Friday, August 31, 2007

Proposal to Interweave Knits

So the main knitting magazine I read is Interweave Knits - it's the only one I subscribe to and usually I don't even buy other ones. Although I do leaf through them at the magazine rack, I don't like the styles of the projects in them, being either (Vogue Knitting) too out-there avant garde fashion world-y or (Knit.1 or Knitscene) too youth culture of today or (Knitter's & others) just plain dowdy. The worst is Cast On, which is published by the Knitting Guild of America, which I got a subscription to when I joined TKGA in order to take the Master Knitter program but didn't want.

Over the past couple days I worked on a proposal to IWK based on the guidelines posted on their website which were for the Spring '08 issue. I thought, that's really kind of a short lead time, but that is what is posted up there, so that must be accurate. I spent all this frickin time creating swatches and writing a proposal that would grab their attention and finally, as I was rereading the guidelines to make sure I had dotted all my i's and crossed all my t's, I came to the bottom where it said, Deadline May 18, 2007. I fairly plotzed. The worst is it is my own fault for not noticing, although they are jerks for not taking it down once it was outdated and also for not putting up the Summer one, for which the deadline was August 27, 2007, which I found out today when I phoned them up.

Fortunately, the lady on the phone was really nice and she said I should just go ahead and send in my proposal anyway, that she is the one who will be logging all of the submitted proposals and she will be doing that on Tuesday, so if I send it to arrive on Tuesday she will include it in with all the others! Hooray! So I retooled the proposal letter so it wasn't so Spring '08 specific, and put my little package together and am sending it via Fedex today. I am very hopeful, though since I am new to this and to IWK, my chances are less than those of a seasoned designer. But it's a very cute design, a great looking proposal (Adam read it and thought it looked very professional too), and I definitely have a shot.

I wish I could post the scans here of my proposal, because I am so proud of it! But I can't, because it all has to be double probation top secret until they make a decision.

Along these same lines ... I still haven't heard back from I really hope they decide to use my design; everybody who has seen the prototype here in my house really loves it and thinks it is awesome. Pete even said he thought I should have them mass-produced in China! Which, if I could figure out how they could incorporate lead-based paint into the final product, I would probably do.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Making a Contribution

Today's idea for making a contribution is from Sharon Eakes, whose Fresh Views monthly column focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. I love her column; it's always very positive and uplifting. (To subscribe, go here.) Rather than paraphrase Sharon I'll just repurpose her text here:

The best story I’ve heard lately about making a contribution comes from Nyan Pendyala, age 9. He and his 6 year old sister Lehka started the Kids for Sight Project. They’re working with ORBIS International, a charity that has been helping prevent blindness worldwide for 25 years. I interviewed Nyan for this Fresh Views, asking first how he got involved in this project.

“Well,” he said, “I stopped my dad when he was flipping through a newsletter from ORBIS International and I saw a picture of Ronald McDonald. I wanted to know what Ronald McDonald was doing there. I found out he was helping keep kids from becoming blind by building an eye hospital in New Delhi. I said, ‘I should help with that!’”

“Try this,” Nyan said to me. “Close your eyes for 20 seconds. How does it feel? Scary? That’s how a blind kid feels. I really wanted to help, so I asked my friends to donate to ORBIS instead of bringing presents to my birthday party. My dad and I called ORBIS and told them how I’d raised money for them. Because I was the first kid they knew of to raise money at a birthday party, they invited me to visit them. Their office is in New York city so we went there, and they helped me choose the goal of a pediatric eye care center and training facility in Chennai, a poor town where my dad was born and my grandparents still live.”

To my question about what he’s done since then to raise money, Nyan said, “The ORBIS people put us on their website. We made postcards and I’ve given them to all my family and friends and my parents’ friends. I gave a speech to 80 people and it was easy. Now I’m trying to find connectors, people with lots of friends. If I can inspire connectors, they will inspire lots of other people and I can help the kids faster. Because you know what? If you can catch an eye problem early, the kid doesn’t get blind.”

As I talked with Nyan, I was struck by how animated he was, how happy. I asked him how this project made him feel. “Really good!” was his intense response.

If you’d like to donate, just go to Or pass this story on, in some low-impact-on-the-internet way like posting on a blog, to let other people know about it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Petty Larceny by Next Door Neighbor

It's almost 3am and I can't sleep because I keep going over and over this in my head so I thought, I can post about this on my blog anyway.

My next door neighbors have, uh, fluid boundaries when it comes to where their property ends and mine starts. Several times in the four months since I've lived here they've come over to do whatever pleased them in my property, and so far I've not said anything about this. The first time, they had given us a bunch of sod that they had dug up from their lawn, and I happened to come out and catch the man in my back yard with a wheelbarrow, taking back some of it. He had the good grace to be embarrassed and apologize, and I felt - what? - like I owed them because they had given us this stuff anyway, so I said it was okay. Then they did some work on their walkway that abuts ours, and they just came over and dug up a section of my walkway that was contiguous with what they were digging up of their own, and repaved the entire area with concrete so it ended up in better shape than it had been before. They had been having some flooding in their basement, and this fixed it; it also fixed most of a minor problem of flooding I had in my own basement too. I didn't appreciate that they didn't ask me beforehand if they could dig up the old concrete on my property before they did it, but again, I felt they had done me a favor, so I couldn't complain about the boundaries.

What happened yesterday was weirder. I was home, and I thought I saw in the reflection of my monitor (my back is to the window onto the back yard) something in the back yard, but when I turned around there wasn't anybody there. Later I went out and was looking at the sweet peppers I have been growing back there. I've been watching them with some excitement, as they are finally almost big enough to pick. To my surprise the biggest of them, the first one to come out, the one I've been watching most excitedly ... was GONE! We've had critters (which ate all the apples off my tree) so I thought it might have been them, but there was none of the telltale detritus like leftover bites and whatnot that was always evidence of the critters stealing apples. I thought of course of my neighbor, and wondered, but felt bad that I was so suspicious.

So tonight the neighbors' kid came and rang my bell and said his mom wanted me to come over. Which I thought was a little peremptory, but who knows? maybe something was wrong. So I dropped what I was doing and followed him over there. And she has all this crap that was left behind in the store they bought and are redoing, and she wanted to give me some of it. Stale, inedible ice cream cones in bulk, Camel cigarette swag I don't want, Winston drink cups, stuff like that. And I somehow can't say no, even though I really don't want any of it in my house. And it comes out that she sent her boy over to take some tomatoes from my garden. And two peppers too. I say, Oh, that was you! I couldn't figure out how they disappeared!!! But laughed and let it all be a good joke between neighbors. I was put on the spot, there in front of all three of her kids, and couldn't get in touch with how I really felt. I even invited them to our housewarming party we are having tomorrow (well, today)! When the very freaking LAST thing I want is for them to come over to my back yard!

I told my boyfriend about it later and he was appropriately indignant. He offered to tell them they better never do that again. I took him up on his offer and said, "Yes, say to them, 'She would never say anything because she is too nice, but I will tell you she was upset,'" which is complete bullshit. I didn't say anything because I was concerned first and foremost with avoiding a conflict. I'm absolutely NOT too nice. Anyway, I know I need to have the conversation with her myself, on my own behalf, and not let my boyfriend fight my battles for me.

And now I cannot sleep because I keep playing out that conversation with her in my head. Alternating that with praying for her, and for her kid whom she's now taught it's okay to steal stuff from my yard. Alternating that with telling them we have a gun and if somebody trespasses on our property we have the right to use it. With praying for her. With telling her in front of her kid that she should not have told him to go in our yard to take stuff. Then thinking he will feel humiliated on her behalf and will begin stealing from us BECAUSE of that.

Blah blah blah blah BLAH ... my brain is driving me crazy!

I'm going back to bed and I'm going to pray for them as insistently and nonstop as I can, as it's the only thing that works in interpersonal conflict situations like this. And let tomorrow's conversation with this woman take place when it takes place.

Higher Power!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I. Have. A. Job.

Thankfully I am now back among the ranks of the employed. Well, technically, I don't start until 9/4, so maybe I'm not officially employed yet. But I have accepted an offer, and I have been hired. So I feel I may now relax just a little.

I went to Sears and bought an in-sink garbage disposal unit. Sears (specifically Kenmore, their store brand) is my new favorite for higher-ticket items, as they are usually made by an expensive brand maker but cost much less. Insinkerator makes their disposers. Adam can put it in and then we have to hire an electrician to hook it up to the juice.

(I also intended to buy the sewing machine I've been reading about and wanting to get, but they didn't have it in stock. Kenmore machines are made by Janome, a well-reviewed brand. WAH! I was disappointed, as was the lady who hoped to make the sale. They work on commission. Which immediately made me feel bad for not wanting to let her order it for me. I just didn't want to go back over there to pick it up, and I had second thoughts while she was looking in the back storage room about spending $450. Well, I'll probably get it, just not right now.)

We will probably also hire the contractor to do the back yard work, too, once I am working again. We just didn't feel it was wise to spend the money when I wasn't earning any. I'm glad we waited, for that reason, but it would have been convenient for us to do the work while I was at home, so I could supervise. Well, not all things are possible. That was the choice we made.

My great pal Beth, who moved to San Francisco two years ago, was in town for a couple days and I got to hang out with her for several hours yesterday. It was great. We had lunch (Adam joined us) and then hit the craft shops. We went to a few bead stores and to M&J Trimmings (chorus of angel voices sing an extended joyful chord) and finally to Metalliferous, a jeweler's supply store. I didn't buy anything in Met., but I spent lots in one M&J and in one of the bead stores, so I don't get credit for restraint. I just realized I don't know what the hell I am doing with jeweler's materials so I didn't get anything there. They do have some really lovely gemstones for sale, but what the hell would I do with them?

I got a ton of beads though, which I hope to use in knitted beadwork. I got amazing colors, in particular some matte black ones. When I see stuff like this, I can't help myself - I actually experience greed - I have to buy in bulk. I bought, we think, about 5000 beads in the matte black color, as well as ~2000 of the cream color ones, and ~1000 each of several other really good colors. At least I organized them all (and the rest of my scattered stash) when I got home last night.

Look at this booty!

I put everything into these organizers I bought. What's scary is I thought I had a lot of the red ones (top center), until I realized how freakin' many of the other colors I just bought! I weighed out 1 gram, and there were 31 in that sample; the entire single bag of the gray-blue color (top left) was about 75 grams, meaning each bag may have contained as many as 2300! JEBUS! Well, obviously I do have a little greed problem. But they weren't very expensive ($7 for that size bag) so it's not unmanageable, at least not yet. I've seen photos of people's stashes that put mine WAY to shame. On the other hand, I'm really a knitter, not a beader, so this IS kind of embarrassing...

I finished the secret felted toy projects!

I bought toy eyes while I was in the city today and this evening I put them on the felted toys and did the other elements of finishing and took photographs and finalized the Word doc of the pattern and and and ... and sent it off to Knitty! Ver' exciting! This is the first time I have submitted a pattern to be published. I think it's the cutest goddamn idea ever, and they'd be crazy not to accept it. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I have about 30 other ideas, designs, and finished items I can make patterns of after this one. I plan to submit a proposal to Interweave Knits next; they want a proposal rather than a finished pattern, which is much easier.

Also - I got a job offer today! The official offer is pending the final dollar amount, but they want me, and I will take the offer as soon as they figure out how much they can pay me. The least it will be is $X, or maybe it will be $(X + Y). I will be happy to work for them even if it is only $X. So, YAY! Finally! I really am employable!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

(I just got) Greetings from Bavaria!

I received this yarn from Claudia at It's BEAUTIFUL yarn - very soft and she tells me it felts well. I'm not sure what I am going to use it for, but the colors are amazing and lovely. She also included a sample of a color I didn't order, which was a nice gesture. And it wasn't terribly expensive, even including the overseas shipping.




Wistfulness of Garden Cleanup

Over the weekend we took out all the squash vines, which didn't do much in terms of yielding fruit. We got ONE pumpkin and two spaghetti squash. Sad. The plants got some kind of fungus and my belated attempts at fungicide didn't work. The fungus seemed eventually to travel over to the cucumber plants as well, and maybe even affected the tomatoes, although I'm not sure if their yellowing is because of that or because of it being close to the end of their season. This is my first year growing stuff and I don't know much yet. So we took out the cucumber vines as well. We pulled out all the weeds that had grown up in among the vines and put down black mulch to preserve the bed edges. It looks much neater, but I feel a little sad as well, as it signals the summer is coming to an end. I actually hate summer, because I hate being hot, but the end of the growing season feels a little sad.

This was the second weekend in a row where we put a lot of effort into yard cleanup. We are having our housewarming party finally this coming weekend so Adam is motivated to make things look nice. It's good when he gets into cleaning up the place - it helps me energize to work on it too. I hope the party is good!

I had a job interview yesterday and it seemed to go pretty well. I don't feel drawn to the job, which was with a small startup in a tiny office where people were nevertheless all in suits. What the hell? I have another one today where the people are famous for requesting interviewees NOT show up in fancy dress, and one interviewee even went in jeans. It's weird - I'm not crazy about getting all gussied up, but I feel nervous at showing up at an interview NOT in a suit. But I will attempt to tread some line between slovenly and fancy. I also have a phone interview - those are easy. I just have to read the material they sent me beforehand to refresh my memory, and come up with a good line for why I want to work there. In case I actually do; most of the time I feel lukewarm. I actually DID want to work for the Times, and didn't get the job. Meh.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Secret Felted Toy Projects I, II, and III

I wrote a pattern for some felted toys that I am submitting to Knitty, so unfortunately I have to keep them secret for the time being. I can't have pics of them on Flickr, or on Ravelry (although I cheated and listed them as Secret Felted Toy Projects I, II, and III), or even on my blog! If they get rejected by Knitty I am going to be pissed! because they are so damned cute it kills me. AND cool - they take as their inspiration an online comic strip. This evening I felted the last of the three and it is insanely cute. Once this one dries, I just have to stuff them and create eyes and other features. Then pose them and take photographs and send in my pattern! I decided, based on an earlier set of patterns for the Blythe Doll that were presented as a group all in one pattern, to submit them together as one pattern, even though I had to create each one separately from scratch.

It was very rewarding, I have to say, using knitting to create three-dimensional objects. I enjoyed it tremendously. And I think I am pretty good at it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stardust and other things

We saw the movie Stardust today and we both really liked it. It was very beautiful and lush, and it was mostly true to Neil Gaiman's story. It is a very sweet story. I'm not spoiling anything, I think, to say that the swordfight with Septimus was very funny, and de Niro was well utilized in his role as Captain Shakespeare.

We also saw the Simpsons movie last night, and enjoyed it greatly. It was funny. Adam laughed his ass off and I did too.

Finally, and I'm telling things in reverse order from how they happened this weekend, we did a huge amount of work on the front yard, finally. We've been the neighbors with the horrible-looking front yard for four months. Our house looked from the front somewhat like a haunted house - the house the neighborhood kids are afraid to go near. Adam trimmed the hedges (though my personal preference would be to pull up those ugly holly bushes) and mowed the lawn in back as well as the weeds that have pushed out half the ivy in the center rectangle, and I used the weed whacker - WHICH DOUBLES AS AN EDGER!!! - and cleaned up all the yucky overgrowth. It's all very cleanly edged along the front walkways, the sidewalk, and the driveway. It looks great!

I suppose it doesn't look as exciting if you didn't see the previous state it was in:

Damn it, that doesn't show it in all its antiglory. Or if you don't know how much hard work we put in. We ended up with FOUR 30-gallon bags of leaves and other organic matter from it. That's 120 GALLONS of crap!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


I'm going to babysit for my niece & nephew this afternoon/evening. Now that they are older (6 & 4) they aren't as hard to take care of and I am up to the task. Basically they will tear me limb from limb and then I will try to get them bathed and into bed before collapsing.

Monday, August 6, 2007


Adam and I made dill pickles yesterday evening. We had a good time making them, and although we can't tell yet if they will be good, since you have to wait EIGHT WEEKS before you can eat them, all the jars except one sealed up correctly so I think they will be good. The one that didn't quite seal we put in the fridge and we will doubtless eat them sooner.

Also, how fucking awesome are my labels!!!?! I don't know how well they can be seen here, but they are the coolest. "Specially Made by Adam and Barclay" and the date at the bottom. I used Art Deco clip art. I am The Man.

I remembered to grab photos of the process before it was all over, and I was able to make an Instructable. I don't know why I even wanted to but it was fun to write up the process and document it.

I was out of town at my parents' all last week. We had our annual family reunion - which sounds grander than it ever is, except we have been doing this every year now for nine years. Next year I will make "10th Annual" T-shirts to mark the occasion.

I still don't have a job. I didn't get the one at the NY Times, which really seemed like one that I would like and do well at. I liked the people, the name is good, the location was excellent, etc. But I didn't get it. They were looking for someone with more experience than I have doing direct project management work. I sent off emails and online applications to some jobs this morning. I'll get one eventually. But this is hard, and I need a job. I WANT a job. I want to go back to work. I want a purpose. Also, I'm tired of being bored all day long. I can't believe it, but I am bored by myself all day. I don't watch TV, because that would be the long drop into death for me, but I do stuff on the computer and I go to meetings and I apply for jobs and I work in the garden/back yard, and I try to stay busy. And it is getting TIRESOME.

I'm up for a job with this company Thumbplay, but I think the company sounds kind of ghetto. I can't tell with these companies if they are good risks to sign on with or not. The guy who interviewed me last week said they are pulling in millions, while trying to bargain me down on my salary. I hate that shit. It sounds like another Jon Lewin, and fuck that shit. He was stingy with his employees while he was making bazillions, and I'm still resentful.