Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fait accompli!

The Mom Scarf
Finally! I've completed the million-stitch Mom Scarf. It's not that I haven't enjoyed the process, but a) the pattern repeat was only four rows long, b) the pattern repeat was...basic beyond all rational belief and c) the yarn was so incredibly fiddly and pain in the left butt cheek to deal with, I'm glad to see the cast off on it.
Here's a close-up of the pattern:

It's a variation of the fan/feather pattern (see back a few entries for the pattern source, if interested.) Looks a bit like a three-legged cat track. A three-legged cat missing a toe on the back paws. Heh. The cloth is lofty and warm, soft as a baby's bottom, and has a nice drape to it. I really like it, now that it's done. Interestingly enough, Sunday is Mom's birthday, so I got the scarf done in time to do duty as a gift.

Now, don't get me wrong: I enjoyed working on a lace pattern, I really did. It's just, after a few dozen repeats (there's something like over 100 on the entire scarf) it got damnedly dull. I was dialing it in on the last fifteen inches, and it's saying something that even while dialing it in, I only had to frog back twice (again, knitting and liquor do. Not. Mix. EVAR. Not unless you like going to the frog pond.) I have a bad feeling that this particular lace pattern is now a strong muscle memory, which does not bode well for my next lace project (at this point, still TBD. I might do my autumn themed scarf/shawl in the Kidsilk Crack, or I might do the shawl/stole in my pretty green merino, or something entirely different in the red laceweight I've got stashed up. Any way I go, it's all too exciting!)

I wrapped it back in the ball band before putting it in the gift bag--primarily as the ball band has the washing instructions on it. It's so cute in the band! It even stands up on its own!

Despite the "One Skein" origins of the pattern, I actually used something more like one and a half, and it's still not 60 inches as the pattern indicates it should be. It's close enough (about 54-56) that no one's crying, especially me. The worst part is I've still got one more entire skein of this stuff! I will have to tuck it up in my acrylics yarntainer (in a baggie; it has got wool in it) until I forget what a pain it was to knit with. Maybe I'll use it for something that's just....knitted back and forth, or something. Or drop stitch something in stead of lace. Frogging back on this stuff....gah. I'm going to have flashbacks or PTSD or something from it.

Oh, well. I'm resting up from the experience tonight and going back to my Who scarf (up to about ten inches so far! Yay!) tomorrow or Saturday (we're celebrating Mom and my adopted sister's birthdays tomorrow night.) Whenever I get to it. Next week, I'm changing my work schedule to 8-5, mostly to take Dog for morning constitutionals, but also to give me more time to sleep in the mornings. Maybe getting to work after it's light will help me cope. I just have to not use it as an excuse to stay up later at night, as I do most of my True Living outside my 40 hours of financial penance a week. Sleeping more=less time to have fun and enjoy my life, which sucks. But maybe sleeping more=having more energy to enjoy the time outside work. Eh. It's a trade off.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Messy Goodness

I made something puffy and sweet and messy as all hell:


I can't have the store bought kind, because, intriguingly enough, they tend to include the Mystery Ingredient "natural flavors" (ingredients which, by law, food companies are not required to be specific about at all, and as such could be anything from corn based to soy based to bug parts; I'm not kidding on that last one, either), which makes no sense as there really only needs to be one kind of flavor in marshmallows: vanilla. The recipe I've linked to above is the one I used (half recipe, because I was warned that the full recipe makes for a blue million marshmallows) and it was really exceedingly simple. And messy. But one can't make art without getting a bit of paint on the hands, I suppose. Mmmmmm. I'm not entirely sure I did it right, but they're yummilicious, so I don't really care. The texture (which is the primary reason I doubt my candy making skillz) is more like...risen bread dough than the more dry, foamy manufactured mallows. Again, it doesn't matter, because I like the dough texture more than the foam. I mean, I really like it more than the foam. I bet they melt a treat, too. Otherwise, they taste just as vanilla-y as the generic sort, only without the chemical aftertaste. I've got some dark chocolate handy, I might have to see....[interval]
Mmmm. *burp* Tasty.

The only adjustment I made to the recipe was the change the dusting sugar from rice flour and powdered sugar to corn starch and powdered sugar, which is what the big bag companies use. I don't have rice flour at home, and I think it would only increase the sweet factor by a lot, so I didn't think it really necessary (and it wasn't, unless you're allergic to corn, in which case, good luck finding powdered sugar in stores. You can mill your own, but what a pain in the arse.) Here's the finished product, taking a powder before storage:

Aren't they pretty?

In other, non-sugar coated news, April starts ScriptFrenzy with the folks who run NaNoWriMo. I've already signed up. No, I don't learn my lessons, but then again I am an optimist--which is why I buy lottery tickets and sign up for writing contests I'm sure not to win. Actually, I think I can do this one. I've come to accept that I simply am not a long-form writer (preferring short stories to novels, which I find interesting since I don't read short stories at all, unless they're by M. R. James, and involve wordy Victorian ghosts) and the script format satisfies both the side of me that doesn't want to write long prose and the highly visual side of my writing. I hate long prose, because I get so very frustrated trying to set the scene without repeating myself in terms of adjectives. Scripts are so much simpler, because you set up the scene in a paragraph, and you don't have to worry about being flowery or literary in style. You just describe the scene. Way easier. I can do dialogue all the live-long day, too, so it's like being told to do your math homework, but it's all the parts you're good at and none of the sucky bits (except for formatting, but I downloaded the free formatting software they linked to. I'd also imagine that eventually, it would become second nature.)

It's only 100 pages. Of dialogue. With brief scene descriptions. Too good to be true. Particularly as I've got a plot that I've been toying with for over a year--a plot, by the way, that I all along have thought would make a great movie and a terrible short story, and have been trying to figure out how to convert it to prose. How convenient. I'm quite looking forward to April. *rubs hands together in Evil Genius glee*

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Light and Color

I went out tonight with Dog to use the facilities (well, he was using the facilities, I prefer to use the indoor, out-of-the-wind type facilities myself) and the light was gorgeous. We've been having soggy, wet, rainy weather lately--it's been more like spring in Scotland around here lately, which is far superior to deep winter in Saskatoon, imho--and it was the first sunlight I've seen in nearly three days. It was close to sunset, so everything was oblique, but it brought out some delicate and warm burgundy purples, the spring green of the grass, bright blues of the sky and buildings and a beautiful, toasty-gold and buttery yellow. I rushed back in after Dog finished his business, grabbed the camera and attempted a miracle:

As you can see, it didn't quite work. But I got a close up of the leathery leaves on the grass:

In real life, the purple was a lot purpleyer, and the green was not quite so dusty. Then again, maybe my screen is too bright. Anyway, the only shot I got that I liked and felt captured the mood at all was of my own private Atchafalaya:

Now I'm sort of craving gumbo. We used to have crawdads in the run-off stream that goes along our fence, I wonder if we've got some sausage and chicken....

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Boy, do I feel bloated!

It's a strict yarn diet for me! I went out and got a ton of acrylic yarn for the project I keep hinting at (I want to see if it works before I go all "ooh, look what I did!" about it). I'm in a bit of a spring-cleaning mood (I am feeling rather bloated in many areas of my life right now, and am thinking I might spend part of tomorrow cleaning/tossing things out/putting things together to donate) so I think I'll get a glass of water (big one) and settle in to straightening out my stash. I've got two huge stashtainers and only two measly habits that need to be organized in them (knitting and cross stitch.) I can do it. I'm good. While I'm at it, I might as well get pictures and skein counts for my Ravelry inventory, as well as updating my needle inventory list. Why bother having a Ravelry account if I never use it? I think I avoided it before because the only reliable internet access I had before was at work, but now that I've got SuperComp here at home, I can play with Ravelry to my heart's content--because I just have nothing better to do with my free time, doncha know. *eye roll*

At least today's acquisitions were acrylic, I don't need to baggie them. Yay!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It's amazing, isn't it, the things we pick up from out of nowhere and just accept as Truth, when in reality, they are maybe only true at that second in time, or not really true at all.

I'm in mourning. I guess you could say I'm in the middle of a break up. Although...if you're the only one who's really in the relationship, does that count as a break up, or is it more the moment when you allow the illusion to shatter and see the shape of things as they really are?

Either way, it's a deeply disappointing and grieving experience, and I feel almost physically battered right now. No matter how I wish things to be otherwise, they will be what they will be, and that, my friends, is truly sad. Not for me; I can only come out of this the better for it. But.... I wish things were different. That people were different. The illusion seemed so happy (although it really was not, and in my less sentimental moments, I know it was actually quite miserable for me because I'm crap at lying to myself and know that I've known the truth for many, many years and known I was lying to myself the whole time), I still wish it was real. But it is not, and I have to let it go and find the Truth of all this. Because I'm perverse that way, that's why. I wish I were otherwise, I most sincerely do.

At least I'm finally gaining a sense of "mine" from this. My time, my money, my future. Maybe that will lead me to be a little more sensible about My things?

Monday, March 10, 2008

So it begins.

Six inches down, 234 to go.

Pray for me.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

My stash is bigger than your stash.

Because holy carp, y'all, my stash is huge. I've got one last...set of yarns to order for the project I sideways mentioned in my last post (if I decide to go through with it, which I think I shall,) but then I'm going on a serious yarn diet.

The rest (well, most of the rest) of the yarn for the Whovian scarves arrived yesterday in the mails, and I've got enough wool with which to start a flock of sheep. To wit:

That's the yarn for the scarf minus the red (which is a further two skeins.) And those are 14" needles in the middle, for a sense of scale. I didn't shove those puppies all the way through the skeins, either, they're just in far enough not to fall out.

Even worse: that's the yarn for only one of the scarves. If you've been paying attention, you know I ordered yarn for two. The other scarf's yarn is in my new mini-stash-tainer:

I don't know the size, but the yarn is not smooshed in its baggies. So it's not technically as full as it could be.

Something else arrived yesterday, about the same time as my yarn.

More snow. Blech. I'm sick of this crap. I'm about ten seconds from running away to a nice, toasty beach somewhere, because, in my opinion, living in a box on a warm, sandy beach is far preferable to living in a palace in Siberia. Then again, I'm very much a summer person, so I would think that.

I guess we're not having grilled burgers tonight, then.

At least my own wee blaidd drwg is having fun. He was barking at some noisy neighbor kids in this shot. He's gotten so crabby in his middle age!

Oh, well. I best get knitting. It's not like I haven't got a lot to keep me occupied.


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sexy Yarn

I started my weekend off badly, I must admit. I attended symphony again. You know how pervy I am about that. The whole experience set off my decadent, hedonistic side, and it's just been a long, slow slide down into the pits of sensualism. I know, I say that like it's a bad thing.

Anyway, I bought tickets to this weekend's show because the highlight of the evening's program was Ravel's "Bolero", which I simply had to hear live, conducted by our local music director/conductor, being as his Stravinsky completely changed my world (well, the trappings that he used to wrap the Stravinsky rocked my world; like the bacon around the edge of a medium rare filet, it was the perfect touch and topping on a perfectly cooked meal, and they wrapped their filet in hand-cured peppered bacon.) I was most definitely not disappointed.

The opening hour (it was a super-de-duper long show this week, over 3 hours long) was a performance of a large portion of a national youth orchestra. Typically, I wouldn't have arrived on time for that particular portion of the evening, but I had nothing else to do and they were doing Saint-Saens (memo to me: get dotty-umlautie things for my fonts), and I do love me some Saint-Saens. I didn't realize until I got there that the second item on the bill was Mahler *spits on the ground*, a conductor whom I detest. Fortunately, they only did the first movement from Mahler's second, so I didn't have to flee in tears. Equally fortunately, they reversed the order of those two pieces, so I got the Mahler out of the way first (which didn't, in such a small dose, offend--in fact, I quite enjoyed it. I suppose I can take Mahler in bits and pieces. Perhaps this indicates that I can innoculate myself against his particular flavor of painfully noisy chaos, and maybe, one day, listen to an entire Mahler symphony without wanting to put my own ear drums out with a blunt pencil) before being soothed with the Saint-Saens ("Introduction and Rondo capriccioso in A Minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 28" with Barnabas Kelemen on violin). Mr. Kelemen, by the bye, totally kicked ass. I'm usually a piano girl who enjoys violin, but he reminded me of what a well-made violin in the right hands can do.

Oh, and then my Brothers, then they did "Pines of the Appian Way" from Ottorino Respighi's The Pines of Rome, and I fell in love. I confess, as a child, I did love the violin above all other instruments in the orchestra. Then I grew up, experimented and sowed my wild oats as adolescents are wont to do, and fell in love with the piano. Piano broke my heart, and I fell on the neck of the cello (in the hands of Yo Yo Ma), and while I do still love the cello (which still sounds as if it's crying for me and the love we once had, and I will totally hor myself out for cello as done by Trulls Mork), I confess that in a moment of weakness I fell back in love with piano. But somewhere in between my relationships, I have, I admit, had a few flings with the brass and woodwinds. Oh, don't cry for percussion; I'm always open to a one-night stand with them--gotta love the rhythm section. Respighi's "Pines" was tailor made for the pervy brass fancier, and I almost wish they'd been able to find a brace of buccine for the event. I'm sure the trumpets and trombones were doing their best, because they certainly were calling me to war, or something the like. My God, people. I wanted to jump out of my seat, march down the main drag and carry the Imperial banner. So, I've just gone to and ordered a cd of Respighi (and Bolero and a generic collection of militaristic/rousing/big and enthusiastic orchestral music). Must. Own. I don't care if the critics think Respighi is a bit too commercial or plain or not avant guarde-frou-frou artiste enough; he totally kicked my butt. When the dust settled (make no mistake, put a group of strapping teenage boys with healthy lung capacity on brass, stand them on a section of floor raised about ten feet above the heads of the greater orchestra and say "Blow it like you own it", dust will get stirred) and I managed to finger-comb my hair back into place, I jumped up with the rest of the audience and applauded with enthusiasm, even though I couldn't hear it over the ringing in my ears.

Then there was an interval so we could recover some of our hearing, and our local symphonic came on to do a couple of solo pieces for the red-haired step children of the orchestral world--the tuba and the double bass. Rather enjoyed the tuba, frankly. I had no idea you could do things like that with a tuba. The double bass performance felt rather too intimate for words. Of all the instruments in the orchestra, it's the only one that seems to be an active participant in the whole thing rather than a tool--maybe because while playing it, it looks as if you're dancing with it. The woman who played the solo, too, is rather...not tall, nor does she have ape-like arms (luckily for her), so the entire performance was like watching her stumble down the street drunk hanging off a friend's shoulders. To reach some of the higher notes on the instrument, she had to drape herself quite intimately around the neck of the double bass. I almost felt like they should have had some privacy or something.

Somewhere in there, we'd had a second interval, I think before the double bass piece, and the last one to play was "Bolero." I don't know why I'm surprised our conductor did it so well; he's Swiss. What do the Swiss do better than the rest of the world, aside from providing quality banking services for the illicit and the paranoid? Watches and chocolate. Two things essential to the successful staging of "Bolero" are a maniacal control of rhythm and a dose of sensuality that is heavy enough to be enjoyed but not so heavy as to cloy. Watches and chocolate, people. I was seduced. Poorly done, "Bolero" is farce. Done well, as it was Friday, you realize what Ravel was getting at--form does not have to be cold, and it takes a lot of skill to do form well.

After that evening, I needed my smelling salts. I took a mocha instead as I waited for the garage to clear out.

So, Saturday morning, I attended to a semi-promise I'd made and visited my new LYS, which is run by one of my knitting coven members. It's lovely. No soy yarn anywhere (yay!) so I could touch and squeeze and sniff to my pervy little heart's content. It was wonderful. I went in for one item, and one item only:

Black worsted wool, suitable for felting, for what I think is going to end up a gift for a friend. If I don't keep it myself. It took me only a minute to find what I needed, in a bin off to the side. Brown Sheep, which is the brand I'm using for the Who scarves. But then, in a basket off to the other side, I saw:

Frog Tree alpaca, 20% off. The lipstick pink was just too pretty-pretty to resist, and it co-ordinates with the blue so very well. I couldn't resist. I'm not entirely sure what I'll end up doing with it, but it's now safely ensconced in the stash at my ankles as I write. I'm also not entirely sanguine about owning a yarn with "frog" in the name, but I'm hopeful. I was about to leave when the proprietress came over, we chatted about an idea I'd had while deep in the binge of completely unrefined hedonism I'd been swooning in the previous evening (more on that idea later, when I've had time to fill a notebook or two with notes on it, to sharpen the edges and fill in the colors a bit), and she drew my attention--curses!--to something in a basket that I'd passed by initially because I know the limits of my checking account:

Rowan KidSilk Haze. Superkid mohair and silk blend. Fern and Blackcurrant are the names of these colors. Initially, I was only tempted by Fern. I can stop at one, I told myself. Make a small scarf, or perhaps an airy and small shawl. But the Blackcurrant looked so fetching up against the Fern, and just sounded so tasty, so I, a green and purple thing, whatever thing I use it for. Then we had tea in the comfortable crafting area in back, and I got to looking at pattern books and stitch dictionaries, and before I knew it:

Fern and Blackcurrant had babies, the little sluts. The red is Liquer, the orange is Marmalade. Sigh. You really don't want to know how much it cost me to get out of that store. Trust me, you don't. I certainly don't, and I paid it! Oh, well. It is my first splurge, in terms of yarn quality, on myself that I've made so far. Mostly I knit in acrylics and wools, and the stuff from Knit Picks doesn't count, as it's not really expensive. This stuff has silk in it, really from a worm's butt silk. I love the colors all together--it looks like autumn. I did make a promise to actually knit it into something with it (since I kept saying I would be happy to just put it in a pretty vase and set it out for guests to fondle--yes, I am a sensualist enabler), so now I've got to find a pattern/stitch pattern/something to make of it.

I blame Ravel and Respighi.