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Friday, September 29, 2006

A Cat Photo on the Internet? How Novel.
I'm not sure why I felt I had to share this. Perhaps because my friend Brian has recently taken me to task for too much yarn/knitblogging (somebody clearly needs more fiber in their diet - ahem).

So here's some even less-imaginative cat-blogging:


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Sunday Observation
John's obsession with weekend mornings spent watching bad science fiction (or horror) movies took a turn for the mass-market this morning: Matrix Reloaded. It just so happens that I've never seen the whole thing through. Under normal circumstances, I'd be in and out, not really watching the whole thing. As it was, I was finishing my hourglass sweater (at least the knitting part - this sweater has become famous among others on the internet for the time it takes to do the finishing. As of this afternoon: Jill 1 (neck facing), sweater 3 (sleeves and bottom hem). The good news? It fits.).

I thought the first Matrix movie was interesting and compelling - not deep, but good popcorny fun. I know I'm a lot late to the game on the sequels (or at least this one), but dang what a tedious, speechy, preachy, dumb movie.

I do think, though, that "Infinite Hugo Weavings" would be a good band name.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Adventures in Color
"Rep tie" yarn:

2 plies of corriedale (burgundy and navy) with touches of merino color in each: olive and purple in the burgundy, sage and orange in the navy.

The alternating colors in diagonal stripes reminds me of my dad's rep ties.

Monday, September 18, 2006

My Irritation with Current, Award-Winning BritLit
I think I've found the formula for winning the Orange Prize, the Booker, and whatever else book blurbers in the British publishing industry find impressive:

Introduce dysfunctional family. Good if through the eyes of disaffected spouse, better if through the eyes of a wise child.

Additional exposition re: dysfunctional family. Make sure everybody's got some serious warts/scabs. Pick until bloody.

Enter mysterious stranger.

Use mysterious stranger as the catalyst for various members of dysfunctional family to dabble in varying amounts of sex/drugs/whatever. Mysterious stranger will have odd, perceptive things to say - perhaps things they should realistically know nothing about (paranoia or magical realism? You be the judge, reader. I'm off to the pub for a pint).

Build tension with mysterious stranger until blowup occurs. Bonus points if you can ratchet each family member individually to a state of near-hysteria, total breakdown, or in the case of any adolescent in the household, freakish normality.

Follow dysfunctional family back to "regular life," or AMS (After Mysterious Stranger). Is family more enlightened or just more screwed up AMS? You be the judge, reader. I'm too tired to make it explicit, and as an added bonus: if I don't make myself clear at all, ever, irritating hipsters like Bookslut will find me all the more mysterious and alluring and lobby for my winning a major book prize.


Now, if only I could stop throwing up long enough to write the damn thing. Oh, that's right. I'm not British.

Never mind.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A Meander-y Weekend
Aside from the twin weekendly concerns of laundry and food, this weekend has meandered all over the place. John hung a painting in his office, which was a Christmas and birthday present from me. The painting itself was his Christmas gift. I gave him a gift certificate for the framer's for his birthday. The swift kick that took him to finally take the painting to the framers, make a decision on a frame and spend the certificate? That one was for no occasion whatsoever. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones out of the blue, you know?

John hangs his Christmas (and birthday) presentJohn's prezzie(s)

Dash demonstrated that photographic documentation of domestic feline cuteness can be harder to capture than some of the wiliest nature photography by not quite cooperating when John tried to photograph him using my knitting bag as a pillow:

Well, Dash WAS using my knitting bag as a pillow

(contents of knitting bag: one nearly-finished hourglass sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. For some reason, I have a terrible time taking WIP photos, so you'll have to take my word for it that it has a body up to the armpits and nearly one whole sleeve).

John also finished finishing my niddy-noddy. He came up with the ingenious idea of suspending it from the rafters in the basement with fishing line in order to stain it all at once. Sometimes my husband demonstrates the kind of clever you find on Mythbusters. Also, it really looked like it was floating above his workbench, which I just think is really cool:

Levitating niddy-noddy

Today, my work-colleague Anabel came by for a stashploration and spinning demo (it is terrifically weird to me to think I would be demo-ing a skill I am so new to. It's even weirder to note that in the last week of not spinning, my hands and feet took yet another quantum leap towards fine, even work. I may own all these cells, but I don't understand them). She left with a mini-skein of nearly sockweight handspun, newly demo-ed, as well as a skein of older, thicker, lumpier stuff that she wanted to play with ("Go! Play! Knit!! Use! Crunch all you want, I'll make more!). It also apparently makes a lovely armband:

Anabel and the mini-skein

I just took the dog for his evening walk and came across a girl about eight and her mom. Girl was filling various vessels with water from the stream behind our house. Mom held a small variety of nets and sieves. "Science experiment?" I asked.

"No, just finding stuff," replied mom. "We got some small fish, other things..."

"Sounds like the best kind of science experiment to me," I said.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Did I Ever Say I had a Small Stash?
Well, once upon a time, I did have a reasonably small stash of yarn. Enough for a couple of sweaters and a handful of small accessory projects. Oh, and sock yarn for a battalion of booted feet, but that doesn't count.*

Enter my insane friend. His name is Chris. He's a work colleague, just returned from a holiday in Argentina. He brought me some yarn from Argentina as a present.

Let me rephrase. He brought me a HEFTY BAG'S worth of yarn. It apparently was insanely cheap. Cashmere and mohair, novelty and "serious." That, plus these two gorgeous skeins of alpaca laceweight:

Vast quantities of alpaca laceweight

Doesn't look too intimidating, right? Well, here's the whole haul:

Vast quantities of Argentinian Yarn

I feel a wee bit faint.

*Stephanie says sock yarn doesn't count as stash, and she's written three (almost four) books, so she's an expert, right?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Won't You Please Think of the Children?
For Marie
Marie wants to see further spinning evidence. And what Marie wants, Marie gets.


Finn. Fiddly. Kind of slippery and grippy at the same time, but if I got out of my own way enough, I could kind of zen my way into spinning this pretty evenly.


Pre-colored, premixed Colonial roving. This came from the drop-spindle kit Marie gave me so long ago (well, two years ago) for Christmas that started this whole crazy thing. This was pure delight to spin.

Coopworth + Shetland Sheepdog

Old Coopworth, plied with pure MacIntosh. Yep, we've used our dog's brushing leavings as one would a cashmere goat (props to John for learning how to hand card and make wicked rolags in very short order). Can't tell which one is which can you? Well, you could if you touched them. The Coopworth is a bit rough. The dog fur is very, very soft.

Corriedale with touches of colored Merino

Corriedale and a teensy bit of merino. I scored a few "dime bags" of color: one-ounce quantities of single-color merino. I did one bobbin of Corriedale, then one bobbin of Corriedale that I predrafted with locks of color, then plied them. A great way of visually referencing how much twist I was getting. The final plying created a pretty subtle effect, which John was pretty impressed with.

He's requesting a hat.

Marie, I blame you.

Friday, September 08, 2006

::Hops Up and Down, Claps Hands::
My friend Sharon's art on Moleskinerie.com.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

When Yarn Attacks
Monday, September 04, 2006

Also Known As
I am enjoying spinning as much as I hoped I would. It has the same meditative, peaceful qualities I used to enjoy when I did wheel-thrown pottery. The Schacht is running smoothly and beautifully. I am very, very happy with this purchase.

My first yarn off the wheel was, as predicted, lumpy and ugly. Ironically, the first bobbin was much less lumpy and ugly. I have a reason for this, but it will doubtless cause the old adage to be rained down on my head: "It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools." When I ordered the wheel, I ordered various quantities of (mostly) beginner fiber (what caused me to purchase some black merino in this batch? Temporary loss of judgment? Total insanity? We shall not dwell.). The largest batch was a half-pound of Coopworth. The first bobbin of this was nice - fuzzy and slightly rough, but perfect for the beginner spinner because of its fuzzy roughness. I mostly overspun the hell out of it, but it's inexpensive practice fiber, purchased for making just such rookie mistakes.

In the second bobbin, I ran into some, er... lesser-quality fiber. It often resembled dryer lint more than honest sheep's wool: uneven patches (in odd thicknesses that created weird dips and turns, which made stripping and pre-drafting very frustrating) and second cuts, contributing to a bobbin of singles that gave new meaning to the terms "lumpy and ugly." I redubbed this portion of the fiber "Crapworth," and soldiered on with it for a bit too long before I cut my losses and threw out part of the batt.

I plied bobbin #1 and bobbin #2 together, Coopworth and Crapworth, and here they are:

First Yarn off of new wheel

Bobbins 3 and 4 are 100% Coopworth, no Crapworth at all. They're in the bathroom, drying, and look a lot less like ass and a lot more like yarn. Even John noticed the improvement. Today's lesson? Just say "no" to Crapworth.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?
My second essay at Cast-On is available in the latest issue.

The last time I contributed, I failed signally to thank two people - Brenda Dayne, the podcaster-in-chief at Cast-On, and Franklin, who responded to my cry for help by giving me wonderful advice on podcasting, recording on a Mac, and why it's acceptable to crave funeral music over breakfast. I hope to rectify that now by saying, "Thank you very much, Brenda, for giving me the opportunity to play in your sandbox," and "Thank you, Franklin, for being so kind to a stranger."

Have a wonderful long weekend, my American pals.