Saturday, July 30, 2005

Colin's 4th Birthday.

My younger son turned 4 today. He's been deeply ambivalent about the whole thing, so we've tried to keep everything low-key. We had the family from next door over for cake and ice cream and it lasted about an hour. I'm not sure if we'll do anything special for dinner. Why create big expectations where none exist?

We had knitting group this morning. Seven of us in all. I met some new folks and really enjoyed the chat. So far no grumbles from the coffee shop about us arriving and taking up space. It generally is not crowded there.

For those of you who have been asking: The Professor Vest pattern will soon be for sale on The Garter Belt as a pdf download. The sizes run in 4 inch increments from 36-52 inches. The size M, 40", takes about 12 oz /660 yds of slightly heavy worsted wt yarn.

Now I need to get a few new design ideas rolling, maybe one fast and one slow. But first I need to finish reading my next bookclub book, Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, and I now have my turn with the family copy of the new Harry Potter. Also, must finish rearranging my workspace in the basement. So, maybe no big new knitting design in the works for a couple of weeks. I saw a stitch I liked on a sweater on another blog the other day. The effect is of cable, but you do it with decreases and yarn over increases. It doesn't end up as bulky as actual cables. So, I've been tinkering with that with my lovely Lana Grossa Lambswool and also I'm eager to get out all my Shetland-like yarns and play with color. Not enough hours in a day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tagged with a meme...

n. pl. id·i·o·syn·cra·sies
A structural or behavioral characteristic peculiar to an individual or group.

Write down five of your own idiosyncrasies. Then, if you wish, tag five people from your live gerbil or friendslist to do the same."

This came from Terby. You can go read her answers while I think about mine. (Only 5?)

Back so soon?
1. As Terby said, I am also prone to talking to myself. It's kind of a low mutter usually, but people around me can hear it.

2. I like the dishwasher to be loaded correctly. That is, MY WAY. I rearrange everything when my husband loads it.

3. I have always had a very poor sense of smell. I never notice most bad smells that people around me notice. But perfume makes me gag.

4. It's very hard for me to a leave a good find in a thrift shop, even if I don't really need it myself.

5. I'm a surprisingly slow reader.

Hmm... I'll pass this on to Jon in Colorado, Fathom, Ceci, Ana, and Monkee

Remember Monkee, only 5!

Another Day, Another Look

I hope I didn't freak anyone out. I'm still fiddling with my template. It's kind of fun and a great way to learn by doing. I'm not sure how long this will stay, but I like the title banner and it really looked funny plunked down on the grey background. So, of course I had to change the background color and then the fonts were illegible. So, I had to tinker with all of those, too. I'll see how it grows on me.

Also, I made a button. Take one from the sidebar and put it on your own image host. It's cheerful and colorful and will liven up even the drabbest blog.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

"Professor" vest WIP

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I'm in the home stretch on the Professor vest. I need to make the other armhole band and sew the side seams. And buy buttons. It's hard to see the texture in this photo. I hope to get some better ones with good high-contrast definition of the stitches for the site. It's a fun little project to knit, goes quickly and doesn't take a lot of yarn.

In a couple of hours, I get my chance to photograph the Beatrix cardigan ON A BABY! Yay! Then I need to get the gears turning on what comes next.

OOPS, close thunderstorm moving in. Time to sign off and shut down!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Movie review

Last night we watched the movie Coffee and Cigarettes. I enjoyed this movie and am still thinking about what it was about. Scott tuned out and read a book after the first couple of vignettes. Although there isn't one story line that ties this all together, this movie is about going out for coffee, or meeting someone for coffee, and all the social dynamics involved in that. Along the way there are twins, cousins, friends and acquaintances, and celebrities and fans, and these relationships all infuse the coffees with layers of meaning and interaction. After it was over, I was struck that only one vignette had characters who seemed relaxed and companionable in their dynamic and those two left together. The others were all exhibiting some social status imbalance and who arrived first and had to wait was reflected in that. I think that coffee (maybe especially in movie-making circles?) is used as a lesser form of meeting than lunch, for example. The characters would agree to meet for coffee because it was a quick date, appearing friendly, but without a big commitment. There's a lot of social awkwardness in this movie. The viewer is dragged right into it, with harsh close-ups of the characters as they try to find their way through these interactions. If you demand movies be more about plot or action than ideas, then give this one a miss. But if you are happy to see a movie that explores a few ideas and provokes thought, watch this one.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

the basement "before" photos

Sensitive persons are strongly advised to stop looking RIGHT NOW! It's messy. It's ugly. But it wouldn't be a great "before" photo set-up if it was all nice and beautiful.
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This one shows the wall where I will put up my massive storage shelves. These are 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide and will hold a significant portion of my yarn stash.

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This one shows the wall that my two knitting machines will sit against. I'm having the electrician run a line of outlets along here at about 40 inches off the floor. I might paint the ugly fake panelling, but haven't got a lot of enthusiasm for that idea right now. I will probably mount wall standards above for extra shelving here, which will cover a lot of the panelling.

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This chaotic corner will have my worktable on the wall to the left, under the wall-mounted shelves. My sewing machine and serger will go on this table.

The part you can't see, is that I'll use a floor to ceiling bookshelf to make a half-wall across the open area. This will help keep kids out of my stuff. Also, on the other half, we're going to bring our TV and all the extras down from the living room and probably buy a loveseat and some chairs (pray to St.Vincent on that one). We also need to work out a way to hide all the board games that are taking over and get all the extra toys out of the living room. It's a big project.

I'm reflecting on that famous quote from William Morris. "Have nothing in your house except that which you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful." I may have skewed it, but that's the gist of it. That, and "Less is more," are my new words to live by.


The electrician will come on Monday to install a line of outlets along the wall where my workspace will be. Yay! I need to spend some time packing and stowing stuff and help Scott get the rest of his stuff out of the way. There will be a lot of work involved in making better use of this house, but it's still less work than moving would be. I should get some "before" photos now, so that the "after" photos will look that much better.

Herrschner's had some yummy looking lambswool on the Yarn Sale this past Thursday, so in spite of the fact that I really do not need more yarn, I ordered some. Also, in spite of all my grumblings about Herrschner's and their lousy customer service. This particular item had several hundred in stock, so I expect no problems. I should just take a day trip to Steven's Point and pick it up in person: it would be quicker than waiting for them to pack and ship my order!

Finally a break in our beastly weather. It won't last long, though. Tomorrow more hot and humid air will move in. What we really need is an all-day rain. We haven't had a real rain in a very long time, and it looks like it might be at least 10 days before we can hope for any.

I was just recruited to build an elevated railway from wooden train track, and now have lost my train of thought...

I think it was a knitting update... or was it a mild-mannered rant about shawls? No, that's not an oxymoron.

Ok, the mild mannered rant: I love to look at the beautiful lace shawls that other people knit. In terms of pure aesthetics, I have no complaint with shawls. But I wouldn't wear one. I guess I could make one to drape like a big doily on the back of the couch, but my kids and cats would destroy it no time. For garments, I like clothes that stay where they belong without constant fidgeting or adjusting. I don't want to worry about things that slip off, gap, or otherwise give me a struggle. In this regard, I am more likely to wear (shudder!) a poncho than a shawl. You put your head through the hole and it stays on. If it's dress-up warmth or modesty I want, I'm more apt to wear a shruggy-kind of thing. Really, more like a bolero or short cardigan. I still can't see myself in the shrugs that showcase the boobs like fruit on a platter. I'm not interested in that kind of attention. So, all you shawl knitters, what kind of lifestyle leads one to spend that many hours knitting something that beautiful, but which is also impractical? No kids, no pets probably goes most of the way to describing the lifestyle. That, and you need an occasional reason to dress up.

I'm nearly done the men's sweatervest. This time I did the sensible thing and got it mostly typed up before the knitting was all done. I had Scott take the completed back to work to weigh on a postal scale. Since I'm using recycled yarn, I wasn't sure how many standard units (skeins, balls) would be equivalent. The back weighs 4.9 oz for the 40 inch size M. Then I prorated out based on square inches in the finished project for each size and guesstimated the yarn quantities for each size. I hope I'm in the ballpark: the numbers look plausible.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Beatrix Cardigan is written and I'm just waiting until I can get photos on a real baby. I still need to write the captions for the steek tutorial, but that will be pretty quick. Here's a teaser photo of me cutting the steek:

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I'm making great progress on the men's sweatervest. Working title: The Professor. I know, that's lame. I'll come up with something better when I'm ready to show the world. It's going to be a real basic textured buttondown vest. Not for real fashion-forward kind of guy.

I took the boys to St Paul on Monday. Let's just say that it was not a successful trip. It was great to see my old friend Nora, but my kids were beastly, especially the older one. People make all these public assertions about how modern parents are failing to instill manners in the next generation. Well, I am guilty as charged. BUT I also want to say that I see well-mannered kids all around me. Kids who are trained to help around the house, be grateful for the food they are offered, say please and thank-you, be nice to others, sit at the table until excused, participate in conversations without interrupting or hijacking them. And my kids seems absolutely untrainable to me. They are a constant embarrassment. They don't sit still for meals, they interrrupt, they fight, they're ungrateful, they always feel they deserve more than they have. They don't clean up, they don't help out, they drop garbage on the floor. I am absolutely guilty of inadequate parenting and I don't have any idea how to do it differently. Every day is a constant fight and I find myself wishing I had never become a mother. I'm counting down until they leave home, only that's years away. I'm just treading water waiting for the next 8 years to be over with so I can throw out all their stuff, clean up my house, and enjoy a moment of peace.

In other news, Scott has removed a lot of stuff from the end of the basement which will soon be my space. I need to line up an electrician to install a few more outlets and put up the oversize shelving for all the boxes of yarn. I'm very excited about this.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

What I love about my computer

What I really love about my computer is that I can have i-tunes playing, and have Word, Photoshop, and Illustrator all open, and update my blog in Safari ALL AT THE SAME TIME.

My first computer was a mac plus. I could only one application at a time. I had an external harddrive with 30 megabytes. It was considered plenty at the time.

Owen finds it amazing that I can remember a time before computers were considered normal household equipment.

Post script: I just added an entry to the Never On Oprah Book Club blog. Go have a look. Comments and input always appreciated over there! Tell the world what you're reading!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Owen's first concert...

I took Owen to a Wallflowers concert tonight. I'm not sure exactly what he thought about the whole experience, other than that it was too loud! Which I agree on. I guess this puts me squarely in the old fogey camp, but really, I've never liked ear-damagingly loud concerts. I'm not sure if the bands themselves make these decisions, or the sound guy that The Barrymore hires is deaf from too many years in the biz, but I've had that experience in that venue many times. It feels like the sound is cranked so loud that one cannot actually hear the music. At first Owen & I were in the fourth row, and the bass notes were physically throbbing in my abdomen. Before the opening act was done, we decided to move back and ended up in the farthest back balcony row. It wasn't gut-wrenchingly loud there, but still uncomfortable. And I still could not hear the music for the noise. As we went out at intermission to get some air, one of the security guys gave us some earplugs. They keep a bowl of them on the concession counter.

I've been to a lot of shows over the years, from bands that came to the college town where I grew up, to big name acts in big venues, to smaller shows. I don't remember ever thinking any Grateful Dead show I saw was too loud. I did think The Who in 1980 (same tour when people were crushed to death in a stadium with non-reserved seating) was way too loud: my ears were not right for a week later. But even the mellow folkie acoustic types are cranked up to loud at The Barrymore. It should have come as no surprise that a rock show would be too loud to enjoy.

Here's the really cool part: we had gone to the lobby, where we could still hear plenty, and were preparing to leave early. Owen was tired and I think not enjoying it, but not wanting to admit that either. The Wallflowers were playing Josephine and messed up. Some young'uns close to the stage apparently were being snide about this and Jakob Dylan asked if anyone in the audience could do a better job singing it. An 18 year old kid named Matt volunteered and was brought up on stage. And he sang that song like HE was channelling Jakob Dylan. He completely nailed it. The keyboard player missed a cue, but they patched it up and went on. The audience loved it. The band loved it. It was a truly cool concert moment. We left after that.

And now its late. And tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Original "Lucky"

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Here is the original version of the Lucky pullover. This was from Peace Fleece. I did not wash my swatch and this yarn grew a bunch after washing and blocking. I don't mind an oversize sweater, so it's okay with me. I'm thinking of frogging and reknitting in a smaller size, but not sure I'm that motivated. This photo was taken in April.

Image hosted by Here is an indoor shot of the sweater on the floor. The color is closer to the outdoor pic than to this one.

Monday, July 04, 2005

The view from our backyard

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Scott took this photo tonight from our backyard climber. It's nice not to have to go anywhere to see the fireworks.

I made a bathing suit!

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OK, I'm not exactly swimsuit model material, but I am so happy and proud of myself. Like many women I have frustrations with the whole swimsuit shopping experience. These are compounded by being both tall and plus size. It seems like one is allowed to be either tall OR plus size, but never both. Finally, I decided to conquer my fears. I bought lycra, elastic, and a pattern yesterday and here I am today!! Wearing my new totally tug-free swimsuit. It fits better than any of the Lands' End suits for which I have paid lots of money. It doesn't ride up on my butt. It's not on the verge of giving way under stress at the side seams. A whole new era has arrived. I can make myself a bathing suit any time I need one. Yay!!

It was from A Stretch & Sew by Ann Person pattern #F828, which I found on a display rack at JoAnn's Fabrics after I spent a long time going through catalogs without finding much. The pattern is for a basic tank with a deep plunge in the back and options for either a shelf bra or buying cups and sewing those into the chest lining area. I modified the back so that it doesn't dip as low and chose the shelf bra, mostly because the premade cup options at JoAnn's all looked too small.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The week in review...

I'm finishing up the knitting on the Beatrix cardigan. It's going to be a cute one. I started typing the instructions last night. That's for the one size I'm making, but I want to have one smaller and one bigger option too. I need to go button shopping: so often that's a real excercise in frustration! Then, I need to knit another Beatrix Hat, because I sent the original to the real baby Beatrix. Then find a baby to model pics. I have a candidate in mind for that! With a little luck, this pattern should be available by August 1. Maybe sooner if the knitting gods are smiling on me.

This evening Owen and I relocated some day lilies to the border we share with our obnoxious neighbors. We hope to make a stronger delineation of the property line, short of actually building a fence. Anything to get them to keep their lawn chemicals on their side of the line. These lilies are some fancy ones in a nice saturated yellow. They were getting crowded out in the back by the common orange ones, the kind that volunteer along roadsides all over southern Wisconsin. (In far northern Wisconsin, they have fields and fields full of wild lupines. I couldn't believe it! They were more dense and beautiful than any cultivated garden.) Owen is very interested in earning money and seems to have a high tolerance for gardening if a parent works with him. This could be the beginning of a great arrangement. He will develop some muscle and burn some calories. And earn money. And save my hands and wrists from the abuses of digging. The garden will look better. We'll spend time doing something together. And he'll learn some stuff about gardening along the way. I have a few sedums (not the ground cover kind, but upright single plants) that ended up in the middle of a dense stand of purple coneflowers. Tomorrow we plan to find a new home for them. You know, I don't really like gardening. I appreciate the results, so I'm willing to do the work. But the actual process of mucking around in soil doesn't float my boat. I don't like creatures with no legs or too many legs. I don't like getting dirty. I'm hoping that over time, Owen can become the gardener and I'll just stroll around and point out what needs to be done.

Tomorrow morning Terri and I are going to the knitting group that is an offshoot of the established evenings group. It should be an interesting time. Must remember the camera. Not that my descriptions will ever attain the laugh-a-minute level of someone like Crazy Aunt Purl. But, still, it's an easy way to up the knitting content of the blog: pictures of other people's knitting!