Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hamsters on a Wheel

I'm really tired, but my brain is spinning with ideas. I spent the whole day at a “learn stuff” Schoolhouse event at my favorite quilt shop. I can’t walk into that place without bringing home fabric (they’re pure evil, but in a very good way) but it was a good day and I’m glad I went.

The bad part is that my brain is spinning with various and assorted ideas, both knitty and – mostly – quilty, but I have no time! I now know precisely what I want to do for an iPod case, but it’ll be another three weeks before I have time to bust out the sewing machine and make it!

Oh yeah! Why am I just now wanting to make an iPod case?

Case for Gandalf on the left, Hedwig on the right.

The hard drive on my loyal pal for the last four years (Gandalf, a 4G 60 GB iPod) had been acting up since August and gave up completely at the end of January. Very sad! Since Apple gives you a 10% discount on a shiny new model when you recycle the old one, I was unable to take a picture with Gandalf side-by-side with Hedwig, my awesome new iPod Classic. I've been using an old microfiber sunglasses case, but I'll get around to making something perfect, hopefully before too much longer.

Meanwhile ...

I woke up to snow this morning. Jumped out of bed following a pretty bad night’s sleep (I shouldn’t complain. I normally fall asleep easily/quickly and sleep like a rock. I know many have a much tougher row to hoe, but it’s all relative to your normal, IMHO) and had just enough time to shovel the driveway, chow on some Cheerios, meet the new neighbor across the street (next door to SuperNeighbor), play with a rambunctious yellow lab for a couple minutes, shower and zip off to Allison Park.

Last Thursday, the Hubster and I spent the morning picking out everything we’ll need to turn this

Half of a “before” photoshoot. I’ll try to do a “true” one either Monday or Tuesday

Into something shiny, functional, roomy and beautiful.

Yes, our master suite (primarily bathroom with some involvement with the bedroom) is finally going to be remodeled! We have everything out of the master bedroom but the bed. That’s tomorrow’s adventure. We’ll be combining the current bathroom and closet into a 13x5 bathroom with shiny new closets on the opposite side of the room.

I leave on my Big Work Trip on Wednesday, returning March 9. The renovation starts March 2. I’ll be leaving the point-n-shoot with the Hubster with instructions to take daily photos. Here’s hoping all of that goes smoothly!

Meanwhile, I’ll try to wrangle a bit of crafty stuff to show you before I skip town, and I’ll do my best to keep you entertained while I’m away from home. Have a great week!

A Side Note: Did anyone else think the Oscars broadcast kind of sucked tonight? The open was awesome and a few of the acceptance speeches were good, but I thought there was a lot more "Huh???"* than "WOW!"

*- What was with the "musicals are back!" number? Could anyone read all the names on the "In Memoriam?" I didn't get the five former winners talking directly to the nominees in the acting categories. I never paid attention to/cared about the Oscars before living in LA, but after nine years, it's certainly part of my February routine. Here's hoping it's a better show next year.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I’m a Sucker …

… for cool woodwork. And when you start talking about cool knitting woodwork, especially the week after the Pittsburgh Knitting & Crochet Festival, you should know I’m talking about Kniting Notions!

While setting up the Bloomin booth on Friday, my eye kept sneaking over to the Knitting Notions booth where Catherine and her daughter were busy setting up.

In the past year, I have had an increasing appreciation for the nostepinne (acquired at MSWF last May from the WoodChuck booth, primarily because he was going out of business) and darning egg (acquired from The Loopy Ewe) already in my collection. But using those tools gave me some ideas of what I liked and disliked about them.

So I kept eyeing the collection of darning eggs and nostepinnes decorating the shelves of the Knitting Notions booth. And when I returned on Sunday, guess what my first stop was?

This darning egg is Walnut. It’s smaller than the holly egg I already have. It’s just slightly larger than a real egg, and I can almost span it with my puny Quinn hands. A human with regular-sized hands could probably hold it comfortably :-)

As an added bonus, it has some really cool detail on the handle

Haven’t used this yet, but I think it’s going to be a wonderful addition to my collection of gadgets.

My original nostepinne was purchased in Maryland and I had no clue what I was doing. I’d never used a nostepinne, I was just feeding my woodwork habit.

I’ve used that tool multiple times, and while it’s good for small projects, it’s tapered a little too sharply to keep a ball of any significant size in place until you’re finished.

I used this walnut/cherry beauty tonight to wind my January 09 Rockin’ Sock Club shipment (I am totally knot-free, but wanted to wind it by hand so I could make that statement with confidence. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re winding by hand.)

It’s about 10.5” long, the join between the woods are seamless, and the “working portion” of the tool is about 5.75” and so gently tapered you’d never notice. It handled 360 yards of fingering weight without breaking a sweat, and I will most certainly use it a great deal.

At that point, walking away from the Booth of Doom with six skeins of merino worsted, a darning egg and a nostepinne, I thought I was done. But there was one more siren song I still had to answer.

It was nearing the end of the day, and I had finished all of my shopping, and I just couldn’t resist.

I went back.

In-progress Cloning Anemones sock from Tide Pool, Sept. 08 RSC.

Catherine had a beautiful bowl she was using to display her sock-in-progress and their brilliant Sock Keepers. (I bought a Sock Keeper last year). And she had one similar bowl for sale.

Mahogany again. 2” deep. 16.5” circumference. 5.25” diameter. Perfect size for a sock yarn cake. It’s been in use since the minute I got it home and I really love it.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Yesterday, I worked a very full day at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival and that little stinker Roaming Tigger stole my wallet again.


At least the little bugger has good taste!

I really enjoyed the festival, particularly the vendors in close proximity to the Bloomin Yarns booth. Here’s a little tiptoe through the stash enhancements. I worked all day in an overcast world. I figured overcast but dry would be perfect for photos. In the split-second between when I had the loot arranged for photos, the clouds parted. Oh well. The pics still look pretty good!

1. Tauga Nut Buttons from River’s Edge Weaving Studio in Michigan. They’re “vegetable ivory” and dyed with vegetable dyes so they’re very environmentally (and elephant!) friendly.

2. Creatively Dyed Luxury in color Diamond. I actually bought this one on Friday during set-up :-) 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon

3. Creatively Dyed Calypso in Green Cay. It’s an 80/20 merino/nylon blend 510 yards, that I swear is the same base yarn as Wollmeise.

4. Creatively Dyed again. This time it’s 450 yards of “Merino Twine” in Pepper

5. 1500 yards of classic merino worsted from Knitting Notions in Azure. It was on sale. I fell in love on Friday, it was still there Sunday. It will grow up to be a Central Park Hoodie.

6. 600+ yards of 60% merino, 40% bamboo from River’s Edge. Listed as sport/DK weight, but it looks heavier to me. It’s a brand new base yarn for them. River’s Edge was next to Bloomin, and Carol and Debb were an absolute blast. This will be the first yarn from the festival that I cast on, since I may be doing a little sample knitting for Carol and Debb.

7. Pagewood Farms Alyeska in Crayon. Purchased from Wolf Creek Yarns (sadly, no website), which is a store in Grove City, Pa. The owner’s husband shares my alma mater, so that was a conversation starter. Sadly, I can’t remember her name (bad DPUTiger! No cookie!) but OMG, I had an absolute blast talking with the owner and her cohort that was helping her out at the show. I will absolutely be stopping by the store on multiple times this summer while driving back and forth to the lake. If the store is half as good as the human who runs it, it will be great!

8. Hand-poured pewter buttons from Deb Schildt’s Handmade in the Hills. SO cool! Deb’s booth was right across from us. She uses antique molds from the 1800s (if I remember correctly). Awesome.

9. Nostepinne from Knitting Notions. Walnut/Cherry. Beautiful.

10. Crochet hooks in G and H. Splurge!

11. Darning egg from Knitting Notions. Walnut. Beautiful.

12. Rotten mascot with good taste.

I got some good pr0n shots of all the yarn that you should be seeing in (many) future weeks, but I’ll start with the woodwork tomorrow.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Peace, Love and Yarn

Wow, did I ever unleash a shit-storm with yesterday’s post! I had some low moments today when I nearly deleted the whole damn thing. So to quote Ringo Starr, “Peace and Love! Peace and Love!” … and we return to Yarny Things.

A week ago, I escaped the house holding the sick Hubster and snuck over to Natural Stitches. Why? Well, so I could use their Ginormous Yarn Winder!

Remember this pound of yarn? Well, Mom gave it to me for Christmas in 2007. I decided that I should at least get the mile-plus of yarn wound so I’d have a fighting chance of ever using it. While I was at it, I also had a very big skein of LSS from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, so I took both skeins with me to wind. No, I don’t know what either one is going to be yet.

Here’s the Weavers Wool on the winder.

Please pardon the crappy camera-phone photo

I kind of forgot to take a “real” camera with me on this adventure

But really, that doesn’t give a good perspective of how freakin’ HUGE this yarn cake is now.

Weavers Wool (left) and LSS (right) with a normal skein of sock yarn in between

RT with the Weavers Wool and a “normal” yarn cake of Alpaca with a Twist Highlander on top

RT, Weavers Wool, Alpaca with a Twist Highlander

Aerial view of RT with yarn

RT wasn’t convinced that he provided adequate scale for these photos, so he asked me to get a can of pop, since we all know how big that is.

That’s a lot of yarn.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Wednesday? Yep.

First, for the actual knitting.

I still have just two things on the needles at the moment. Ye Olde Postwar Mittens

Sorry the color balance is so bad. Must remember to take indoor photos in the basement, not the kitchen.

These got major time during the Super Bowl. I knit four full repeats and only had to "tink" the half-round I knit during the last minute of the game. I would have stopped knitting at that point entirely, but I was afraid I’d throw up if I didn’t have something to do to take my brain off of the game a tiny little bit.

And then, there are socks.

Cloning Anemone Rib, Sept. 2008 RSC

I took one look at this pattern the day it came in the mail and thought “Gee, that looks just like an Upstream (New Pathways) sock.

So I’m plugging the stitch pattern into a New Pathways Upstream sock instead of knitting top-down like the pattern instructs. So far, so good, although I most certainly understand why a lot of people punted on this pattern. Every fourth row, you’re doing a 2-stitch cable and it takes

[Prepare to shift gears …]

In other news, lately I’ve been noticing this train wreck or that burning building on the internets. A conservative political group was shut down on Ravelry today, and ooh boy, are those group members filled with hate!

Prior to the election, I took a foray into the conservative camp’s primary watering hole. I was in search of intelligent well-thought-out reasons why the Republican ticket was the way to go. Instead, I found a bunch of people that when presented with a post written by a non-group member, would scurry over to the newbie’s profile, dissect the implications of their group memberships and name-call based upon those group memberships.

In their “say good-bye” thread that popped up after Ravelry gave them notice that they’d be shut down, they flat-out said that if you belonged to pinko liberal socalist communist groups (like the group for The Daily Show) you weren’t welcome and would be deleted/degraded appropriately.

In just a few minutes of perusing the now-locked threads, I came up with these references that were quite normal from what I saw on this group:

“the Porkulus bill”
“the Nazi’s on the drive-by media”
“How about the Nazi newspapers?”
“Why is this any different from Hitler’s plan to create the perfect Aryan race?”
“the Ølibiots”
“Obozo’s destruction of America over the next 1439 days”
“Welcome to the new USSA”

It took me about five minutes to compile that list. The last five are off of the word cloud of recent tags. Tags. As in “subject lines” for threads. There was also an accusation about the Ravelry powers-that-be drinking cyanide kool-aid. Nice.

What was happening in this group that forced Ravelry to “run out of last straws” and pull the plug? Casey (who was called some truly horrifying names in the last few hours of this group) has refused to give specifics, but cited repeated attempts to work with unwilling-to-help moderators. I’d have to guess that the (condoned, if not encouraged) name-calling is a good indication of the problem. Full disclosure: I mod one group on Ravelry. A very quiet group for the LYS where I work. I am quite certain I have no idea what the mods of a “real” group deal with. But the name-calling turned me off of this group on more than one occasion when I ventured in to try to get a sense of a perspective opposing my own on an issue.

Group members insist this is censorship. That they were singled out because the Ravelry brain-trust is a bunch of liberal extremists and their left-wing agenda did not allow for the conservative viewpoint to be represented. That the existence of the “Lazy Stupid and Godless” group meant that its members its name quite seriously. And so on.

I’m continually amazed at how much hate there is in this country. When did that happen? Why? Why can’t people take a deep breath and try to educate themselves about why other people believe something different than they do? I was raised to believe that the United States is the greatest country in the world. In this country, we have unprecedented personal freedoms and our government treats us in a “You’re grown-ups. Sink or swim!” manner.

When I think of our form of government, I am frequently reminded of a brilliant Aaron Sorkin line from The American President.

“America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free"” (thank-you,!)

Just over eight years ago, I watched the guy I voted for win the popular vote and lose the seat in the funny-shaped office because of hanging chads or whatever else was going on down in Florida. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that this is a governmental system that has survived for over 200 years and got over it.

Why do the people on this former group insist that they’re being persecuted? I don’t know. I just hope that our current POTUS can do enough good that these close-minded people* can admit/realize that he’s not actually Satan.

*Let me be very clear: I do not believe that all political conservatives – or all members of the former Ravelry group in question -- are close-minded. That’s simply an observation of a lot of folks I’ve been reading lately who are so convinced that the Apocalypse is here that they can’t take a deep breath and look for a way to solve the current very serious problems. The former group name-changed to “The Bunker” after the election. Probably because they are going into the upcoming three-years-and-11-months with a “bunker” mentality.

I’ll put away my soapbox now, and here’s hoping this is the last time I feel the need to post anything remotely connected to politics.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

It’s a Hard Knuck Life

Let’s say you have cold hands. But you still need some manual dexterity. Oh, and you read the lovely Turtlegirl’s blog.

What better to knit than Knucks?

Thanks to the Hubster for serving as my hand model

It was a very quick knit, and I was a big fan of knitting knuckle-down.

He’s no J.P Prewitt, but he did pretty well!

They’re destined to live in Mississippi with my best friend, who is about to embark on a cold baseball season of open-air press boxes and night games. Here’s hoping they keep his hands warm!


Pattern: Knucks from the Summer 2006 issue of
Size: Large
Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft Aran, 2 balls
Color: Thunder (Gray)
Source: Bloomin Yarns
Needles: US 6/4.0mm
Started: 25 January 2009
Finished: 28 January 2009
Mods: None, other than using a bigger yarn/gauge than directed since I was knitting for a boy with big paws.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Out and About

I still owe you a finished object post. I'll get to that!

It’s been a bit busy around here. I’ll get to the rest of what’s going on, but today? Mom convinced me to go downtown. Around lunchtime.

Here’s a brief recap of my day with more Pittsburgh details (for those of you who live here) as described to a co-worker who has never been here. Photos included because they’re fun. I over-shot a little today. Oh well. ;-)

• Take the "T" downtown (trolley/subway. 100x easier than driving downtown)

• Exit to the street at Steel Plaza, near the start of the parade route, and about 4 blocks from where I'm meeting mom (we were meeting in the lobby at One Oxford Center)

• Walk three of those blocks, essentially to the courthouse, at which point I realize I’m not going to be able to cross Grant Street. Anywhere.

• Run into a gameday co-worker who was not part of the group this year

• Call mom to tell her I can’t cross Grant. She starts to offer to cross to meet me, then realizes if I can’t cross Grant, she won’t be able to cross Grant either. She suggests I take an outbound T to First Ave. I remind her that then I’ll still have the same problem, except then I won’t be able to cross the Boulevard of the Allies.

• Walk back to Steel Plaza T stop. Get back on an "inbound" T headed for the Point. Joke with people in business suits about how completely insane it is that there’s a grand total of ONE way to cross Grant Street today, and that’s taking the T from Steel Plaza to Wood Street.

• Exit Wood Street station

• Walk a few blocks uphill and several towards the Mon to get to One Oxford.

• Meet up with mom at about 11:50 for a theoretical noon start to parade

• Observe crazy people in trees

• Observe more crazy people who are climbing traffic lights

• Listen to mom laugh/point out the above sign every single time it’s visible. Hooters was advertising in this manner as well.

• Stand four-deep on the barricades, where I can hardly see anything

• Realize the parade is finally starting when The Worst Mascot In All Of Sports comes bouncing down the street

• See Coach Tomlin walking down Grant Street in front of the car carrying his family

• Get several shots of my boss, taking photos of the crowd from the back of one of the trucks. I'm totally sending him one.

* Get a couple decent shots of players.



• Laugh at/with fellow parade-goers who are discussing whether or not they'll get in trouble for taking a 2-hr lunch

• Have lunch with my mom

• Be very happy we have seats when an Idiot on the T on the way home breaks a door on the T car. Sit at South Hills Junction for 30 minutes

• Realize that probably 50K people are now wondering why *none* of the trolleys are moving. At. All.

Can I please eviscerate whoever thought this “SixBurgh” thing was a good idea? KTHXBAI

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Game On

For your pre-game enjoyment, here are a few links

Here We Go

P.S.: Dear Internets- It's "Super Bowl," not "Superbowl." You're going to make me reach through my computer and strangle you if you keep this up. KTHXBAI

P.P.S: At my "standing" Thursday evening bar appearance following my Yarn Job, the TVs were all tuned to NFL Network, which was showing an old Super Bowl. As I sat down, the bartender asked me what I thought. My answer? "I think that if Roy Gerela is kicking off, we're going to like how this game ends."

Here's hoping we like how Jeff Reed kicks off as well.