Saturday, February 25, 2012

I got mail!

I found this in the mailbox today when I got home -- a lime green envelope with a smiley face on the back!

And this is what was in it!

The ladies in the Selfish Knitting group on Ravelry decided to make and sell a series of buttons celebrating the joys of selfish knitting (ie, knitting only for yourself and the truly knitworthy, and only knitting that which makes you happy to knit). The dedicated little artists that inspired the project designed a virtual armada of button choices. The profits are going to charity (I believe it's going to be Heifer International), so I figured I could find a bit of pocket change to get a few. Choosing the designs I wanted was the hard part -- even at my most flush, and even considering how low the prices were, I didn't have enough to buy one of each. Sigh, decisions! I hate making decisions.

I'm really loving the redhead in the middle there -- the button is much nicer in real life, the colors are sharper. Also Fiber Floozy (the large square one) is looking a bit washed out in the picture, too.  They're all really gorgeous on my desk, all shiny and colorful and swanky.

Me likey.

What's that? Why of course I have an old fashioned letter opener. It was my grandmother's. I keep it in the pen holder on my desk:
It's heavy, it's pretty and in a pinch I can use it as a bone folder. V. handy. Plus it looks intimidating. I almost wish I got more mail just so I could use it more often.

May you have a Saturday replete with pleasant surprises in your mail and selfish knitting in your favorite chair.

PS-- I have a real bone folder, although mine is made of yak horn instead of bone. What can I say, I was being extravagant while in my bookbinding phase. Plus yak horn doesn't flake or chip like bone does.

Although it also can't be sharpened down into a cutting implement like bone, either. So you win some, you lose some.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I volunteer at the local archives. I've been working on cleaning up and mending some old (as in, 1800-1805) legal case papers. It always surprises me, since at the turn of the Nineteenth Century this area was the Wild West, that the crimes seem to fall into two base categories: selling stuff to the natives and "trespass" (or, as they spelled it, "trespaf", if the f extended below the line) which seemed to cover a whole lot of ground. Bad business dealing was trespass, outright theft was trespass, anything that resulted in my money being in your pockets without proper cause -- and a few other things besides -- was trespass.

Granted, horse thieves and murderers were simply hung (there wasn't a territorial jail until 1804, when they got someone who owed the county money to build it -- in a court case I cleaned two weeks ago), and nobody minded much about crimes against women or mind-altering substances and their control, so there wouldn't be a lot of court paperwork dealing with the sort of things I think when I hear "Sheriff", but I expected a little more excitement. Something a little wilder than "he owes me $400 and hasn't paid."

I digress; the fact that most of the lawsuits seem to have been brought before the court because it was a slow day on the farm and they had nothing else to do to occupy their time has nothing to do with the reason I brought it all up. It's the handwriting.

Glory, look at it! The elegant swoops and curves, the flow of the letters...all more interesting due to the fact that -- after careful examination on my part -- I believe these files to be the first drafts and scrap documents. There are few official seals and an awful lot of blanks and cross-outs for them to be the proper versions of the documents.


They still laid on a lot of love of the curliques and flourishes. This must be their natural writing -- the way they learned to write when they learned initially. Not a special-purpose style as it is nowadays. I've seen court transcripts where the script is nearly identical, meaning they could write very fast in that style. I am in awe.

Also, is it really scary to anyone else that I'm getting to know the court clerks by their writing? That bottom piece there? That was the clerk from Cahokia, out St. Louis way. He had a strangely squat and runic style of writing. It's rather hard for me to read. The fellow back east was more lyrical. Wrote, in modern parlance, like a girl. I don't have any examples of his writing, the other two samples I'm showing are from a law office -- that's the lawyer's clerk. He does the flourishes like damn, though. Very nice.

My point, which I have, admittedly, been hours and hours at getting around to, is that suddenly I'm feeling a bit...inadequate. Handwriting, for me, has always been the slow way to communicate, and my impatience reveals itself by a nearly flat-line that is what passes for cursive writing. I simply have no time to make those bumpy, circular thingies that are actual letters. But the sheer beauty of these documents is making me feel like resurrecting an old skill and making it mine.

Wish us luck.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'd have posted sooner...

but it's been so long since I've worked more than, say, 15 hours a week that I feel like I have no time to do anything.

Of course, that might also be because I spent all day yesterday out of the house (work for my pseudosister, work for the temp job -- which I'm really enjoying, by the way, -- then went to the movies with a friend). I hate that, you know. Not going home. Waking up, running out and staying out until bedtime. It makes me feel...crowded.

Anyway, here's what I wanted to work on yesterday, but didn't have the time for:

I finished the knitting part Monday at coven. I'm getting ready for the 'complicated' part now. I just have to pick my colors and go.

I think I'll get off the computer, throw my laundry in the dryer (it's in the washing machine now) and then sit to my knitting. I go to bed early again -- since my new wake-up time is 6 in the freakin' am (and what the hell sort of time-of-day do you call that?!?!) I go to bed early every night nowadays.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. I'm really not.

But tomorrow is my easy day -- volunteer obligations are more fun than strenuous -- so I'm hoping it's actually a pretty good day. I'll be napping when I get home, anyway. No laundry, nowhere to go after I get home at 3:30, nothin' on the calendar.

Ahhh. It's like a cool, clean pool on a nasty hot summer's day!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I did my taxes today. Oh, not the final tax forms, I just did a blitz Turbo Tax version to see what I'll owe.

Not too bad, I only owe $325 between the feds and staties. I was braced for worse. Far, far worse.

I'm going to have a hot cuppa, do some more knitting on the orange square and watch some Supernatural, or maybe finish up the second season of Sherlock that I've got sitting on my desk (and have been avoiding; I know how this ends). Something to ease and soothe me a bit.

And now a photo to liven up the place a bit (and don't you just love the colors?!?!?):

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Squares, squares, squares.

I have, for the moment, abandoned the second KAL square of February. I don't like the pattern much (oh, I like the finished item well enough, but the knitting of it is wretched). Well, here it is, judge for yourself:

It's cool enough -- I like the way the yarn carried along the right side is making tidy little chevrons -- but the pattern is written in complicated fashion, and it's just....oooh. Just had a thought. Why don't I go in and fix the darn pattern? Like, instead of saying "Line 12: As Row 3", go back and cut and paste row 3 into the pattern at line 12?

My Bob, I can be so dense sometimes. And why is it that I get these great ideas after a glass of wine? I could easily become a drunk if this continues.

Anyway, I'm also hosting two squares for this project. Which means I get to come up with the patterns and such. I'm very excited, to tell the truth. I just have to figure out how to write the patterns out so they're comprehensible to others.

In the meantime, here's the swatch I abandoned the navy square for:

Yes, it looks unassuming, but there's more to it than garter stitch. In fact, I'm at the 5' mark, meaning I'm halfway done with knitting the base square. As I'm halfway done with the base square, that means I'm a quarter of the way done with the finished item -- as the base square marks the halfway point on the finished blanket square.

Yes, my math is complex. Very complex. And I'm keeping track, you know.

I'm so pedantic!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Crap that happens when you least expect it.

Right after I published my last post, I got a phone call. In fact, I got the call precisely as I clicked on "Sign Out". My friend, the pseudo-sister, was calling to tell me her father had just died.

He was relatively young, only 59, but he had a massive heart attack and died very quickly.

In between here and there, I've been staying overnight with her children as she and her husband left to help her mother get through the first night of widowhood, traveled 45 minutes away from my house to go to the viewing and the funeral and just plain, old listened. She's doing better now (today she was fully into the anger stage of her grieving -- a public service announcement, folks, you never know when you might have a massive heart attack, so make a list of your financial accounts, account log-ins and passwords, and leave it in an envelope in your desk. Your heirs will not curse you as loudly as she did her father today when she realized they don't know where he kept all his money.) I know she's got a long way to go to back to something akin to "alright", but at least she's on her way.

Plus the temp agency that I thought didn't want me on their roster has started calling me again. I guess they've got some temporary part time jobs they can't get the other job seekers to accept. It helps in this case that I'm not picky, I suppose. One of the ladies called me this morning while I was feeding an infant and I've called her back twice already. I know they're short handed today -- the secretary told me so -- so I figure now I'll give her space and time to call me. After all, I have no way of knowing when she's got a free moment, but she does. Patience. I will exert patience.

Sigh. I don't know. Sometimes it feels my life is spinning wildly out of control, and mostly I don't mind -- I am, after all, along for the ride -- but sometimes I'd like a little more space between the crazy, you know?

Oh, well. At least I have my KAL. I've been working on the second square for my blanket, and I don't know how I feel about the pattern. It's optional, but I've started it, and with all the cussing that's gone into the little bit I've done so far, I feel obliged to finish it if only so I haven't wasted all those obscenities. A damn is a terrible thing to waste.

Maybe that's what I'll do tonight, after I finish up reading the chapter in my latest self help book (The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is The Key To High Performance And Personal Renewal, it's fabulous and worth reading for everyone -- just sayin'). I'm actually enjoying this book, and for once it...well, what they say feels right and sensible and like something that will help me. As I'm the Burn Out Queen, I've been thinking a lot about my energy -- how I manage it, how I build it, where I spend it -- and this is the first book I've ever found that actually addresses that issue. After only reading the first half, I can say two things definitively: 1) I wish I'd participated in an organized sport as a child, and if I'm ever blessed with a surly knittling, they will play a sport, and be coached by a good coach. 2) This book has taught me more about why I've had so much trouble with the jobs I've held and why I have such an aversion to going back to work in the corporate environment. I'm not completely healed and ready for a 40 hour workweek in the service of The Man, but I think if I put the principles of this book into play, eventually the idea of taking a day job to support my writing won't chap quite so much as it now does.


Ahem. Anyway. Read first, knit later. I experimented with my media diet last week, and felt a bit more engaged in my life. So I think I'm going to continue the media diet, in an abridged format, this week. No internet beyond my email, this blog and Ravelry (because I need my peeps, yo) and one or two checks of Facebook, because I promised my niece I'd send her times for the movie we're going to see on Friday night. A little bit of tv at night -- if only because I do loves me some hot fiction -- but no more daytime tv. Daytime tv is just a massive energy suck. You don't realize how sedating it can be until you give it up.

But the neighborhood wise-kid had it right:

Seriously. It's helped me be more productive. And awake.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Cats and knitting

I don't knit much around Yoda -- he lives in my bedroom because fur bearing mammals tend to shed and someone I live with has problems with that -- and I spend most of the day in 'my' room where my computer and yarntainer are located. I do visit frequently through the day, and sit with him for an hour or two here and there, but usually I just read or irritate Yoda by petting him a lot. But yestereve I was very tired (exhausted, really) because of a variety of unrelated issues that conspired to really, really irritate me. So after dinner, which ended around 9 pm, I came home, changed my shoes to my slippers, grabbed my yarn and book and went up to bed early. I cast on and knit the first row for the second blanket square of the month, then went to sleep early.

Despite this, I still got up later than usual this morning. I must have needed the sleep.

Any way, I got a lot of help with my blanket square:

Yoda is big on needle management.

He also helps me tension my yarn. And get it nice and moist -- I think he believes it helps the yarn slide through my fingers better. Bleargh.

It was adorable, though. Usually when I go up there, he comes over for a few seconds of dedicated snorgles, bites me and then goes off to be about his business. But last night he must have known I was a few watts short of a battery charge, because he just sat near or on me until I fell asleep.

He does that a lot, you know. When I first came down hard on this cold -- the second night I had it -- instead of demanding I stay awake for fifteen minutes petting him and rubbing his ears (as he is wont to do) he just laid down with his head lying on my hand and a paw on my arm as if he was hugging me. There was an incident once when I was really in a taking and crying up a storm on my pillow, and it threw him into such a state -- circling my head, mewling softly and stroking my face with his paw -- before he finally just lay down right up against my stomach, making biscuits on my arm and rubbing his nose against my chin until I stopped crying from the sheer Power of Cute pouring off him. I guess even boy kitties can't handle a woman's tears all that well.

He's awful sweet. You know, for a kitty.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Square One

At least I'm somewhere...


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I told you so.

Ok, so it's really hard to tell, but that's the same little flowery plant from yesterday's post. Winter, oh, boy, does it bite!

But not all the pictures I took on my walk today were depressing. To whit:

The snow being held in branches and on leaves was quite lovely. Looks a bit like random lace, don't you think?

Oh, yeah, and PS: The second episode of season two (The Hounds of Baskerville) was by far much better than the first. Aside from the adorable jug ears of Russel Tovey (oh, why, why, why must he catch for the wrong team for me to play with? Those ears are adorable!), the story was, to me, more enjoyable.

But this makes sense, upon reflection, because the first episode (A Scandal in Belgravia) was written by Steven Moffat, whose writing I enjoy, but not as much as I love Mark Gatiss' ability with a story -- and guess who wrote THoB? Besides, while Sherlock was a...insert derogatory term for male genitalia here in both episodes, I felt that he was under better control in the second one. Or at least, less of a massive derogatory term for male genitalia.

Both episodes were witty, urbane and kept as close to canon as a story twisted around 180 degrees and sat down on the Wicked Witch of the East can be, but I just...I dunno. Perhaps it just comes down to writer's voice. I mean, Moffat's been writing Doctor Who for the majority of the past year, and I find my liking of his stories to be more hit or miss than the episodes written by Gatiss -- who has yet, in my experience, to write an episode that doesn't actively please me. Even the episode about the little boy with the closet and phobias -- which is almost universally reviled by the online Whovian community (at least the one in the corner of the intarwebz that is Ravelry) -- made me cry a little.

It's frightening to think I share issues with some random British person, but there you have it.

More frightening for him than for me, probably.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First fleeting signs of spring.

Saw this on my walk this morning. I'm not sure what that is -- Lily of the Valley? -- but it was a right pretty sight, compared to the blank gray of the skies this morning.

Alas, it won't last long, our weather is turning to winter (at last) this week, but while it lasts, it's beautiful.

I have tons of knitting I want to do, reading I want to do, stuff I want to do, but I've been procrastinating on getting this blog entry written. I'm not sure why -- it's just talking, really, and I do that for free -- but I've been hiding from this. Stupid, yes it is.

Part of it is the DVD of Sherlock season 2 I got given last night by a friend. I've watched the first episode of that season, and (aside from a preponderance of potentially naked Sherlock) I'm not sure how to take the thing. There were aspects of the episode that I feel were...played to a certain audience, not to the material. Which, I'm sure, makes no sense to anyone who either a) hasn't seen the episode in question yet or b) doesn't object to the blatant emotional manipulation going on. In either case, I've got episode two cued up for tonight, and I'm looking forward to it more (if only for Russell Tovey).

Maybe I should get off this computer, get my DVD player going and knit on my blanket squares. Or something.

Sigh. So much to do, so little energy to do it with!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

When did I become Queen Knitalong?

I never used to do knit-alongs. Well, I tried, I really did, but I never could get the hang of knitting to a deadline. It's part of why I refused to join in the whole "Super Bowl Scarves" thing -- deadline knitting = un-fun knitting.

But now:

This is the first of multiple yarn purchases for a large, full year blanket knit-along. With a theme (which I won't ruin for you; as I progress, you can play along and see if you can figure out what fandom has inspired the blankie). I'm a weird little fangurl, you all know this to be true, but this is the first time I've done a themed knit-along.

Or such a large one. I mean, I was shocked enough at joining in the tea cozy knit-along last month (and Betty loves her dress, thank you for asking), but that took me...what, four hours, design to done? I did the charity blanket square knit along last year, August through September, but I didn't get a lot done for that project. I started (and quit) a shawl knit-along several years ago (I have all the patterns for that one, I really should finish it up one day), but aside from the attempt at the shawl and one tiny little tea cozy, I've never been good at knit-alonging. As I say, deadlines. They make me think of work, and work is not fun -- well, it never has been in past, but the times, they do change.

Anyway, it fills my pervy little fangurl heart with pleasure to contemplate the finished blanket, as well as my desperate need for warmth -- I love blankets. Mostly because I'm always cold.

So I stopped tonight at Not My Usual Big Box Craft Store to look at the yarn I'd chosen for my blankie. I decided to go with acrylic because Yoda has the reflux, you know, and while cotton is easily machine washable, it's also heavy as lead. Particularly when wet. Plus I already have two cotton blankets for warmth, this one will be more decorative. And cuddle-friendly.

I bought the yarn for this month's squares (there are two squares available each month, of which you only have to do one -- although if you do both, or all three if that's offered, you get a bigger blankie at the end of the year) and then bought ahead for a square I'm particularly looking forward to. Unfortunately, when I got the bag home and saw the yarn in the correct light, I noticed that this yarn:

is the wrong shade. In this photo, it's about...three shades darker than it is in life, and were that the true color of the yarn it would be correct. Unlike this yarn, in the color cranberry, the square in question calls for maroon. Which is an amusing word, maroon, but there it is. I think I will have to take this one back tomorrow, exchange it for a purple shade that's going to be coming up eventually, and try and find some maroon (marooooooon!) at another Big Box Store.

This is why Not My Usual Big Box Craft Store carries the appellation Not My Usual. The lighting is, frankly, crap. And the yarn is stocked in the Red-Headed Stepchild Corner, where at least two of the overhead lights are burnt out every single time I go in. It's like a yarn ghetto in there, dark and cramped and sort of seedy; they really don't want yarn crafters wandering through. But the yarn was on sale -- $3 a pop -- which is too cheap to resist.

Considering I couldn't hardly see the yarn at all in there, I don't think I did too badly. We'll see how it shakes out.

I am so looking forward to this!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Baby Plague

First it felled the boys. Then their mother, then mine. Now, I have the Baby Plague. I don't really feel sick, per se -- I've got a runny nose and the naturally accompanying headache, and a sore throat from the drainage, but I've felt worse before. The only real distraction is that I am exhausted. It's as if I'm wearing a lead vest. And have a lead ball and chain around both ankles. I even took a two hour nap today, and I'm still ready to go to bed early. Baby Plague!

I haven't even been able to knit. That should tell you right there how bad this crap is.

In other news, I haven't been doing anything. I've been slightly tired for the past week and a half (sickening for the BP?) but the past two days have been terrible in terms of tired. I haven't been able to read anything of content (although I'm not sick enough to be unable to read Pratchett -- that would be a very bad sign, were it the case) or even knit. Which is sad, as I've also been unable to walk around a lot or do anything physical, so I've had the sitting down time. Still and all, if you're making mistakes knitting in stockinette:

(the photo is just to remind you of my shawl), you shouldn't be knitting at all.

Maybe by Sunday I'll be in better fettle and able to knit during the Super Bowl. I won't be attending any parties, but I enjoy watching the game. I like football. And the commercials should be amusing.

I hope so, anyway. My shawl isn't knitting itself, the Nieceling's Summer Vacation scarf isn't going on and I'm thinking of starting up a blanket knit along with a Sherlock theme. I need to get cracking!