Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
My Noro wrap is complete, and I am truly, completely, deeply in love.
When I was outside taking a photo just now, a couple was walking by, and it was all I could do to not run over and show it off. (As an aside, I often wonder what my neighbours think, about the strange photo-taking and piles of yarn on the patio table. No one has ever really asked about it, though.)
All the details are on Ravelry, for those of you inclined. I won't bother repeating them here.
However, I've often gotten questions about blocking, so I thought I would just make a few points.
I use blocking wires, but they are not necessary. Some crochet cotton and stick pins would work just as well. This is the tutorial I read before I started.
I also don't think its important to used a blocking board. I just use my bed (with clean sheets, naturally). I give my project a nice soak, rinse it well, and then wrap it up in a towel. I stand on the towel to get all the excess water out.
Throw it on the bed, stretch to the size I want, pin, and walk away (closing the door so some furry fellows can't take a nap on it).
The one thing I would say is that it's important to use a ruler or measuring tape. I had eye-balled the width, and it turns out, I had a two-inch difference from one end to the other. Moving a few pins solved that problem.
Since it's no longer -40, I cracked open a window. The shawl was dry in about five hours. No risk, whatsoever, of going to sleep on a wet bed.
The big question I get, though, is why bother? Well, I think there's a difference between home-made and hand-made. Home-made can be slapped together, and hand-made is a lovingly crafted item that is beautiful and useful. I think its important to spend the time on these finishing touches. It's what separates the two.
Blocking allows me to get the size I want, and makes the pattern pop. Suddenly a really big scarf becomes a finely made, unique article of clothing. Seems worthwhile to me.I have another audio lecture to listen to, and a new sock to work on. In a way, I'll be sad to have this course over. Completely justifies sitting and knitting, several hours at a time.
Friday, April 25, 2008
When I got there, there was only one seat at the bar. Strange item number one. (I’m told it was payday and pension day).
So, I took that seat. Please note it was next to the “head seat.” Next to the best seat. The seat next to where the most regular of regulars sit.
And when Neil the Irishman left an hour or so later, Rodney the railroad man told me to slide on over and take the good seat. Strange item number two.
So, I did. I’m no fool.
Guess I’ve arrived. Little ol’ me was sitting where the old (as in longevity, not age) guys sit.
Later, Mike the biker came in, and he cheerfully sat beside me, and Rodney, Mike and I bull-shitted for the better part of three hours. I told all sorts of saucy stories about myself, and the boys traded stories in turn. They also said that they’d seen my tattoos, and knew how tough I was. Really, I should skip buying a scooter and buy a bike.
They also said they could make me cry, if they really, really wanted to. I laughed.
It was a good night, even if Wade the delivery guy completely ignored me (we usually have a really feisty discussion about bluegrass). Strange item number three.
After some chicken fingers and loads of good insults, I found out that Rodney the railroad guy did not talk trash about me. The freaky guy is indeed a freak, and apparently I am glad that he didn’t email. Good to know. I would hate to think that my charms have diminished over the winter. Even though the firm lecture I have drafted has been wasted. (Rodney tells me that dipshit walked out of the pub saying "I'm never talking to her again." Suddenly, the fact that dipshit ignored me three weeks ago makes sense.).
So, some time later, I’ve ordered my last pint. I’ve paid my tab, and I’ve planned which bus to catch. A very, very handsome man sits down. Says “hello gentleman… and, girl!” And leers. Sort of. We all say hello, and the general bull-shitting continues… My bus is coming, so I wander over to say goodnight to Wade. I walk by Mike and Rodney, and kiss each of them on the cheek.
Very handsome man I don’t know says “Hey, where’s my kiss? “
I say, “I don’t know you well enough to kiss you. But, I would have sex with you.”
And I waltz out the door. With a certain swing in my step. If you know what I mean, and I think you do.
I paused for a moment, in the lobby, before I stepped outside of the building. Just to hear the gales of laughter and, over it all, I hear very handsome man say “What?!?”
And this brings me to the thoughts rolling around in my head tonight.
I’ve made a decision this winter, a decision that I haven’t talked about much. Just to a couple of you, really.
I’m done with dating.
I’m done with that stupid (but fun, I admit) game of putting myself on display, hoping someone will notice me.
I’m done with going after someone I like, and hoping they like me back.
I’m done with swallowing my own opinions just because some stupid person with a penis will be hurt if I say what I really mean. Or back-pedalling when the person I am speaking to is too dim to have and interesting and spirited debate about current issues.
It’s clear that if that is the sort of man I choose, I’ve been choosing the wrong man, and whose fault is that? Mine.
I’ve learned, over the last seven years or so, I do not need a man by my side. Oh, yes, I have learned that, and I’ve loved every minute of it (well, after the first six months I’ve loved it). And even more clearly, I’ve learned that I don’t really like how I behave when I have a man by my side. Therefore I will do without.
“If this is it for me baby, that’s just fine, I'm not looking any more”
But I'm still going to flirt. And have one-night stands, if the opportunity presents itself. Just sayin'.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I've trotted out all my standard phrases that markers (and bosses, for that matter) seem to love. I've got a nice little table constructed, and I'm thinking to myself, "ya know, maybe this studying / assignment stuff isn't so bad. I've got a pretty good shot at getting full marks for this question."
Then I remembered I've taken three Robaxacet today. Guess I'm rather high right now.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Now, the fruit can be anything. I could pick the grapes and crush them with my bare feet, but given my need for a pedicure, trust me when I say that you are glad that I don't do that. Or I could chop rhubarb, or peel and mash peaches. It doesn't matter. The fruit is chosen for its flavour (I am not prepared to go into a discussion of why grapes are so prominent. That's beyond my expertise, if you can call it that. I suspect that it has much to do with the climates where wine originated and then, tradition).
Instead, I buy kits, which contain fruit concentrate and several packages of stuff to add.
After cleaning your equipment, the first step is to pour about four litres of tepid (half cold, half boiled) water into the primary fermenter (the bucket). Then bentonite is added, and the mixture is vigorously stirred for about a minute.
Bentonite is basically clay, and it has many interesting and useful purposes. For wine-making, however, it is used to remove excessive amounts of protein.
The next step is to add the fruit concentrate. Oh, the yummy smells that erupt after popping the seal. It's heavenly. I tend to put a little tepid water into the bag and squish it around a bit, to get every drop of concentrate out. I want to get my money's worth, after all.
Then, we fill the bucket up to the 23 litre mark with tepid water. It's important to make sure the liquid is between 18 and 24 degrees C. I have little thermometer stickers on all my buckets and carboys so I know what the temperature is.
At this point, there may be a package or two of additives. Most commonly, the additives are dried elderberry leaves or oak chips. This is meant to imitate the barrel-aging process. Commercial wines are aged in barrels, but since I'm using plastic and glass, something has to be substituted.
Sound gross, I know. Trust me, it gets worse.
At this point we add the yeast. Yeast, like bentonite, is very interesting, and has even more varieties and applications. Yeast is in the air. It's a micro-organism in the fungi family. It's present in the air we breathe. It has good and not-so-good uses (umn, infection, anyone?). We use yeast because it ferments. So, sprinkle in the yeast, slap on the lid and put the bucket in a place where the temperature is constant. Preferably out of direct sunlight.
Now we wait. At least three days. I tend to let it go for a week, just because it's easy to remember.
For some general history about wine, go here. As always, take Wikipedia with a healthy glass of (ahem!) skepticism. And your likker of choice.
Important note: water weighs about 11 pounds per gallon. 23 litres is approximately 5 gallons. Therefore, each bucket weighs about 55 pounds, probably more, because it's not just water.
Lift with your legs, not your back! I, when I had five minutes to spare, moved the three buckets from the floor to the counter. That was two weeks ago, and I am still walking funny. Seriously, I'm in pain.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
No soap. Or anything else. Ever.
Letting the aftermath flow away. No soap or detergent has ever touched those buckets. But let's not talk about how thoroughly I cleaned the bathroom earlier today.
Coming soon: very pretty, and clear, wine.
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Am I an idiot for having to do a short-row heel all in one go? If I stop mid-way, I cannot pick up where I left off. Ever.
Even though I should have been working on the yard, cleaning my windows or (gasp!) studying, it was a lovely, perfect day. Complete with smokies. Good ones (let's not discuss how smokies are mostly made from lips and assholes, mkay?).
Friday, April 18, 2008
Notice now secks-ay my new wip tubes are. I can almost bear the fact that they are red, not pink.
Every day, when I go back inside the building, I can smell the sunshine on my hair. Really. It smells, well, bright (can bright be a smell? I think so). I love it.
And because it is so nice and sunny, I chose to bypass the watering hole tonight and have my Friday night drinks in my back yard. Lovely. So were the barbecued veggies and pork chops.
While I was sitting outside, I did some knitting, and some thinking.
Sittin' and knittin'
I swatched some yarn (I don't think I've blogged about it. Go see Black Bunny Fibers right now (spelling notwithstanding. It's an American site)). I've had it since some time last fall and it is now apparent that it has been waiting for just the right pattern. Or so I thought. It's become clear that the yarn had just been waiting for new needles.
Craptastic picture. Taken indoors, at night.
I cast on 20 stitches, with 2.5 mm needles (yes, the new ones), worked a few rows of stockinette, moved down to 2.25 mm, worked a few more rows, moved down the 2.00 mm needles and worked a few more rows.
Then I took some measurements. As follows:
- 2.5 mm: 8 spi
- 2.25 mm: 8 spi
- 2.00 mm: 8.5 spi
I will now extrapolate these gauges into "# stitches / 4 inches" and figure out what it is I want to do. This is Carol's yarn. It will not pool. I'm pretty sure she forbids it to do so.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
There's some gushing love, some ambivalence, and some downright negativity. That's OK. I think the world would be a pretty boring place if we all had the same opinion.
You can put me firmly in the "gushing love" camp. Love the stuff. I am a huge fan of bright, bold colours in unexpected combinations, and Noro does that really well.
This should not be a surprise. I am known for wearing five different shades of pink at once, and I am very well aware that doing so is usually a bad fashion decision for anyone over twelve.
However, for those of you out there who are not a fan of outrageous colour combinations, I can understand why Noro could piss you off.
I present Exhibit One: Want a closer look?
Yes, that is a break, and it totally messes up the colour continuity. I have broken the yarn and will therefore maintain the colour continuity in the shawl.
This is why I wind Noro, even when it comes in a ball. I want to know in advance, and plan things accordingly. By winding it, I avoided motoring along and finding the break right in the middle of a row.
I have also heard criticism that the sock yarn is scratchy. Well, scratchy is a subjective thing, and my skin must be rawhide. Literally and figuratively. I can wear the scratchiest thing, and I can ignore the itch. I can also ignore people who don't like me. Hee.
However, I have dry and cracked skin on my hands, because of my love of the outdoors, regardless of the weather. Permanently chapped, are my hands. To the point where my hands frequently bleed. Because Noro is so loosely spun, it catches on my dry skin (isn't that a pretty image!). If nothing else, I've gotten a little better at moisturizing while I've been working on this shawl.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Sadly, that has changed. I've hardly walked at all in the last six months or so.
And, I have missed walking. I'm so out of shape that I get short of breath if I have to run 30 feet for the bus.
When the weather smartened up, I promised myself that I was going to walk as much as I could. It's been working. Starting to feel really good, and am slowly getting back to my old pace.
It's been going so well, in fact, that on my forced march yesterday, I was really motoring. I overtook an old man on a bicycle.
But today, I discovered that I pulled a hamstring muscle while doing so. And that is pretty damn sad.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
To be honest, sometimes, I do regret it. I'm strapped for time, cash and ability.
Just like every other homeowner out there, so I do not feel alone.
But on a sunny day, when I can sit outside with a glass of wine and knit, there is no place I would rather be.
And I mean that. Chez Peepee may be a shambles right now, but it's still the perfect house for me.
After my hike to the grocery store and back (carrying $65 worth of groceries, that was a workout), I sat outside for an hour, with some fortification and a shawl. I could have stayed there all afternoon.
However, part of being a homeowner, and living alone, is that I have to be the grownup. So, I puttered for a few minutes, taking out the recycling, putting away the groceries, etc.
I opened my front door to grab the flyers that go immediately into the recycling (I do need to make a sticker for the mailbox) and found a parcel between the screen door and the real door.
I truly didn't expect these until Monday:
In order, all from Knitpicks: dpn wip tubes, two sets of 2.5mm Harmony dpns and the Harmony dpn sock kit.
I want to cast on for Ann Budd's Anniversary Socks (note, Ravelry-only link) right now. But sadly, I'm the grownup, and there are still chores to do. And the cats, no matter how much I beg and plead, lack the prehensile thumbs required to make dinner. I wouldn't trust them with the chicken, anyway.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
That changes right now. I have very strong feelings about women's rights, domestic abuse and violence. Feelings that I can't articulate. I can only say that I despise, with all my heart and soul, the evil in this world, and right now, I've found a very real example.
But it's nearly twenty years old.
I've been reading, for a while, a blog written by a woman in the southern United States. I clicked on a link one day, and it was funny, so I added it to my private blogroll and kept reading.
It's not funny any more. It's deadly serious. She's telling her story, and it is violent, heart-breaking and infuriating. Read this story. And get angry. And don't allow anybody to make you feel worthless.
Go, read. And stand up, for yourself and your sisters. If we don't look after each other, who will?
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
In order to do this, I had to find some yarn to swap.
I apologize in advance, folks. I sincerely doubt there is a natural fibre in the lot.
While I was downstairs tonight, doing a load of laundry and cleaning the litter box, I went searching through the sea of boxes and came up with this:
And this is only part of it, I'm sure. To get more, I risked doing myself an injury.
It was quite the walk down memory lane. I found these:
These are sweaters, not knitted by me. These were given to me ten years ago by a colleague from my first, real, grown up job. Her mother was a Knitter, and none of her children caught the bug. So, I got her works in progress, and her yarn winder. The yarn winder that I use all the time. I didn't know what it was until I started reading the Yarn Harlot's blog and figured out how to deal with yarn that didn't come in a ball. I'm a little bit slow, sometimes.
So without pausing to think about what I was doing, I grabbed a couple bags, and started shovelling. That's how purging is done best. Don't stop to think. The results:
To the swap (I cleverly chose bags with handles, easier for the bus, don't you know).Stuff I'm keeping. Mostly scraps, the unfinished projects (not the inherited ones - those went in the garbage), and a bunch of truly irreplaceable yarn, whose story I will tell another day. If ever.
I am not keeping those sweaters, and I'm pretty sure no one else wants them. Sorry H, it's time to be realistic. I still am flattered that you thought of me.
The empty containers. I am NOT going to fill them up again.
I made the mistake of opening a few boxes that I knew didn't contain yarn. Eyeyeye... I have kept everything I have been given in the past fifteen years. And everything I have purchased. Man, I had some really bad taste, back then. And, I was really sentimental. Sigh. I will get to it. Someday.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Friday, I was too tired.
Saturday, I was too busy.
Sunday, I was too hungover (but totally worth it. Who knew there are video games that don't have death and violence as main themes? I think I need to have Guitar Hero. It's amazing!)
Saturday, April 5, 2008
It's very simple, and rather intuitive, but I am loving the result. The beauty of Noro is the transition between colours, seeing where the slubs will appear in the fabric and the truly unique results.
Speaking of pub-knitting, Ed the plumber was wearing a jacket and tie. I did not recognize him with out his ball cap. Of course, I didn't tell him that he looked nice. That would never do.
Neil the Irishman was there, quite nervous because this guy was buying him drinks. I told him he was safe from unwanted advances. And when I said hello, he didn't even look me in the eye. I wonder what Rodney the railroad guy said about me. Rodney and I don't get along.
All in all, not a very exciting night. I walked home, and was in the house by eight. Rock and roll party queen, eh?