actor in Austin: "My dear potential slow movers, We are having a very informal session on the lamar pedestrian bridge this Sunday @ 6pm. Could you make it?"

I moved to Austin in part so that I could receive strange emails like this. So I attended last night's meeting on the rather well-trafficked Lamar Pedestrian Bridge, and, with about eight other people and one dude playing with a synthesizer and some amps, moved slowly.

As we were warming up (or slowing down, really), one jogger yelled as he passed by, "Is that supposed to be performance art?" I thought of many responses in the seven and a half minutes it took to walk from the rail to the bench.

At one point, a police officer arrived to take notes on the recently spray-painted swastikas that lay directly in my path. He began working, and he was done before I had completed my ninety degree turn to avoid walking across his evidence.

After doing whatever it was for two hours, the leader said we'd have a final performance on November 10. She said it will involve swans in a post-apocalyptic landscape. And other stuff.

Part of me is the high school nerd who will do just about anything because I was specially invited. And the other part says, "While you're young." Okay!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hmm...

.
My fellah is so sweet. I think he sees all this knitting stuff as just a bit eccentric, to say the least. Yet, to his credit, he bought me a book last Christmas, Speed Knitting by Kris Percival. It's full of easy and fast patterns.*

Thermal has been creeping along, so I turned to a project from Speed Knitting. It's busting some novelty yarn from the stash, using up some frogged mystery yarn from my very first (and quite ugly) scarf, and providing me with an excellent excuse to knit with bamboo yarn for the first time, and can I tell you how in love I am with bamboo?

This is the Sea Foam Shawl:

photo (c) Sheri Giblin

And here's what I've got so far:


I'm almost halfway there. And I'm kind of hmmmm about it. I want to believe! I want to have faith. And still.

Help me out with the poll at left, will you?

*Truth be told, the directions could be better; gauge is always stated as "about x stitches per inch," and the yarn used in the pictures isn't given until the very end.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

About an apostrophe

Last night after coming home exhausted from the second of two jobs (and I'm straining myself with the effort of not discussing either of them here), I finished off the last few pages of Bridget Jones's Diary before falling asleep.

So many women adore that book, including some of my friends, who say, "She's just like me!" or, "I'm just like her!" or, "I do exactly the same things!"

Everyone's neurotic, sure, but that's Bridget's only real characteristic. I'd like to take this opportunity to tell my friends that whether they do or do not obsessively, illogically, and inaccurately count calories, they are each of them more interesting than Bridget Jones. They are interested in things like literature, baseball, football, nerd conventions, astronomy, politics, charitable activities, and so on. My former roommate (confirmed bipolar and possibly borderline sociopath) is like Bridget Jones.

But that's not what this post is about. You see, it's about the title: Bridget Jones's Diary.

1. It's italicized, not in quotes. You place the titles of longer works in italics and of shorter works (like a song or a TV episode) in quotes.

2. The apostrophe is correct as written. Jones's. I see far too often that people flinch in the face of singular possessive with a noun ending in an -s. Stop being so gunshy, people! It is not "Jones'." That construction would never happen. If there were more than one Jones, it would be "Joneses'." Our singular (or singleton) Jones gets an apostrophe-s at the end of her name.

In short, I am going to borrow Hans's motorbike, put a hook through the bass's mouth, and remember the lovely caress's feel.

True, language changes. I don't mind that. But let it change as it needs to: adopt new phrases, welcome new vocabulary, and entertain new constructions. Language should evolve because we use it to describe a changing world and changing circumstances.

It should not change because people are too lazy or, dare I say it, dumb to understand an extremely basic rule of grammar.

Grammar rules are there because good writing is polite. Good punctuation is a courtesy, making it easy for me to understand what on earth you're trying to say. If you can learn which fork to use first at the table (it's the one on the outside, folks), then you can fix that silliness with the apostrophes.

Disclaimer: This post was written by the former assistant editor of a national magazine, someone who enjoyed full lunch breaks of shared rants about the proper uses of a comma with her colleagues. She's become necessarily passionate about these things.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

For all your organic produce

.


I give you the Saturday Market Bag by Jodie Danenberg, from Magknits.

Up close, you can see that the yarn used for the body is actually speckled with color.

I used 1 completed 2 oz. ball of Lily Sugar 'n Cream Ombre Potpourri (100% cotton) for the body, and a bit of a larger ball of Sugar 'n Cream in natural color (sorry, lost the ball band).


As you can see, the bag stretches quite a bit. To that end, and to avoid seaming, I made the following changes to the pattern:

  • I knit the bag in the round, casting on 68 stitches. Sixty-eight is a bit arbitrary, but it is small than the 90 called for in the pattern, and it's an even number, which you need to knit this in the round. Thanks to this thread for getting me off to a good circular start.
  • I followed disdressed's suggestions and knit two handles instead of one.
  • There is actually one fewer repetition in the body.

Check out the stretch on this baby. Below is the bag holding three full jars of Grey Poupon. (Why do I have three jars of Grey Poupon, you ask? That's a long story involving a former part-time telecommuting marketing job.)


I suggest that beginners wait just a bit before trying this pattern. The "lace background stitch" was tricky to figure out, and not my favorite to work. In fact, while gauge doesn't matter too much on this project, knitting a swatch of the lace will help you read it better when you're midway through the body.

Here's what I think I figured out if you want to translate the lace background stitch into the round:

Rnd 1: yo, *sl 1, k1, yo, psso both, yo* (That second yo is over the needle, not just brought to the front)
Rnd 2: *drop yo, k2*
Rnd 3: k1, yo, *sl 1, k1, yo, posso both, yo*
Rnd 4: *drop yo, k2*

Repeat rnds 3-4 until you feel like stopping. (Say about 12 to 14 rows of lace.)

My stitch marker kept migrating one stitch to the right every other row, so I'm sure I'm confusing myself here somewhere.

I like the finished product. I plan to contribute it as a last-minute addition to my church's silent auction benefitting the Four Corners Mission Team, which I'm joining in October on their trip to Shiprock, NM. This is perhaps a copyright violation, but if you're out there, Jodie, I hope you don't mind? It's for charity.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

And she's IN.

I have finally received my invitation to Ravelry, and yes, it sucked the last two days from my life. I love it. For those who are part of that really huge woolly party, my ID is Cobbalicious. Please find me; I'm having fun!

And here's something I ripped from the blog of Moon Tea (I don't think these people know I rip from them...). I don't know where it originated. A curious list of titles, but the original reader is a woman after my own heart.

Instructions:

Look at the list of books below. Bold the ones you’ve read. Italicize the ones you want to read. Leave blank the ones that you aren’t interested in.

Movies don’t count!!!!!

And Cobbalicious added a little something extra: put in red the books I loved, and put in gray those I hope to save my friends from wasting their time on.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
3. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
4. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
5. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
8. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
9. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
10. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
11. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden): Starting it 3 times has got to count for something!
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25 . Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible (Okay, not every single book, but just about!)
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down(Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Currently, my right wrist is bothering me (thus limiting my knitting, poo!), so I am reading The Book of Atrix Wolfe by Patricia A. McKillip and loving it.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Eeeeek!

I came home from a "couples shower" (about which I shall say little) this afternoon to discover a deceased... oh, goodness help me... cockroach on the floor of my bathroom.

This is vastly preferred to finding a living roach anywhere, but all the same. Now I have to dispose of its awful, leggy carcass.

Please see poll at left. I shall do my part to rid my home of the thing before the poll closes.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Thrill of the Day

At noon today, I won my first close-call e-bay auction. I bought the following:


It's 1050 yards of hand-dyed Tencel. I plan to make a lacey stole or something like that with it.

This was the first time I engaged in a bidding war in the remaining few seconds before the auction ended. My fellah, a true e-bay proficient, stood over my shoulder and coached me through the winning moments.

You wouldn't believe the grand burst of euphoria you get from beating out other bidders. No, I'm not exaggerating. I shrieked and then giggled for 30 seconds. It was an exceptional adrenaline rush. I haven't felt its equal since the '99 college track conference championships. (I was a last-minute substitute for the 400 x 4 relay. Our anchor won the race by mere inches. Whoosh!)

I mean, for $14.59, not only do I get a very pretty bunch of laceweight yarn. As a writer, I also get a nifty new simile: "The rush in her belly felt like the thrill of winning an e-bay auction." What a kick!

As for writing... I fell off the wagon this week, neglecting my writing for teaching a class on Wednesday, attending First Thursday, and working out Friday. But I'm back on board now. Expect the next big project to include more of those realistic touches like bunnies vs. whales, bulldozer drivers on a mission, and that secret subway line in New York you always knew was there. Sweet, huh?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Quick! Everybody get angry about something!

First Thursday is a monthly event on S. Congress, when the stores stay open late and cheesy vendors hawk their crocheted berets (sorry, but en masse even I find them a bit silly) or light-up photographs of the state capitol.

Last night, the fellah and I were enjoying First Thursday. He bought a wooden bowl from India. ("I wish I didn't have a bowl fetish," he says.) I bought size 9 dpn from Hill Country Weavers at 20% off and (I really shouldn't have) this blue vintage dress, also on sale, for only $27 (but it fits and it's cute!).

We made our way through the doom-and-gloom, fire-and-brimstone preachers in bad suits who were threatening us with hell unless we converted to Christianity. We disregarded their poorly designed flyers and laughed somewhat smugly at their expense, as they really ought to have wondered if perhaps one might both be Christian and attend First Thursday at the same time.

Then, at the very next corner, a guy with floppy hair was handing out poorly designed flyers advertising a protest at the state capitol on Sept. 11. It said, "If you can't make it to New York this Sept. 11, don't worry!"

I was a bit confused. "What are you protesting?" I asked him.

"Oh. Lots of things. Environmental policies, you know. There's going to be lots of stuff at the protest."

Dear me.

I do love free speech.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Geroff!

Thermal, you're crimpin' my style. Geroff the needles already!

I can't start either my faux Montmartre or that Sea Foam Shawl until you're done. You see, I have only one 24" interchangeable cord for my circular needles, and you're hogging it, lady.



(Yup. That's six weeks of work, right there.)

It also cuts down on that about which I can blog. Perhaps a picture of a finished object, to cheer myself up?


So simple. Just some 2x2 ribbing in Joann Petalo (60% cotton, 40% nylon, 50 g, 65 yards, 1.5 skeins used), bought on sale over a year ago and probably discontinued. Looks much nicer than I expected from novelty yarn.

This scarf goes to a friend (sorry to ruin the surprise, dear), the first of what I hope are several gifts that use up the stash. I have enough for a second, slightly longer scarf. Any takers?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Reason 619, and then some

Oh, Austin.

This weekend, my newish hometown was the site of the Flugtag (sponsored by an energy drink company I won't name because the stuff is just so bad for you).

The Flugtag began with Perry Farrell singing the national anthem (!) and a bunch of sky divers who almost all managed to nail a landing on the platform.


The platform from which around 30 teams launched homemade "aircraft" in hopes of, well, landing in Town Lake without getting hurt too badly. Supposedly there was a competition to see how far they could make it, but mostly it was to see a bunch of people jump into the river.



Everybody in Austin came. Punks, hipsters, families of four with strollers, rednecks, everybody. That was nice, but as a result, this is all I could see, from where we stood on the South 1st Street Bridge:



Mind you, I'm 5'10". My fellah is 6'6", so he took some pictures for me.

(Side note: when we arrived, we were looking for a place to stand, and when we found a suitable spot, someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was a shorter woman with two small kids. "Excuse me," she said, "but this is where we're standing, and we can't see." "I'm sorry," I said, but I really didn't move. There wasn't room to move. "It's just, you're both quite tall," she said. "We noticed," I said.

Some might call this rude, and perhaps they're right. But it's like those occasions when someone has tapped me on the shoulder at a rock concert and asked me not to stand so close. Dude: it's a rock concert. What were you expecting, three feet of personal space? And besides, the fellah and I are simply tall people. We can't get shorter to accomodate others.)

Some people with canoes and kayaks had the right idea:



We went because it was a goofy thing to do, and also because my fellah has a friend who was on Team Roshambo.




Each team performed a brief skit before launching. Team Roshambo dressed as rock, paper, and scissors. After a brief match of Roshambo, they all ran off the end of the pier.

My fellah's buddy was the one dressed as paper. He actually flew, or floated, pretty decently, until his costume couldn't hold and he fell out of it into the water, which was still about 20 feet away.

So much better than cable.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I found my tribe!

And they're all neurotic, to a man.

This afternoon, after work, I went to a happy hour sponsored by the Writer's League of Texas. It was half a bar full of people forcing themselves to go and shake each other's hands and initiate conversation, during which they struggled to remain positive about their work and their prospects.

Now, my friends will say, "Cobbalicious? You were nervous? Aren't you always the peppiest among us?"

Well, that's among us. Not among a half-bar full of strangers. In that setting, I feel like a huge idiot, to say the least. I feel like I'd rather eat my pinky finger than look for another notch in a conversational clump where I can walk up and say, "Hi, I'm Cobbalicious, and I've produced plays but that's about it!"

Hence the neuroses.

Tonight, I went to a production of One Flea Spare, and wow. That script. Wow. Wow.

I took some blah knitting, some orange fuzzy novelty yarn I'm using up in a skinny scarf of 2x2 ribbing. And the three ladies behind me who were, if I had to guess, a bit past retirement age, began chatting away with me about knitting, then the play, then traveling. They were very nice and interesting.

And it struck me, as relaxing as knitting is for those of us who do it, it also seems to calm those around us. For instance, the other week on the bus, a strange man with lots of facial hair and a big cooler full of ice and something else (could have been organs for all I know) gets on board and sits behind me. After a bit, he peeks over my shoulder as I was knitting Thermal. He asks if it's a scarf, and I tell him it's a sweater.

Then he tells me all about how his mother used to make him quilts, and how fun it was to watch her.

As a writer, these moments are so lovely-- when someone willingly shares such personal information, without pretense.

I am still desperate to know what was inside that cooler.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Silky Tweed Makes Me Happy


I am smart enough to not blog about my job.

(Yup.)

(Uh-huh.)

(Mmmphmm.)

Otherwise: it's just so silly, but my friends are all doing it and it's such a great way to answer the neurotic question of "They really do like me, don't they???" safely. Go here, and pick five or six words that describe me.

(And all the knitters are like, "Uh... She likes blue?")

And to give some nice, yarnish balance to my Mmmphmm of a day, I received my order of this in the mail:


Never mind the no daylight + flash = zero color. It's Elsebeth Lavold Silky Tweed (40% silk, 30% cotton, 20% merino, 10% viscose), and I've got nine whole skeins of it. They are yummy skeins, too. This is the yarn that I will swatch responsibly so that it someday may become the Montmarte (sic) Cardigan at Urban Outfitters:



I can't wait!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Play Ball

Okay, this is really only funny and special to those who know these guys, but if you do... Gotta love it.

If you don't, then ladies and gents, I give you the sweetest, most good-natured rock band I've ever met. (But don't tell Twink I said so.) Here they're playing during batting practice for the Houston Astros.

It's all kind of weird, really.

These are also the guys who worked on the Backyard Plarty back in June.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Thermaling Away

I've discovered a new measurement standard for knitting: how much knitting you can done during a single viewing of Pride and Prejudice (1996), or a PP96.

1 PP96 = 2.5 inches of Thermal.

(I've actually knit a couple more inches since this was taken.)

Anywho. While glancing through the latest Urban Outfitters catalogue, I found the Lux Montmarte Cardigan. (Did they mean "Montmartre"?)

Dude. I can totally make this. Gimme a little DK-weight cotton blend and six weeks, and I'm there.

Is this how madness begins?

It may also be observed that I am avoiding more serious issues, like work, writing, and the question of whether I will renew my lease for another year or move somewhere else, which I have to decide manana.

Living alone in Austin is lousy. If you want to pay less than $700/month, you have to live in either a run-down place in an okay neighborhood or a nice place in a sketchy hood where your car windows won't last the year. I know, I used to live in San Francisco, I shouldn't complain. However, I still recall my lovely, lovely apartment in Cincinnati, with the hardwood floors and the beautiful fixtures and everything else. The tavern across the street, the Walnut Hills library branch, Eden Park down the street... Meh.

Such is life without spouse or roommates.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Reason #618

Reason #618 why I like Austin:

On the way home from work today, the bus driver was singing the blues very loudly, off and on, the whole way north.

Fortunately, she was not also playing guitar.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

One reason not to like Austin

So here I am, being a good little writer, putting down the needles and opening up the computer files so I can work on the novel and the play rewrites and that other thing. You would think the universe might reward me for my diligence.

Instead, I'm cowering in terror, because there is SOMETHING skittering around inside the ceiling light in my kitchen, right now. It is small and dark and I CAN HEAR ITS FEET.

I keep telling myself, "It could just be a gecko... It could just be a gecko..." But this is Texas, and when in doubt, it's a... a... No, I won't say it. I won't do anything to make that muther-f***** more of a reality than it already is.

Save me!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Look but to learn.

I was a bustin' of the stash, when I came across these two half-balls of yarn.

That's Jo-Ann's Bellezza Collection Dolcetto (wool/nylon/cotton, color #2 (yellow)) on the left, and #6 (green) on the right.

Or wait. Perhaps that's #6 (green) on the left, and #2 (yellow) on the right.

You see the problem. Now, let me ask you this: do these two closely related colors strike you as great tools for learning your very colorwork pattern?

No? Well, for some reason, I thought it was a great idea. Here's what happened:


What's that? You can't make out those clearly defined concentric squares? Okay. Let's try it in the (fading) natural light of day:


Still no good? All right. Perhaps in context:


Poor kid! How about a different (but still infantile) model?


You're right. That helps nothing.

You know what they say: Some worthless things are destined for charity. Others find their way to the White House.

I'll mail the hat to Washington first thing Monday.

Just kidding. I wouldn't want the FBI on my case. Okay, here are the valuable lessons learned:

(1) This yarn isn't that great. It doesn't feel very durable. It didn't take the slip-stitch pattern well.

(2) I ought to have used size 9 dpns instead of size 10. I was thwarted by not owning size 9.

(3) Mosaic knitting pulls both vertically and horizontally. (No kidding, Einstein.) So that picot
edging I attempted? It just looks like some oddly placed holes around the bottom edge. Don't hold it against the excellent mosaic knitting instructions found in Amy Singer's wonderful book No Sheep for You. I just bungled the job.

(4) Use contrasting colors, dummy.

The worst of it is, I still have these two half-balls left! I'm beginning to think I could have made an adult sweater from the three I originally started with. Turtleneck sweater. With sleeves! Won't it ever be used up?

Lessons learned. Now, unless anyone out there wants an ugly baby hat to give away (leave a comment! I'll pay shipping), then this one's to Goodwill.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cash Out Your Cashmere

Dear me. I just lost all four of my subscribers.

What's that? My mother's still reading? Well, she might not even welcome me home for Christmas after I post this.

According to an interview the Colbert Report on 7/30/07 --

-- and yes, I realize that all non-watchers of the Colbert Report instantly criticized the veracity of all this because Stephen Colbert is a comedian. However, his interviewees are not, and they typically have something of substance to get across, if they can make it through his wit. --

-- the cashmere trade is causing a great deal of environmental harm.

Here's the thing: cashmere has historically been very expensive, because cashmere goats have historically been very rare.

Now the Chinese have upped the number of cashmere goats to increase the supply. However, now vast areas of former pasture have suffered from overgrazing. In addition, goats have small, sharp hooves. Many goats with small, sharp hooves wandering around has killed the vegetation.

As a result, dust swarms have started that make their way across the Atlantic and negatively affect the western U.S., particularly the Pacific Northwest.

(Stephen Colbert simply suggested giving the goats some cashmere booties.)

I'm a natural skeptic, so I'll be double-checking this as soon as I come across my next ball of cashsoft on sale. (But it can't be that bad, can it?) However, the fact that I could ever afford a cashmere blend at all means that something has happened at the supply end to make cashmere more affordable.

Looks like we'll have to stick with other fibers, fellow knitters, at least until the supply becomes more limited again.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Reason 617

Reason #617 why I like Austin:

Tonight, I accompanied my fellah on a fairly dull errand to buy some padded envelopes. We went to the nearby HEB, which is the large supermarket de rigeur for Texans on a budget.

Sitting inside the front door was an employee on a stool, playing an accoustic guitar and smiling at people as they came and went. He was playing fairly well -- just finger-picking some blues and enjoying himself. He was wearing the red polo shirt with the nametag, just like everybody else.

How beautiful! As a marketing strategy, it worked. It put me in a good mood (when's the last time you were put in a good mood when you entered a supermarket?) and I'll happily revisit that branch*. All they had to do was give an employee the chance to enjoy himself with a guitar and smile at people, who all seemed to appreciate and enjoy the humanizing touch.

Lessons to be learned, people.

(My good mood lasted until we went back to my fellah's place and watched the Stephen Colbert Report, which was hilarious but contained some upsetting news about cashmere. I'll delay that for as long as I can, people, but the truth must out.)

* Southbound Research Blvd, near the Arboretum.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

On the needles


I finished one project, a hat of my own design:


It is fairly simple, with ribs and a few cables for snugness.

The yarn is Blue Sky Organic Cotton (100% organic cotton, color 84, 100g, 150 yds). I hope I made the hat small enough that even when it stretches it will still fit; we'll have to see if this one will turn out to be fair or frog.

I am a week and a half and only 2.5 inches into Thermal. Yes, a sweater out of fingering weight yarn is likely nothing more than a dream, given how slowly I knit, but you can't blame a girl for trying. I'm knitting it from Knitpicks Gloss, same as in the pattern.



On Saturday morning, I looked in the Austin Chronicle for something to do, only to learn that on Friday night there was a yarn swap at a new store called Craft-O-Rama. They have beginning sewing classes for only $48, and sewing machines you can use for $8/hour. I may try it. After all, you can never have too many hobbies, right? (Shyeah.)

In other news, on Sunday, I joined the ranks of those who have finished the Harry Potter books.
I will keep my mouth firmly closed and fingers very still as to the events of the last book, but if anybody out there is ready to go gaga with me over what happens, let's get on that! I'm bursting at the seams.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Laughing Buddha

Currently, I'm watching Himalaya, a BBC travel documentary with Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame) as host. It's remarkable, beautiful, and I highly recommend it.

There is one scene in which Palin obtains an audience with the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama can barely stop laughing the entire time. He says he knows Palin from watching the BBC, which he does frequently. Every time Palin asks a question, the Dalai Lama starts giggling again.

Before Palin's interview, The Dalai Lama held an audience with some pilgrims from Tibet, who all bowed their heads respectfully. The Dalai Lama would ask them a question like, "How was your journey?" And then he would giggle.

You have to wonder: what would Roman Catholicism be like today if Pope Ratzinger couldn't stop laughing? Better yet, just think how much better off all of us would be if the Ayatollah Komenei had gotten the giggles as a matter of habit.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A treat after the flood

The pipes have been fixed. The hole in my wall is closed; the water on my floor is mopped. The carpet is vacuumed, and the smell is almost entirely gone.

As I was tidying, however, I noticed this:


Somebody deposited his power flashlight in all the boxes and bags that comprise my stash. That plumber better not have been eyeing my yarn!

A short detour to the pastel side of things


I don't often work in pastels, but I did enjoy working on this
MaryElla bracelet in ecru last week:



You can get kits from Earthfaire for this project for only $5.50.

I'm very glad I also have another kit (this one in chartreuse), because the thread is 100% cotton and therefore stretches. What started as a perfectly fitting finished object at 6 inches is now 7.25 inches (that's about a 20 percent increase).



When I make the chartreuse bracelet, I plan to knit it to be 5.25 inches long so it still has a little give but doesn't sag and flop when I type.

Another note: I used fewer beads on the reverse side than the pattern calls for, because you can't see them and especially because stringing beads is really dull.

I suppose I should show some detail of the closures...



What can you say, it got the job done.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

All dressed up and no way to shoot!

I finished something else!

I would show it to you, but... I left my camera at my friend's place. A brief blog hiatus is in order until my schedule (three plays* and a movie this week, four articles on deadline) and hers (an insane six weeks in which she learns all of Portuguese and works full time) can mesh.

On the upside, however, she (and her husband) concoct a lovely pear leek bisque. And let's not even talk about that chocolate concoction of hers. Ooo-eee!

Also on the upside, I can't take a picture of my kitchen right now. The plumbing got cranky this a.m., and my floor has smelly brown water on it now. Tonight I take my laptop (and knitting) somewhere less malodorous.

And one more for the upside: I live in an apartment where someone else has called the plumbers.


* The Constant Wife, The Pillowman, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Yup, I'll be a happy camper come Sunday.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Finished Object!

Check it out: Bella Blouse is done and seamed and blocked!







Here is what I learned from this project:

1. Life lines save your knitting, relationships, and furniture from utter turmoil and destruction.

2. The pattern lied: you don't need five skeins of Berrocco Touche to knit this in size small. I didn't even touch the fifth skein! (Anybody need dye lot 79022 in color 7906?)

3. For the neck pieces, the pattern directs you to bind off in six separate rows. I suggest combining the fifth and sixth so that the final bind off row includes seven stitches instead of four. It makes seaming easier.

4. I flipped the lace pattern on the second shoulder.

5. Seaming sucks. No wonder people put it off.

To those who are keeping score (who are also me), this is my first knitted top and lace pattern. I shall now wear it out to a 4th of July cookout!

(And may the gods of ketchup look kindly upon me and all my knitting.)