Tuesday, August 29, 2006

How to Make A Weasel Hiss

In order to make the truly crazed variety of weasel hiss, with teeth bared, simply convince her to calculate armhole shaping before the requisite daily amount of coffee has been ingested. She will knit merrily, pausing only after several inches go by, before realizing that she has used the wrong figure in her calculations and that she must now both re-do the math and rip out several inches of knitting. Sit back and listen! Nature hath few marvels to equal the attack hiss of the full dudgeon weasel.

Crap. Crap, crap, crap. Jessie, I will gaze longingly at representations of knitting in flames (hey, now, *there's* a catchphrase: knitting in flames! sounds a bit like snakes on a plane, doesn't it?)(seriously, go look) (thanks, JF!). I put loops back on as best I could and got on with it. If I thought knitting with this stuff was unpleasant before, I knew not whereof I spoke. Frogged, this yarn achieves a level of annoyance to which mere normal fiber can only aspire, in vain. Those tufty bits get even hairier. Oh, yes.

We hates it, precioussss, we do.

I'll bring it to Javaroom. So you can see it in its glory/pestilence, Jena and Lynne and Not Tattoo Queen Because She's Already at Burning Man. And have a FABU time, you. And whoever else makes it; maybe even Julie?

A more cheering note:
We received our official approval letter for the new homeschooling year today. There's still the boilerplate stuff in there about how the district policy says you gotta do 900 hours of instruction; um, the policy, er, says no such thing, and uh, furthermore, the applicable case law tosses out this requirement as having no logic for a non-institutional school environment. If I get around to it, I'll send it over to HSLDA and see if they can send a friendly WTF letter. But otherwise, we're completely copacetic. Cha cha cha. (Oh! Some cartoon last night really late had Yma Sumac as background music! It was awesome!)

Also in today's mail was Knitting magazine. One of the UK ones. It's hit or miss, but this month has a project to make any weasel seethe with pleasure:

Isn't the potential for use of (shudder) eyelash yarn just screaming to you? Or maybe it's just me. Sorry about the unspeakably bad blur, again; must be proximity to the Nightmare In Progress (NIP). Or maybe it's just me, seething.

And I found this bit of coolness over the weekend:

This is like knitting only with electronics. And whatever else you have lying around. How to splice wires together to make your ipod video clips play on your tv! How to extract dna! It is SO DAMN COOL! I'm probably the last geek on the planet to have heard of it, which is what usually happens, but damn, this is some fun, Bambi. (Thumper and Bambi on the ice. Bambi totally wipes out and falls on his stomach. Thumper: "Some fun, huh, Bambi?" Bambi: wan nod, weak smile.)

I'm starting to free associate. Better go finish my beer.

Friday, August 25, 2006

It's knitting, but it ain't pretty

Continuing on what seems to be my ongoing theme of bitching and moaning about absolutely everything, I've been knitting and knitting and knitting with some yarn that is not my most favoritest stuff in the entire world ever. I've procrastinated, of course (what would it be without a final panic at the end, after all? well, what?), partly because there was some discussion as to what, exactly, would be the edging. I have been doing this:

Sorry about the blur. My hands must be wobbly, what with the pulling the beejezus out of the yarn to get it to any kind of consistent fabric at all. I still have to (ahem) write the rest of the pattern, and then, er, knit it. I'm not freaking out (YET). It's due Sept. 1. The bummer, slight though it is, is that I also have some design sumbittals I really want to devote some time to, but I really do need to make a bit more progress on this thing before I can in good conscience skip out on the work yet again. The gauge in this yarn is really weird and wobbly and hard to nail down. I think I've got it, and my calculations are coming out correctly so I must have done something right, but it's still a bit unsettling.

So of course I went looking online for yurts. Yes, yurts. What? I saw some at a Girl Scout camp. They're great. You got a problem with yurts? Didn't think so.

And since I was reading a bunch of posts about gifted kids and grade skipping (elsewhere, not here), I thought about some of the people I knew in high school, and went googling two and found both of them. Go figure. So maybe I'll hook up with some old pals before the 25th reunion (holy crap! 25th?!?!). Or sooner.

We made brownies today. Yum.

Hi, Mel! Hi, Jena! Hi, Lucia! Hi, Ruth! Hi, Stingdragon! Hi, Carole! Yes, it is a drag that the knit out is on Rosh Hashanah; at least it's not Yom Kippur? Sheesh. See you around, folks; back on yer heads.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Final version of some yarn I'd written a pattern for, turns out, is different from the version we'd all swatched. So I've spent a bunch of time today re-calculating The Pattern That Will Not Die. I keep trying to just nail it and get on with the other project I'm doing, but it keeps rearing its cheerful little head. Bang! Zap! That puppy is off into the internets! So long!

Off this evening to have a goodbye dinner for a knitter who is moving (back) to the UK - sadly for us, not so much for her, I'm guessing. I'm probably going to miss Javaroom tomorrow as a result, so knit a row for me, folks.

The headlights are FIXED - yay, car repair guys. I can now drive at night again. This is a handy thing. More so than not.

Boston Knit Out is Coming and I know about it mainly thanks to Kat - so thanks, Kat. Um, I've been meaning to upload this button for several weeks now, I think. Finally done. Yay.

Knit well and cheerily, all. I think I'm going to need to start a separate blog just for political ranting, so...that's all.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

White knuckles

White knuckles. Yep. That would be me.

I took the girls to see The Devil Wore Prada (like any designer mom would, natch) this evening, and they enjoyed themselves. We headed home. It's a rainy, thundery, lightning-flashes-through-the-sky kind of night. And...my headlights aren't working. Surprise! The little side ones that are kind of orangish? Those work. If I put the high-beams on, I get a faint glow from the smaller set of lights to the side of the main headlamps. But those main, wonderful headlamps? Nothing.

This made for rather more exciting a drive home than I would care to experience. Ever. I was tailed by what I can only assume was a very annoyed driver most of the way through Carlisle, and pulled into an ice cream place--which was also the destination of my follower, coincidentally--and I jumped out and gushed my thanks. I have never been so grateful to be tailgated by a pickup truck with its high beams on in my entire life. Those lights shone enough so that I could see in front of *my* car. Which I otherwise...couldn't do much at all. The girls and I experimented with all the available buttons in the car there in the parking lot, consulted the manual, got out and looked at things, had some ice cream of course since it couldn't make things worse and might make us all a little more cheerful about this terrifying situation...but the things just aren't working. I get a faint glow.

I drove the rest of the way home with my hazard lights blinking - side bonus, here, is that they provided a little extra (if intermittent) illumination. The tail lights are fine. It must have been pretty confusing to be driving behind me. I found myself wishing for rude drivers: "please creep up close behind me with your brights on, oh please oh please oh please," but with the hazards on, everyone kept a respectful (and unhelpful) distance.

We made it home safely. Looks like we know how I'm spending daylight hours tomorrow, eh?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Doo-dah, doo-dah

"I am folding clean underwear, doo-dah, doo-dah, I am folding clean underwear, oh the doo-dah day..." Losing it? Moi? Hm. Perhaps.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time putting together our annual filing for Official Homeschooling Approval from the local school dept. I have a boilerplate letter that I use, but I also elect to send (as Evidence that the Children Are Indeed Learning Something) dated work samples. This is no big deal during the year and it beats the heck out of standardized tests; I just write the date someplace on the kids' work and a few times a year stick it all into 3-ring binders. They like looking back at what they've done, and it's pretty simple for me. But then I have to choose some not-overly-"chosen"-but-still-representative bits to copy and send in. Also I had to find some of the books we'll be using and send in copies of the table of contents. This involves finding the books. Some days this is more challenging.

But, oh, the copying. It takes ten times longer than I think it will, every single time.

I was re-working last year's letter to use again, and noticed that I'd said I would be writing a brief narrative progress report for the two younger children. Oh. Oh, crap. So that was another three hours, looking through the log I keep and remembering stuff.

This is the mostly tidied up version of the aftermath of all that:

That's after putting almost everything away. I also noticed that I needed to order the next book in the handwriting series I use with littlest guy. Also had to figure out what to do about spelling, since what we tried last year after finishing one really good book turned out to suck. Ended up picking this, which oldest child had a version of in school at one point and the old books have been kinda fun for middle child. So that's been my morning! Some fun, huh, Bambi? Oh, yeah!

See folks at Javaroom, whoever's going, and enjoy this gorgeous day, everybody!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Summer busy-ness

We’ve been busy. Not with knitting so much, but busy. I finally got out the scary hedge clipping power tool and got the bushes looking like the house is inhabited. Voila!

I do love power tools. I worry constantly with this one that I’m going to cut through the power cord. I used to use the manual clipping shears out of sheer terror about slicing up a child or my leg or the house. Unfortunately, doing it that way takes all day long. So take that, you hedges, you! have at you! ha! ha! and ha!

Youngest child has been reading a lot of Garfield (shudder), so he began asking me to make lasagna a couple of weeks ago. Today, we had lasagna.

We discovered that little guy does not, in point of fact, like lasagna. Not as such. Ah, well; dh and oldest child did. I did, too, but as the children remind me, I eat calamari and my opinions on food are therefore utterly worthless.

I took the dog for a brief walk before the kids were up this morning, and a longer one after lunch. This has the dual purpose of exercising the dog and exercising me. I’ve been taking a little guidance from The Hacker's Diet: eat fewer calories than you burn (it's subitled, "How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition"). Also exercise, even if it’s only the most miniscule amount. So I started doing situps and such. The Hacker Diet acknowledges that an exercise program (shudder) that takes too long isn’t going to get done. There’s a list of things to do; you do some. You try and pay attention to eating fewer calories than you burn. Who cares what, exactly, the calories come from? If it’s 2000 calories’ worth of Cheetos and Jolt, fine; just stop eating when you’re supposed to. And do a couple of situps. My kinda diet, I'm telling you.

We’ve also been watching The Dog Whisperer, which is fun. The notion (among other things) is that dogs need to exercise and they need to settle into following their pack leader; hence the walk. Walks. Daisy (the dog) has been having a spiffy time following me nicely, beside or just behind me. At the moment, she’s totally pooped.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Peaches 'n beans (and some knitting)

You know the spam sketch from Monty Python? "Spam & chips, spam spam and spam..." - that's what I think of, except in my case it's knitting with everything.

I'm quietly very excited about my coffee plant. It now has several actual, recognizable bean things on it. There are just about enough of them to eventually make me a cup of coffee. So if armageddon is indeed right around the corner, the caffeine supply has hope of going on. This is important.

The weather is glorious today, so I dragged dh and youngest child to Nashoba Valley Winery to pick some peaches. 'Cause. The peaches are wonderful. Also the wine. Also the beer. Oo, it's t'riffic (Anna Russell voice).

The knitting today has been of the technical, boring variety in the main. I measured my latest swatch and revised a pattern that I'd written last week, wrestled the various computers in the household to a state of meek submission, at least enough to Put The Gridlines Back on the charts I'd made (o! so painstakingly!) for a completely different project and then print and then scan the printout to a jpeg image and then email that to the technical editor. See? Told ya it was boring. It even looks boring. I geek out about this stuff when At Last I Triumph, and I save all these pieces of paper where I track the stitch counts and measurements for each of the four sizes I'm writing and oh god. I may be developing a twitch.

The twitch was helped along by the relaxing (HA) knitting on the leaf cardigan, wherein I a) found the 3mm needles, hurray, b) promptly avoided centering the leaf motif across the constantly increasing round, and c) retreated to the relative safety of the body, green-on-green, and I found a mistake two rows back. Gasp. Choke. Splutter. Did I repeat it all the way along the round, fer gawdsake? Phew, no, just the one time. Tried to fix it, discovered that I had instead carefully replicated the mistake, then put it down for a while and had some wine, THEN fixed it. Here's what I do when the fair isle pattern is off one stitch a couple of rows down: drop the stitches down and reknit just them. Same amount of yarn, no need to even adjust the floats, really, just use 'em.

My thanks to Javaroom knitters for validating Wed. that yes, the green-on-green really is very hard to see on the needles. Yes, you, Jena (who totally wins hands-down on the weird family stories competition)(and yes, I'll leave some movie suggestions!), Lynne, Nicole? was that you? - thanks. Every time I take a picture of the WIP it looks sooooo not a big deal, but honestly, the light is skewed somehow by the picture and the greens in indoor light look the same. I have to be in a fairly crazed yet zen space to work on it, that's all.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Stars and leaves and green in your eyes

The Perseid meteor showers peak this Sat. night! This is the first time in I don't know how long that I've remembered to check when they are BEFORE the biggest nights for viewing. Peak viewing time 1 - 3 a.m. (the wee hours of Sunday). There's going to be a lot of moon interfering, but still oughta be pretty cool.

Youngest kid and I have been on a pretty good groove today. He really loves learning about history, no matter what else is going on, so today we did our long-anticipated paper boat re-enactment of the defeat of the Spanish Armada in the bathtub. Happy little guy! Some particular detail always captures his imagination. In this case, it was that some of the ships got close enough to throw grappling hooks to the others and capture them. This did not work out very well in the tub battle, but it was still fun.

Plugging along with knitting. I'm in limbo with a pattern that I thought was all done (they changed their minds about what they wanted and I don't yet have the info I need to make the change), and still need to write one more and then knit the piece. If it were my favoritest yarn in the whole wide world, it'd be a little more attractive a task. Um, but it isn't. So I'm grumping about not having my circs better organized, because I need to switch needle sizes on the sleeves for the leaf cardigan. I think the needles I need are in use with the Dale for dh. Which I did, at long last, frog back to the point where I needed to, but still haven't done anything further with. So the leaf it is. The dye-o-rama pal sock #1 is finished, and I've discovered that the heel type I did doesn't really fit my foot so well. DRAT! So I think this pair is going to be for DD#1, assuming it fits her. And if not, it's a fabulous hand-dyed sock puppet. Note to self: there is a good reason I do heel flaps. This is the kind that seems to fit me best. Duh. Regardez le knitting:

You will note that I am once again at the green-on-green section. This really requires daylight to work with. On the needle, it is very hard for me to tell whether I've got dark green or light green stitches. I've acquired an affection for this pattern. I've now worked, oh, 17 x 6 complete leaves. I now arrive fondly at "oh, yes, this is one of the rounds where I need to have one color in each hand to not go bonkers" - stuff like that.

Jennifer - gee, long time no see indeed! Probably in the fall, I'm hoping. Hope you guys had a great time at Greeley. (yes, Lynne too.)

A quiet day. Later, all.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bear and cat, and another cat

DD#2's largest bear is graciously wearing the shawl. It really is just about big enough to be useful! I'm pretty happy with it. And I only stepped on a pin once.

The cat is hiding her face under the edge of the shawl. That way we can't see her, right? Of course right.

A cat story: DS and I went to the supermarket yesterday while it was about a bazillion degrees out, partly because we needed... oh, some chocolate milk, and maybe some hamburger buns. Mainly it was to get OUT of the bazillion degrees and IN to the 60 or so inside the store. We're walking by the shopping carts. DS says, hey, kitty! I'm thinking, yeah yeah, the animal shelter drop-off bin has pictures of kitties, yeah yeah. He goes, no a REAL one. Stop. In. Tracks. Lo, the most miserable fluffy calico cat I've seen in twenty years is outside, panting and leaning against the exit door's metal base. The poor thing looked very, very bad. And it was a bazillion degrees. And she had this really long fluffy fur. I told the nearest teenaged checkout guy. He's like, a cat? Yeah, a cat. Right there. OH; GEE. So I told the customer service lady and ask if I can get a plastic container and give the cat some water. By the time we're back with the water, teenage checkout guy is trying to find us. "Somebody went out that door and the cat ran inside! It's somewhere in the store!"

Well, now. A few hours inside the cool store is exactly what this cat needs. I phoned the cat shelter that has the drop-off bin and left a message describing the situation. Later that evening, a couple of volunteers went up, persuaded the manager on duty that yes, there was so a cat in the store, and no they weren't wacko. We looked! No cat! he said. Did you look here? they said. Uh...no. Did you look here? they said. Uh...no. The cat was in the second place they looked. See? Cat. Oh. Cat. Yeah. They got her and she really is a persian, and she's probably alive because she got into the cool and because some really knowledgeable volunteers knew what to do. One of those volunteers called me today to tell me what happened. Yay, Kitty Angels.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ta da!

Whee! The Almanac-a-long shawl is indeed a shawl, and not just an uppity doily! I really had my doubts, there. Finished size, unblocked, was 26 inches square; with all its bejeezus blocked out it's a much more shawl-like 36 inches square. There are even a few bejeezu(s?) left if I really, really want to make it Even Bigger. Some other time, maybe.

Yes, that is a white cat sitting on a black futon couch. Yes, I keep a large supply of lint-pickup roller things in that room.

The pointy edge bits are pure inventions of the pinning, not anything particular I did in the knitting. The kitties are keeping a respectful distance.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Okay, something more entertaining (with thanks to geekpixie)

Your ears aren't what they once were and you have resorted to doing online hearing tests.

The highest pitched ultrasonic mosquito ringtone that I can hear is 12kHz
Find out which ringtones you can hear!

In addition to forlornly trolling the blogosphere, I'm also still knitting, albeit very little (see weatherpixie sidebar) (ack). I found Riverbend's book at the library yesterday and have now finished reading it--yes, it's very compelling. That and the news is ... bumming me out. You know that scene in "Annie Hall" where the harridan mom brings the depressed kid to the doctor? "He won't do his homework!" "the universe is expanding. what's the point?"

The nice knitting stuff: on the final portion of the edging on the shawl, so with a following wind I'll have it done tomorrow. I did a chunk of work that I was procrastinating, yay, and have been a knitting slacker on some other stuff I really need to do (er, swatch as promised. yeah, that.). And (or is it "but"?) I got a "call for designs" from Caron Yarns which is all happy and enthusiastic, so that was cheerful, too.

Trying to stay cool, and knit like crazed...you know. Later. Breathe, just breathe, like the song says.

You Are 40% Control Freak

You have achieved the perfect balance of control and letting go.
You tend to roll with whatever life brings, but you never get complacent.

Contact your elected representatives.

I've called Kerry, Kennedy, and Meehan, and the State Dept. The White House line is busy.

It feels futile, but I can't think of anything else to do.