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..)
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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.

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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.