Wednesday, January 31

500 posts!

Hooray! This is post #500! I can't believe CM has been going strong for so long. What a nice surprise today.

Let's see ... SP8 officially starts tomorrow, which means I ought to put up some sort of button or something. (Done!)

And the local art center is (still) begging me to teach a beginner's knitting class. I think it would be a lot of fun. I think about it off and on, about all the things that I'd want to do in preparation — swatch different stitches, swatch "right" and "wrong" techniques, have a giant swatch or display made with huge dowels and rope ... I know, call me crazy. But teachers get half of the entry tuition, which is a very good reason to ponder this further. Also, I should officially join the Friends of the Art Center group instead of just getting the mailing because we're a publication.

I haven't made much more progress on the shawl, unfortunately, but I've been working on stuff for the swaps I'm in. As I said earlier, SP8 is under way. Sendouts for the Neil Gaiman 3 swap on Craftster are next Friday; Fyberduck should be sending out the matches for the Hogwarts Houses swap tomorrow or Friday.

Oh, and I've officially been (sham)poo-free for a month. I notice a definite change, as my hair and scalp don't feel as dried out as usual. Winter is always the worst, but not so this time around. Now I just have to teach my face to keep up.

And off to the post office I go!

Sunday, January 28


I forgot to mention that the yarn for the Swallowtail is a blue-grey colorway of Trekking XXL. It's nice to knit a shawl in sock yarn, I've decided. So nice, in fact, that I think I'll do it again sometime. (And I did get my circular needle, which has made knitting on it even better. Yay!)

Oh, and my cousin had her baby four, maybe five days ago. He's a doll, and his name is Tristan. I haven't asked if I could post a picture, but I will link one. This is my favorite.

Okay, on to Guillermo del Toro's El Laberinto del FaunoPan's Labyrinth. First off, it's a foreign film, which I enjoy, and it's in Spanish, which I also enjoy. (Spanish of Spain, as opposed to other Spanish-speaking countries. You can tell by the lispy way the name Mercedes is pronounced: Mer-THAY-deth. Also the movie is set in Spain in 1944.)

I have to admit, it has its scary moments, like when you first see the faun (who is not in fact Pan, as Crazy Lanea also pointed out). Also, when you first see this guy:

Talk about scary. Those are eyes in his hands. The Pale Man, as I see he's called, really is the stuff of nightmares, if you're prone to them. At any rate, it's not a film for children, despite the fairy tales.

I very much enjoyed the movie. I loved the way it was shot, how it was set, hell, I even loved the subtitles. (I love movies with subtitles. Even if the film's in English and the subtitles are on, I end up reading them.) I didn't even mind the gore. The shooting, though, was a little surprising, though by the end you come to expect it.

You know, The Pale Man reminds me a bit of one of Goya's paintings, don't you think?

(That's my favorite painting of "Gory Goya", which is what my high school art teacher always used to call him.) Anyway, I do recommend this film. But if you see it, you'll have to tell me whether you think the fairy tale is real, or in Ofelia's head. I know what I think.

Friday, January 26

What in the world could that be?!

I cannot distract you any longer. I've actually got proof of the shawl.

Swallowtail Shawl

This is through 10 (of 14) repeats of the second chart. See how the fabric is all crinkled up on the left? That's why I'm going to need circs right quick. But hey, look at that schnazzy stitch marker (that silvery smudge near the top) from Fyberduck! I love seeing it glittering there, marking the middle of the shawl. It's a good goal, too, because if I stop in the middle of the row instead of at an end, I'm more likely to remember where I'm at. (Call me crazy, but that's how I roll.)

That's all I've got for now. More after we see El Laberinto del Fauno tonight.

Thursday, January 25

Fold your shirts!

Folding a t-shirt, a la Japanese Martha Stewart.

Last night we watched The Devil Wears Prada and, though we can hardly forget Anne Hathaway's performance in Brokeback — who wouldn't forget? All of a sudden her boobies were the star of the show! — I really enjoyed the Prada. I would still like to read the book, my usual requirement for books-turned-movie. Kas, who hasn't posted in her blog in forever, didn't think it made much of a difference when it came to Children of Men, though. Who knows? All's I know is that we're going to catch Pan's Labyrinth tomorrow, and perhaps stop at B-A-B for a little groundhog action.

But really, what you came here to see was knitting. Well, I have no pictures. (Bad blogger! No cookie!) But I do have news: I'm through the sixth repeat of the second Swallowtail chart. I feel like I'm absolutely flying through it, and I think I'll have to stop at a yarn shop this weekend and pick up some circs, because the straights I'm working with aren't going to hold out much longer. I think 16-inches will probably work just fine for the duration. I hope I can find some bamboo ones ... I'm not quite brave enough for metal needles and lace yet. Though I am using sock yarn ...

Okay, back to fixing the labels!

Wednesday, January 24

Gunn-ing for fashion

Speaking of Tim Gunn ... We've got this news too about Tim from the Bravo tv site:

"On February 1st and 8th, our own Mr. Gunn will be appearing on ABC’s (Golden Globe Winner) "Ugly Betty." And, he’s not playing himself! He'll appear as a fashion reporter who covers a controversy that takes place at “Mode” – the show’s fictional fashion magazine.

We can’t wait to see Tim in an honest-to-goodness “February ratings sweeps” spectacle. Who knew he could act?"

post on Craftster

He had this to say at Blogging Project Runway. Oh baby, oh baby.

I spent nearly an hour this morning trying not to scream expletives at various electronic devices here in the office. We have a new postage software, which generates both labels (with barcodes, ooh ahh) and a postal form. Except the freaking label template would not agree with how the paper was fed through the printer. Usually, with the old system, I had labels done by 10:30 max. Today I finished at a quarter to 1. I was nearly livid, and quite frazzled. Thankfully, my mom rescued me and we went to lunch.

I came back, preparing to pull out more hair, as I hadn't done the postal form yet. It turns out that last Thursday, when I was on the phone with California for what seemed like forever, we got the form set up wrong. Obviously, we publish a periodical, and so qualify for periodical postage. Well, the darn guy had us set up for standard mail.

We have been paying roughly $290 per week for the past couple of months, so imagine my surprise when, with everything calculated together under standard mail, the postage came out to nearly $330. Yikes. But today, now that I fixed the form, postage cost $150 — half of what we've been paying. So either I did it completely wrong today (which is entirely possible as I'm not omnicient, contrary to all y'all's beliefs) or we've been doing it completely wrong for the past two years (at least). Dear Maude, I hope that today's was right. Maybe then El Boss won't be so cranky.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a new Lime & Violet episode to listen to.

Tuesday, January 23

Honeycombs, swaps, and swallowtails

My mom's birthday was last Monday. I had decided to knit her a little something in order to keep off the chill when she's downstairs in sewing land, where there's no heat. (The basement is still unfinished.) I thought a nice wristwarmer and Calorimetry set would keep her warm. I used one skein of Lion Brand Wool in a purple-pink-orange sort of colorway; it had just enough yardage for the set.

I don't have any photos right now, but I'll give you my basic pattern for the wristwarmers. I used US 8 DPNs with the worsted weight wool. I started by casting on 42 stitches, using the alternate cable cast on (found at the bottom of the linked page). After 1 1/4 inches of 1x1 rib, I switched to a modified honeycomb cable.
  1. C2F, *C2B, C2F* around.
  2. Knit around.
  3. Knit around.
  4. C2B, *C2F, C2B* around.
It wasn't exactly even over the 42 stiches, as it's a 4-stitch repeat, but you couldn't really tell. After that, I did 4 or 5 rows of 2x1 ribbing, so it would pull in a little closer. I bound off in pattern, knitting the knits and purling the purls, and it was done. Were I to do it again, I think I'd make the stitches divisible by 4 to keep the honeycomb even.

Here you can see the chart over 12 stitches, created with VisiKnit.

Other than that, I've joined Secret Pal 8 on the Knitty board, and have been claimed by my upstream pal. I've also claimed my downstream pal. I've got some very good ideas for packages to send, so I just have to start getting them together.

I also joined a couple of other swaps on Craftster: Hogwarts Houses and Gaiman. I've got my partner for the Gaiman swap, and so have begun to work on rustling up some projects for that. Fyberduck, the busiest girl in the universe, is organizing the Hogwarts Houses swap, and will be sending our partners in the beginning of February. I've signed up as a Ravenclaw. I've also realized that my kindred spirit in the Harry Potter world is Luna Lovegood, because she's quite quirky and ... interesting. (I can't wait to see how she's portrayed in the upcoming release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.)

Oh, I almost forgot: Tim Gunn and Kate Moloney will soon be releasing a book, A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style. And now I think I'll get ready to go develop some film, and start a Swallowtail Shawl (inspired by this one) while I'm at it.

Edit: I've knit through one full repeat (of the requisite fourteen) of the second chart, and am thoroughly enjoying the pattern. I had wanted to start knitting lace more actively this year, but didn't expect to enjoy it quite as much as I did, sitting at the Hy-Vee Starbucks drinking a caramel macchiato (tall's enough, thanks) and watching people.

Thursday, January 18

Trust and toast

I encountered a very interesting post today, at Bookshelves of Doom. You better believe I'm going to make that shirt, along with everyone else in my house.

"All right everyone, go back to your knitting. Er, this is going to be uncomfortable enough without all you nosy sods listening in." First chance I've had to catch the famous Weasley eloquence verbatim. Fan-bloody-tastic.

We're past the thigh-high wool stockings phase of cold weather. I've simply moved on to wearing three hats. Yes, I wore three today — two knitted and one toasty polar fleece.

Ooh, speaking of toast, I'm craving some. Remind me to tell you sometime about my odd fixation on toast. Dustro can tell you, I really am Queen of Toast.

Wednesday, January 17

The Loot, The Warrant, The Crook

My Fortune Cookie told me:
Tomorrow will be an excellent day for putting Slinkies on an escalator.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

I knew it! Anyway, on with a few photos of the loot that Fyberduck sent.

Buried beneath the sign of the duck ...
Sign of the Duck

Piratey baubles lie biding their time ...
Jolly roger stitch markers

Within wrappings for sticks so pointy ...
POTC fabric

Lie ferocious fingertips!
Faux pirate nails

Now you see why the loot brightened my mood so. Thanks again, Fyberduck!

Tuesday, January 16


Today has been rather frustrating.

My sock drawer had an argument with me this morning as I was getting dressed scavenging for layers. I said, "Give me the tallest, warmest socks you've got, and make it snappy!" It replied, "No! You will wear shortie socks today. You kept stuffing me full of no-show socks, so that's all you're going to get!" I pleaded, "Surely you wouldn't dare." It just stood there looking smug. I'm lucky to have gotten to wear any socks, the way that monster was behaving.

I got to take this route to work this morning due to the fact that black Jeeps don't seem to function at -2 degrees. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. Sure, there was plenty of cold, but I wore lots of layers today (despite the damn dresser). By the first diagonal line in that map (the Fareway parking lot), I was wishing I had worsted weight thigh high socks. Yes, thigh high. I'd even take knee-high kilt hose, but those have long been in the frog pond. Brr.

We have a new PC to go with our new mailing program. I cannot coax it to connect to our printer. Not no way, not no how. I decided to leave it alone and finally take a lunch break. Lunch, though, turned the beat around, so to speak. I found a package at my door, looking for all the world like it contained some sort of umbrella swift. It was a package from Fyberduck! She sent me some great booty from the far reaches of Oregon — a needle roll made with snazzy POTC-inspired fabric, three sets of bamboo needles (yummy), jolly roger stitch markers, and some very fun jolly rogered glue-on fingernails. Thanks for the sweet pick-me-up! I'll post pictures tomorrow, if the new computer doesn't make me want to poke my eyes out I have a chance.

Now, back to the paper. Blogging for a moment has released some tension.

Wednesday, January 10

Wednesday evening

Suddenly I feel like I've been blogging a lot, and that most of it is nonsense. So, on with the show!

New Zealanders have an interesting sense of humor. Of course, with a country full of sheep, one can understand how this movie was inspired. (FYI, the phrase "Violence of the Lambs" was used in this trailer.) Linkage via Irie.

And speaking of movies, which I seem to have on the brain lately, I watched an HBO documentary earlier this evening called Middle Sexes: Redefining He and She. I enjoyed it, as it explained how some different countries view the intersex gender.

Oh, and I was reading a blog just now that referred to Brittany birch DPNs and Brittany spears. Bwah ha ha!

And I found out today that my brother is on Facebook. *headdesk*

Tuesday, January 9

His Dark Handknits

I'm still not entirely certain what drew me to re-reading Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. I ran across the first two books in my brother's room when I helped him rearrange furniture, and brought them back home. Yesterday, when I realized I was just past the halfway point in the second book, The Subtle Knife, I thought perhaps I should find some way of acquiring the third book. When lunchtime came around, I made a quick stop at my local bookstore and ordered The Amber Spyglass.

And then today I was doing a little interneting and discovered the strangest thing: His Dark Materials: the movie. (And who better to play Mrs. Coulter than Nicole Kidman?) I swear I didn't hear of it until today. What strange timing. What's better is that they have a few production photos up at IMDB, and by George, thar be knittin' in that thar movie!

Check out that hat!

And that garter stitch jacket? I smell a KAL!

I hope Hollywood doesn't slaughter it. (Of course, you can't spell slaughter without laughter ...)

Sunday, January 7

Orbs and flight

Life is going on as usual. Last night we decided to have a bit of an adventure. Sister Berthe, inspired by a few episodes of Ghost Hunters, decided that we should take some cameras and a white noise machine (said to attract ghosts) out toRoseman Covered Bridge. You can read her account on her blog. We went just a bit before dusk, and shot a fair amount of photos.

When we came home (after a briefcappuccino run, as it was chilly) we started looking at the photos. It turns out we captured quite a few orbs. Very interesting. This one has a patch of fog in the lower right corner; it seems to have a trail behind it as well. Also, there's a very bright orb hovering on the closer side of the railing. I think it's my favorite picture.

I've signed up for the Knittyboard's SP8, which should begin toward the end of the month. I'm kind of excited, as I've always heard good things about secret pal swaps, so I decided to take the plunge.

Anyway, I'm going to get back to this odd little Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter movie, The Theory of Flight.

Friday, January 5

Stroke of genius!

"He's having a stroke — of genius!"

I love The Producers. I love that it's available for free right now due to our extensive crazy cable subscription. I love "The Hop-Clop Goes On", Will Ferrell's ballad-style remix of "Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop".


On the fifth day of January guess what occured to me? I haven't begun my mom's birthday presents. Her birthday is in ten days. I had planned to knit a basement-warming set, as she spends a lot of time being crafty in the chill down there. My plans are for Fetching and a matching Calorimetry, though I'm not sure she'd wear the latter, what with the big hair. (Though it's not as big as it used to be, believe me.)

Here we go!

Thursday, January 4


It is the fourth day of January. What have I accomplished so far this year? I have ...
  • Cataloged and calculated my sock yarn stash — all 2.68 miles of it.
  • I have successfully been poo-free for one washing. (And by poo-free, I don't mean what you think I mean. I mean that instead of regular shampoo, I used this method, which I found the other day. Tuesday.)
  • I have not had soda except mixed with alcohol. This was one of my secret resolutions — secret for four whole days, wow. I'm attempting to cut soda out of my diet, except as a mixer for liquor. I got a Coke last night with dinner, so I added a little rum to it when I got home. Perfect!

And now ... off to "work".

Wednesday, January 3


One of my goals for this evening — barring any Build-A-Bear video endeavors that Kas is trying to set up — is to catalog my sock yarn and calculate the yardage to miles for the aforementioned Lime & Violet Sock Marathon 2007. The gist: calculate sock stash to miles, set a goal (say, knit up 2 of the 5 miles), and try to accomplish it by the end of March. Sounds good to me!

I think my next goal in pirate garb will be to knit my own boots. For this I plan to use brown wool yarn, which is feltable, a sturdy pair of shoes, and this method, found on the DIY Network. Hopefully I can find a pair of shoes sturdy enough to survive a trip through the wash. Otherwise, I may not felt them and just go for the piratey-foldey-down-look. You know, like these. So continues my F-to-P transition ...

Also, I've finally gotten to the second book in Pullman's His Dark Materials series. Somehow I remember The Subtle Knife a lot more than the first.

Anyway, I'm out.

Tuesday, January 2

Hello, Aught-Seven!

"I think something's biting me ..."
"Woka woka woka!"*

Okay, not biting me, but certainly a lot of people I know: the marriage bug. In the last couple of days, I've heard that three of my friends have gotten engaged, and another has already tied the knot. (What's crazier is that I've officially met or have known all of their significant others.) So congratulations, friends! Good news!

The trip to O!town was great fun. I don't really need to say much more.

And, of course, everyone's favorite curiosity this time of year: resolutions. As I was driving home yesterday, I thought for a while about what resolutions I could make for this new year, aught-seven. Well, I thought about it until I tuned the radio to NPR, which was broadcasting a reading of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie books. Cherry Jones was the narrator.

After enjoying Cherry's voice for a good half hour, I turned back to my pondering and came up with a few things.

  • Be more conscious. Of self, of others, of surroundings. This one feels the most important , and is all-encompassing.
  • Learn something new. Every day, if possible.
  • Learn a few new knitting tricks.
  • Embark on The First Sweater.
  • Knit a lot of socks, namely via the Lime & Violet Sock Marathon 2007. I have a surprisingly large sock yarn stash.

That wraps it up for now. Thus far I've been doing a good job of typing and writing 07 everywhere, but we'll see how that pans out. I'm off to get some work done, and to order some new checks.

* A random incident from high school involving Sister Berthe and our friend, Paulux.