Saturday, August 29, 2009


Apologies for the disjointed and distracted air of this post, but I'm attempting to multi-task. Since I haven't got the wattage to do so successfully, I'm sure the writing will suffer.

I went to visit a friend in Chicago this past week, and it was quite therapeutic. I'm currently a bit dehydrated (I was there and walking around when it was nice and hot), but that can be corrected. It was quite fun to get out and about. I was only going to go up for one day, to see the Harry Potter prop exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, but somehow it blossomed into a two day barn storm of the town, which grew to include bringing along a second friend and staying overnight at the Chicago friend's house. I don't mind, really, I got to do more fun stuff in two days (well, more like 30 hours all told) than I typically do when I go to Chicago. Not that I go often; the drive is a pain in the kiester and to fly is...well, frankly, silly. So I ended up seeing Millenium Park, eating at the John Hancock Tower's restaurant (on the 95th floor! What a view!) and then we wandered past the Water Tower, down to the Navy Pier and the stained glass museum exhibit (which is beautiful; if you get a chance you should go), and capped off the day with deep dish pizza, naturally. I was so excited that I got to eat in restaurants with relatively little trouble that I consider that a highlight of the event.

Day two we started with some excellent home cooking, then off to the Art Institute of Chicago where I figured out how to take low-light, no flash photos with my camera (a big issue in art museums!) that didn't get either washed out from auto-color correction or turn out so dark you had no idea what the heck the target was in the first place. I got some pictures of art, which is cool. Particularly the Van Goghs. I loves me some Van Gogh. Then we wandered down to Buckingham Fountain, although it was a gloomy, rainy day, and back up for some lunch and then home. In all, it was a lovely two days. We weren't rushing around (in fact, our pace was quite leisurely), we got to see all the things we wanted to see (even if they were relatively few in number) and it was fun to hang out with my friends.

Unfortunately, the next day I had to take my cat to the vet's for a shot of whatever steroid they give him when he has his asthma attacks-the weather, you know, is quite harsh for asthma kitties in summer. I guess it's the humidity. Anyway, he was doing quite well the day after the shot, and he's doing even better now that the humidity/temperature have dropped, so I'm a lot more calm myself. He's going to be unhappy tomorrow night, as my brother is going to be by with the platform bed he built for my new foam mattress, and I'm sure the sounds of drills and hammers will just please Asthma Kitty no end, but whatcha gonna do?

So it's been a mixed week as far as experiences go. Two days of excellent, one day of suckage, one day of good. The other three, I suppose, have been six or half dozen of both. And I think my photobucket album is done downloading, so I can leave you with this:

The Poet's Garden by Vincent Van Gogh

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blogger love

My friend took me out today for my birthday. We went to the mall, where I watched her drop an obscene amount of cash on clothing (seriously, I nearly had a coronary, and I used to spend nearly as much on books. Over the course of two months, of course. Even I'm not that spendy!) Then we went to the bookstore where she bought me my gift, a book, and I gang-pressed her into donating a book to the local children's hospital. Then we went to the movies.

I should point out, I attend movies regularly--I enjoy them far more than television. Why, just last night, I went to the movies in celebration of another friend's birthday. That film was...less than satisfactory. I like to find meaning in my films, messages, little love notes of wisdom from the film's writers to me. Granted, this wisdom is typically watered down with all the Hollywood bollywoggle that has to be added to make the film marketable, but to the discerning eye, it is there. Last night, I went to see a film whose only possible meaning is "be glad for death; at least you won't end up living a half-life like this nitwit." Not exactly life-affirming, if you know what I'm saying. Then again, it is High Victorian Melodrama of the lowest order, so you know a) Hero and Heroine would fall deeply, madly, truly in love, b) someone's going to die a painful, senseless death, and c) the other party will suffer in the tradition of Good Queen Vic for her Albert for all the rest of their days. Tripe. Bah.

Not to insult cow stomachs everywhere, but today I decided to go a little more cheery with Julie & Julia. Little did I realize that the movie is a love note to bloggers--well, and Julia Child. And butter. And yes, they did make Julie look a little more than very self important, and treat her blogging (at one point) as little more than the butt of a very extended joke about how her readers would be traumatized (traumatized, we tell you!) if she were to stop writing. But in the end, the movie was about making promises to yourself and the importance of keeping them, and Julie isn't the only blogger to use her blog to do this. There is an accountability in blogging, even if no one else is reading, even if no one else ever does. It's like...weighing yourself at a certain very popular weight loss group's centers--no one ever knows the numbers but you and the lady behind the desk, but you know you're going to be there. An obligation to yourself.

And, frankly, the marriage of Julia and Paul Child was the sweetest thing I've ever seen on film in my life. If only the writer of Tripe Central would have used this as the basis of a romance, I would have enjoyed it more. Love, true love, means something more than dying a beautiful death and then self-involved wallowing in pain and misery. It means...helping your beloved to be the best them they can be, supporting them through the bad stretches, and then letting them take all the credit for their success because, well, they did the work. That's love. And it's beautiful!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh, this is SO pathetic.

Do you know what this is? Well, if the picture wasn't blurred beyond recognition, do you think you'd know what it is?

The start of a toe of a sock! I managed to figure out (with group assistance) the ins and outs of the Magic Cast On--which is not as hard as it looks initially--and did three rows. Well, did it twice as my first cast on was as tight as Joan Rivers' face (hey, she jokes about it). My second cast on was less painful and I managed to get the first row knitted on. After a small happy dance, I did the first increase row. Next up will be another knit row, but I think I'll leave it for a time when I'm not exhausted and suffering from dry contacts. Yeah, it's small and I can easily redo it, but why duplicate effort if it's not necessary?

To get the whole kit and kaboodle home, I decided to improvise my own needle case.

Yeah, sometimes I'm so sharp I just about cut myself. No need to worry about fragile size 1 DPNs! Just insulate them against shocks with your yarn.

It's silly, I know, but hey. Take what pride you can in whatever accomplishments you can own. It's just a toe, but I did not let it scare me. I did not let the sock intimidate me into backing down. I deserve cake now. And maybe some milk.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I spotted a gap, then I filled it.

Before I begin today's blather, I'd like to show you something I bought a few weeks ago and am not sure if I displayed here:

Yarn Love fingering weight in colorway Turtle Cheesecake. Mmmm. Cheesecake. Actually, to me it either looks like a seal point Siamese cat's coloring, or Dog. Just...Dog doesn't have quite that much peach in his fur colorway. Not that he's opposed, just it's not really a naturally occurring color in dogs. I could always do some of his white up in a nice peach, I suppose.

Anyway. I've been beaten down. Lured to the Dark Side of Knitting. Yes, them as wot reads this Blog, I am planning to knit my first pair of socks.

Prior to this point, I never saw any reason to knit socks. DPNs are fiddly and prickly, Magic Loop escapes me (mostly because I can't get my circular needle wires to straighten out enough, boiling water not withstanding) and I can't handle two circs at once. But then a member of my knitting coven showed me the error of my DPN ways--I had been using metal DPNs, exclusively. I don't (typically) use metal needles for anything other than lace (and then only the circs) because it's too inflexible and slippery. I'm not big on yarn slipping off my needles and I keep a death grip on them anyway, so I switched to bamboo needles for most applications. It's got enough flex to keep my hands from cramping and grabs the yarn (and I don't, as you would think, grip them hard enough to snap--I think the flex encourages me to loosen my grip.)

So I picked up several sets of bamboo DPNs in the popular sock-knitting gauges, and then headed off to review patterns. Have y'all seen how many pages of free sock patterns there are on Ravelry, much less the rest of the internets? Holy carp. How does one choose?

So I hemmed and hawed and eliminated them one by one (I don't want lace for a first sock project, since I'm still getting my grip in with the DPNs, no cables as I've not done cables in a bigger project yet and I want to have a firm grasp on the principles before I do it on a small project, etc.,) and have decided I want to do the Fred & George Socks, from over at The Leaky Cauldron. It's a simple enough pattern that I won't get bogged down in the stitch details, plus the color alternations will make them interesting enough to actually finish. Not to mention, Fred and George are my favorite of the Weasleys (like just about everyone else in the online knitting world, I read and loved the Harry Potter series. It's inevitable, really, all the knitting that goes on in the books.) It should have been Percy! Ahem.

So, my completely biased sock pattern choice made, I went in search of sock yarn. Imagine my surprise when I checked my cedar chest of yarn and discovered that I have no sock yarn! Well, I do, but the colorways are hardly complimentary, and the four skeins (yes, of all my yarn, only four skeins are sock yarn) are earmarked for lace projects. Oh, I have Knitpicks Palette, which would do in a pinch, but I wanted sock yarn with nylon in it. It wears longer, and if I'm going to be bothered, they will last for a long time. As socks go.

Spotting this gap in my collection policy, I immediately rectified it. A quick trip to Joann's, and now I am the proud owner of this group of yarns:

The wise among you will realize this is way more than necessary for one pair of socks. There's two pairs' worth of yarn there. In two sets of colorways.

The first potential pairing will involve this pink variegation and the charcoal.

The second would involve this purple stripe and the solid purple.

I can't choose the colors I want to use first! Purples or pinks, purples or pinks...which is weird, anyway, because prior to today I would have said I completely despise purples and pinks! I'd rather wear sacking! No, not only have I been called over to the Dark Side with Socks, I've chosen girly colors.

Oh, the shame.