30 December 2005

Nothing much doing..

I've not done much of anything this week. I'm almost finished with one of the sleeves on Jack's sweater (and it turns out I wouldn't have needed the extra yarn for the sleeves, but I might to finish the rollover collar bit) and almost out of fleece to spin, but neither is on the order of impending doom. I have other things to start knitting but not much push to do so. I haven't warped either loom yet, but will pr'bly warp them both sometime this weekend. *shrug*

Work has been quiet, but I guess fairly productive. Or at least, I'm farther along on some projects that requires rather significant thought than I was before. Still haven't figured one of them out entirely, but it'll get there. I think.

Tonight I'm making truffles and rosettes for snacky bits for tomorrow night and a couple loaves of banana bread for brunchy bits Sunday. I'm also going to be trading a couple pairs of Addi turbos that I used once and not again and 6 dozen mint truffles for 9 skeins of Noro Lily, so I'll pr'bly be making truffles again Monday. Need to stop and get the chocolate and more cream and butter this afternoon.

Yup. Time to make coffee and then more presentation graphs. And at some point I need to actually write out an outline for the Pivot Table "class" I'm doing at the end of January.

28 December 2005

I need a bigger house.

This is not the realization one should be coming to less than a year after closing on their first house, I know. But I do. Because the answer clearly can not be that I need to have fewer hobbies. Nope.

In an effort to occupy my mind on my drive in this morning (in the car without the CD player and, hence, with the audiobooks), I decided to figure out how to rearrange things in my house so that I can find room not only for a workout space (bike on trainer, weight bench for Jack, small TV or laptop stand and floor space for an exercise mat), a pottery studio (wheel, small kiln, drying shelves, glazing table - this is actually feasible in the basement where we have the vestiges of a canning room that would work beautifully as a drying and kiln room), a fiber space (somewhere to put the fleece I'm told will eventually start to accumulate even though I'm almost out of the stuff mamacate sent me, the eventual spinning wheel and stool, and all the stash yarn, and all the works-in-progress and finished objects awaiting homes, and my knitting needles and ball winder, and both the (small table) looms (one for tablet weaving and one rigid heddle), and the eventual floor loom (or two), and the bobbin lace pillow and bobbins and spools of silk, and the sewing machine and serger, and the fabric stash), a book binding space (workbench with space for davey board, fun papers, glue, tools, clamps, waxed thread, a heavy mallet, a cutting board and slew of sharp-cutty-things), and a brewing space (shelves for bottles and equipment, a sink, a stove, a lagering fridge, and a wine cellar - again, this is feasible, but competes with the pottery studio for the canning room).

My current plan involves knocking out at least one wall, lots of electrical work in the basement and the possibility of a small addition.


I can make this work.

Now, where's that winning lottery ticket..?

27 December 2005

And the reindeer, having put in a good year's work, rest.

We've been married something over three years and have had Christmas with each other's families for somewhere around five years. And every year, Jack's family Christmas feels more natural. I like getting to hang out and watch the kids do whatever they're doing and join in or not. I like chatting with Judy about crafting stuff (we've both recently started spinning and she's very crafty, so as we get to know each other better, we find more and more stuff to talk about) and catching up a bit with Sara.

Of course, there's also the marked contrast between 5 kids ranging in age from 5 (maybe 6?) to 14 and Dawn's two little ones. Gift opening tends to be a lot more chaotic, but I was able to snatch some glimpses of folks as they opened things. Most everything seems to have gone over well, though it remains to be seen how the kids will like the books we got them.

I think my favorite gift this year, though, was from Hunter. He knows that Jack and I both like to read and he picked out books for us as gifts from him this year. I'm not sure I can explain just why that meant so much.. it's something to do with the idea we had several years ago that we wanted to try to instill a love of reading into these kids so we get them books (instead of or sometimes in addition to toys or games) every year for Christmas. But it's also something to do with how excited he was to watch us open them. He stopped opening his pile of gifts to stand in front of us and watch us unwrap them; when a 10-year-old boy puts aside his own gifts for that, you know it's something special. He picked out the first of the Bartimaeus trilogy books for me and Eragon for Jack - both very good selections for our reading tastes.

It's also nice that Judy and Sara get us both clothes. I don't like to shop for clothes for me much, so it's really neat every year to get a couple sweaters or shirts that are new and stylish and all that. I got a light sky blue washable suede shirt, a lovely tan sweater and a funky squash-colored chenille sweater with little fringy bits at the bottom hem. I was a little worried about the color, but I put it on this morning and it looks fine and is very slimming and comfortable.

And then there are the things that weren't gifts, but rather things that Judy found out I was interested in and decided to give me. Like the rosette irons. I'd never had rosettes (not sure why.. just never had one before) and they're really good. I asked how they were made and Judy got out her irons to show me the set up and ended up digging out two or three irons that were duplicates in her set to send home with us. I'm thinking about making them for this weekend as we're having folks over to play games New Years Eve and they're good not-too-heavy cookie bits.

Later, we were sitting spinning and comparing notes - she can't get thin consistent yarn and I can't get thicker consistent yarn, but I think part of that is because she doesn't actually let her spindle hang to spin because she runs out of roving too fast (she's using Romney, maybe, that's not been carded, just washed and combed out a bit) - and I mentioned that I wasn't quite sure what to do with my first yarn. She said that the woman she was getting her fleece from suggested weaving with it since that would show off the thick-n-thin quality better than knitting or crocheting.

About half an hour later, she reappeared as I was sprawled on the kitchen floor helping Jack and Hunter with a model car kit with an old rigid heddle loom that she'd gotten from her father's house when he passed away a few years ago. One of the pieces needs to be glued back in place, but it's otherwise in fine condition. So I'm now the proud (and excited) owner of a small rigid heddle loom and can't wait to have some time to sit down and figure out how to warp it up.

She also mentioned that she has a full floor loom up in the attic (and Don mentioned that there's apparently another out in the garage), so at some point I might find myself with some larger looms as well. Which means the futon might just have to come out of the upstairs craft room so I have somewhere to put it to weave.

Too many fiber crafts..? Nah. Just not enough time. *grin*

24 December 2005

The Great Midwestern Tour

Generally, I don't mind that we are the ones who do the annual Christmas travel between our two families. We're the ones without kids, who don't have to explain that Santa would still find them even if they're staying at grandma's or their aunt and uncle's house or put up with simultaneously over-stimulated, over-sugared, and over-tired children in a car for several hours each way. There's also that whole thing about not having to have my house "relatively clean" (which, according to my brother-in-law means "cleaned to within an inch of its life because the relatives are coming").

But it's still a bit draining, maybe moreso this year than it has been in the past because we switched the days around this year and are spending Christmas Eve at home so we don't have to figure out what to do with Jali. Which meant we woke up at 6 this morning, shuffled around to get some breakfast and coffee and showers and the car packed and were on the road by 7 for what ended up being an almost exact 3-hour trip to my sister's. We chatted and puttered for a bit getting things for dinner ready, opened presents, ate, played a couple games and then were back on the road home at 7 p.m. for what was, by the grace of warmer weather and less icy roads, only a 2 hour and 45 minute drive. It was a wonderful day and I wouldn't have missed it or changed it, but sitting at the far end of it, I realize just how utterly exhausting it was.

Of course, the booty, for lack of a better term, mitigates the exhaustion somewhat. Sometime over a year ago, I put the four-DVD Stott Pilates matwork set on my WishList and never really expected that I'd get it as a gift, but rather that at some point when I started to hanker for a more serious pilates workout (or even one that I could do at home at all), I'd just order them one-by-one myself. Mom and dad, however, decided that it had been on my WishList long enough and I am now the proud, if somewhat slightly overwhelmed, owner of the entire set. The timing on this is very good because I've been trying to figure out a home workout routine that.. well.. would work for the last couple of weeks, and my recent venture into the world of professional chiropractic care has me thinking that strengthening my back wouldn't be the worst place to start.

Also in the on-the-WishList-but-never-really-expected-to-see category was a beautiful Blue Willow cardigan kit from Blackberry Ridge, which also showed up, complements of my sister as a combined birthday and Christmas present under the tree. I'm slightly intimidated - I've never done any Fair Isle work and don't want to mess the sweater up - but also very excited to have the kit and looking forward to starting it. Blackberry Ridge is in Mount Horeb and I keep meaning to find an excuse to go out there and see their farm in person. Maybe once I get the sweater done, and my spinning improves, I will.

And if that weren't enough (and really, either of the above would have been on their own), my dad also managed a beautiful coup de grace and built me a tablet weaving loom ala White Wolf & Phoenix just by looking at the pictures on the website. Dad's somewhat of a master carpenter in sheep's clothing, but I wasn't sure if he'd be quite up to taking on the design of a loom like the one I wanted; I figured they'd find it easier to simply order one and be done with it, if they got it at all. But my dad's not one to turn down a challenge and it's immediately apparent where I got my "but I could make that" instinct when you see some of what he's accomplished for his daughters over the years (a good half of the furniture we own is dad's handiwork, including our bed and my cedar chest). The loom is gorgeous - birdseye maple and beech - and really is indistinguishable from Herveus's as far as I can tell. While I feel a slight twinge about inpinging on Herveus's design, I can console myself with the knowledge that dad certainly isn't going to be making any more of these, nor will he have any impetus to share his plans with anyone, especially anyone who might possibly be seen as competition. I can't wait to warp up some double-turn, double-face in 60/2 silk on it and try it out...

There were also, of course, a few other smaller things, but those are the three big ones, at least from the family. Jack and I also exchanged our gifts for each other tonight when we got home, and he got me the ABC print set from Ursula, which I was really hoping to get. The prints are gorgeous in person and I can't wait to get them framed and hung, most likely in my office, though we may have to hang on to them here for a bit first so we both get to admire them. I really love her work and these three prints especially, largely because of the text that accompanies them.

So while I'm exhausted, it's not in a bad way, but rather in a content way. I'm also very much looking forward to using and enjoying all of the things we received and no doubt will receive tomorrow when we join Jack's family. Fortunately, though, they're only an hour away and we don't have to be there until afternoon. *smile*

23 December 2005


It's very quiet today. This is not, in and of itself, unexpected or unusual. But it does nothing for motivation. *sigh*

My holiday knitting is not finished, either. I ran out of yarn for the tank with just the neck edging left to do. Actually, I'm not entirely out, I just know there's not enough left to finish the neck edging and I didn't want to start and then have to join yarn in to finish. So I have to run out and get another skein to finish it off tonight.

It's pr'bly for the best that I gave up on trying to finish the sweater, too; the extra skeins I ordered were sent by Priority Mail from California Monday (or at least, that's when I got the notice that they'd shipped), but they're still not here. So even if I had gotten through all the yarn I have, I'd still have been unable to finish on time. :/

I also realized that I wrapped up the Lucy bags and I think the only "finished" picture I got was when they were drying. Oh well. *shrug*

Right.. what was I doing?

22 December 2005

It's really pr'bly not funny.. but it is.

So, in figuring out Bloglines, I found mamacate's Bloglines and have been enjoying cherrry picking blogs more or less at random to preview and decide if I want to follow them on a regular basis. I've come to the conclusion that as a rule, knitters are terribly clever and witty. I've also come to the conclusion that my life is not nearly as exciting as it could be. This for instance had me laughing until I cried this morning. I'm fairly certain it wasn't funny when it happened, and I'm also certain that my thought process would have been about the same.. until the part where she speculates about why he stayed. *chuckle*

And after that wonderful start to my day, I'm off to worry about financial aid analysis and how I only have to finish about 8 inches of straps on my last real holiday knitting.

21 December 2005


I think I've given up on trying to get the sweater done on time. Between trying to finish the tank for my sister and trying to cram in knitting time on the sweater, it's just putting too much strain on my hands. :/ I told Jack last night that one of his presents would be late and he wasn't upset or anything, so that helps. And now that he knows it's something knit, he volunteered to "go away" upstairs in the evenings so I can work on it at home, too. Such a sweet man sometimes. *chuckle*

The tank, however, is turning out lovely. I'm almost done with the back and then I have to seam it together and do the neck and sleeve edgings and then it will be donedonedone. Then I just have to put the soles on the two pairs of FuzzyFeet and all the holiday knitting (except the sweater.. *sigh*) will be completed. Which means I'll have more time to spin again. *grin*

I finally figured out Bloglines, too, so I'll pr'bly play around with that more and hopefully figure out why it doesn't alwasy seem to update when I update.

19 December 2005

It's what time..?

*sigh* The whole plan of finishing Jack's sweater before Christmas entails me knitting over my lunch hours this week.

Which will pr'bly work a lot better if I actually remember to *take* lunch hours this week. There's something about taking lunch at 2:15 that just doesn't feel .. right..

(But I did have a very productive morning working to catch up on a project that got lost last week. I'm learning our financial aid data tables, which is both scary and good.)

17 December 2005


No, not that kind. Or maybe that kind.. what were *you* thinking?

The Shapely Tank did not stretch *at all*. So I have resigned myself to trying to cram in something suitable as a substitute in the next week. I decided to do a ribbed tank from Hip to Knit and picked out a rather luscious burgundy color of Caron Simply Soft. So far it's beautiful and soft and hopefully it will be much more successful than the Shapely Tank.

That's not, however, what I've been frantically working on this evening. Because this evening, despite Stephanie's repeated warnings about the dwindling time remaining until The Big Day(tm), it dawned on me sometime last night that I have a week to finish Jack's sweater. So I sat down tonight while he is off gaming and relaxing after completing something like two-thirds of his finals and finished the back of the sweater and am now some six inches into the front (after the armhole split) and ready to start the neck shaping. Goal is to finish the body tonight.

And then it occured to me that six skeins of Cascade Cotton Rich is not going to make sleeves long enough for my big-and-tall husband. I expect that three skeins per sleeve will end somewhere around 20 inches. I think I need at least 24 to 26 inches (will have to measure one of his sweatshirts again to be sure). *sigh* So off I wander into the web of online knitting suppliers in search of 4 additional skeins (even though I'll likely only need 2.. not going to have to do this *twice*, after all), which I find and plunk an additional $25 on my check card to get.

Here's hoping they arrive by, oh, say, Wednesday at the latest. They're being shipped to work (priority mail from California), which is where I'll have to complete the sleeves so he won't see me working on them (what he'll see me frantically working on is the aforementioned ribbed tank (which has to be finished and wrapped by Friday night), and should I finish that with time to spare, maybe his Fuzzy Feet) so if they arrive Wednesday, that should be okay timing.

Not ideal, mind you.. I've thought that just in case the dye lots don't match, I'm going to have to strand the mismatched skeins in, pr'bly in fibonacci stripes, which means I can't just knitknitknit until one sleeve is finished and just get as far as I can with the yarn I have. Or rather, I can pr'bly safely knit through one skein on each arm, but after that, I need to wait, just in case.

Fortunately, this is the second of two gifts, the first being City of Villans, which he'll get at my sister's on Saturday, so if needed I can shoo him away somewhere Sunday morning (or just get up before him and hope it's enough time) before we leave for his grandma's and then his family's Christmast sometime in the mid-afternoon if I don't get things all wrapped up by Friday. And there's always the option of taking an "emergency" half day off Friday afternoon to go sit in a coffee shop somewhere and frantically knit my little fingers off in hopes of getting it done. It's not as though I expect things will be terribly busy Friday, anyway.

At least the sleeves are in the round..

Right then. Neck shaping.

16 December 2005

.. am I the only one..?

It occured to me this morning to wonder if I'm the only one (I can't imagine I am) who wears hand knit, pretty socks to their annual exam appointment. I mean, the nurse practitioner's going to see me without a stitch of clothing on *except* my socks, so I sort of feel like I owe it to her for that stitch of clothing to be .. special. *shrug*

You can tell it's the end of the semester.. campus is quiet and I have time to do all those things I had wanted to get done at the beginning of the semester. Like the Fact Sheets. *sigh* Better late than never, I guess.

Spinning proceeds apace. I started having issues with the spindle getting unwieldy, for lack of a better word, last night, so I took what I had done off the spindle and wound it into a center pull ball (pr'bly not the right thing to do, but it looks better this way than as the little owl-pellet-looking-bit it came off the spindle as) and started again and it behaved beautifully. (Yes, yes, I know I promised pictures.. soon.)

I need to figure out my sister's holiday gift. We're into the last week and I'm still more or less avoiding the Shapely Tank. I did the arm edgings and have the stuff with me to do the neck edgings over lunch, so theoretically I can wash it tonight and find out if it stretches (a lot). But assuming that's a vain hope, I need to figure out what *else* to make for her. I could do another Falling Leaves scarf, but she looks sallow in yellow and I don't have any other suitable mohair to hand. I could do a shawl like my Birch, but I'd been wanting to do one for my administrative assistant and don't want to "burn out" on shawls. I could also do another Shapely Tank and try to get the size right this time. I'll have to ponder it.

15 December 2005

So this home owner thing, part 2..

It snowed yesterday. Which it's done before, but yesterday was the first time we got 4-5 inches all at once. It started in the morning and snowed all day. We were concerned enough that roads were going to be scary once the sun started setting that we left campus at 3:15.

So we got home before dark, which was nice. It was also still moderately warm - pr'bly about 30 degrees - so the snow had not yet become ice on the sidewalks. And the well-meaning neighbor who has had a tendency to take his little snow blower over our sidewalks for an inch dusting, thereby packing down an inch of nice, fluffy, easy to shovel snow into half an inch of hard, packed, difficult to shovel snow hadn't yet managed to moosh everything down into little chunks of ice.

And because I'm determined not to continue the life-of-no-yardwork my father set for his daughters (dad mowed the lawn, shoveled the driveways, etc., so my sister and I never did those things until we got to be adults), I went out to shovel last night. We don't have much sidewalk - just a strip across the front (short-side of the lot) with our walk way out to the street - so it doesn't really take very long to do, and, as I mentioned, it was relatively warm out. And (largely because I was never forced to do it as a child I'm sure) I don't mind shoveling (except the snow plow berms because they're hard, packed, difficult to shovel snow).

But there's a trick I've not yet learned. It's the whole trick of how not to have cranky mid-lower back muscles the next day. At least this time I remembered to switch hands while shoveling, so the muscles on both sides are equally cranky. But I've not ever heard anyone else complain about this malady, which leads me to believe there's a trick. So, fess up. You know who you are.

(Of course, some of the stiffness *could* be due to sitting on the floor wrapping presents, or retrieving two pairs of Fuzzy Feet and two Lucy bags from the washer, or sitting in my rocking chair spinning, but I refuse to believe any of those activities is taxing enough to cause this.)

14 December 2005


Okay, okay, so after many, many (many) patient attempts by Carol and Pixel, much encouragement (and a gorgeous spindle and beautifully prepared hunk'o'fleece, which is so much more important than I realized for learning with) from mamacate, a few minutes closely watching Guilia's hands as she drafted, and some hand-holding and guidance (and more patience) from Joan, I *finally* get spinning. Things just clicked. I get drafting, I get tension, I get the whole twirl-the-spindle bit. I. Get. It.

WHEE! I can make my own yarn! How much does that rock?! And it's pretty and soft and a gorgeous color (brownish with little glints of lighter bits sort of) and I can't wait to make something with it.

Yes, yes, I'll post pictures later. I just wanted to share that I finally get it and my spinning is coming out much, much more like yarn now than it ever has. It's still not all even, but it's a whole lot closer and less chunky than I've ever made before. And I'm not having issues with over-twisted and under-twisted bits. Drafting.. wow. When it clicked, it just.. clicked.

So. Stoked. *GRIN*

08 December 2005

C is for cookie..

My morning has been.. odd.

The last song on my tablet last night was "A Bog Down in the Valley-O" or something like that by Minstrels of Mayhem. It got stopped midway through, but stayed stuck in my head all night and played fun little games with my not-quite-conscious mind.

We're currently listening to "Guards! Guards!" by Terry Pratchett (we have an Audible.com subscription and we usually listen to audiobooks on our commute). This morning, Sam Vimes met Cybele for the first time. It's hysterical. Even with the roads icy and slippery, we were both laughing out loud. Made the commute much more tolerable, but I have to admit that it was a bit strange to be laughing at the same time worrying about whether we'd be joining the many cars already in the ditch.

I walked into my office this morning and got an immediate craving for hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. At 8 a.m... *sigh* The ironic part is that we have a tub of cookie dough in the fridge at home, so I *can* actually have hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies tonight. Just not when the craving hit.

To back track a couple days, the HCWR silent auction at the annual meeting went very well. They had a lot more stuff than I thought they would! The Falling Leaves scarf went for $10, which is less than I'd have sold it for outright, but about average for what things were going for. I picked up a neat little old-fashioned looking desk clock for work for $10 and won a pink poinsettia as a door prize. It's on my meeting table at work since plants left at home have a tendency to be utterly neglected lately.

(Oooh.. Camelot..)

My hopefully-last yarn order for holiday knitting came in Tuesday and I'm almost finished with knitting mom's FuzzyFeet. Not sure if Jack's will be done now or wait until after the rest of the holiday knitting is done. Felting will likely happen Sunday or early next week, and then I get to sew on the little suede sole things. I also made some progress on Jack's sweater the other day over lunch. So far, everything looks to be on schedule to be finished in time. Ahead of schedule, even. (Yes, I'm still avoiding the Shapely Tank.)

This weekend will be somewhat of a madhouse. I'm to arrive on site at 8 a.m. to set up Artisans Row in the merchants area. From 9-10 I'm holding CoR office hours (from Artisans Row.. I'm hoping it will be early enough so that the office hours aren't disruptive). From 10-11 I'll likely be trying to wrap up office hours and make sure things are more or less set for Artisans Row to run without me for the next three hours. Need to send another email plea for volunteers to keep an eye on things.. From 11-12 I'm teaching list admin and from 12-2 knitting. From 2-4:30 I'm back on Artisans Row, but this time I intend to be doing stuff. If there are spinners around, I'm hoping to get (another) refresher course in drafting. Otherwise, I will likely knit, though I've also thought about bringing either the lace pillow or the inkle loom warped with some double-turn, double-face tablet weaving in silk from Handweavers.. We'll see what gets packed tonight I guess. Court is at 4:30 (I think) and then after that is feast and then back to the hotel to either post-revel or crash, whichever I'm up for.

(Rusted Root.. haven't heard this one in awhile..)

At least Sunday we just have to drive home and pick up the dog. There's a holiday gathering at the Chancellor's house that evening, but I think I'm going to skip it in favor of spending at least a couple hours at home before the work week starts again.

Right.. back to the Major list for the College Board survey.

06 December 2005

Holiday knitting update..

It's done. Okay, well, not really. But darned close. Both Lucy bags are knit, so I'll be fulling things sometime in the next week.. I ended up ordering more yarn to make mom a pair of FuzzyFeet and Jack decided (again) that he wants a pair, so I have yarn for his and mom's on the way, along with 3 pairs of the little Fiber Trends slipper soles. But those will only take a day each. So the fulling party might wait until next week so it can all be done at once. I wonder if I have enough pillowcases..

I still need to do the finishing on the Shapely Tank. I've decided I'm avoiding doing it because I don't want to find out that I did, in fact, make the darned thing too small. *sigh*

And Jack's sweater is still languishing. I'm hoping that I can knit some on it this weekend, or maybe in the car if Toki rides up front on the way to/from Milwaukee.. We'll see.

In the meantime, since I can't work on the sweater in the car and the yarn for the remaining FuzzyFeet hasn't arrived (and as I've already stated, I'm avoiding finishing the Shapely Tank), I decided it was time for something for me. So I cast on for socks with the really gorgeous and amazing soft CashSoft from Kim's stash. MMMMMMMmmmmmmm. (Except that I cast on too many stitches and have now decided to make them with the Thuja pattern, so I'll have to rip out what I've done and start over. But it's only two rows, so nothing traumatic.) And if it turns out that the Shapely Tank is too small, she might get the socks (though it would make me very sad to give up such loving softness) as a stand-by and I'll get her another Shapely Tank later.. like for her birthday in February.

Tonight is the HCWR silent auction thing. I really hope the scarf does well. Or that at least it does *something*. *jitter* On a related note, I have to runrun home after work and cut up fruit and put together a fruit tray (various apples, pears and grapes, with a dip that still needs to be made) and get back to Hokah by 6, which ought to be interesting. Doable, but interesting.

05 December 2005

So this home owner thing..

.. yeah. This weekend I had the first of what will undoubtedly be many "not liking this whole home owner thing" moments.

Our furnace was broken. Not majorly, but enough. What's worse, we're pretty sure it's been broken all along, but we didn't notice it until it got *really* cold out. See, we have a forced-air furnace with old duct work and really big vents in most of the rooms in the house. And it's been a fairly mild winter so far, so the outside temperatures have been above freezing more often than not. And so long as the outside temps were above freezing, the heat in the house was about where we wanted it (67 degrees in the day when we're gone and at night when we're sleeping; 70 when we're home). We commented a couple times on how quiet our furnace appeared to be, but didn't dig into that thought deeper because there didn't seem to be an apparent problem with the heat in the house.

Jump to last weekend, the weekend after Thanksgiving, the first weekend the temps dropped below freezing for a couple days in a row. I noticed that the living room was rather chilly and that the termostat was only reading at 63 degrees despite it being set to 70. And the vents in the bathroom and laundry room are *cold*.

Okay, so I go poke about and note that the furnace is working - it lights and there's a motor that comes on and seems to blow air - but that the warm air isn't really.. going as far as it should. Namely, the new(ish) addition that was put on the house in 2001 isn't getting any heat, thus the cold vents.

The new(ish) addition that includes the main bathroom isn't getting any heat. Showering in a bathroom that's below 60 degrees is darned cold, no matter how hot the water gets.

And it seems that the furnace is coming on every 15 or so minutes, but only for about 45 to 60 seconds at a time. Odd. (You all remember that we're new at all this owning your own home and all the appliances and such, right..?)

So we fiddle with the thermostat and knock it up to 75 and the heat in the house starts to come up and the outside weather warms up and we thought all was good, we pr'bly just had something wonky in the thermostat, but that it could wait until we could afford to have it replaced, sometime about February.

Until this weekend. When the temperatures drop below freezing again. And the house temperature plummets back down to the low 60's. Right. That's no good. Go poke around again, decide a call to dad is in order, sit on the phone next to the furnace with dad so he can hear it go through it's little 45 to 60 second cycle and listen to him explain the functionings of a gas furnace. Huh. There's a bigger motor underneath the little motor, you say? Who knew? Okay, so dad diagnoses that our blower motor isn't kicking over - we can hear it try to click-click, but no hot blowing action occurs.

This is Saturday afternoon. There's one heating/cool/refrigeration place in our town and they're closed until 7 a.m. Monday. Okay, not a huge deal, the house is warm enough if we stay bundled up (thank goodness we had all the windows replaced in October though!), so we decide to gut it out. This is not really difficult - we have lots of blankets and lots of warm clothing - but starts my head spinning about how the furnace has pr'bly been trying to heat the house to 67-70 degrees for *weeks* without a blower motor, which means it's been coming on every 10 to 45 minutes for 45 to 60 seconds at a time.. and the gas bill is looming very large and unknown and figures like $500 are running through my head.

The anti-climax came this morning - 7 a.m. call to the heating guys, 7:45 a.m. arrival by said heating guys, found a cracked solder connection, repaired, house back up to 70 degrees by 9 a.m. (at which point it got turned back down to 67 for the day while we're gone). In the end, it's going to cost us pr'bly around $50 and is now fixed, which is a *huge* relief.

Except for that still-lurking gas bill.. *sigh*


01 December 2005

28 November 2005

I woke up this morning with the soundtrack from Camelot running through my head. It's not all that unusual - the CD has been burned to my tablet and so the songs periodically come up in the shuffle - but it's a bit disconcerting to wake up with the knights talking about the king choosing 5 a.m. for the queen to burn..

Right then, the holiday knitting proceeds apace. Even though I've made absolutely *no* progress on Jack's sweater, I'm almost finished with the rest of the knitting I need to do. From this weekend (all pics are clickable thumbnails):

First up, the world's tiniest mittens. These are for Kaleigh, my 18 month old neice. Yes, she's very small. The mittens are about five inches from cuff to fingertip and though made without a real thumb, do have a little bump so she has enough room to move her little fingers around. Dawn specifically requested mittens with strings so that Kaliegh can't take them off and lose them. Apparently they aren't made anymore because the string is a strangulation hazard. Yarn is KnitPicks Crayon in Pink, which may be quickly becoming my preferred baby-clothes-yarn.

This one ought to look familiar.. This is the Falling Leaves scarf I made for the silent auction for HCWR. I like it much better now that it's blocked - it's not as scrunched and even though it's wider, I think it looks much better. It's also very soft and snuggly warm, so hopefully it will be both functional and pretty for the lucky winner. For comparison, below are the two in progress pics from earlier..

I'm really glad I finished it! Here's hoping it does well at the auction next week.

This is the Brioche Helmet Hat from the Fall Interweave Knits, for Dono (modeled by Jack's big-head Darth Vader). Dawn wanted a hat with ear flaps and ties originally, but I was worried that now that he's older, the ties would just get in his way. When I showed her this option over Thanksgiving, she agreed that it would probably work better for her active almost-five-year-old. Yarn is KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Red, Mist and Coal.

I was seriously concerned about undertaking this hat after reading about mamacate's difficulties with gauge, but that turned out to be the least of my problems. I originally thought that I'd only use a single strand, but the pattern was only written to fit an 18-inch head in the largest size, and Dono's head is 21-inches. so I decided to double strand and adjust for the difference in gauge by using the smaller pattern. Worked like a charm.

The ear flaps, though, gave me fits. I'm not sure if it's that the pattern wasn't written correctly or if I just wasn't reading it correctly, but I could *not* get the short rows to come out with the correct number of stitches/rows and ending on the correct side. I improvised, and it worked fine, but what I did is certainly not what's written in the pattern.

I do like the brioche stitch, though, even if the k3tog decreases (which, using double-stranded yarn, meant I was knitting through 10 loops of yarn) were a trial.

And last of the finished projects (or at least finished-but-for-the-fulling) is a pair of FuzzyFeet for Mike, made with KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Mist, Coal and Hollyberry. He's apparently worn through the pair I made him a couple years ago (which were all black and had R2D2 embroidered onto the tops of the foot - he's a *huge* Star Wars fan. *Huge*.) so I'm going to do some looking for some slipper bottoms to put on these to see if they'll last longer that way. I know I can get them online, but if I can find them locally I'd prefer it so I can see the sizes in person.

So that leaves:
* Dawn's Shapely Tank, which is finished but for the arm- and neck-trim, and which will hopefully stretch in the wash so it's really big enough. If not, I have some other options, including the possibility of a Clapotis, or even another(bigger) Shapely Tank if there's time.
* Two Lucy bags, one large in KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Stream (which is much more turquoise than I expected and may have to be bleached slightly) and one small in KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Hush, for Sara and Kallie. I've started Sara's and have the bottom finished, so that one should get finished this week. I'm waiting to full things until I have all the bits that need to be fulled knit, so finished pictures might be a couple weeks out.
* Possibly a pair of FuzzyFeet for mom, but only if I can find the slipper soles as she managed to wear hers out even faster than Mike.
* Jack's sweater.

25 November 2005

Snow like ash..

It's snowing, lightly and in teeny tiny little flakes, if you can even call them that. It's sort of pretty to look out the den windows and watch the street turn completely white. No one appears to be up and about much today in our little corner of the world.

Yesterday was good. I like that we do Thanksgiving at our house. I like that Jack's mom and dad came over "for coffee" before dinner, even though he thought he'd be out hunting and they had another dinner to go to later in the afternoon. I like that Judy got a drop spindle recently and that we got to spend a few minutes comparing notes on how our learning is going. I like that our living room is big enough to accomodate both niblings playing on the floor in their helter skelter ways and all six adults in my family comfortably. I like that we have lots of leftovers, including a full apple pie. I like that Jack saved the turkey carcass for me to make broth with. I like that we spent the afternoon in various stages of napping, reading the ads from mom's paper, checking Thanksgiving-day, web-only specials online, and playing with the kids. I like that we didn't have to drive for this one.

Today, I will knit. I'd like to try and finish the Falling Leaves scarf and either Dono's hat or Mike's slippers. Or maybe Kaleigh's mittens, which I need to rip out the cuff on the one that's started and make much smaller.. tiny child, that one. I might even try to re-learn how to spin. We're contemplating maybe possibly running into town to pick up *one* item at an after Thanksgiving day sale - a pack of 100 CD-Rs for $10 - but won't be too terribly upset if that doesn't happen.

At the moment, I'm making an egg-bake/casserole thing for brunch with the leftover stuffing from yesterday, some chopped ham, eggs, cheese and a little milk, and coffee is brewing. And I have real heavy cream left over from the mashed potatoes yesterday to put in my coffee. Nothing for me is quite so decadent and lovely.

22 November 2005


(Quickly: Yes, Jali's fine now. It took awhile, but she perked up Sunday sometime and finally kicked out the rest of the yarn that she ate last night. We're all much happier now, though pr'bly her most of all because now she's back to getting fed at the normal times again.)

So at the board meeting last week, I found out that there's an open house and annual meeting December 6 and that at said open house and annual meeting, there will be a silent auction for which members of the board were expected to donate items. This is not an issue. Not only do I work at the University, which has an art department and a theatre department, I am also able to relatively painlessly whip up rather nice looking knitted bits given a couple weeks notice.

So off I go and decide that I really don't want to try to do a drop stitch pattern in the vanilla worsted weight mohair, but that the Falling Leaves pattern from Knitty might be nice. And I start out and get through a couple patten repeats and it's just.. ugh. The wisps, which are quite substantial and not anything like the wisps in the KSH I used for my Birch, looked matted rather than snuggly. I decide that it was likely because I was using US 7 needles. So I (carefully) frog it all out and start again with US 11s.

And while it's looking much softer and snugglier, I'm not sure I like how.. well.. big it is. It's not what I'd call delicate, and something about that just isn't sitting with me. So, in an effort to get opinions before it gets too late to reasonably finish another project in time for the silent auction, here are some pictures of it now (as yet unblocked.. it will be blocked when it's finished which will pr'bly not only draw the pattern out more, but also make it at least a little wider):

(Sorry for the holy huge pictures, batfans.. I can switch them to thumbnails if anyone's having issues viewing the page properly..)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This is a closer shot - it *looks* right in terms of the wispiness, but it's so wide that I'm afraid that the pattern is too delicate. It's not a scarf that I can imagine someone wearing as an accessory. It's a scarf I can imagine someone wearing that is slightly prettier than your average scarf but will also keep you warm. In which case I'm afraid people won't bid on it because, well, this is southern MN and people pr'bly *have* substantial and dressy scarves already. Or something.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

This one shows how far along I am. It's going very quickly and I think I'm about a third of the way through considering that I want to make it long enough to wrap around the neck/face at least once and still have reasonably long tails.

So.. what do you think? Is it just.. not right? Or am I being overly critical and just need to tuck away my criticism and finish it..?

18 November 2005


The dog seems to be on the road to recovery. She slept soundly through the night (or at least she didn't move once she curled up between my feet) and was certainly not as energetic this morning as she usually is, but also was not in any obvious physical discomfort and a mid-morning nap seems to have revived her spirits. She didn't get breakfast this morning in an attempt to let her system calm down. Here's hoping things will work themselves out.

In the mean time, I'm working a half-day from home today so I could be here in case things took a turn for the worse. It was productive in spite of my not having planned to be working from home, and therefore not bringing home with me anything that would have been useful. I did, however, have the ever-growing stack of surveys in my briefcase, so I spent the better part of the morning going through and completing them. The College Board one isn't done yet, but it's close; the rest have at least my parts completed so I can send them off to whoever else needs them next on Monday.

Because I'm home, I also decided it was a good time to full the Lucy bag. It's been through something like 7 agitation cycles and is pretty close to done at this point. I'd like the shoulder strap to firm up a bit more, though, so I'm being stubborn.

The Board meeting last night, since I skipped right over it in the doggy distress, was good. I think I'll like working on the Board - the other members are enthusiastic and down-to-earth, which helps my comfort level a lot. There's a fundraising thing this weekend that I'll be missing due to other plans, and a work day for the lights in the park thing on Monday, which I'll be able to make the afternoon for. The annual open house and member meeting is in early December and all the Board members are supposed to make something to put in the silent auction. I'm eyeing all that lace-weight stuff I've recently acquired and wondering if two weeks is enough time to throw together a couple lacy scarf bits. Of course, if I use the worsted weight mohair stuff, it'll go faster.. *ponder*

I'm also going to email the Art department at the University and see if any of the students might be interested in donating some of their work for the auction, and drop a line to the Theatre folks to see if I can snag a pair or two of tickets for an upcoming show. Then I'll just need to figure out what appetizer to bring..

Hrm.. since I've already worked the half day I am supposed to.. maybe I'll take off for the Cities a little early and have dinner with mom and dad.

17 November 2005

The problem with fiber and pets..

.. is that pets sometimes *eat* the fiber. In this case, Jali managed to down a fair chunk of KnitPicks Crayon last night.

This is not, in and of itself, terribly surprising. She was a stray and has always been terribly food oriented. However, she hasn't really eaten non-food things for quite some time. Until recently, that is. She started sometime in the last year (we think pr'bly because of all the changes - she lived with mom and dad for awhile, then moved to a new house, she's getting old, change is harder) by eating more and more paper-like things - tissues have always been too tempting, but she stepped up to actual *paper*, and then started in with Jack's socks (usually dirty) every now and then.. so it's not really *all* that surprising that she's moved onto other things. But this was the first time she's ever eaten yarn, and it's not because it hasn't been available. And it's not as if the yarn was there all day and she decided to munch.. she was "alone with the yarn" for all of about 10 minutes, when both of us were home. So that trend is disturbing in and of itself (according to the emergency vet tonight, it may, in fact, be sign of senility.. *sigh*).

What's more disturbing is that it's caused some rather significant physical trauma (not surprisingly; nor is this the first time she's eaten something she shouldn't that has had adverse effects). She apparently managed to keep it all together all day until Jack got home (I dropped him off and then, without coming into the house, ran off to a Board meeting). Apparently, she saw him, got so excited, and then lost all her self-control right there. He thought at first she was being spiteful - she can be rather willful at times - and yelled at her. It took him a few minutes to realize she was in distress and not intentionally being bad, but by then she was scared and thought she'd been bad, which made it all the harder for him to try to help her. *sigh*

By the time I got home from the Board meeting, he had things cleaned up. So when she stopped in the arch between the dining room and the kitchen and acted like she was in trouble when I got home, I knew something was wrong. Jack caught me up and then the emergency vet called back (Jack had called and left a message, then called again and talked to him, but he called us to return the message not realizing he'd already talked to Jack) and we talked to him again and the upshot is if she's still in obvious physical discomfort in the morning, we have to take her in for x-rays and barium and all that possibly leading up to surgery. But that's the worst case scenario. The emergency vet was pretty sure she'd pass the remaining yarn by tomorrow morning and be on the road to happiness, and advised us to give her "a glop" of petroleum jelly to help ease things through in the meantime. The advantage to having a dog who'll eat anything is that.. well.. she'll eat anything. :/

In any case, at the moment, she's not in any obvious physical distress, but she is considerably more subdued than she usually is. We suspect she's exhausted from a day of rather extreme discomfort, which would explain the lethargy. Here's hoping a good night's sleep will solve everything. Including Jack's guilt about yelling at her..

In the meantime, this week of all weeks, I'm not dealing particularly well with a sick little pig. If things are not well by morning, I will neither be at work tomorrow nor at the event Saturday. I .. haven't been able to figure out what to say to others when pets pass mostly because I can't imagine what anyone would be able to say to me that would be any comfort whatsoever if it were Jali..



Okay, so as promised, here are the pictures I took last night..

They're both clickable thumbnails, so you can get to bigger versions if you click on them. The top is the wool and spindle that mamacate sent me. I'm looking forward to getting some time next weekend to try it out. We only have plans Thursday, so I'll have all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday to play with fiber. *squee*

The bottom one is my Judy's comfort shawl. It's not the best picture - in person, the colored stripes are far more subtle. It's just a big rectangle, though, so it's hard to get a good picture of it. The stripes run vertically, so you can see where it's sort of folded across itself. It's about 6 feet or so long and very snuggly and warm, so I hope she likes it!

As for me, I still love my Birch (am wearing it today), and so does Karyn, my administrative support. I got some Shadow in my last order from KnitPicks, so if I get everything else done in time for the holidays, I might make Karyn her own. She's certainly worth it!

16 November 2005

To borrow a note..

Some random thoughts and remembrances this chilly Wednesday evening..

The first Lucy bag is finished but for the fulling. My niece's hands are 3.5 inches long and I'm getting 5 sts/inch with Crayon on US 3 double points.. need to look up how many stitches that means I should cast on.

Bastet is richer this evening by a one-eyed black daughter. Have a good hunt, Koshka.

I was surprised upon arriving home by a package. In it was a bundle of beautiful and amazingly soft combed wool and a simply gorgeous top-whorl drop spindle. Thank you, mamacate, spinning enabler extraordinaire! Now I just need to remember those lessons in spinning I got this summer and I'm set to go. *smile* I took pictures and will try to remember to post them tomorrow.

I did not get the knitting hand out done. Instead, I made dinner for my husband while he shoveled our walk and then curled up to watch the Muppet Show with him and Jali. It seemed a night to spend with family.

There has to be a better

I'm currently struggling with figuring out the best way to count things. Yes, this should be elementary, I know, but this particular project eludes me. So in an effort to unstick my head from whatever rut it's in, I'm trying not to think about it for the next little bit.

I finished my mother-in-law's shawl. Can't remember if I posted about that or not. So that's one knit holiday gift down. *smile* Yes, yes, I'll try to remember pictures soon.

I'm almost done with my (first) Lucy bag. This is the one for me, which I made with the "left-over" Briggs & Little Atlantic, which is heavier than worsted weight, so the bag is likely to be much larger than the original in the pattern. Which I want, so that's all good. I'm about a third of the way finished with the shoulder strap. Once I get mine finished, I get to make two more for holiday presents. Got the yarn a couple days ago, so all is in place.

I need to finish the sleeve and neck edgings on my sister's Shapely Tank and wash it and hope it stretches out enough to be closer to fitting. *sigh* If it doesn't.. well.. I'll have to figure out which of the lace weight yarns I've recently acquired to turn into Something Else(tm) for her.

The holiday knitting is here in full force.. I have a pair of mittens for Kaleigh, a hat for Dono, a pair of slippers for Mike, the two aforementioned Lucy bags for Sara and Kallie, and Jack's sweater. Jack's sweater is over half finished - I knit it from the bottom up and have about half of the front-after-the-arm-split finished, so I just have to finish the front, then the back, then the sleeves. It'll happen. I'll get some knitting done this weekend and hopefully lots done over Thanksgiving and then should be all good for December.

And then I get to start the blanket for my cousin-by-marriage who is having a baby in February. Speaking of which, if anyone knows of a chart or pattern for the profile sillouhette of Mickey Mouse, I'd appreciate hearing about it!

Speaking of this weekend, tonight I have to finish the handouts for my knitting class this weekend. I might work on them over lunch, too.

Hrm.. thoughts are percolating in a more productive direction on the counting project. Now to go back and force them into submission...

07 November 2005

To Do.

Hrm. Things are picking up all over the place it seems. My to-do list this week includes:

* Handout on the history of hand-knitting. I have plenty of sources for this at the moment, including, thanks to the new East Kingdom Knitting Guild list, suggestions for "starter" projects for period knitting. I just need to find time and motivation at the same time to sit down and create the handout. I'm going for one-page, double-sided as I already have two other hand-outs with the basic learning to knit stuff I usually have when I teach beginning knitting. If I have to go to two pages, the "starter" projects will be on a separate page.

* Artisans Row blurb for the Boar's Head website. This will mostly be a tweak of the information in the invitation email, but I need to actually do it and get it sent to the autocrat for the webpage. And get it to Roz so she can get it up on the AR website.

* Figure out my schedule for Boar's Head so that I can ask people to "cover" Artisans Row during the times I'm teaching (which appears to be most of the middle portion of the day.. List Admin from 11-12, Knitting from 12-2); figure out who to ask to "cover" who can be there without taking them away from something else they'd like to do. This should be relatively easier to do as folks let me know that they'd like to participate at all.

* Create and route the New Freshmen Profile, Budget Sources, and Retention Rates Fact Sheets. Also should start working on the NSSE Fact Sheet series. Could be complicated by the 5 hours of meetings I already have on my calendar for tomorrow (and the additional 3.5 hours of meetings Wednesday).

* Pick up the SCA-related pictures for the last couple pages of the big wedding scrapbook (thank goodness for Snapfish's new partnership with Walgreens - I uploaded 9 pictures from various sources to the Snapfish site yesterday and they're ready at my local Walgreens for pick up today).

* Finish summer session cost-per-credit analysis. By rights, the hard part of this (data consolidation) is finished, so the rest should be pretty easy to finish this morning.

* Make signs or banners or something for Artisans Row. Banners might be hard on such short time, but maybe the weekend of Thanksgiving I can find time to put something together. Might have to email Shannon about how to maybe do them as silk-painted ones..

* Pack for AIRUM. This is complicated by the fact that the conference starts 9 a.m. Thursday and we have theatre tickets Wednesday night, so I have to pack Tuesday (that's tomorrow!) so I'll be ready to just walk out the door by 5:30 a.m. Thursday. And packing includes remembering the big wedding scrapbook stuff since we're supposed to finish that on Saturday while I'm up in the Cities. And my knitting stuff so I can work on Jack's sweater.

* Publish my beginning wheel-thrown pottery and beginning knitting handouts in PDF and send to Roz for uploading to the AR website. Also, publish other handouts as they come in.

* Draft letter for the Northwatch about the auth card process - include bit about how Marshals-in-Charge need to send in the auth tracking paperwork for me to verify auth paperwork from fighters since it's possible that some fighters aren't getting their cards because the auth can't be verified.

* Create center-pull balls or yarn for beginning knitting class kits. Instead of ordering/buying a bunch of yarn for this I've decided that since the class doesn't predicate on starting a specific project, I'm going to use some of my stash yarn and wind up "practice" skeins of about a hundred yards of acrylic. Most people will want to pick out their own yarn for their first project and I'd hate to buy full acrylic skeins for folks since many may not every use it again, but at the same time, I don't want to buy wool skeins for the kits in case someone is allergic. So I've decided this seems like the best alternative.

* Decide on cost/charge for kits. I was planning to make the kits ("practice" skein plus Clover US size 7 bamboo needles) available for $8, but I'm contemplating dropping that to $6 since I'm not spending as much on yarn as I originally thought I would. Or, I could leave it at $8 and just include the handouts (which I'm making available for $2 at present - it's likely to be 4 double-sided pages). Have to ponder that. The ideas isn't to make a profit, but to cover costs. The needles are about $5-$6 a pair depending on where I can find them, so maybe $7? *ponder*

05 November 2005

Right, then..

So, this weekend was supposed to be about me getting things Done(tm). Or at least, about me sitting in front of the television watching arguably bad movies (to wit, the director's cut of Legend and (try not to laugh) Clash of the Titans (yes, that one)), steadily knicking away at holiday gift projects.

And in at least some senses, that's happened. My mother-in-law's shawl is now finished. It's not quite as long as I thought it might be, but still longer than I am tall, so that's something, eh? And I ordered all the yarn I need for the rest of the holiday gift projects (some 13 skeins of KnitPicks Wool of the Andes, plus a skein of Crayon thrown in for good measure.. oh, and yeah.. a couple skeins of a lace weight something or other and another shawl pattern to bring the total up from just-over-$25 to just-over-$30 and therefore qualify for free shipping) including a big Lucy bag for my sister-in-law, a small Lucy bag for my almostniece, a pair of mittens with attaching string for my niece, a hat with earflaps for my nephew, and a pair of fulled slippers for my brother-in-law. Oh, and I knit through an entire skein of Cotton Rich on Jack's sweater (though I still have the better part of 15 skeins to go) and finished a skein on my Lucy bag (made out of slightly-heavier-than-worsted-weight Briggs & Little Atlantic in heather green). But that all happened after, oh, say, 3 p.m.

There's a reason I didn't stick to the plan before then. You see, Jack was supposed to be in Green Bay this weekend to go see the Steelers play (yes, it's slightly incongruous, I know). And I thought they might be leaving last night, or really sometime this morning. But it turns out that they didn't leave until 2:30 this afternoon. And, well, free Saturday mornings with my husband don't really happen all that often, so .. yeah.

All the same, tomorrow I hope to make it through at least three more skeins of Cotton Rich and maybe another skeing of Atlantic. I'm trying to get his sweater done incognito.. or something. In other words, he's not supposed to figure out that I'm working on it, so I can't really take it as car-knitting when we carpool, so the times when he's not here are really the best times for me to work on it. Or, well, the times when I'm not here, like next week when I'll be in Bloomington for a conference and staying over the weekend with mom and dad to go to the annual volunteer fire department's "turkey bingo". (It's a childhood thing.. I *love* bingo.. not for money.. for meat.. just.. don't ask.) So hopefully between this weekend and next week-ish I'll be able to knock through most of his sweater. Otherwise, I guess I'm going to have to make a concerted effort to actually take a lunch break at work and knit for an hour a day until it's done.

Right. Have I mentioned I have yarn for socks for me, too? I really need new socks.. and it's at least partially cashmere.. yeah.. holiday gifts.. focus... FOCUS! (But it's cashmere..)

(Oh, and the lace weight stuff on order..? Yeah.. that goes with the handpainted yarn lace weight I got in a trade.. and the worsted weight mohair.. and the dark grey pima cotton.. FOCUS!! Holiday gifts.)

(It's all mamacate's fault.)

Let's get semantic, shall we?

So.. quite a few folks I know are all up in arms about Dan Savage's latest little diatribe about the evils of corporate pharmacies. And while I may or may not be happy about the idea that a person who's job it is to dispense drugs can choose on the basis of their faith which drugs they'll distribute and which they won't, I have an issue with the way many people, usually women, frame their outrage.

See.. getting drugs that are prescribed isn't a right. A right, at least in the legal sense, is something guaranteed by law. In the United States, rights are those things set aside and protected by the Constitution and amendments thereto, some legislation, some landmark court cases, but in the end, by law - written law. A right isn't my interpretation of the law. For instance, I can't claim a legal right to privacy because I choose to believe that the 4th amendment protection against illegal search and seizure should be interpretted as "you can't come in unless I invite you, and that includes snooping around my medical records". However, I might be able to claim a right to privacy because the Supreme Court decided, based on a body of jurisprudence and an admittedly activist court, that our laws do create, if not a right, then at least an expectation of privacy. (For more on privacy rights, I'd recommend The Right to Privacy by Ellen Alderman & Caroline Kennedy.)

To get back to the point, though.. if getting drugs that are legally prescribed was a right, it wouldn't depend on being able to pay for them. The whole question of a prescription drug plan for Medicare participants would be moot. People living in poverty wouldn't have to decide whether to take the drug they were just prescribed or sell it on the street to get money to feed their family. See, a right is something that *everyone* gets, not just those who can afford it.

And yes, I realize that the system of rights in our world, even in these supposedly progressive United States, is incredibly imperfect. But it's still not legal to deny someone the protection of the laws - their rights, in other words - because they can't afford to buy it. It is, however, legal to deny someone a potentially life-saving drug because they don't have the money to pay for it. See the difference..?

04 November 2005

I *think* I did..

You know it's not a good sign for the day when you can't remember if you brushed your teeth.

30 October 2005


It's been a morning of not finding things. It started with my US10.5 double pointed needles. I'm missing 2. I know *why*, or at least *when* I last had them.. I was finishing a pair of Fuzzy Feet but didn't have a darning needles, so I had the last two double points still in the slippers. I remember even getting the darning needle - it was in June because I'd accidentally left my little knitbitskit in the dressing room at Rae's wedding and she and Brian were still on their honeymoon so she hadn't had a chance to send it back to me. And I have the darning needle. And the finished slippers. But no sign of the two missing knitting needles. It's not the end of the world - I have 3 of the 5 and a 10.5 circ, so I can make do - but it annoys me to be missing part of a set.

So, in order to let my frustration cool, I decided it was time to carve the pumpkin. Got it all cleaned out and while Jack was making it a jack-o-lantern, I thought I would start a batch of mom's pumpkin bread (I usually use canned pumpkin, and will for this batch, but might, assuming the jack-o-lantern survives tomorrow, make another batch with "real" pumpkin later this week). Except that now I can't find the recipe. And mom and dad are at the cabin this weekend and my sister's not home (pr'bly at church now that I stop to think about it), so I can't get it quickly.

*sigh* I think the world is trying to tell me to just go back to bed.

Not dead.. yet.

Yes, yes, I'm still here, alive and kicking. I've actually had quite a wonderful time since I last visited here, it's just also been rather busy.

I spent a lovely five or six days in DC with Kim, who is one of those friends that you can go for months or years without so much as an email or a text message to check in, but when you see each other in person, things just feel natural and fall exactly into place and all is right with the world. It was fabulous. Kim is also the woman who taught me to knit, so we did much knitting and stash sorting and laughing and talking, oh, and not just a little walking about as well. At a time when "girlfriends" are falling by the way side (as Jack and I gather more "couple" friends, or friends we tend to only see in certain contexts), it was also a rather poignant reminder that there are at least a few women out there that I can and do feel connected to strongly enough to trust implicitly.

So, yes, knitting. I started holiday gifts, or rather, continued them. I'm making another Shapely Tank for my sister who mentioned when I gave her the last one that she really liked wearing tanks instead of t-shirts. It's a preference we share, so I'm willing to feed it. I made the second one in a dusty rose in moss stitch, but for some reason it's turned out a bit smaller than I'd have liked. I still need to do the arms and neck, and then wash it, wherein I'm hoping it will behave like my blue one (in the same yarn and also moss stitch) and loosen up quite a lot. If not, well, there's a back up plan, so it's not too much to worry about.

My mother-in-law will be getting a prayer shawl, which .. I'll skip the internal dialogue on.. suffice it to say I'm atheist. Nonetheless, the idea that it's a shawl meant to comfort and made while thinking fondly of her will be fine. It's nothing fancy - just 57 stitches, k3, p3, repeat - and it's just LB Homespun (3 skeins, machine washable and soft), but I do like how it's turning out. I'm just over half way finished (it was my plane knitting project) and will post pictures once it gets done.

Jack is getting (finally) his black Cotton Rich sweater. I'm trying to be surreptitious about working on it when he's not around so he won't know it's coming, but he could figure it out if he tried. *shrug* I also need to figure out something else for him (we do 2 holiday gatherings, one with each of our families, so we try to make sure we have something for each of us to open at each as our families like to see what we give each other), but it will likely be something non-knitted.

My sister-in-law requested a Lucy bag, so I'm going to start working on one of those pr'bly later this week, once I finish (again) a pair of half-finger gloves in Debbie Bliss's Cotton Cash for Jack. (Have I mentioned he's allergic to wool, alpaca, and near as I can tell almost any animal fiber? The cashmere seems to either be of low enough content in the Cotton Cash or not to cause a reaction, fortunately. This is the.. third or fourth pair of half-finger gloves I've made for him, so hopefully these will last.) I have three fingers left on the second one, so that should be done today. Then I'll do another, smaller Lucy bag for my almostneice. I also have cotton yarn to use for a pair of black socks for me and some gorgeous cashmere and cotton yarn in an orangishredish shade that Kim gifted me from her stash that will also be socks for me.

The backup plan for my sister is Clapotis in a vanilla/yellow mohair that I got in a trade. It's worsted weight, so not nearly as fine as the KSH, but still quite lovely. My sister is a high school drama director, so I suspect she could also find a few events to wear it to. I also have some more cotton and some lace weight merino (I think.. have to double check the fiber on that one) coming from someone's stash clearance, but I haven't decided for sure what those want to be. The cotton may become another attempt at Soleil since the first attempt is a touch too small and I'm not sure I like it well enough in microfiber to give it as a gift. We'll see.

There's more going on in general, especially at work, but it's Sunday morning and I'm not feeling particularly inclined to dwell on those things. Instead, I think I'll go make some coffee and finish Jack's gloves.

18 October 2005

Meeting the Press

So, I've not only survived my first encounter with the student newspaper, I seem to have triumphed. *smile*

I've been told (admittedly, by members of the Administration) that the editor-in-chief has something of a conspiracy theorist take on the University administration and has been known to pull things out of context and make mountains out of molehills without always checking his facts (it's unclear to me whether he intentionally ignores context or simply doesn't bother to find it out in the first place; I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt given that my sources are admittedly all "on the other side" of things from him). So I was a little nervous to meet with a reporter who stated that said editor had asked her to follow up on a rumor that new freshmen were dropping out of the University at a much higher rate this fall than ever before.

When I pulled the data, I found that while the trend was up slightly from last year, it was within a reasonable confidence interval (+/- 0.2%) of the trend line of the past five years. Yes, there's some fluctuation - with last year being -0.2% from the trend and this year being +0.2% of the trend - but, in my opinion, it's not enough to make a big deal about.

I was worried, though, that the reporter would simply focus on the change from last year, and was envisioning sensational headlines a la Spiderman. And there are a couple that, while technically correct, would be misleading as all get out and would constitute a rather blatant misuse of statistics.

Color me relieved, then, when the reporter sat down with me, listened to me talk for a minute about the trend and where things were this fall, looked at the nice little chart I prepared for her, and said, "So, there's not really any news here." *whew* She took my data to give proof to the editor that there wasn't a story there and was going to go ask him for another story assignment for this week.

I feel bad for the reporter because it's rather late in their news week and she's apparently already talked to several other people about the story, but today was the first time I could meet with her and no one else could give her solid data to deter her before she'd invested the time. I guess that's just part of journalism, though. And in all honesty, I'm just happy to not be the source for potentially controversial data. I'd rather never be mentioned in the press, but if I'm going to be, I'd prefer my debut to be something positive.

17 October 2005

Accomplishments abound.

Whee! I finished Birch Saturday afternoon, blocked it overnight, and wore it to the matinee of Dancing at Lughnasa yesterday. *smile* It was lovely. Much easier to wear than the rectangular wraps I have - I think because the extra weight in the back from the point keeps it from slipping to the sides. It's long enough to wrap over my forearms and just sit there even when I'm walking. I foresee a bright and warm future! On with the pictures (all are clickable thumbnails):

Last things first - this is the "wingspan" shot. It's about as wide as I'd expected, but got considerably longer during blocking than I thought it would. That's not a bad thing - just unexpected.

A close up of the pattern stitches. I followed the pattern pretty much exactly (except for inevitable mistakes) - including the K2tog TBL. When I re-started knitting after a year or more of not knitting after being taught, I mis-remembered the directions and ended up knitting eastern crossed for at least a couple years. In eastern crossed, the knit stitch is knit through the back loop, so knitting through the back loop is not at all foreign to me. It's no longer natural, but it's not odd, either. *shrug*

This was my first time blocking anything lacy like Birch, so I wanted to get a shot that included a little more detail of how I pinned it. I was worried about stretching it too much at the edges and creating ridges, but as you can see in the wingspan shot, that didn't happen.

Full blocking shot - it's on a queen sized futon, which gives a bit of a sense of scale. I misted it with regular water and then sort of pressed it with my hands to get the water to soak in (the Kidsilk Haze is so fuzzy that the water just misted on the fuzz and didn't soak in). I left it to dry overnight and by morning it was fine.

I started working on another project in worsted weight yarn yesterday afternoon in the car on the way to the play and wow did it feel strange! I got used to the lace weight stuff pretty quickly and now worsted weight feels huge in my fingers. The fabric is so.. dense! I should soon be getting some worsted weight mohair in a swap and I'm going to try another (smaller) lace and/or scarf/shawl project with it, if I can find one I like that uses what I'm getting. Suggestions are welcome.

We also got some stuff at Home Depot (using the last of the gift cards *sob*) yesterday, which I'm excited about in a sort of geeky way. We bought compact florescent lightbulbs for all the lights in the house. *blush* Our house is 90 years old and while the previous owners have done things like have insulation blown into the walls, it's not the most energy efficient home. Replacing the windows (which is scheduled for next Wednesday) will help enormously - the original windows are still in the house in all their pully-and-weight-dead-air-space and single-pane-and-storm-window glory - but we're still going to have considerably more hefty energy bills this winter than we're used to having. So at this point, any little thing will help, and Home Depot had the compact florescent's on sale - you could get the mini-60-watts 6 for $10, or 100-watts 4 for $10, or the daylight bulbs 3 for $10. We got two packages of the 60 watt bulbs and one of the daylight bulbs - which will go one each in the living room, dining room, and kitchen since the upstairs gets plenty of natural light and we typically spend more time downstairs anyway.

Huh. There's also a rather interesting new report available on concentrated poverty available from Brookings. Nothing earth-shatteringly new, but sort of nice to see some attention at the national level, even if it did take catastrophe to bring it to light.

14 October 2005

And.. I think.. it's a pattern..

So.. a few days ago I thought it would be neat to start doing double-face/double-turn tablet weaving again and I thought it would be really neat to start doing it on a practice piece that was relatively small. So no words, maybe an initial.. and then I remembered someone asking after a double-face/double-turn pattern for a compass rose. And, well, I've also been trying to figure out something neat but relatively small (as in not bulky) to give Katriona and Ingileif for helping me at the list table last weekend, so there we have a plan.

Except that the only pattern I could actually track down is a very old and very difficult to read scan of a Northwatch cover, which wasn't really clear enough to make out, much less follow. So I emailed Herveus and he didn't have a pattern, but he was willing to write one up. But I didn't want him to do that just for me - he's a busy many, after all - so I offered to do it myself if he'd provide some basic instruction for how to get started. Which he did. And which I followed.

So now, I have a pattern for a double-face/double-turn compass rose. And I have to admit it turned out better than I thought it would.

Now I just need to warp one of the looms and try it out. Right.

Did I mention that the pattern is 95 cards wide..? Not counting the border..? Guess I'm using the silk.


So, after at least six weeks and pr'bly more like eight weeks of next to no real exercise, I finally got off my butt and started running again yesterday. I took it easy, but didn't step back too much from where I was in the running plan* - run 3 minutes, walk 4 minutes, four repetitions. And I have to admit to less muscle soreness than when I started from scratch in June, but it's still somewhat of a shock to be stiff and sore after just 1 workout. *sigh* But, at least I started again. Next week I should be up to 3.5 minutes running, 3.5 minutes walking, five repetitions. I may stay there two weeks, though, depending on how quickly my endurance comes back and whether I actually also start adding in twice-weekly swim workouts.

*I run using a plan designed around a 7 minute block. In the first weeks, you run 1 minute, walk 6 minutes, repeat 4, 5, 6 or 7 times depending on your available time and stamina. Each week you add 30 seconds to the run portion and subtract 30 seconds from the walk portion. When I stopped, I was at 4 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, and five repetitions.

Birch was not, in fact, royally messed up. At least not when I last left you. I did manage to reverse the pattern for three repeats at the beginning of a row and then knit the rest of that row and the entire purl row after and start the next knit row before realizing it. Fortunately, the rows are shorter now, so tink back stitch-by-stitch was not nearly so painful as it could have been had I been so absentminded near the beginning. I'll try to get some good pics this weekend; my camera has been annoying me lately (can't set the card to take lower resolution pictures without it automatically turning off the flash regardless of the light level and nothing (except resetting it to take higher resolution pictures) lets me turn the flash back on).

There is a single fly that has been alternatively absent and annoying in my office all week. He will die today. As soon as he gets off my number pad.. wouldn't do to kill the keyboard at the same time.

12 October 2005

Yarn for Sale or Swap!

Whee! I need to destash a bit, or at least get some things that I'm more likely to use in the nearish future. On my monitor most of the colors are pretty true; where they're not, I've so noted. All pictures are clickable thumbnails; clicking them will bring you to a larger picture.

This is Lion Brand Woolspun in Slate Grey, which is a wool blend that is made to be thick-and-thin. It's constructed a bit like Homespun in that there's a thread running along with the spun wool to give it a little stability. This yarn has been discontinued. One full skein plus one partial. ($5)

This is Elann Endless Summer Collection Sonata in Black. 100% cotton, two full skeins. ($5)

I think this is something that used to be called Paton's Classic Chunky or Country or something. It's a single ply, chunky wool in light blue. There are two full skeins which have been hand balled. I no longer have the wrapper and can't find any information on line about yardage - Sorry! ($8)

Yarn from a recycled sweater. I like this, but can't verify the yardage or the yarn content, though I'm pretty sure it's probably cotton. The yarn is no longer tightly plied. ($5)

Schachenmayr nomotto Micro in purple. The color in this picture is a little darker than actual. A better picture of the color is here. Two full skeins plus a partial (pr'bly half a skein or more). ($6)

Various partial skeins of Lion Brand Jiffy in multiple colorways. I've made several Haiku's with LB Jiffy and a couple Sonnet's as well. It's a good yarn for kid clothes because it's machine washable. ($6)

Four skeins plus a mostly full partial of Lily Elite Cotton in peach. 100% cotton. I made a Shapely Tee from this yarn for my sister. ($10)

Wool of the Andes in Chestnut from KnitPicks. I ordered this when I was worried about running out of yarn for my raglan cardigan in hopes that it would be a close enough match to the peruvian wool from an Elann bag sale. It wasn't, so I ended up using Cranberry in a fibonacci striping pattern instead. ($7)

Numei acrylic chenille in deep garnet (this color appears to be discontinued). This is a very dark black-red, though not as black as the picture makes it appear. I started a cardigan in this yarn and decided I didn't like it as much as I expected. One panel of the cardi is still knit, but could be frogged if someone wanted more. There are 8 full skeins, plus a partial, unknit. I believe there were 12 full skeins originally. ($12)

Briggs & Little Atlantic in green heather. I made a Rollover Pullover from this for me and while I like it, I can't wear it next to my skin. I have to wear a long sleeved shirt underneath it or it's *way* too scratchy. It would likely make great felted bags or the like, though. Seven full skeins, one has been hand balled. I also have at least one partial skein of this around somewhere. ($20)

If any of this strikes your fancy, make me an offer! I'm particularly interested in natural fibers and sock yarns at the moment, though my moods change so if you have something you'd like to offer, throw it out there and we'll see. I'm also willing to sell any of this outright, so if you'd rather forego the swap bit, let me know.

And while I'm posting pictures, here are a couple of recently finished projects:

Simple ribbed socks in KnitPicks Simply Stripes in Vineyard. I don't think I like self-patterning sock yarn... I couldn't figure out what pattern to use to make these for the longest time and ended up just doing them in single rib. I've decided I prefer to do some sort of simple lace in the legs of my socks, so I don't think I'll be getting any more self-patterning stuff.

MJ's winter ears. These were her birthday present so she could continue to wear her ears through the winter without catching cold.

Knew it'd happen sometime..

So.. I somehow managed to mess up Birch while knitting in the car this morning on the way to work. I think I fixed whatever the problem was, but I was so frustrated with how long and putzy it was to fix that I put it down and didn't want to go back to it for the Stitch'n'Bitch over lunch. *sigh* I'll take a look again tonight and hopefully it will already all be fixed and not require anymore intervention on my part. It was going so *well*, too... I've decreased down to half the number of cast on stitches, which, given that it's a triangle shawl that started on and edge and not a point, means (at least if my geometry is right) that I'm about 3/4th of the way finished. So. Close.

And since it's got me in a cranky mood, can someone explain to me why people try to sell "hand beaded stitch markers" for $12-$15 for a set of 4? I mean.. well.. maybe it's just me, but a stitch marker is a tool. Tools don't have to be pretty - it' s not going to be incorporated into my final garment like a button or something, it's just something I'm using as a place holder. So paying $15 for *four*, when I tend to use them in higher quantity as a general rule (Aran sweaters, to mark every few pattern repeats in lace patterns, etc.) seems.. a waste. I mean.. am I missing something?

(Yes, yes, I understand that hand crafted items are often more expensive.. I'm questioning why anyone would bother to make hand crafted stitch markers, I guess. Seems unnecessary and possible annoying. I mean, if I'd used beaded stitch markers to mark every 50 stitches in Birch, I'd have spent way too much time untangling the little dangly bead bits from the fabric to make them any kind of asset.)

On a completely different topic.. does anyone have any suggestions for commonly used (and therefore generally "acceptable") outcome measures for transfer students? We seem to be incapable of defining outcome measures that are suitably comparable to outcome measures used for new freshmen (graduation rate, first year GPA, time-to-degree, etc.). I'm guessing that the lack of inclusion of outcome measures for transfer students on the larger national surveys points to their general absence, but it just seems like that can't be the case. *SO* many students transfer at some point in their undergrad careers that it seems patently irresponsible to not measure outcomes for them. *sigh* But then.. well.. a lot of higher education common practice lately has struck me as patently irresponsible (like the similar lack of learning outcomes measures for higher ed - we know they jumped through the hoops, but not if they learned anything in the process).


At least we seem to have identified what's been causing Jali to be so itchy lately. We're about 95% sure it's a food allergy. We recently switched her to Beneful, which seems to have something in it that she's allergic to. So back to Pedigree we go. (The switch wasn't really for any defined purpose other than a latent feeling of guilt that she must get bored eating the same food day after day, month after month, year after year. Pedigree is all just little brown nuggets. Beneful is fun shapes and multiple colors and ostensibly different flavors. Sort of like the difference between Lucky Charms and Cheerios. I mean, wouldn't you get bored if all you ate, for every meal of your life, was Cheerios?)

10 October 2005

This weekend was rather pleasant. I drove out to Pierre with Baroness Josceline, Iohanna, and Alissende, none of whom I knew particularly well. I was a little concerned that it would be a strained car trip - 9 hours each way is an awfully long trip with near strangers - but it was perfectly comfortable and pleasant and we chatted and learned from each other and generally got along quite well. I would happily travel again with them!

The event itself also went well. My understanding of what His Majesty wanted for the tourney changed a couple times between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, but in the end he was able to set me straight and things went off without a hitch. Yes, I did track the tourney tree on my tablet, with a paper "back-up" that was given to the victor. Yes, the PDF of the tree is already posted to the impending MOT website (which should be officially published sometime in the next few days) and to the Kingdom Chronicler for publication in the November Northwatch.

The tourney was clean and fun. The combatants were at times noticeably intense, but also remembered to play and keep the crowd appraised of when and why blows were called or not called. There were moments of laughter (Hroder yelled out something like "Avocado!" to startle his opponent at one point), amusement (Vlad limboed under a marshall stick just before one of his bouts.. in full armor.. and it was held rather low!), and chivalry (in the finals, Hroder chose as his preferred weapons style sword and shield saying something to the effect of "if I can't beat you at this, I don't deserve to sit the thrones"; sword and shield is Lars' preferred weapons style and he acknowledged Hroder's courage by forfeiting his "extra" victory (Lars came through the "victor's" bracket and had not lost a bout; Hroder has lost one bout - to Lars in the second to last round - and therefore by strict double-elim rules would have needed to defeat Lars twice in a row to claim the throne)).

There are some with concerns about the outcome of the tourney, but I have to admit that every interaction I've had personally with the new Heirs has been pleasant and polite and not in the least striking of arrogance. Young and new-ish to the Kingdom they may be, but I don't have any sense of dread or foreboding like it seems so many others do. Sometimes I think people just need to have something to get their panties in a twist over. *shrug*

I was productive enough in the car on the trip out to balance the utter lack of production on the trip back. I got another couple repeats of Birch finished and am far enough on the grant proposal to feel comfortable. I also finally got to watch the DVD of Declining by Degrees in the hotel Friday night after dinner. I'm only about a quarter of the way through the companion book, but at least now I can pass the DVD on to others to watch.

This week I intend to work more on Birch and do some research into some tablet weaving things I've been kicking around. I want to re-learn double-turn/double-face, so I'm looking for a suitable practice pattern to work on. I have Plans(tm), or at least Ideas(tm), for what I want to do eventually, but this is just to get restarted again.

Which reminds me I need to go add the link to the tablet weaving loom I want to my WishList...