Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Catching up (new pics)

I've been having a problem getting my computer to "see" my camera when I plug it in. Turns out the problem is some software I got that allowed me to edit my phone's address book on my computer -- the stupid software messed up the USB drivers, or something to that effect. It's not entirely fixed, but at least I can upload pics for now.

Anyway. Now that I'm not lying in bed complaining about being too dizzy to walk (inner ears and sinuses all messed up), I've taken some pics of recent projects.

First, I'm working on getting presentable pics of my latest shawl, which is the Diamonds and Feathers shawl, so I can write it up and offer it for sale.
Pics -- this is NOT the final one, since I'm going to take more that show off the details of the shawl better:

I've also been noodling around with some leftover Jaggerspun fingering weight yarn, in preparation for a Shetland hap shawl that I want to knit (yarn on order from Webs). It doesn't look like much in this pic, but what you're looking at is a) the center, which is a square knitted in garter stitch just like the famous "grandma's favorite dishcloth'; b) the border, in which you pick up 3 stitches for every 2 rows, then start knitting outwards in Old Shale pattern, with increases at the corners; and c) at the upper left hand corner, a knitted-on lace border. I'm not sure I have enough yarn to finish this, though, and may just rip it out, now that I've shown myself I've got the concept (& math) down.

I'm also noodling around with some Mysti Alpaca from my stash. I have a design in mind, but am not sure if I like the looseness of the design on these needles. Think I'll knit to the end of the pattern repeat and then make up my mind.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Posting and You

About darned time...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Ranch dressing update

Found two recipes:

Definitely need to try this with my non-soy mayonnaise.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

likes and dislikes (lace knitting)

So, I was trying to start the Baltic Sea stole last weekend (tried using two different yarns -- Knitpicks Shimmer in "Morning Mist", and Knitpicks Landscape in "Yukon" -- and decided that I'm really having a problem with the pattern. It's not that it's that difficult, technically; but I don't particularly like knitting in pattern across the back of the shawl. I think I prefer patterns where you just purl back. Just a personal preference thing, really. Also, with the needles I'm using I have a problem pick up the stitches in the columns of eyelets, so struggling with that is no fun. I may try different needles. OTOH, I may just go looking through my knitting notebooks and find a "waterfall" kind of stitch, and design my own shawl.

The yarns are also a bit problematic. Both the laceweight and sockweight yarns have sudden, dramatic color changes, which could be distracting in a complex lace design. So whatever I do with them will need to be uncomplicated.

Yesterday I ordered some Shetland 2/8 yarn from Webs for a traditional Shetland-style hap shawl. I have a Western reenacting event (yeah, I do a "cowboy" thing once a year, for fun) and it'd be fun to have a shawl to go with the outfit I made last year. Not sure I'll have it done in time, however.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Too sick to knit, even. I've had a cold, which started Sunday and developed, by Wednesday, into a sinus infection. Got my antibiotics RX yesterday (Levaquin), and woke up this morning so dizzy I could hardly walk. Sure enough, dizziness and nausea are side effects of the medication. Called the doctor's office, and they're sending a different RX to the pharmacy.

So, yes, too dizzy to sit up for any length of time, let alone concentrate enough to knit. I'm lying on the couch... Thank goodness for cable. I'm too dizzy to read much either, and would be stir crazy if not for Tivo and the History Channel (which, for once, isn't airing a full day of programming about WWII).

Not too sick to read a wee bit of email, however, and place an order with Webs for some 2/8 shetland yarn. I have a "western" reenacting event in September (as in, we pretend to be cowboys/frontier settlers) and I have a vague intent of knitting a shetland-style hap shawl in time for that. I ordered "weathered grey" and "terra cotta".

I think I'm gonna wait til next payday to order any Andean Silk from Knitpicks for the next corset sweater. I'm sure I won't get to it before then anyway, and I really should finish some of the projects I have on the backburner too (18th c. stockings for a friend, that red cotton sweater I started a while ago, etc.) I also am noodling around with some black Mysti Alpaca I bought a while ago, but I might rip that out and start again with a less boring pattern than the Shetland quatrefoil eyelet I'm using now.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

didn't know I had a twin brother...

...so to speak. Met a guy this weekend who could very well have been me (well, the male version), had I made different choices. He's a philosophy and history major (or something like that), with a PhD and some conservation training, and has been working as an adjunct professor and curator for the last 15 yrs. I think he's about my age. From what I gather, it hasn't been easy -- no tenure track positions, etc. He rents, rather than owns, his house, and it's a bit ramshackle (he says the gardens are beautiful; you do what you can with what you have control over...) Married, with a kid who I guess is about eight (I'm bad at guessing kids' ages). Personality-wise, we have a lot in common, I think. He's more of a pacifist than I can bring myself to be (I've investigated the Quakers, but the nearest meeting is too far to go, and I'm not quite sure I could really be as nonviolent as the Quakers are). He seems to be getting into sewing/tailoring (made all of his family's clothes). In short, we seem to have a lot in common, in terms of interests and skills, and it was a pleasure meeting him and potentially gaining some new friends.

Anyway. I've been thinking a lot lately about whether I've made the right decisions in life, including the decision not to go to grad school to be a historian or theologian. I seriously considered that track, but never quite got around to applying anywhere.

I've had various reasons for deciding not to (or refusing to take the steps necessary to do it, that is), including the fear of being a highly-educated bag lady. I don't want to be like my dad, who has a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Princeton and a law degree, but who was fired from his job due to a disagreement with his boss the year I graduated from college and hasn't really held a job since then -- thank goodness for his Navy pension. Another example is one of my best profs from college, who got canned after a personality conflict (jealousy, I think, on the part of the head of the department, who felt himself being supplanted in popularity) and went on to teach at a private school, then got out of teaching altogether. When I graduated from college, there were a lot of stories about how increasingly hard it was to get a job leading to tenure.

Looking at those sorts of things happening to people I know, I'm just not confident that I'm resilient and self-promoting enough to survive in academia (or, for that matter, in some corporate environments). Also, growing up wearing thrift store clothes and never feeling secure about money, I just don't think I want to take a job like this. I'm slightly conflicted about my current job, but the main worry seems to be what I'd do if I ever had to leave it. I like my job, I like working for the organization, and the people are mostly great. I'm feeling a touch burned out at the moment, but that's manageable. But if I ever had another boss-from-hell (I had one a while back), I have no idea where I'd go or what I'd do -- I'd probably have to retrain. But I have great job security, and I guess I'm not willing to give that up for a job that might be more risky and more intellectually challenging.

What can I say, I'm a chicken...

But I have a house and a garden. So I'm a happy chicken.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Here's the modified sleeve for the Silk Corset -- I picked up enough stitches around the edges of the sleeve to continue knitting in the ribbing pattern, then when I got to just below the elbow I used Chart F three times to make a trumpet sleeve. Posted by Picasa

Here's the finished Silk Corset, prior to blocking. I've since blocked it, and gave it to my sis, who will be adding buttons and taking a pic for me to post. Posted by Picasa

Finally, the Koigu version of the Diamonds and Razor Shell shawl is done. This is in color #P506, 4 skeins total (there's a little left over). I've been working on this off and on for a while, but had to put it on the back burner and finish some sewing projects.

You can't see well in this pic, but I put little bronze-colored beads at each point, and slightly larger beads at the center and two end points.
Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 08, 2005

fall fashion colors rant

I really do hate shopping. I want to find something that works, buy it, stuff it in a bag, and go home. Dawdling around trying on every conceivable combination of outfits is a waste of time.

And it used to be that I could reliably find some great clothing in Fall -- rust, barn red, various shades of green.

I went by J.C. Penney's over the weekend to try to find a few tops for work (what, I don't knit or sew everything I wear? Um, no... Haven't broken out the sewing machine for work clothes for a long time; I prefer to save my sewing/knitting time for stuff I actually enjoy wearing), and find that the current popular colors are pink, mauve, orange, a pukey shade of purple, and a color of kelly green. I actually like orange, green and purple, but all the "in" shades this season are too bright for me. Where did olive and salmon go? Guess I shoulda stocked up a few years ago. Had the same problem with clothing colors this past spring -- colors too intense, make me look washed out.

A friend keeps scolding me for wearing too much black. Well, this is what drives me to it -- a fashion industry which goes through fits where nothing it makes is suitable for me. I'm sure there are people who are ecstatic about the current fashion trends, but personally, I'm not going to be buying much clothing until they get over it and get back to some sensible basics. If any of you can wear these colors, more power to ya... My friend Kass probably would look great in all of them (she has dark hair and very pale skin, I'm a dishwater blonde with skin that tends toward sallow).

Either that, or I'm buying some long-sleeved Ts from DharmaTrading, and breaking out the dyepot...

why I don't speak "chick"

Article from the NY Times on the effect of prenatal testosterone on brains
So, 17% of women have a brain that works a little more like a male brain. Interesting. I'd bet I'm one of them. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy being female, but I've always been just a little more of a geek girl. Not a hardcore geek girl, but still -- definitely toward that end of the spectrum. I'm fairly analytical. I wear clothes as though they were uniforms (functional, as stylish as necessary not to be a complete nerd but never fussy or involved), read voraciously, wear minimal makeup, never understood those girls who hung out giggling over Vogue or Brides magazine in high school / college. That being said, I can be feminine and sexy when I want to (see my reenacting hobby -- am definitely into costumes, and love designing/creating stuff). Most of my friends fit this description, too -- not "girly girls", more "kick-ass babes".

Veddy interesting.

The main point of the article, namely that an overdose of prenatal testosterone can cause autism, is interesting -- my mom thinks my dad has Asberger's, and she may have a point. He's brilliant, but not particularly social. In more extreme forms, my hubby used to know brilliant scientists who couldn't walk across the street unaided (they tended to wander into traffic). I hope to see more study of this down the road.

Obligatory knitting content: gave the silk corset to my sis Saturday, sans buttons. She's going to add buttons and send me a pic for the blog. I took a pic of the sleeve, which I elongated in the ribbing pattern and then flared out using three repeats of Chart F to make a trumpet sleeve.

Friday, August 05, 2005

"Traveling While Married'

A friend recently loaned me "Traveling While Married' by Mary-Lou Weisman. Good book -- small and witty.

p. 46: "We don't like to unwind. There's nothing Zen about us. It's not unusual to come upon Larry relaxing at home on a Sunday afternoon, working a crossword puzzle, vacuuming the rugs, and washing the dishes. I can talk on the phone, answer my email, and moisturize without feeling the least bit stressed. People who like us think of us as energetic and productive. People who don't, think we're workaholic freaks who won't last much longer. The point is, a transatlantic cruise would not be a good vacation choice for us, unless our ship came under enemy attack or ran into the perfect storm."

This reminds me of an article in yesterday's Post about the staycation, in which one takes time off but stays home. I think that sounds lovely. I have plenty of interesting and fun stuff to do around the house, including weeding my garden, knitting, watching shows on my Tivo backlog, organizing stuff... you get the idea. I like going places and doing things, too, but the main point of taking time off is to be doing stuff I want to be doing, not stuff I have to do.

My favorite vacations lately have been the ones I spent at Old Bedford Village, where I spent a week at a time living in a log home and pretending I was keeping house in the 18th century. This involved hard work -- cooking, laundry, more cooking, cleaning, sewing, etc. But it was fun. No computers, no phone calls, no databases -- just me, the tourists, and the frogs in the pond.

Speaking of cruises, K. has expressed a desire to go on the Queen Mary II or the rebuilt Titanic. I think I'd consent to go if a) I got to spend the entire time sitting in a deck chair and reading, and b) he absolutely promised to dance with me ever night. (He's a great dancer. but resolutely refuses to dance at weddings or other occasions where that's an option, and I miss dancing.) Not that this is likely to happen any time in the near future -- it's hard for both of us to take time off for any amount of time lately, anyway.

We've got tentative plans to go to Maine on vacation this Fall. I'm also not convinced this will happen (see above), but if it does, I'm dreading it. Our last vacation in Maine (two years ago) was a disaster. He wanted the TV on all the time (we compromised and bought a cheap radio, which at least provided some background noise for him, though we couldn't agree on whether to play Classical -- my choice, for relaxation, or Classic Rock -- his choice).

We did ok with the antiquing and museuming, but the real problem was coming home. He went into a blue funk and whined for months about not being in Maine anymore, and then started talking about moving to Maine within the next year. We've talked about moving to Maine eventually, but... eventually and next year are entirely different things. We had a huge fight. I'd just published my first costume book, and had been building a community of local friends, and there's no way I could face moving at that point. We also had a lot of projects in mid-progress around the house (like ripping up carpet and putting down hardwood flooring, building built-ins in the living room, etc.), which would require finishing in preparation to a move. Last, and most important, Maine has had a depressed economy for the last hundred years; finding jobs there isn't easy. Many rural Mainers work several jobs to make ends meet. K. is an IT professional with a security clearance that is very marketable in the DC area, and I work in a rather specialized job myself -- chances of finding comparable jobs in the area we want to live aren't great. So I'm just worried that another Maine vacation is going to bring this all back to the top, and I'm not prepared to deal with it right now.

Fortunately (perhaps), he's now talking about doing a local vacation. Fine with me! In fact, I'd be happy just to stay home, potter around in the garden, finish some sewing projects... you get the idea. The perfect staycation.

Ranch dressing

I've been wondering what went into Ranch dressing, partly because I'm allergic to the commercial stuff and want to make my own.

So, today in Slate, there's an article on the history of Ranch Dressing.

I didn't know it was the most popular dressing, but I'm not surprised. I've had some versions that were a bit better than others -- more pepper, more garlic, etc. And I haven't tried wasabi ranch, which sounds good.

I also didn't know that recipes couldn't be patented. I thought they could -- "Chicken Cordon Bleu" is not in any of my cookbooks (I did find some recipes online, though). I think the Cordon Bleu institute has that name for the recipe copyrighted, at least -- the same way the French have a lock on the name "Champagne" for sparkling wines produced in the Champagne region of France.