Monday, March 31, 2008

Tidy never pays.

My fellah is extraordinarily neat and tidy. His roommate is not. He entered a picture of his roommate's desk into a "messy desk contest."

Don't tell.

But do vote! You don't have to register or submit any personal information. Simply click on this link and vote for #10, Ryan.

If he wins, he gets a verrrrry nice set of free office furniture. Not exactly a star turn on American Idol -- it's certainly not a whole bag full of Artyarns Beaded Rhapsody -- but the resale value is like $2,000.

Student loans are calling, people. Click away!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Film Shout-out: Heima

On Friday, my fella insisted that I watch his new DVD of Heima, which is a concert/art film by the Icelandic band Sigur Ròs. All I can say now is, you have no idea.

Heima is different, to say the least. This is not the kind of concert DVD that will wind up in stacks on the shelves of Half-Price Books next to recordings of the Stone Temple Pilots' '95 tour.

In 2007, the members of Sigur Ròs returned from a worldwide tour, exhausted and feeling a little claustrophobic. They decided that they would then tour the small towns and villages of Iceland and play unannounced shows for the people they met. Heima chronicles the places they played -- sometimes for a field full of fans of every age, sometimes to empty ruins and the two sheep wandering by on the hillside, sometimes to a cozy coffeehouse crammed with listeners.

Until their last release, Sigur Ròs played songs with lyrics that were sung in a made-up language -- not English, not Icelandic, just music and sounds. The music is melodic and lovely. Singer Jón þor Birgisson (don't ask me how to say it!) croons in the very upper reaches of his register, and his brow knits so tightly, you could stick a penny in the creases and it would stick. With Heima, they're joined by a string section of ladies who saw away at their instruments with so much gusto that most shots show a few loose hairs on at least one person's bow.

Heima, which means "at home," is more about Iceland than it is about Sigur Ròs. The film intersperses every song with shots of the landscape around them: icy mountains, green sprouts, gray rock, choppy seas. There are clips sometimes of what a village once was, or of the local choir in concert, or the food Sigur Ròs has for dinner with the locals at their community center. Heima gives no explanation in the manner of travel films. It shows without telling, and it's a good choice.

One is left at the end with the sense of a people who have discovered a little something more of themselves, and a profound reminder of what can be drawn from natural landscapes.

And here's the crafty connection: it seemed like everyone in Iceland was wearing the same sweater.

Young, old, hipster, nerd, everybody had a yoked sweater out of the same color palette. I want to make one for my fella, but I don't know where to start. Can you recommend a pattern? A book?

Or failing that, can you recommend a place where I can find directions for a top-down men's yoked sweater? The rest I can fudge from screencaps.

This is all hypothetical, mind you. The fella is a tall, tall man, which means lots and lots of yarn to buy.

Watch the trailer here.

Sometimes You Lose

Springtime has hit Austin this weekend, and the wildflowers are in bloom. Bluebonnets decorate the shaggy sides and medians of the highway. There are brown-eyed susans, meadow pinks, and butterweed all over the place. That means splashes of purple, yellow, white, and a little dab of red here and there.

It's Texas's way of apologizing in advance for what's going to happen this summer: brown dead stuff, hot, brown dead stuff, hot, and here's a little more hot to go with the brown dead stuff.

I had the (I thought) brilliant idea to pick an assortment of Texas wildflowers and then to float them in bars of scented homemade soap. What a great gift idea for the next round of holidays, especially with so many people I know who live out of state.

The supplies were easy and cheap: soap block ($9.99), scented oil ($2.49), molds ($2.49), and flowers (free). I was responsible with the flowers and left at least two-thirds of each stand. I cooked it all up, but...

Here's where the scientific minds who read my blog can step in, if they wish. As soon as I put the first meadow pink in the hot liquid soap, it turned green and the pollen went everywhere. (I may also have killed a fire ant accidentally.) I'm going to count that as Not a Good Gift.

I'll find something else -- silk flowers, perhaps -- to float in the soap bars, so all shall not be lost. Just melty and gross.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Meme, me, me meme me, and me.

There have been a few memes lately that have caught my eye. Yellow Turtle even tagged me with one of them. Here are the rules for hers:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules here
3. Share 7 random or weird facts about yourself
4. Tag 7 random people at the end of the post, linking to them.
5. Leave a comment on their blog so that they know they’ve been tagged.

I am failing miserably at rules four and five. I shall not tag, because I fear annoying those who are tagged, despite my own love of being tagged. And yet when playing the actual game of tag, I am ruthless and speedy. Hmmm.


1. I've recently developed an obsession for the board game Ticket to Ride. Don't follow the link, don't follow the -- oh darn, too late. Well, don't blame me when all your knitting time goes to connecting Los Angeles to New York. (21 pts!)

2. My stash of old New Yorkers is bigger and more ridiculous than my yarn stash. I discovered that it is bigger on my recent, fruitless search for my Windows XP backup discs (oh, the horror), and it is clearly more ridiculous because it is theoretically possible that I will someday find a use for all my yarn. No way am I going to read all those New Yorkers, but they aren't even taking one tiny step toward the recycling bin.

3. The rockabilly librarian at my local branch likes to flirt with me, which is awkward, because I have no temptation whatsoever to do anything that resembles dishonesty in regards to my fella. And yet I don't wish to sprint from the front door to Lit Fic Authors FLA - KIN with my face hidden in my overdue copy of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns Volume I every time I go in search of Volume II. That, and all the other librarians at that branch are freakin' Nazi Stormtroopers. I settle for polite disinterest.

4. My Rowan Tapestry bruise is slowly getting better.

5. I overuse adverbs. If you didn't notice, it means I'm a good editor.

6. I stole Quiet Bubble's first copy of Encountering God. He was quoting from his replacement copy. Oops!

7. I forgot to give back the copy of Darsan to the minister of my church who recently moved away to start his own congregation. Dang it! I hate patterns.


This one is from Del at cozy's place:

"Grab the nearest book of 123+ pages & post sentences 5-8." Goofy, but neat!

From Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach:

"Edward did not mention that he had never stayed in a hotel before, whereas Florence, with many trips as a child with her father, was an old hand. Superficially, they were in fine spirits. Their wedding, at St. Mary's, Oxford, had gone well; the service was decorous, the reception jolly, the send-off from school and college friends raucous and uplifting. Her parents had not condescended to his, as they had feared, and his mother had not significantly misbehaved, or completely forgotten the purpose of the occasion."

A lovely, cheerful beginning to a book with a very depressing end. My fella gave it to me as a birthday present, then asked what it was about. "Sexual dysfunction," I said.

"Oh." Pause. "Well, it was either that or the Holocaust."

That's all for tonight. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Three Ways in Which I Have Resisted Temptation

1. 30 percent off

Bluebonnet Yarns had a 30% off all yarns sale this week. Did you see me driving up there? Did you? No, you did not. I was a good girl who instead fondled yarn she already owned and practiced good restraint.

The presence of a violent thunderstorm and torrential rains at the time when I would have made the journey up there of course has nothing to do with it.

2. 30 percent fee

I'm really sick right now. Bad cold, slight fever, yada yada. This morning I gave myself a little extra time in the morning, but at noon I realized that my mother would still make me go to school. Therefore, I ought to go to work.

I stopped by the grocery store on my way in to buy some juice and soup. I was walking to the registers when I chanced to step on a water puddle and BLAM.

This wasn't any weeny wobble we're talking about here. This is one of those falls where you don't know that you're falling until you're on the floor and your soup can is rolling toward the tampon display. I admit, I was not a nice customer for the first thirty seconds. Can you blame me? My knee has a knot the size of a half-finished skein of Knit Picks Gloss, and my rump... Well, I won't post a picture of my rump, because this isn't that sort of blog. But suffice to say, it looks like my Rowan Tapestry, color SH 171.

The temptation part comes in when I arrived at work. I won't blog about work, so let's just say I was suddenly confronted with the opportunity to write a nasty letter to the grocery chain for a fee of a mere 30 percent of the eventual settlement.

Let the world know that I am a good citizen and have turned my back on frivolous litigation. For a moment, however, I did contemplate what yarn could be bought with $335 earned for doing nothing more than crashing in the plastic dish aisle.

What would you buy if you had an unexpected $335?

3. I'm sure I've resisted temptation in some other way. Let me think.

Nope. Um... no, not then... And, well, that other time? Not really.

My good citizenship extends only so far, it seems.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Stuffed Brobee Yarn

I'd like to make a stuffed Brobee as a gift for someone. Can you recommend a novelty yarn I should use?

Here's a nice closeup of the star himself.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Boho Stripes

(I'm early to work, so it's okay that I'm posting at the office.)

From my office window I see the same van and trailer that pulled into two parking spots at two meters just before I left yesterday. Outside the van, four members of a rock band are performing their morning ablutions, their duffle bags out on the sidewalk for all to see.

By my calculations, they would have had to have spent $24 in quarters this morning to avoid a ticket, and I don't see a ticket on their windshield. I'd say it worked. Hotel rooms are prohibitively expensive and very scarce this week, so these guys probably did the right thing.

My fella's had four requests from musicians and bands to stay at his apartment this week. (They must know better than to ask me; I've had none!) He's said yes to two groups, even though in one case the guy waited until yesterday to ask. In a way, I'm almost jealous of these tramp-musician hybrids, wondering why I'm so darn boring.

Then I remember that I slept on a dog-pee covered couch for three nights while shooting scenes for my show Ohio Trip. Perhaps I've earned my boho stripes after all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

From Mid-SxSW

Spring break means something different here in Austin. That's the one week of the year when there are no hotel rooms in the entire city, when it's impossible to get a table at a downtown restuarant, and when papparazzi come pestering celebrities in a place where there ought to be neither.

It's SXSW.

When I was in high school, I wanted to go to SXSW (South by Southwest) so badly. I wanted to go to music show after music show after film debut after film debut. I wanted to hang out with the cool kids all week long. How awesome to live in Austin!

Then I moved to Austin when I was 26. It came time for SXSW to roll around, and I discovered... that I was right. It is awesome!

Last night the fella and I only attended one show, a free show by an art punk band named Mei Shi*. The members of Mei Shi took one look at their ragtag band of audience followers and began playing their set of maybe five songs early and badly, just to get out of there sooner. From now on, I'm going to call them Mei Sheesh.

I took my DROPS 103-1 Cardigan out for its public hipster debut. The fella took one look and said, and I quote, "It's done! You need some big wooden buttons, try a mahogany color. Where are the rest of the sleeves?"

"The sleeves are supposed to be that length."

"Oh." Pause. "Okay."

I do appreciate his unwavering honesty.

The next few nights look like they'll bring with them jaunts to see C-Mon & Kypski, The Raveonettes, My Brightest Diamond, Flatstock, maybe some films, and lots more. I don't go to this many music shows in a year, mind you. But when in Rome...

Wish me luck!

* No idea how to spell it.

EDIT: Aha! The band is called The Mae Shi. (Or the Mae Sheesh.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Three of my four 2008 FOs thus far have been obligations -- finishing off, quick gifts, or something else that made me say, "Eh." I haven't completed something bragworthy in over a couple months.

Until now!

pattern: DROPS 103-1 Cardigan, found here.
completed: March 11, 2008. Buttons to come!
yarn: South West Trading Company Gianna (50% wool, 50% soysilk; 41.5 m/45 y; 50 g; green; 13.5 skeins. This yarn usually comes in larger skeins.)
made for: me
needles: size 10.5
notes: Squee! A sweater that turned out just the way I'd hoped! The bulky yarn had some knots and it did make my fingers hurt a bit, but beyond that, it turned out to be a perfect substitute. The FO feels much more durable than either of my first two sweaters, and it's delightfully soft and huggable.
My only mod was to knit the sleeves in the round. If I'd been thinking, I would have done a three-needle bind-off at the shoulder seams to reduce bulk.

I was so delighted to finish this cardigan that I went for a walk the moment I'd finished taking these pictures in the last gasp of daylight. Actually, it was more like I took the sweater for a walk. I absolutely strutted my way down the street with that goofy, geeky look on my face that says, "Hey, I made this. Hi! Hello there, did you know I made my sweater?"

Buttons to come. The shirt underneath is a new acquisition from Parts & Labor. Austinites should pay them a visit, if they haven't already.

One other recommendation: I'm not someone who's hooked on the knitting podcasts, but I found one that I really enjoy: Y KNIT, by two dudes. They're only on their third episode, so get in on the ground floor!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Key to Success

So, who else here didn't know about the time change yesterday? Anybody? Anybody?

Huh. Well, it took me by surprise. For weeks now, I've been scheduled to give a brief presentation to a Sunday school class who contributed to the New Mexico service trip I went on in the fall. I didn't forget about that.

I woke up on time (I thought). I was so pleased with myself for getting out of bed, I thought cheerfully of all the important things I'd be able to accomplish in that hour: eat breakfast, take a shower, get dressed nicely, print out my outline for the talk, perhaps even check my email.

Then at 9 a.m., I get a call from my co-presenter, asking me if I knew it was 10 a.m.

It just doesn't seem fair sometimes.

I leapt into the car and hurried right on down to church, hungry and perhaps a bit more greasy than I'd prefer, and spoke off the cuff. It actually went well. In fact, it went so well that two members of the class have invited me to give a short talk to the entire church at the main service in a few weeks for their cause.

I should be an hour late and in yesterday's clothes more often.

In other news: I'm getting a short play produced in the Out of Ink showcase in Austin, and another play produced in this event in late April, in Chicago. I'm getting pretty good at these here ten-minute plays.

In still other news, I am furiously seaming away at the 103-1 DROPS Cardigan in hopes that I can wear it once, just once, before the season is totally gone. I hope to have pictures oh-so-soon!