Monday, December 31, 2007

End of Year Roundup

I can't believe it's been two weeks since my last post, but (obviously) there's been a lot going on.

Adam and I went to my parents' in Pittsburgh from 12/22-25. We drove - well, Adam did all the driving, both ways, which was very very nice for me which took us 6 hours over and about 5 3/4 coming back, even including stops. I knitted the whole way over and as much of the way back as we had daylight for. I was working on socks made with some Sundara sock yarn; here's the first one:

For Christmas Adam gave me a spinning wheel, which I knew about but didn't open until the morning we were going to drive over to Pittsburgh. I gave him a knife skills class and an interesting collection of comics by Winsor McCay (aka Silas). I read about it on BoingBoing and felt it was a good choice for him. I think he was kind of mystified about it, but he liked it. And, of course, the custom knitted gloves were his other present. He has shown them off to family and friends and it's very sweet and makes me feel glad I made them. For me they were "merely" an interesting knitting challenge, but I can see they are very important to him, and I'm glad.

When we got home from my parents Adam put the spinning wheel together and we both tried it out. He was pretty good at it as well. Here's me starting to learn how to spin:

I worked the rest of the week, but it was pretty mellow because few coworkers were around. As a consequence I actually got a lot done on some things that I needed quiet time to get done, specifically coding which is too hard to do with people interrupting you all the time.

And now we're in the long weekend at the year's end. Adam's sister and her husband and son came up from Virginia, and we have been hanging out with them a lot. Also his other sister came up from south Jersey. Last night we all played Cranium. I find that I am such a good sport when my team is winning, and I have a harder time being really nice about it when we are not. What a shock!

Tonight we are going over to Adam's pals H&R's for dinner, and I am bringing a cake, which I made last night and frosted today. It's an Alton Brown recipe for Gold [i.e., yellow] Cake and Cocoa Whipped Cream frosting. I sifted some cocoa over the top after I frosted it. I am not a huge cake-maker, but I think this looks real pretty. I will have to get a little dressed up to match the cake.

After dinner we'll come back home and Adam's sister and family will be back and we'll have champagne or sparkling cider and maybe popcorn and movies or something. I am looking forward to ringing in the New Year. Doing nothing tomorrow but knitting and watching Adam play video games.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Garbage Disposal is finally installed!

I bought it on August 23 ... and it took four more months and cost a total of $620.49, but I finally have my long dreamed-of garbage disposer! It was installed today.

We put two apple cores in it and ran it. It is wonderful!

Beating the little hater!

I recommend this message to everybody who knows that perfectionism is the enemy of progress and yet struggles to get past it, who knows that procrastination will hold you back but still feels like all the floor magnets are turned on, who battles laziness...

I am definitely not cool enough to post this, but here it is anyway:

Beating the Little Hater, from ill Doctrine a hip-hop video blog hosted by Jay Smooth, creator of and founder of New York's longest running hip-hop radio show, WBAI's Underground Railroad.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh my aching back!

I have had some back pain that has been steadily increasing over the past two months or so. It's not the kind of back pain I've had in the past; once I actually threw out my back (which made me feel old, yes) and I've had knots in my shoulders forever from bad posture while working. This is in my lower left back but actually on the side and it feels like I need to stretch the area but even when I stretch it doesn't help. I have gone twice recently for massages at my place in Chinatown and they were great massages, done by a chiropractor who also did adjustments to my neck and back while he was working on me, but it hasn't helped. It actually hurts to get out of bed or get up from the sofa, and in the morning when I bend over to put on my underwear after a shower it particularly hurts when I lift my left leg. (Sorry if that's TMI. I do occasionally shower. At least I'm clean, and it's clean underwear.)

"Sciatica" has been the suggestion from several people but it's not in the right place. Sciatica is closer to the center of the back - this is actually on the side - and goes down around the bottom down your leg, none of which is happening now. I went to the doctor today and she asked a bunch of questions, tapped on my knees with the little rubber mallet, moved my neck and my legs around, and took a urine sample. It could be something to do with my kidney, although frankly I doubt it because there's nothing interesting in my pee. She said most likely it's a pinched nerve.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

In the meantime, Spherey!

I used up the Kokopelli left over from Williamsro and the Polar left over from my niece's Ellie sweater in a little Spherey. Here he is riding on Dusty's back:

And now taking five:

Dusty was surprisingly tolerant of me posing Spherey on and around him and taking his photo over and over!

Friday, December 14, 2007

It might get sent back

Somebody in the Seasons group on ravelry recommended I email Sundara about the Silk Lace yarn because of the knots in it that I was complaining about; I hadn't thought of that, and figured I would have to live with it. I emailed her this afternoon to ask if she wanted to replace it. I love her yarns and just bought some more sock yarns because the colors were so beautiful, but this has been less than perfect.

I may have made a mistake on the lace shawl last night; at some point, I couldn't figure out why, it started to go weirdly. (I wonder if there are errata for the pattern somewhere.) So I unraveled a few rows, but couldn't get reoriented within the pattern, so I took out about another inch of work, but have yet to get the stitches all back onto the needles because it's so painstaking and close-up work. Arrrrgggghhhh. It was VERY frustrating. I threw it across the room once, which didn't hurt but didn't help either. I was close to giving up anyway. Now that it might get sent back to Sundara because of the knots anyway, I think I'm just going to frog that crap.

I'm also working on a Spherey in between, so I can just go finish that instead.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Juno Regina trumps Adamas for Sundara

I started knitting the Adamas Shawl, but I didn't like it so I unraveled it and started making the Juno Regina stole instead. It's pretty so far, and it has a long portion of plain knitting channeled with eyelets that I can do without minding a chart. I didn't want to do something that would require me to watch the chart for the entire duration of the project.

I'm a little disappointed with my Sundara yarn, I have to say. I saw photos on Ravelry of other people's skeins of this same shade, which is called "Copper over Bamboo," and in theirs the "bamboo" portions are more extensive and peek through a lot more. In mine they are so few and far between it looks like a mistake in the dyeing. Plus it's very knotty. I found at least 5 knots while winding the ball. It's not the quality I was hoping for. I hope the next installment is a little better.

Adam's gloves are done

Here is my best friend, lover, partner, boyfriend, my favorite, my man ... with his finished gloves:

I love how happy he looks.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

"No lace, Mrs Bennet, I beg you!"

I decided to use the Sundara yarn to make the Adamas shawl (also viewable on Ravelry). It's a nice manageable-looking lace pattern that I think I can tolerate for the time it will take to finish it. I might even enjoy it.

I used to enjoy lace knitting so much, until I started working on the Filigree Lace Jacket by Joan McGowan-Michael from White Lies Designs. I like her designs quite a lot, but once I actually started knitting it, I realized it was the exact same lace pattern as a little shrug-esque Rowan sweater I'd made about a year before, and not only that, but I'd chosen the same yarn, Calmer (different color, but that hardly matters). I've already knitted too much in that yarn, this being the third sweater in it. Not only all of that, but then after knitting about 18 or 20 inches I discovered that it no longer will fit me, as I've fattened up too much for it. So, since I had yet to do any shaping on the body of the thing, I decided to make it a shawl. But it's the shawl that will never end, having been damned too much in its already too-long work life. I work on it when I have nothing else in progress. I think it's already been two or three years in the making. That's long for me.

Anyway, anyway, the new lace shawl; maybe it will restore my faith in lace knitting. We'll see. I just have to finish Adam's other glove before I can begin. I have been remarkably good about doing one thing at a time, these days.

* * * * *

I made Rocks, molded shortbread cookies with two pecan halves at their centers, on Thursday night,

and fudge today.

The holiday cookie/candy making season is upon me.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

First Sundara Seasons Yarn Club mailing!

I got home tonight and was so excited to open my very first mailing from my very first yarn club - the Sundara Yarn Seasons Yarn Club. I am in the Autumn group, and I got this lovely plummy colored silk lace yarn with which I have absolutely no idea what I will make. But I am very excited to have it. She is wondrous talented with color. Having dyed exactly one skein of yarn now in my entire lifetime I can really see what the fuss is all about - being good at it is no small accomplishment I think.

Anyway, here's the goods:

Monday, December 3, 2007

Fits like a glove

My boyfriend has a birth defect, and his left hand was malformed. He underwent a lot of surgeries as a child and surgeons built up his fingers some more, but not to the point where his hand is the same size and formation as his other hand. He's fine with it, as far as I have ever been able to tell, but has always wanted gloves, since standard ones never fit his hand. So for Christmas, one of his presents from me is a pair of knitted gloves. Over the weekend I spent several hours knitting and unraveling and reknitting the individual finger pieces, then put them together, and by last night I had made him a close-to-perfectly fitted glove. I kept careful notes, and he pointed out a couple modifications that I included, and I will write up the pattern for myself so I can make more of them in the future. It came out great, because it fits him ... like a glove. I'm now making the right hand glove, which is the normal shape & size, so it doesn't require many notes (although I worked initially from a woman's glove pattern so I did have to change the number of cast-on stitches).

We took a cast of his hand so I'd have something to work from when he wasn't around, although ultimately it was easier to ask him to try on the various pieces as I worked on them. Here's a picture of the cast:

and then a picture of the glove:

I'm very proud of this as it is almost like sculpture. It's very very satisfying, working and ripping out and reworking a piece until it has the desired shape. I guess it's not surprising, since I was a sculptor in college and I have an art degree. So I'm licensed to ill.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stix-n-stitches blog post about my socks :)

I stopped by my LYS, Stix-n-stitches, and showed them Nora's socks while I was there. They took a picture, which amused me, and later I found that they had posted it on their blog:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Dye Yarn - Handpainting

I finally dyed some of the yarn I got at Dharma. I got a book and googled how to do it and after reading a bunch of different stuff did it and documented my process at Instructables. I found out later that my Instructable was featured on their home page for a while by one of their editors, which pleased me.

Here is the end result of the dyeing process:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our gathering here at my house was so nice. My parents drove over from Pittsburgh and my brother, his wife & their two kids came down from Connecticut, and we had a HUGE feast. We used the Williams Sonoma turkey brine and turkey gravy base and I highly recommend them; we used Alton Brown's methodology for cooking (500 deg F for 30 min, then continue until done); and we circled up all the cooks and agreed upon 165 deg F in the deepest parts as the temp we'd take it out of the oven. It was the best turkey I've ever had, much less ever made!

My niece and nephew were in good form. Johnny gets under Adam's skin right now, but that's temporary. He's four and he's going through a very, uh, independent phase where he doesn't listen to anything anybody asks of or tells him.

My sister-in-law has an eye inflammation so she couldn't have her picture taken without sunglasses on. But see how glamorous she looks!

My mom made brussels sprouts, which she shreds and sautees in bacon grease. So it's a very very healthful concoction. Okay, maybe not so much - but it is delicious! Here she is cooking the bacon:

Adam gazes adoringly at Ange's electronic meat thermometer:

And my brother and my dad help out by not helping. Everybody wins!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

My cut finger is a lot better

It amazes me that a week has passed and it's still not totally closed up. Today is the first day it hasn't been actively hurting. I definitely should have gotten a stitch or two put in it, but it just seemed like such an inconvenience. Live and learn!

I did a lot of work on the yard today - front and back. (I wore gloves AND a band-aid.) I pulled up all the marigolds, which died in the frost we had a few nights ago, and ditto for the pepper plants. Once I was out there working I decided to rake the yard, which was a bigger undertaking than I expected. It's a lot of work. We have all this ivy in the front yard which captures dead leaves and makes it hard to rake them out. I got a lot of it cleaned up. My family is coming on Thanksgiving so I wanted to try to make things look as nice as possible. The ivy in front still looks like crap, it's kind of a balding pate with a combover and lots of weeds in the bald spots. Ugh. At least I did pull up the current crop of thistles. I hate those, and they have deep and persistent roots so they are just going to grow again until we put some weed killer on them. But they're gone at the moment. We filled up five bags of cuttings. I say "we" because Adam helped with the last bag, but I did most of it myself.

He did however finish my abandoned job of putting together the exercise bike that I just got. It arrived missing a part so I only did the first two steps of the total of eight (the instructions were VERY organized - yay Schwinn) that it took to put it together. The missing part arrived this past week. So while I was outside doing yard work, Adam finished assembling it for me. It has two water bottle holders, a rack on the seat back for your reading material, and even a small fan you can point at your face while you pedal. And it wasn't terribly expensive. I would like to bring a TV down to the basement so I can watch that while I work out, but it's good that I can also read magazines. I do subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, after all, which kind of seems like the perfect exercise literature.

Last but not least, I got what finally does get to be called the last skein of Chokecherry Kokopelli and finished Williamsro. I still have to weave in the ends. I'll post a pic when that's done. It's a nice sweater, and (thank heaven) big enough.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I cut myselllllf

Cutting a bun for sloppy joes, cutting toward myself the way they tell you not to do, I sliced right into my little finger. It bled like a mo-fo. This first picture is terrible for the bleached out quality but the drop of blood is very cool looking. I took this after half an hour of trying to get it to stop bleeding.

Here it had mostly stopped:

Now I have a band-aid on it and have it splinted with a Q-Tip to keep me from bending it for a while (it looks pretty silly). I can't type very well with only 9 fingers. And I think it's best if I stop knitting for the evening.

STILL not enough Kokopelli!

I got the supposedly last skein of Chokecherry Kokopelli, wound it, and used it up and am still not done with Williamsro. It's ridiculous. I actually finished off the bottom anyway and cast off. Then I decided I wouldn't be happy with that decision, and went online and ordered more. The color seems remarkably well matched from old skeins to new, so although this is usually a risky move, it doesn't seem so much so this time. I just know that I won't be happy with the result if I make the decision that it's finished based on the fact that I ran out of yarn rather than on the fact that I like the length I knitted it to.

Adam and I are making a cast of his hand. He has a birth defect in his left hand and has never, consequently, been able to get a pair of gloves that fit. I told him I'd be glad to make him a pair of gloves, including a truly fitted left glove, and we decided that in order to allow me to keep checking the fit as I go, we would make a cast of his hand that I can use when he's not around. Also because it's just cool to have a cast of his hand anyway. So we made the mold, and then I mixed the plaster wrong because I misread the instructions, so I had to go out and get more plaster. The second time I mixed it right and poured it in the mold. Now it's hardening; it has to cure for at least 3 hours before you try to take the mold apart around it. Unfortunately it's a one-use only mold, you can't reuse it. It'd be quite cool to get a bronze cast of his hand, some day. But probably fairly expensive.

Speaking of expensive, a friend pointed me toward Jessica Joslin's sculpture and I have to share the link. She makes these obsessively precise, fetishistic imaginary animals out of antique hardware and findings, bone, fur, satin, velvet, leather, etc. I wanted to buy one but they're out of my price range right now, regrettably. But I'm so glad there is a person in the world making work like this.

Friday, November 9, 2007

We have your laundry.

We also have our next door neighbors' laundry, and that of my coworkers as well. At least, I hope we do, because otherwise there's no explanation for why we have so many loads of it in my basement. Also, the dryer can't keep up with the washer. The washer churns out its work and the dryer is all, I have a little bit more I'd like to do on this load, and there's an actual line of loads to get in to the dryer and I think a bouncer just came on his shift as well. Loads are leaning over the velvet rope and claiming they are on the list, but they have to wait in line like all the other loads that want to get into this drying and folding dance party.

For the second time, the cats - wait, why do I "pussyfoot" around it? it's not both cats, it's Lily doing all the badness - pissed in our bed yesterday. I discovered it last night as we were about to get in bed, so we had to pull the sheets off the bed and make it with the other set, before we could go to sleep. Here is the reason: We got the litter robot and she hates it, refuses to use it, and has been acting out first behind the TV as posted here a couple weeks ago, and now in the damned bed. Dude, I was VIVID!*

I got the last skein (I better not need any more) of the Chokecherry Kokopelli yarn and now I can finish my Williamsro sweater. I made a mistake in my conversions from Noro Cash Iroha to Kokopelli; probably Cash Iroha compresses more when held double than Kokopelli. I'm not a huge yarn expert, I don't like to worry my pretty little head about it. So sometimes I guess wrong and this is one of those times. I overestimated by one skein how much Manos to buy, and underestimated by one on the Kokopelli. Anyway, it arrived today and now I'm trying to finish it up. I also did a "mod," as the kids like to call them, or modification, to the pattern on the edge of the body bottom edging and on the edge of the collar, because I didn't feel like a single column of seed stitch along the edge lined up well with two rows of garter along the plackets. So I made it two columns of seed stitch (i.e., two consecutive seed stitches) before the stockinette started on either side. I decided to do this while in progress on the bottom edging (after I'd already finished the collar and bound it off so I still have to go back and change it).

I was under the weather today so I stayed home from work. I got out my DVDs of "Sports Night," which I own but haven't seen all of, and started watching some more of them. I adore that show. The writing on it sparkles and dances and the actors have a fantastic rapport with one another. Plus, I care about them all. But sometimes it is a little hard to take, because it's not superficial, and so I watch a bunch of episodes in a row and then I put the DVDs back on the shelf and wait a long time before watching more. In a way, this is good, because there were only 3 seasons, and I'm more than halfway through season 2, and there's a limit to the goodness, so I don't mind rationing them out.

* As my brother's frat brothers would have said. There's a story behind that, but for now, suffice it to say I actually know the correct word.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Niddy Noddy nuttiness

I finally overcame my fear sufficient at least to divide the skeins of yarn into smaller skeins preparatory to dyeing them. It took a few turns, but I got the hang of the niddy noddy, which you wind yarn around to reskein. I googled it and got a couple useful links - this one and this one with a video - and got under way.

After winding about 100 turns around the thing, I realized that counting the number of turns was the LEAST efficient method of telling how much yarn was on it. I realized I should have weighed the original skein, then go by weight to tell when I had wound enough on there. So I began to unwind from the niddy noddy back onto the swift, but soon got the yarn all tangled up. I worked at the tangle carefully for about half an hour, until I finally got so fracking frustrated that I stomped my foot on the floor a couple of times. Adam came up and tried to calm me down, but ultimately I threw the tangled yarn out the window.

Eventually, after taking a break, I came back to it and was able to get both skeins rewound and divided into smaller sections. I even went out, got the yarn off the bushes and brought it in and completely untangled it. I weighed the large skein, divided it by four, added the weight of the bare niddy noddy, and used that as the target weight of the niddy noddy with yarn wound on it. The silk is yucky yarn - very toothy and unlovely. I think I have twice as much of the wool than I thought I bought, but I am not sure. Ultimately the only way to tell would be to count the turns, but I don't think I have the patience for that.

Learning is really hard. Really trying to the patience, and frustrating, and ego-bruising. I hate it.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dyeing experiment

I bought some dye and some yarn from Dharma Trading and am afraid to begin. I need to reskein the yarn (which is currently two big skeins of 860 & 900 yards, respectively) into smaller skeins of 215-225 yards each, first. Then I will try dyeing it. But I am scared. I don't know what I am doing - at ALL - and I printed out a sheet on how to do it from the manufacturer but it looks hard. Plus, what I want to do is multiple colors in one skein, and the instructions are for solid color dyeing. So I'm a little stymied and I want to read more about how to do it first, before I do. Also, I bought a niddy noddy to reskein, but I don't know how to skein around on it and how long one once-around is on the thing. So all these little stupid things are stymieing me. I'll start eventually, but figured writing about it would be helpful as a way to get around some of the fear.

Adam says the point of it is to make mistakes, but I hate doing that. Melissa says "Dare to suck." I say I think I should know how to do something before I even try it, and that's the sticking point for me every time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween!

This is me (on the left) as Dr John D Zoidberg and Adam as Zapp Brannigan for Halloween. I was very proud of how our costumes came out this year!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Pillow for Marge Simpson

Check out my "Dome Sweet Dome" / "Nome Sweet Nome" pillow, which I finished today. Fans of the Simpsons movie will recognize these homilies as things Marge Simpson was knitting when they enclosed Springfield in a dome to protect the environment and when they moved to Nome, Alaska, respectively. Adam thought it would be cool if I knitted these things so I did, and then made them into a pillow. I think it came out GREAT.

Side view:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We Are Not Amused.

I came home tonight and as I came in the front door I smelled cat pee. At first I tried to tell myself I was imagining it, but as I came and went through the front room I kept smelling it more and more strongly. Finally I began looking for it, and I discovered the smell was emanating from behind the new TV!!! The little jerks! As soon as we got the TV I saw Lily nosing around behind there, and Dusty too, and I yelled at them at first not to go back there, but Adam was like, hey, let them explore. The upshot of their "exploring" was, like, a whole CUP of pee back there, seeping into the wood floor and basically permeating the whole corner. I had to clean it up, of course, since I'm here and Adam is out of town, which was THAT fun, I can tell you. I used pine sol, which I hope was a good choice, it's for wood floors. Then I googled "smells cats hate" and the concensus was "citrus" so I sprinkled citrus smell absorber around there and some powdered lemon juice product for good measure.

And another thing: Why does it always seem like when something from the cats that needs to be cleaned up appears, Adam is nowhere to be found? In the past 2 weeks I've picked up four piles of poo outside the new litter box, which at least one of them does not seem to grok how to use for poo; two big piles of vomited dry food (Dusty basically is bulimic, and eats until he throws up); and now this. It's a good thing I love these cats, AND my man, because boy, this is trying my patience here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Zoidberg is done!

I ended up taking the oil paint off the sunglass lenses because it wasn't drying at all. I couldn't even find turpentine at the local AC Moore (I hate that place). Fortunately soap and water is the universal solvent and will dissolve oil paint; I washed it off easily. I cut out two little circles of tape for the pupils and sprayed two light coats of spray paint and it came out MUCH better.

Adam was teasing me about taking pictures of all my projects so I took his picture too. That big rectangle there, btw, is a small corner of his giant new TV. He's so proud!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Zoidberg is close! Rhineberg is tomorrow!

Here you see me modeling the mask; the knitting part is complete and I just have to add the eyes. I got some big sunglasses at Target and tonight I popped out the lenses and painted them white, with a big (unpainted) black dot in the middle to see out of. UNFORTUNATELY I was so excited to paint them that I didn't pay attention to what kind of paint it was until I had already begun painting - using oil paint. Which means it will take days to dry. Especially since it's humid here right now. Argh. Dumb mistake. I was going to say "rookie" mistake, but even a rookie would get that right, because they would be more careful than somebody who is arrogant because she has tons of art supplies lying around from years and years of various projects. GRRRRRR.

I also got, and you can see in the photo, the teal colored turtleneck shirt that is part of the costume. I also ordered a pair of scrubs pants, and a white doctor's coat with the name embroidered on it, which I hope will arrive VERY soon as the party we are going to that all this is for, is Friday.

Tomorrow I am going up to Rhinebeck! I am very excited. I've never been to a fiber festival before and it should be a lot of fun. I expect to spend lots of money and come home with tons of stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if I came home with a spinning wheel. Okay, maybe not. But I do hope to find lots of cool things and maybe even meet some people and EVEN see some people I know! I wouldn't be surprised to see one or two people I have met before. I wonder if Joelle from Purl will be there? I know Debbie won't be there because I asked her and she said she had a wedding to go to. But I do know a few other knitters in the world. Monica from Stix-n-Stitches will be there I think. And Adam might even come up with me...

I still have to do the two small tweaks to Adam's Zapp Brannigan costume. Maybe I'll get out the sewing machine tonight, do that, and finish the two UFOs that need to be sewed before they can be really done. I have to see after I finish eating my dinner. Adam's in the city with people from work for a birthday thing; he said he "had to make an appearance" before he could come home. Luckily for me he has on his suit, which means he has on his dress shoes, which means his feet hurt, which will spur him to come home at a decent hour. :)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Papa's Got a Brand-New Bag

Adam bought us a huge new TV and it's getting delivered today. He's about to plotz, he's so excited. By the time I get home it will most likely be set up in all its 57" glory. Combined with the super surround sound system he also has set up there, we can basically get movie theater quality viewing at home now. Wowie!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Henry Bear

I made this in a few hours - not a particularly difficult pattern, though creative and cute. I am considering giving it to a coworker whose wife just had a baby, although I've only worked there six weeks or so, and don't want him to think I'm weird. So I might not give it to him. But I probably will. What the hell. It's a tiny little goofy stuffed bear. And it's cute. And it's not pink!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weed Farms

We went up to Marlboro, NY to Weed Farms and picked apples and other produce today. I've never done this, just always meant to, so I was pretty excited. When we turned the corner to the place and saw all the other city slickers already parked in two full parking lots, I wanted to turn around and go home, but since we'd already driven all that way, we stayed. It was lovely.

A gorgeous day in a gorgeous setting. We picked a large plastic bag of apples of various kinds.

We also got a bunch of peppers of various kinds, including some strange black ones. Anybody know what these are?

Lots of activity lately

Zoidberg mask: I ran out of yarn and had to order more. I'm only up to the top of the forehead (my "five-head" as my brother-in-law likes to call the family cranium) and I still have to make the hanging tendrily things on his mouth. That yarn better hurry up and arrive soon. I'm sure it'll get here well before Halloween. I was in a quandary about what to do about the eyes, big white globes (like all the characters on Futurama) but Adam came up with a great idea - take the lenses out of a pair of big sunglasses and paint them white, all but a round spot in the middle (to see out of). So I got some at Target and that's the plan. I'm not sure how well they will attach but I have some strong fabric glue, and I hope that will last at least long enough for the party we are going to.

Futurama, part 2 - Adam's costume: Adam decided he wanted to go as Zapp Brannigan, a Captain Kirk take-off who wears a tight red velour, well, minidress, basically that ends at the bottom of his ass. This meant me sewing the thing for him, which I was totally up for doing. I had all the stuff for it - the velour, the gold lame, the zipper, the interfacing, the NEW SEWING MACHINE:

... and as soon as I used up all the yarn I had for Zoidberg and was thus at a stopping point on that project I broke out the Zapp materials. I had to read the sewing machine user's manual just to start work on this, because I had yet to use it since I bought it. I was a little afraid of it, to tell the truth. So I carefully read all the stuff about the various electronic parts of it and how to make a bobbin and how to thread the machine, and cautiously at first (then enthusiastically) worked my way through the Zapp costume. I love the machine! It's wonderful. It's really high quality. It feels nimble and fleet, compared to the old 1960s machine of my mom's that I've depended on all these years. Because I was working on velour (kind of a pain due to the nap) I basted most of the seams but was able to relax when I sewed them on the machine. I still fucked up the zipper, because I didn't feel like basting it really carefully, and I put it in a bit crooked.

Adam said he didn't care - it's just a Halloween costume, for one night's wear only - so I didn't pull it out and fix it. But hey, live and learn.

He tried it on and it's really large on him, so I am going to do a couple of quick fixes to make it more fitted. Here's the nearly finished product:

Gourd help us: I now officially (according to Adam) have too many pumpkins, gourds, and autumn flora. Or at least (according to me) I have enough. I have two huge pumpkins for carving and five sugar pumpkins for pies. Those keep well so I can put them in the basement and we can use them over the fall/winter. I got a white pumpkin and a very cool greenish-red one, six or seven gourds of gnarly shapes, and three little white pumpkins. Not to mention the single pumpkin we grew, plus one of the two spaghetti squash we grew (we ate the other one and will probably eat the other one tonight), plus ten spaghetti squash I got at the store to keep in the basement to last us through the fall/winter as well. This is what happens when you move out to the suburbs and have a basement for the first time in 22 years.

Today we are going apple picking! I haven't ever done this. I'm not sure how long I will last out there; it's chilly! I'm excited though. Plus we are going up to a farm in New York State, about an hour or more north of us, which means we will see some lovely fall foliage. Another thing I've meant to do forever and never gotten around to doing.

We are going to carve the pumpkins tonight, I hope, and bake the seeds as we did when we made pies. Those seeds are righteous! We scarfed down the last batch in a hurry. We might also make a pumpkin pie or an apple pie. And have some more spaghetti squash with the last of the homemade spaghetti sauce we made using our homegrown tomatoes and peppers...

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Halloween prep progress report

Decorating the outside of the house: I put up a vulture looking down from its perch on the light and also draped a couple of spider webs across the bricks on either side of the door. It's subtle and therefore underwhelming. I have to do more and I feel sort of lame so far.

My Zoidberg costume: I'm up to my eyebrows - literally - with the mask, but now I am afraid I will run out of yarn before it's done. Also, Adam asked me last night how I planned to put it on, questioning whether it'll fit over my head! And it might not, so I might have to sew in a zipper...

Carved pumpkins: None so far. We did make a pumpkin pie over the weekend and it was the best I've ever tasted. Not counting my mom's pumpkin chiffon pie, which is in a class by itself. We also baked the seeds with salt, curry, and paprika, and they were

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Zoidberg and other Halloween stuff

Here's the progress so far on the Zoidberg mask:

I'm knitting this from the bottom up - enough around the collar to lie under a nehru collared shirt - and what you see in the center of the picture here is the mouth opening. I'll come back and pick up stitches above the mouth to make the four tube thingies he has above his mouth. I have no idea what they are called.

On another note, here's a creepy dude parked in my parking lot near work:

Heh heh heh.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Birthday to Adam!

My lovely man, happy birthday! You're my favorite, my one and only.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My parents are coming for a visit

Fortunately the cleaning ladies came yesterday, so the place is clean. I asked Adam to help me try to keep it that way for just two days. Even so I have a lot of straightening up to do this evening if it is going to look as nice as I want it to for them.

I feel bad that the timing worked out the way it did: They are coming over to stay with my bro's kids this weekend and the original plan was for them to come stay with us on Monday night. But that is Adam's bday, and he wanted to spend that with me alone. So I had to call my mom and sort of un-invite them for Monday, which was less than ideal. My mom was totally cool about it but I still felt bad. And then it was hard to find any other time when it would work for them to come.

So they are coming on Thursday night, seeing my place, then we are going to have a quick dinner at a local restaurant. But then, unfortunately, they have to get back in the car and drive another hour to get to my bro's.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Welcome to the mobile age

I posted this using my "crackberry" and the post-by-email system that Blogger makes available. It's not the most convenient of methods to type into a mobile keyboard, but might come in handy when posting using a web browser isn't an option.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Back yard work

I bought some pansies that you plant now and they are GUARANTEED to come up in the spring. Guaranteed! I put them in the elevated bed and it is starting to have an artful artless quality that I like. I did just say "artful artless" intentionally.

I also dug up some crap in this one corner that I have been avoiding - big flat gnarly weeds like dandelions, but not actual dandelions - and went to get the grass seed to put where I dug the crap up, and I discovered a hole in the bottom of the grass seed bag, so half the grass seed spilled out when I picked it up. Doh! Grr. I think there is a critter that chewed it open, most likely a squirrel. I swept up most of it and put it in a couple tupperware containers. Chew THAT open, fucker.

I got some pumpkins as well when I was at the garden place. I love autumn and I love pumpkins and I love Halloween and I am PSYCHED to have a house that I can decorate for the season.

So the two bottom pumpkins are the ones I bought today; the one to the right of that is the one (and only, sadly) that we grew in our back yard; atop the home grown one is the one I knitted and felted and stuffed; to the left of that is the candle I got at Target, which I think is VERY realistic; and behind it all is a wicker one, also from Target, dorky but I like it.

The pumpkins on the front stoop!

Friday, September 28, 2007



I don't think I have enough yarn in the two skeins I bought to make a whole pair of men's socks! I started at the top and knitted 7" of 2x2 rib, and then started the heel flap. Now I'm about 3" into the foot, having turned the heel, and I'm running out of yarn on the first skein!

This is why I prefer toe-up!

Plus I don't expect to finish these by Adam's bday, which is 10/8...

And another thing: I have to complain about sock patterns. Whereas in patterns for other garments you get a variety of sizes, for sock patterns you usually only get one size (Ladies' M). It's not right.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

D&D Night

Adam's got his D&D pals over tonight and they have taken over the dining room with their geekery. I love having them over, I admit. They make a lot of noise and laugh and argue and I do my thing in the other room - mostly I am in my office on the computer, but I also hang out upstairs doing stuff as well. It's just nice to have the extra company, but they don't expect any interaction from me.

Overheard just now: "You put the ring on, it's ringy..."

Come on, who can resist this shit? It's awesome.

On another, more interesting, knitty note, I finally got some Sundara yarn. I'm SO EXCITED. Look!

Blackberry over Aubergine; Sage over Pumpkin; Bartlett Pear.

I've long adored her colors - she is a phenomenal colorist - but I wasn't expecting the yarn to be so soft! I don't know what I'm going to use them for, yet. Maybe some half-mittens and a small neck scarf. Or some toys.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Zoidberg, step 1

As you can see I finished the lobster claw mittens that are half of my Dr Zoidberg costume for Halloween. For those not in the know, Dr Zoidberg is the perpetually broke and hungry crustacean doctor on Futurama. The other half of the costume is the mask, also to be knitted, which may be a lot more difficult than the mittens. Maybe not - but it will require some creativity to make it look like a crustacean's head!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

chocolate pepper going brown (finally)!

Remember the tale of the thieving next door neighbors? Well, this is one of the many remaining sweet peppers on the vine they didn't get. There are now several that are finally, slowly going brown. It's, uh, anticlimactic, at this point, but still somewhat rewarding.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Mr BabaBlackSheep

A friend of mine from college asked me in an email what category my BF fits into and here is how I replied.

I'd like to say he defies description, but let me take a stab. He is 5'11", somewhat overweight, half Italian, half Irish (looks more Italian than Irish but doesn't have a hairy back, thank God). He's brown-haired and brown-eyed. He's GRUFF. He's very funny and very smart. Went to Rutgers for one semester and then went to work doing computer programming - a surprising number of developers didn't finish college. He still plays D&D, often as dungeon master. He's a comic book enthusiast. He's generally a sci-fi nut. He's kind of a classic geek.

He is also very sociable and outgoing, whereas I have rediscovered my introverted self, which I covered up for a long time with a veneer of acting extroverted. Sometimes we clash on the issue of how sociable to be; I'd rather stay home and read or watch a movie, whereas he has lots of friends and likes to go out. He's a sales engineer; that nicely joins his programmer side and his social side, and he does quite well at it.

He is NOT the type of guy I thought I'd end up with, but thank God I didn't end up with that type, the skinny, cool, slightly hard hearted guy that I would always be working hard to try to make like me even when we were together. I had that guy and he sucked. Adam pursued me for a long time before I finally realized what I was missing and met him halfway. So I am very lucky he found me. He laughs at my stupid jokes and we have a lot of fun together.

On the other hand, he is a slob, occasionally stays up all night playing computer games, drinks more than he should sometimes, and on rare occasions I have to remind him he is lucky to have me. So he's certainly not perfect. But I feel like I found the right guy for me, finally.

Adam, if you are reading this: You're my favorite.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Happiness is boring. And that's just fine!

I think one of the biggest barriers to happiness is that it feels boring. Heck, it is boring, in literature and life. Story happens when conflict occurs, struggle ensues, maybe a lesson or two is learned, etc. But happiness and contentment are states that are hard to endure if you are used to getting in your own way, shooting yourself in the foot, or just plain fucking up. If you are used to crisis. If you like the adrenaline rush that comes with an emergency, even if you have to create it yourself.

I am in the position these days of being happy, generally and most of the time. I have an enviable life. I don't make the most money I've ever made and I don't live in the exciting environment of NYC anymore and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to end up famous for maybe anything. But I have a boyfriend whom I love and I live in my own house in a small city in New Jersey and I have a job with enough money coming in and I am sober many years now. So things are pretty nice. And they are boring.

And - contrary to what I always used to think - that's okay. I think the trick is to figure out that you still have to invest energy into your life even if you are already happy. I never knew that before. I didn't know that contentment means, I like where I am at, but I have endeavors that mean something to me that require me to do work on them - e.g., hobbies like crafts or sports or whatever. Because if I do not, I will find things in my pleasant happy life to pick at. To notice and think too much about. Does the frequency my bf and I have sex mean something? Is it too much or too little? Or, does the fact that I am an introvert, which means essentially I require solitude to regroup, whereas my bf is an extrovert, so he regroups better around people, does that mean we are incompatible? Blah blah blah. I'm not saying these aren't intrinsically valid questions per se; but I don't need to be wasting my energy thinking about them. And, in order to keep from spending my energy on those things, I have to "keep the focus on myself," which in practical terms means finding things I want to do and put energy into them.

I love knitting and I am getting excited about the sculptural possibilities of knitted objects. I made those things that I submitted to (and STILL I haven't heard back from them! so I still can't talk about them specifically) that were very sculptural. I've also made a number of items by following other people's patterns lately that are equally so, and it's an interesting learning opportunity to see how another designer accomplishes a bulge or a pinch shape after I've tried to make those things happen. I've also been working on some multimedia type projects - a bag made of knitted pieces that is mostly a sewing project; a pillow that contains some knitted components; etc. I put up a pair of "fake UGG" baby booties for sale on etsy, as a first attempt to sell something I made, and I have plans for more of those, as well as to sell patterns for other knitted items. As I told my bf last night, I'm trying to increase my productivity in this area.

I get home at about 6-6:30pm these days after work. I used to work until that time, then get home whenever I could after that, factoring in the PATH train and then the drive back from JC, or whatever other method of commute. Adam doesn't get home until later than even that; I think he came home earlier when we commuted together, but now he is easily distracted by people who suggest a "quick" drink together after work, or stays later at work than I was happy to do; so he doesn't get home until 9 or even 10 at night, quite frequently. So this leaves me a 3-4 hour window of time in which to sit at my computer and waste time waiting for him to get home, or to put to use on my various projects that I have in progress. I'm trying to use the time more wisely, rather than feeling like I am just waiting for my bf to come home for life to begin.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

the most amazing little kids ever

these are my brother's kids, ages 6 and 4. they kill me. i took this a month ago when i babysat for them but forgot to post the pics. LOVE them.

the only other kids in the pantheon are my sister's kids. they are in alabama though so i usually only see them once a year at our family reunion.

here are some more pics, from labor day weekend when adam's sister tammy and her hubby alan were here with their boy gabriel. on sunday adam's other sister tracy came too, and my bro brought over his kids for some BBQ.

tammy watches while julianne & gabriel duke it out on the wii

now tracy watches while said duking continues

finally, my bro (on the sofa in back) looks on while johnny tries his hand at guitar hero...