Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A messy house is good for you...

... or something.

Actually, I wonder if the "neatness and order" thing has less to do with it than having the kind of brain that likes exploring new possibilities and learning new things. Learning new things is responsible for more of the mess in my house than anything else. Imposing order on the chaos is my last priority, and only happens when I can't bear the level of chaos any more. Chaos always reasserts itself very quickly in all its vibrant colors. You have to break eggs to make omelettes, or tempera paint for that matter.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Power Tools are a Girl's Best Friend

Got about two thirds of the floor down tonight. Hope to finish it either tomorrow night or Weds. night -- depending on how sore I am tomorrow. We just barely have 90 square feet of the stuff left over after doing the rest of the house -- and the room is just barely smaller than 90 square feet (9 x 10 room, with one corner cut off).

K. helped get the first couple of rows down (he cut the wood around the floor vent), but if he'd kept "helping" me, I woulda had to kill 'im. (Just kidding, hon.) The basic problem is that we are both quite competent craftspeople, but have different working styles. And I have, in fact, put down MOST of the flooring in the house. I got quite peeved with him when he "helped" me and Dad put the flooring down in our bedroom -- he whined, stalled, and otherwise made a nuisance of himself -- so when his back started bothering him so much that he couldn't continue, it was a relief. And I told him I'd be happier doing the job by myself when I put down the flooring in the other two bedrooms and hallway.

I think it's the complaining that bothers me most. My knees and back hurt too, dammit, but you don't hear ME whining about it -- at least not until I'm done with the job for the day. Then I'll complain about how my #@!! body is falling apart on me. (Speaking of which, I guess I should go take some aspirin so I don't feel like cr*p in the morning.)

So it gets a bit irksome when he starts telling me how to install flooring ("Put the staples closer together!"). I made strong hints, about two rows into this evening's work, that his knees weren't up to the task and he really ought to leave me to get on with the job, thankyouveddymuch. I can tolerate his help on some of the details, but really, I'd prefer to do this on my own. Besides, there's only one stapler.
Courtesy of Franklin at The Panopticon, Miniature Cheviot Sheep.

I tried to borrow a friend's bottle-fed sheep once, for a reenacting event. I figured that since Baa (the sheep) had been a bottle lamb, raised in Christina's kitchen, it'd be used to being around humans. What I didn't figure on was that Baa had grown up considerably in the month since I first saw him, and had also been reunited with the flock, so when I arrived to pick him up, I got a fully-grown sheep who was not happy at being separated from the flock.

At the time I had a blue Subaru Legacy station wagon. It was a good little wagon, and I managed to haul lots of gear to reenacting events with me. So, I lined the back of the wagon with plastic tarp and newspaper and put Baa in. On the hour-long drive home, Baa bleated softly. I got the wierdest looks from other drivers (how often do you see a station wagon with a sheep in the back?) but figured things were going moderately well.

When I got home, I put Baa in the kitchen, where I'd set up a small pen lined with newspapers and furnished with some hay and water. Baa didn't, however, think that this looked much like home, so he commenced to bleating much more loudly than he'd done in the car -- so loudly that it would have been impossible to sleep. He also showed no signs of stopping the infernal noise. We briefly contemplated putting him in the basement or the back yard, but the stairs and the thought of annoying our neighbors made us decide to cut our losses and take Baa back home that evening, even though it was already about 10 pm. I called Dan to tell him that we'd be late for the event on Saturday; I think I heard him laughing his head off on the other end of the line at the bleating he was hearing in the background from my end.


So. Yesterday, when I was driving around the neighborhood posting flyers for an upcoming event, I happened upon the tail end of an altercation at Giant in which one man (white, as it happens) pulled a gun on another man (black). I gather the "n" word was used at some point in the argument.

Sigh... The knee-jerk reaction, here, is to want to move far, far away from here. And one day, we might, because we've had a longstanding dream of having a small farm (say, five acres or so). But as far as the immediate issue of crime goes, that really doesn't solve anything. I have friends who live in small towns and tell me about the stupid fights their neighbors have, and the guy two blocks over who was busted for making meth. A friend in rural Maine had the police called on him because an enemy was convinced he was abusing his elderly mother (or something like that). And moving to a rural area certainly doesn't get you away from ignorant rednecks who use the "n" word and pull guns on people.

It's not surprising that there's racial tension in our area; more and more minorities are moving into an area that used to be majority white. But most of the minority families I've met (my neighbors, for instance) are just like us -- middle class, hard-working, respectable people. The one family I was happy to see move out of the neighborhood were white, and could be called "rednecks". They moved, I'm sure, because they were uncomfortable with the increasing minority population in the neighborhood. They had badly-behaved children and a dog who lived in the back yard or garage and howled all night. The family (white/hispanic couple, active duty military) who bought their house said it was a mess inside, and they had to have some baseboard replaced and drywall patched to make it decent.

The truth is, I like my suburban neighborhood, especially now that it really has become populous enough that we have some good stores. And I know my neighbors; whatever their race, they're all middle-class, hard-working professionals. They take pride in their property and they don't have yelling fights in the middle of the street. And, unlike many small towns where the neighbors are intimately interested in your comings and goings, my neighbors don't seem to care (or if they do, they don't let me know). They keep an eye on things, but aren't intrusive, in other words.

The things I wish I could change: I wish we had enough room to put up a workshop for K's woodworking; I wish I had a little more land, for the dogs; and I wish we could keep a small boat under a cover in the back yard. If we ever do find the right piece of land, this is enough incentive to move. But land is getting awfully scarce around here.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

FLAK progress, and room painted

Here's the progress on my FLAK sweater. I'm using seed stitch for the filler, and find that I only had to pick up 100 stitches total along the edge (provided I'm doing the math correctly -- but it looks good, I think), and then decrease every 10 rows to the cuff. Also vaguely debating whether I want to rip back and add a few more cables, but... nah. Not yet, anyway.

I tried the "Magic Loop" method mentioned onlist today, but it seems awkward (to me). And I hate 16" circs -- they make my hands cramp up. So, it's dpns for me. I'm glad there's a method out there for those who hate dpns, but I'm like them and am used to them, so there's really no point in switching.

Got the front room painted this weekend. Yesterday we spackled (some more -- caught some spots we missed earlier) and did a bit of painting, and installed the new ceiling light, which gives off a good deal more light than the one the builder installed. Also got a new light for our bedroom while we were at it.

This room will ultimately house my weaving loom, spinning wheels, and a few other textile-related items. There will also be a console for the printers and fax machine, with an area underneath for the dogs to 'den' in the way they used to sleep under K's desk. White is a good choice for sewing rooms and areas where you're dealing with colors -- it reflects light, and doesn't change the way you see the colors of whatever you're working on.

The white paint also makes the room look bigger -- it's only about 9 x 10. Taking the dark carpet out helped, too, but the white, which is semi-gloss, reflects a lot of light. We're thinking about painting the trim a color like sage green, but haven't decided yet. Green might work; it would bring the outside in, as the designers say.

After finishing painting, I pulled up all the carpet staples, so we're ready to start installing the flooring. We just barely have enough flooring left for this room and will be literally cutting it very close. Enough work for one day, though -- I'm stiff and sore. If we ever build another house, we definitely need to budget for the builder to install the flooring.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Why, yes, I do like the color green. Why do you ask?

Come to think of it, this makes four shawls I've knitted in green. Hm. Maybe I should diversify my color choices a bit...

And yes, that is dog hair, and muddy footprints, on the floor. I'm mopping the kitchen floor tomorrow. Or something.

Anyway, the shawl. I wore it to work on Wednesday, and got about six unsolicited compliments, a few of which were from complete strangers. That made me feel good. I mean, I feel good about this lovely shawl anyway -- it has everything I like. It feels wonderful to wear; it has nice drape; the yarn has a lovely texture and shine. It's just the thing needed for my somewhat chilly office, too. But random compliments are always a good thing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Deirdre Flint

Here, courtesy of the "Cast On" podcast -- check out "Boob Fairy"

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sleeves in your Pi - finished and blocking

Here's the pi shawl, being blocked on my bed (yes, that's my "to be read" pile on the bedside table -- or one of them, anyway), and my extension of the last several rows of the pattern.

Wore it (unblocked) over to my sis's house yesterday, and she called it my "fuzzy yeti" shawl. Yeah, it is big, fuzzy and green. Could also be compared to the Cookie Monster. But it's warm, and comfy, and will make a lovely wrap for sitting on the couch on a cold evening. Despite all the lacy holes, it's a nicely cozy wrap.

This New House

Over the past few years, we've been ripping up the carpet in the house and replacing it with hardwood flooring.

The last room to go is the front room, because K. has been using it as his study. Since he got his laptop at Christmas, he hasn't been using the desk, so we cleaned out the room, stored stuff in the basement, got rid of a bunch of stuff, and finally were able to rip out the carpet today. (He's ultimately going to get a room in the basement, when we finish that out, for his exercize equipment etc.)

The pics show the carpet, then the dirt on the carpet pad, and finally the dirt under the carpet pad. Amazing how much dirt gets trapped under there, isn't it? The pink outline on the carpet pad shows where the plastic chair mat was located. You can see how dirty the surrounding carpet pad was in comparison to the protected area.

Nifty find

My sis and I are signed up for a painting class that starts in March, so we went to a local art supply store and got a bunch of paints and other stuff yesterday. When I got home, I tried to search for the sketch box I thought I'd seen in the basement, but didn't find it until I looked again today.

I don't know which grandmother it belonged to -- could've been either Irma's or Bobbie's. Irma was a professional artist and art teacher. Bobbie had a degree in art, but never painted professionally. Either way, it's a nifty find.

I'm not going to be able to use any of the paints for this class (even supposing they're still good), since I want to try acrylics rather than oils, but it's nifty to have an actual artist's paintbox to look at, especially one belonging to my grandmother. I'm going to divide the usable parts -- pallette knives, mostly -- with my sis.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wow. I don't know what to say...

Two links, courtesy of Bitch PhD.:
"Your Pregnancy is a Punishment from God"
"Sluts Still Need to be Taught a Lesson"

I have too many friends who deal with various issues -- miscarriages, that kind of thing -- and reading about this sort of behavior on the part of doctors just... wow.

About a year ago in November I went to visit a friend who stayed with the church I grew up in. She has four kids. When I was showing her my knitting (hats for the nephews) she made several comments to the effect of "so that's what you can do if you don't have kids" which really irked me. I didn't know how to interpret her comments -- envy that I don't have kids and she does, and feels trapped (she's worried about what would happen to their family if her husband had a heart attack)? Judgement of me for not having kids? Maybe a bit of both?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

snicker du jour

Go to www.google.com
type in "asshole"
hit "I feel lucky"

Food allergies, and Mom rant

So yesterday I called Mom and asked her some questions about family medical history -- specifically, when she, her sister, and our maternal grandmother had hit menopause. The answer was around age 44, in all cases (though Mom's was surgical). Mom, of course, decided to attribute this to "food allergies". Er, no, 44 is a perfectly normal age for hitting menopause. And I told her so.

Mom attributes everything to food allergies. There's a saying, "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail." Well, that's our Mom. Grr....

Also frustrating is her tendency to try foods she should know better than to eat, even though she can't read the label. I have more food allergies than she does, and I read labels religiously. I don't try new stuff very often; I know what foods I can eat, and I stick with them. She claims to read labels, but every once in a while she'll assume that a food is safe and eat it. The most recent episode involved a ham with a glaze on it. Er...

I'd told her a while ago that one particular ham from Safeway was cured with sugar and honey, rather than dextrose, and she's since eaten that ham without incident. ALL other hams I've found have some kind of corn or wheat contamination in them. So what does she do? She eats ham that has a glaze on it at a Christmas party (i.e., the ham was from an unknown source and therefore suspect). The glaze had wheat in it. She had a celiac episode, and felt sick for several days afterward.

She should simply know better by now.

If you confront her on these things, she'll attribute her stupid behavior to... food allergies. But fer Crissakes, woman, can't you LEARN from your mistakes? That's just dumb.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

For a delightfully macabre take on the Olympics....

Mr. Otto

As good as Warner Bros. I kid you not!

For anyone who's been hiding in a cave for the past month, The Yarn Harlot started a Knitting Olympics thing where people cast on a project at the start of the Olympics, to be finished by the end of the Games. It's all good fun, but like many things it's snowballed into something completely... well, wierd. I've encountered this same wierdness in a smaller way with regards to my reenacting book; if you're published, people start regarding you as some kind of Goddess Incarnate, which gets old really fast. (Which is why I have a knitting blog, not a reenacting blog.)

So, in response to said wierdness, there are several parody teams for the Knitting Olympics, namely Team Angstylvania and The Knitting Curmudgeon's Team Joisey (which isn't really a team, so far as I can tell). Love it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Heart Day

Link to the Acme Heart Maker courtesy of the Knitting Curmudgeon.

No special plans; I gave K. some chocolate and a card, and he gave me some flowers and a card. We'll probably stop at the grocery store on the way home and pick up a nice salmon steak or something.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow Day

The plans for this weekend were to go to my sis's house and help her drape her wedding dress (the wedding's in April). We made a fair amount of progress, but didn't quite finish (need more fabric), so are reconvening next Saturday for more sewing.

Both Mom and I brought overnight bags, and I brought a sleeping bag, because I was pretty worried that we'd get stuck there because of the snow storm, but by the end of the day there was only a dusting of snow on the roads, so I drove Mom home then went home myself. Probably a good thing -- we can get along with each other for a day, but being stuck together for longer can get interesting. And it's good to sleep in one's own bed.

So today I worked on my FLAK sweater front (I'm about halfway to being finished), helped K. measure for studs in the basement, and did laundry. The pic above is of the snow in my back yard. We probably got about 8 to 10 inches, though it's packed down a bit by the time this pic was taken.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Sleeves in your Pi - Sleeves started, and knitting fonts

Progress on the Sleeves in your Pi shawl -- I've finished the border (woo hoo!), and started one sleeve. Note to self: next time, use thicker waste yarn. The uneven dyeing I complained about before, though, has actually turned out pretty well -- I like the variegated look of the yarn, and the shawl would probably be more boring otherwise.

You can see in the pic where I still have the waste yarn in place (left); the half-knitted sleeve is on the right.

Knitting with this thick mohair is a PITA, but worth it. I love the feel of the knitted fabric; it's very cuddly and warm, and the subtle shine of the yarn is wonderful. The downside of thick mohair: if you make a mistake, it's a bear to rip or tink back and fix it. The upside: this yarn is SO fuzzy that the occasional "oops" doesn't show up that much, so as long as it's not something that totally throws the pattern off, I just shrug and keep knitting.

Here's the chart I did for extending the center chart. The original directions tell you to repeat the last four rows several times; instead, I decided to complete the diamonds. The chart is done in Excel, btw, with a knitting font. Here is a useful blog entries on knitting fonts. Another knitting font can be found here.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mangia and Groovy Lube

In keeping with the Godzilla theme, here's a photo of Mangia, a pizza parlor in Austin that has the green monster ("It's not Godzilla, it's a dinosaur") on it's roof. You can't fool me -- it's Godzilla.

Right across the street is an oil change place called "Groovy Lube" -- I kid you not. Just had to take pics. The employees wear tshirts that read, "Keep Austin Groovy".

We saw assorted characters wandering around down by the center of town, too, but I didn't take their pics.

On a yarn-related note, we also went by Hill Country Weavers, so I could pick up some TSA-safe bamboo knitting needles for the trip home. Their website put me off a bit -- I was afraid it would be one of those shishi stores with nothing useful or practical and lots of overpriced novelty yarns -- but the actual store is homier and has a lot of great stuff and neat people working there.

Back from Austin; FLAK and PiSleeves Progress

I took the FLAK sweater to Austin with me, so I wouldn't fall behind, and here's the pic to date. Also took the Sleeves in your Pi Shawl and got to the last row of the center circle part by the time I got on the plane to come home. Sorry, no progress pics, but it looks like a green blob anyway. I've started the border (you might be able to pick that out of today's pic, above), using a small circ needle for the edging stitches. I found that the least awkward way to work the border is to knit the edging stitches onto the needle holding the rest of the shawl on the outward row of the edging, then knit them onto the short circular needle going back toward the body of the shawl. I tried just using the small circular needle for the edging, picking up one stitch from the shawl body for the k2tog join, but that was too awkward.

Austin was a fun town. It's sort of like Takoma Park, MD, but it's an entire city rather than just a few blocks. Highlights of the trip included Toy Joy (pics below), which had just about every novelty and/or gag gift one could possibly want. I bought a Godzilla doll, a sponge brain (you put it in water and it expands), glow in the dark space mucus, two K├╝belwagens, and a few other things. The Godzilla doll was going to the nephews, but got appropriated by K. the minute I got home, and the K├╝belwagens were snatched up by G., who apparently has a small collection of toy WW2 military vehicles (why am I not surprised?).

The fuzzy pink object in the pic below is a plastic buddha bank, with pink flocking, so it really is fuzzy as well as being out of focus.

Vodka filter

Interesting post on running cheap vodka through a filter to make it taste more like a premium product

I don't drink vodka, as a rule, and the filtering process would be counterproductive for whisky, which is my usual poison (the peatier, the better), but still. Interesting.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Yarn Snobs: What She Said

Really good post about yarn snobs (and people who are overly defensive about using Red Heart).

She also has some good posts about calculating the cost per yard of yarn (sometimes it's cheaper to buy the good stuff, IOW).

Gotta agree with her. Whether a yarn is 'good' or not depends on the purpose for which it's intended, whether it's fun to knit with, and whether it's going to fall apart too quickly etc.